I’ve started to notice a theme that’s becoming more and more popular these days: space is lonely. Granted this isn’t a new idea by any stretch, but it’s been popping up fairly often in games and films lately. Last Horizon takes a similar approach, though you’ll probably be too busy frantically dodging asteroids and trying not to crash on alien worlds to worry about human interaction.
Each of Last Horizon’s progressively more difficult flights requires you to make your way across the vast expanse of space in order to reach and terraform a new Earth-like home. Though in this instance space isn’t too terribly vast, because otherwise there wouldn’t really be an end. You have to hop from planet to planet, gathering resources when you land to refill oxygen tanks, repair the hull, and so on. You’ll also want to find planets with specific biomes (forest, volcanic, and so on) so that you can use that information to better colonize your destination planet.
This sounds somewhat complicated but really all it requires is steering a ship around Asteroids style (i.e. turn left/right and move forward). What’s really interesting and cool is how the context of the controls changes as you go from drifting through space to landing on a planet. Once you get close enough gravity will start to affect the ship, which shifts everything to more of a Lunar Lander style game. Assuming you land gently enough on a flat enough surface, your ship will automatically extract whatever resources it might need while refilling the tanks and repairing itself. Or in the case of a biome planet it’ll copy the necessary info – just take care not to hang around for too long or you’ll suck the planet dry and turn it into a desolate rock. And that’s not cool.
Last Horizon has this almost peaceful way about it, with some fairly mellow music and simple but wonderfully stylized graphics. This is something of a double-edge sword however, since it’ll probably lull you into a false sense of security before bombarding you with a meteor shower after you’ve landed. Or clipping you with a comet while in flight. Or bouncing you off of a large asteroid and into a sun. I generally don’t mind a little randomness in my games as it improves replay value, and I still don’t really mind it here, but sometimes it can feel like the deck is seriously stacked against you from the beginning.
Similarly, both due to the randomness and the roguelike nature of Last Horizon (that’s correct, it’s a “one life and done” kind of game), the difficulty might be a bit off-putting to some. I’ve certainly had my share of frustration thanks to some poorly timed (and placed) hazards, though I’m still enjoying myself, but I also know that not everyone has the patience for games like this. So just, you know, be aware.
Last Horizon is a great little mellow but not really mellow space adventure that reminds me a little bit of Out There if it was more arcade-y and less simulation-y. That is to say I really like it, though it can certainly be frustrating at times. Still, it sort of comes with the terraforming territory.