Major Smoke To Ground Control
I love me some space games, but sadly there hasn’t ever been many to choose from in the audio game world. New Horizons was recently released, and I jumped all over this one the day it came out. This is a big deal to me, sometimes I’ll wait months or years before finally trying a new game. Not this time though, I’ve been playing NH every day since it’s release to make sure I had enough information for a review and not a first impression.
I’m going to be as honest as possible in reviews. I will take into effect what the game is, and if it delivers on what it is being marketed as. I’m not trying to make friends or enemies with reviews, I’m just letting people know what I think about the game. Most of a review is my opinion, you may disagree, this is fine. Leave a comment if you do. This is also what the like and dislike feature is for on the blog posts.
- Developer: freeman69?
- AG.net topic, no developer’s website found
- Developer’s download from Google Drive
- Version: not listed anywhere.
- Platform: Windows
- Price: Free
- Multiplayer: no
New Horizons is a big, and yet small game all at the same time. The size of the game completely depends on your play style, but I’ll explain that more later. The game has 10,000 different sectors, and each sector has unique suns, moons, planets, and orbiting stations. The universe is broken down into 14 different houses/factions, and each house/faction has a different specialization such as super conductors, computers, lumber, cotton, and so on. The game is menu based when docked, but when you are in space it is a full 2D game. Ship combat is in real time, this really separates NH from other space games. You can choose to be a pirate, a trader, bounty hunter, miner, trader, or a mixture of all different careers. There is even a selection of missions you can choose to accept and complete.
New Horizons is a really big game, and there is a lot to explore and learn about. It can be overwhelming for a lot of people, but once you get the hang of it you notice how big it really is. The game does allow for you to play at your own pace, and the world is completely open to whatever you want to do. Hyper jumps are not based on time, so you can spend hours/days playing constantly if you are into that sort of thing.
The developer seems to be open to suggestions as well which is always good. Right after release he said he was going to take a break from the game, but I don’t think he expected the positive response from everyone who has played it. Lately he has mentioned adding courier missions, updating sounds, and continuing to work on and develop the game. We’ll all just have to wait and see what comes out in the next update.
Playing The Game
I’m going to take this from the top. From opening for the first time, learning the game, then game play after figuring everything out.
On first launch the game music was loud, but not as loud as every other game’s first open. This was because the music volume was only set to 40%! This is a huge plus, I can’t explain how happy this made me. I hate max volume first launches with all of my heart.
The main menu is a bit wanky, but overall it works. NVDA reads blank lines at the bottom of the menus but it isn’t a big deal. The menu navigation is also a bit different. X goes back, or you can hit left arrow to select the back option then hit space or enter. Normal arrow navigation works to go through the options.
Some really nice features I noticed right off the bat. In volume settings there is individual volume levels for nearly every sound in the game. We just don’t see this in audio games, and this is a damn good feature. You can adjust everything individually, some of the options are: radar, collisions, music, engines, station beacons, atmospheres, enemy alerts, incoming fire, and everything else you hear in the game. This shows a lot of forethought went into the sound mechanics of the game. I would like to see this in more games.
On top of the sound customization you can hit f1 on any menu option and set a keyboard shortcut for it. This allows for custom shortcuts for anything in the game. you can also change every navigational key command to whatever you want. It doesn’t support modifier keys however. If you use arrows for navigation it will act a bit odd with NVDA until you alt tab away from the window then alt tab back. After that no issues at all and everything works great. I’m a big fan of customizations like this in games, and I believe every game should have these options.
When you start the game you choose a faction, and starting equipment. I don’t know if the faction changes the game at all, but for equipment you should go with the Cobra setup. This makes the game much easier to learn. You can always go back later and start with nothing to have more of a challenge. You’ll have a decent ship, radar, and a starter laser. Note that this laser is used for mining and for combat.
This next bit took me a few hours to understand. Ship navigation is difficult to pick up. The radar is always blabbing at you, and there is a bit of audio overload when you start. You have radar, beacons, ships, just a lot going on and you don’t really know what’s what or how to proceed. I didn’t read any of the included guides, I just launched and quickly died or ran out of fuel. I then decided to check out the guides, these gave me a very rough foundation, but I still died quite a bit. I fully believe this was user error and just kept on trying to get to an asteroid field to mine. I got to the asteroid field multiple times, but nearly always died via pirates once I got there. It took a lot of practice to be able to control my ship how I wanted, and to navigate successfully. I got there eventually, then I was up and running.
