Horace is a platformer game, and a title I refer to as ‘new retro’, in that it’s a new game, but one that has a retro feel, since this is set to appeal to anyone with a penchant for the 8-bit and 16-bit era.
You’re the titular robot who has been built by ‘The Old Man’, and given how much of a mess the big house is, it’s your job to clean it. Given that this title has a number of influences from yesteryear, it doesn’t take a child of the ’80s to realise that the first reference is Jet Set Willy. Naturally, Manic Miner is also one. Plus, there’s lots of well-known classical music pieces, which is great for me as I love all of those. It did make me wonder, that even though many of them are very old: Have they really licensed all this music? Perhaps that’s why one or two have been changed ever so slightly, so they don’t have to pay royalties.
Either way, a version of If I Were A Rich Man comes up along the way in some levels.
One good thing I discovered late on, though, is that even when you quit out of the game and into the main menu, if you do that mid-level, then when you continue your game, it won’t make you restart the level from the beginning – which was my fear. Well, that wouldn’t have been an issue if the chapters were only 20-30 mins gameplay like the first three I tried, but I was playing Chapter 4 for nigh-on three hours and didn’t reach the end, as I’d had enough by that point.
The chapter lengths really shouldn’t be so inconsistent. It reminds me of playing Beyond Two Souls on PS3. I’d think – “Just one more level, and then I’ll make dinner”, and then after a level that lasted 5 minutes, the next one lasted 80! And I don’t want to pause games as I’m recording gameplay.
On the plus side, the game tells a very affecting storyline, and there are influences from many 80s games including the aforementioned ones, plus Donkey Kong and Super Mario, and each level has a great number of mini games, so there is a lot to do in the game, but while it’s fun for a few hours, the endless deaths and repetitive gameplay do grate a bit at that point.
I think it was Rocky Balboa who once said, “I ain’t gonna quit!”, but I felt I had no choice, as I was getting really tired of it all…. Would that make me a ‘Horace wimp’?
Either way, I’ve put some queries to the PR company so am awaiting replies, especially since I understood I had access to a press version of this game so it should let me play some scenes later in the game without having to grind to get there. However, this wasn’t working for me at the time of playing it, so I don’t know what happened there. Horace certainly has potential, and I want to explore the rest of the story, but it does have issues that need fixing.
At the time of posting this review, just Chapter 1’s gameplay has been posted, but I will add more as the days go by…
Score so far: 7/10
Horace is out now on PC.
- Developer: Paul Helman, Sean Scaplehorn
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Players: single player
- Languages: English
- Subtitles: English
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.