60 people found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 12.6 hrs on record
Posted: Jan 11, 2020 @ 9:44am
Updated: Jan 11, 2020 @ 9:45am
Product received for free

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Horace doesn't look like much from the outside, but sure packs a lot on the inside. What makes this game stand out is that in every aspect of gaming that it touches, it shows its true and unique worth to shine.

Puzzle platforming at its best asks the players to perform precise movements with perfect timing and yet still needing to think to get through the individual zones. Horace has some internal mechanisms built in to facilitate a completely disorienting amount of brain-juice squeezing action before you can move on in many zones. Your movements do not have to be point perfect, though that does help.

Difficulty in gaming has fluctuated a lot over the years. Ultra high difficulty games in the arcades meant that a select few people played them, due to limited coins in the pockets of the frequent fliers who are barely old enough to peek over the barrier to grab the controls; whereas easy games were not challenging enough to be fun. More home consoles meant that difficulty adjustments were reasonable. Mass production of third-party games led to a dramatic decrease in game difficulty. Steam gives the platform for people to rage quit and to never look at a game again, despite intrinsic worth of the games themselves.

In Horace, difficulty is a gradual climb for most of the game. It never stops increasing. It's built in such a way that just when you start to get comfortable with the game mechanics, something really mind-bending gets in the way for you to have to start doing your actions more efficiently, more timely, and more accurately. If you were to watch someone play the later levels without having seen the beginning, you would think that it's a game only for the hardcore 2D platforming audience. But in reality, the game builds up gradually and allows every mediocre platforming fan to enjoy a large chunk of the game, with also a steady increase in self-confidence to perhaps progress a bit further.

If you think this game is too linear as you play, just keep playing. Once the story progresses to a certain point, you have a huge open world to explore at your leisure. The difficulty is rather high at that point, and so some casual players may never get there, but it's just when you think you are nearing the end of the game and then the game tells you, "Nope, good luck trying to finish!"

The boss fights that I have encountered so far are all pattern-based, so it goes back to the old-school learning the patterns and doing your best. All of the bosses are different, and there are hardly anything that ever repeats. You just have to learn to deal with each one. Each boss is in itself a mini-puzzle and very fun to play through. They are pretty easy to figure out though, but knowing what to do and executing are two different entities. The difficulty in bosses are just like in the levels themselves--a progressive climb that will offer quite a consistent challenge, even as you become more accustomed to the game. The latter half of the game may be a bit too difficult for the casual gamer, so don't be upset if you can't finish the game. (I, for one, am such a player who will likely not finish due to the difficulty spike.)

I think every screen/room in this game has been optimized for speedrunning. The game is huge and massively long, and I don't know if there are any possible cheap skips that can be exploited for speedrunning. There is a quick death + reset mechanisms in place. The traps, enemy movement patterns, and everything within each room that are precisely designed to accomodate the carefully observant and meticulous players or the reckless head-first players, you can see just how much attention was paid to the details of this game. I would love to see a speedrun of this game. I would love to see a deathless speedrun, should anyone dare to try.

How did the games of yesteryear capture our imagination so much with heavily pixelated graphics and often simple gameplay? Engaging in the imagination is a must. This is much in the same way that we can be captivated by books that build up a world and characters in such palpable realistic existance that we want nothing to do with our own lives, but to go to live and breathe the air through the pages and the words. Storytelling way out-dates modern video games, but just because a game doesn't use the last bit of juice from your newest processor and graphics card doesn't mean that it cannot generate a world to captivate an audience. Horace lives in its perfectly constructed and heavily pixelated 2D world that is bound by its story. It appeals to a wider audience with its many popular culture references at are often funny. Sure, the theme and the main storyline isn't a new progression that deserves any award, but pieced together and attached to the animated picture book gives you a wonderfully heart-warming tale that should make you smile.

What helps to blend a dramatic scene in a movie to grip the audience is often a wonderful soundtrack. I am sure I am not the only one listening to movie soundtracks often to relive memorable moments from movies by the way that the music plucks at those heart strings. When you get down to playing Horace, the music will not sound orchestral, it will not sound complex. It's sounds like an old-school console game with the simplistic midi soundtrack. But the music composition is nothing to scoff at. There are ups and downs in life, as there are in this game. There are unexpectedly sideways situations too here. But what really stands out about the music is the appropriate remaking of many popular theme songs. You just have to play it to understand what I am talking about. I won't ruin it for you. But be prepared to smile even more.

Gameplay
2D puzzle platforming with progressive challenges. Mini-games built in to offer a break from the platforming as well that are done quite well. Most of the mini-games are rhythm-based.

Controls
I am playing with a controller and it works perfectly. The keyboard works perfectly fine too, but I prefer to hold a gamepad when playing this kind of game.

Graphics
2D pixelated artwork and animations that are done really well.

Music & Sounds
Have I not gushed enough above?

Audience
If you are willing to give 2D platforming a try, try this game. If you are a standard 2D-plaforming fan, this is a must-play game.

Pricing
Worth every bit of the asking price at $14.99 US. This game is going up for free on the Epic Games Store next week, so at least grab it to try, and support the developers in whatever way you wish should you enjoy the game. I am sure that if you don't enjoy the game, they would want to know as well.

Positives
+Everything

Negatives
-So I do not think I can finish the game myself, which is a real shame, because I want to. That's the only negative thing I have to say. There are plenty of checkpoints in place, even mid-boss checkpoints that make the game reasonable, though. So it's just my lack in skills, and I will own up to it.

Conclusion
Horace is an absolute hidden gem and has not seen much attention due to its pixelated 2D platforming nature in our current state of popular gaming. But do give it a try, it's absolutely worth your time and money. But if you don't have the money to spend on it, it's coming next week to Epic Games Store for free, so I hope you at least give it a try.

I really have nothing negative to say about this game.

In my book, it's a solid 10/10.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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11 Comments
YQMaoski Apr 6, 2020 @ 10:21am 
Thanks for the follow, @mit, much appreciated. I am glad that you found this game to your interest. Definitely a true gem. :D
mit Apr 6, 2020 @ 9:35am 
I'm following your curator page for some time now. And thanks to your detailed and great review, I've found this gem. Thank you very much.
OxocatoBoy Feb 28, 2020 @ 9:18pm 
tl;dr
YQMaoski Feb 16, 2020 @ 9:23am 
This game is an absolute gem, the difficulty curve is just right, I think. It gets to be rather intense where I eventually hit a wall, but definitely really well-made.
FruitNDoggie Feb 16, 2020 @ 9:21am 
A gradual difficulty curve? Already that sounds promising.
YQMaoski Jan 14, 2020 @ 7:37pm 
Thanks, hope you have fun!
janner66 Jan 14, 2020 @ 11:45am 
Great Review. Will play this on Epic. Thanks.
YQMaoski Jan 12, 2020 @ 3:59am 
Thank you very much! I hope you take the opportunity to check it out as well!
SPEXWISE Jan 11, 2020 @ 5:28pm 
Thanks mate great review as always.
YQMaoski Jan 11, 2020 @ 10:53am 
Sounds great!