I stayed close to my faction capital, just mining and running back to sell my raw resources to the Freeport stations. You can’t sell raw resources to terrans or planetoids. After this I started branching out, buying resources low then jumping to different sectors and factions to sell them at a higher profit. This is the main feature of the game. I made some credits, bought some mines, sold the gold and diamonds, did some combat, upgraded my ship, bought a moon, pretty much tried to do everything the game offered. I played this very very heavy for a few days for this review…at least that’s what I was telling myself. I did thoroughly enjoy playing this game though. Something I can’t say for my past 2 game reviews. This was also my downfall with the game. I sort of ran out of stuff to do, but more on that below.
If you have tried the game and are having issues with navigation check out @bsg_blog on twitter. There will be a New Horizons stream this Saturday at 3:30 pm Eastern time. I’ll be playing the game and answering questions anyone might have.
Conclusion and Parting Thoughts
This is a really good game, but of course there are some things that could be done to make it better. This is the case for nearly all games however, and in this specific case the drawbacks aren’t something that is going to have a huge impact on my final score. I’ll go over what I like and don’t like.
Pros of the game:
Huge world: it would take forever to explore it all.
Dynamic economy: the prices for goods change when you move between systems.
Customizable: both sounds and keys completely changeable.
Graphics: really nice to see simple high contrast graphics in an audio game.
Real time combat: Not based on turns, but you actually have to fight by evading and shooting.
Up gradable ships and equipment.
Not tile based, planets and objects are actual circles, this is super rare in an audio game. Everything orbits in a circle, even in asteroid fields.
You can play at your own pace, for 10 minutes or 10 hours at a time.
Missions: do at your own risk, more in cons section.
Cons of the game:
Some of these aren’t so much cons, but things I just would like to see expanded on.
Only so much you can do: Once you get the biggest ship and biggest gun there isn’t much else in the game. This is how the game manages to both be big, but still small. If you trade enough you can upgrade to the 40k ship, then make so much so fast you can buy anything you want relatively quick. After this there just isn’t anything else to work towards in the game. You can buy a moon, but this only takes credits, it doesn’t offer you anything new, just the ability to buy the same stuff you can buy anywhere else.
Missions can ruin your game: I did one and it replaced my Cobra with a smaller ship with no equipment. After this I didn’t do anymore because of the hassle of having to restart from a previous save.
No conformation to exit, if you hit X too quick to back out of menus it will back right out of the game and close it. Loading the auto save will bring you to your last docked location, but it is still really annoying.
When using graphics the window is too small, a maximize option would be really nice.
Lack of hot keys to check current location, resources where you are, or listing of celestial objects. You just have to spin in a circle and try to ping one of them. This could be streamlined for much easier navigation using a primary and secondary auto pilot system.
Not having a world map. Being able to load a map of your faction and choose the sector you want to auto pilot to would be really nice, and it would allow for easier understanding of navigation when getting started.
Random Economy: it is just based on randomness. Having this tied to a story, or game events would make for a much more interesting experience.
The sounds are a bit odd, some may classify them as low quality. This doesn’t matter to me, but for some this may be an issue. I’ve heard the sounds will be updated, so this may be a temporary con for some people. I’d add points for great sound, but I wouldn’t ever take away for bad sounds. You can also add in your own sound changes.
Very subjective, it is offline. I would love to see something like this more time based for navigation, and to have it be multiplayer. That would be one of the greatest audio games ever made in my opinion.
Score: 8.5/10(reasoning below)
It is a really good game, and it fully delivers on what it is. There are some features we just don’t see in audio games, and the only real cons I have are no confirm to exit, and hotkey’s for picking stuff to navigate to easier. It is hard to learn, but I see that as a good thing, A lot of games are made too easy lately and I’m not a fan of this trend. Some hot keys to make navigation more intuitive would be appreciated and would make the game play more streamlined as well. The size of the world in this game is quite amazing, and it does allow for a whole bunch of expansion down the road. I would have no problem giving this game a 10 out of 10 if there was more stuff to do and more equipment to upgrade. There is no ending, but once you have everything there isn’t much else to do until the game is updated.
I fully encourage everyone to download and play this game, you will get angry when learning how to navigate, but after that you will probably really enjoy the challenge of it. We simply don’t have any audio games like this, and it is well worth the time to learn how to play.
The BSG New Horizons Live Stream
Date: Saturday January 19, 2019
Time: 3:30 Eastern Time
Where: BSG Live Page
You can check the current eastern time on the BSG live page.
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