Dark Horizon (PC)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Sunday, September 28, 2008

Graphics: 7.00
Sound: 7.00
Gameplay: 8.50
Replays: 7.50
Gamelength: 8.50

Paradox Interactive’s “Dark Horizon” has come to suck us all in for a deep experience that’s only real flaw is that it has to end sometime.

Space combat games tend to take either a really simple approach or a really in-depth approach. There’s never an sort of good balance of the two styles. Paradox Interactive is looking to change that with the release of “Dark Horizon”, which just so happens to be an in-depth game with an arcade-like feel. There’s tons of backstory, should you choose to read it and the ship customization is excellent. If you’re prepared for a journey of galactic proportions, suit up, hop aboard and put on your reading glasses as we journey together into the world of “Dark Horizon”.

As a young Guardian infected with “The Mirk”, you may just be the only hope for the side of good. That’s about all I can say without spoiling anything, but in truth, this is a story worth checking out for yourself and a lot of story there is. Through tons of well-written bits and pieces, the immensely deep backstory unfolds over the course of this fairly lengthy game and adds an amount of subtle depth to the story that’s simply not found in a lot of games these days. Considering that this title was not made with the largest budget, I’m extremely impressed.

The visuals, while not of the absolute highest calibur are certainly not terrible by any means. This is an easy game to jack up to max settings with 8xAA and force 16xAF through your video card control panel and still get a rock solid 60FPS. The texture quality isn’t the best, the weaponry isn’t all that unique and there’s no sort of impressive lighting or shaders for the most part, but hey, I’m not really complaining. For all intents and purposes, the graphics are above average and get the job done flawlessly.

Sound effect and music quality is equally on par with the visuals in that there’s nothing too fresh here, but again, that’s not a bad thing. However, one thing that this game does extremely well is the voice acting. I was highly impressed from the beginning in the first tutorial and suffice it to say, that impression has stuck with me throughout the entire game. I’m surprised that such a game as this has voice acting of this calibur. Props for that, guys!

If there ever were a such thing as a deep arcade experience, “Dark Horizon” would be it. From the extensive tutorial stages to the intense final mission, there’s a lot to like about this game. The controls are fairly simple, which ties in with the simplistic combat to create a very arcade-like experience during the missions. The combat system is extremely generic, consisting of what can be summed up as “Point, shoot, kill”. Still, while hardcore fans of the genre probably wont go ranting about this title for ages to come, this combat system should please most players. Aside from the combat, there’s always ship customization, which is surprisingly cool. I’m reminded of “Armored Core” to an extent, with all of the various swappable parts. There’s a good amount of weaponry, but most of it is a bit on the generic side. In between missions, there are plenty of well-designed cutscenes and lots of information to be discovered through the use of well-written text, although the text portions are completely optional. Generic as this game may be in some spots, it’s a tidy little package that’s definitely worth the money for anyone looking to experience an epic journey with a lot of sci-fi flavor.

Overall, Paradox Interactive did a great job with “Dark Horizon” and really, all I have to say here is that I hope there’s a sequel or expanded content in the future.

Pros:
-Very stable frame rate.
-Incredibly deep backstory.
-Awesome cutscenes.
-Easy to pick up and play.
-Nice set of tutorials.
-Decent game length.
-Cool ship customization.

Cons:
-Could use some graphical enhancements.
-Expanded weaponry with a few unique additions would be nice.

Bottom Line:
Fan of the genre or not, this game is worth checking out at some point for anyone craving a deep sci-fi story with lots of depth.

Overall Rating: 7.50

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