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Horace review

We give our verdict on this story-driven, pixel-platform adventure.

Credit: 505 Games / Paul Helman

Horace comes to us from developers Paul Helman and Sean Scaplehorn telling us the story of a robot AI, discovering and internalizing the brave new world around him. As the tale of Horace’s experiences are told in first person, we often get insight as to how an AI might interpret situations and solve society’s loose logic. He starts out wonderfully bare; impressionable and receptive–he’s placed into a family where he learns basic social dynamics, and begins to understand the value of a human life. Fortunately, Horace has generally very good intentions with the interactions around him–saving people and serving them blindly.

As it’s very story driven, you’ll find yourself in very in-depth cutscenes for the whole of Horace’s gameplay. Built with great cinematic influence, visuals tend to focus on the feelings of a scene rather than flashy action. There is a bit of everything though, and wonderfully enough these cutscenes tend to hold your attention and immerse you into the situations at hand. Horace’s voice sounds hauntingly hollow with text-to-speech processing his every word through the narrative.

Watch the Horace launch trailer below:

Horace’s evolution through the story takes you through some heavy human emotions, but on the whole it feels like his outlook is meant to spin it to be more on the lighthearted side. You can mill him around to stop and collect junk lying around, which is how Horace believes he’ll become real. Scattered all around, it’s a nice way to practise jumping and sharpen your exploring skills.

Horace’s platforming usually has a sense of urgency to it depending on where you are in the storyline. Pressure sensitive jumping is important in order to avoid certain environmental traps–and there’s a lot to traverse! Not too long in Horace will start to receive modifications to the way he goes about things: starting with boots that stick to any floor surface. This will take hold of the camera and tip him upside down, sideways, and open a brand new Pandora’s Box of platforming puzzles to take on. This alone is a very well done and entertaining feature of the gameplay…and feels exciting to execute. As he progresses through his adventure, he’ll come across more abilities that only add to the overall experience.

View some Horace screenshots in our gallery:

It’s not always broken up in the best pacing manner, but Horace isn’t so much about the action as it is the story. Ticking all the boxes in spinning a well-told tale, you might find yourself invested sooner than you think. With the epic tone of what’s going on in Horace’s world and mind, none of this is distracted by the colourful pixel art, and combined with the talent of the way the cinematic were pulled off–it turns to be quite enthralling. Hiding around corners will be references to nostalgia, 8-bit and 16-bit eras alike, making ears perk up from the grown-up generation of gamers like myself.

Horace takes some brain power to complete, along with some snappy platforming chops in tow. There’s plenty of cutscenes, and story to digest. If running and gunning is more your style of gameplay, you might like to steer clear–otherwise, Horace is a beautiful storybook of a simple, likable AI and the chaotic world that surrounds him.

Horace was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.

Publisher: 505 Games Developer: Paul Helman, Sean Scaplehorn Release Date: 18th July, 2019 Reviewed On: PC/Steam


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