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Mars Horizon Preview

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 5 - 2020

Take part in the space race.

 
Stuck at home. Unable to leave the house. What is a gamer to do? Well, this past weekend I spent some time running a space agency, which is a first. The Irregular Corporation and Auroch Digital’s Mars Horizon, which is due to launch at some point this year, had their beta over the last week and invited gamers to develop and manage a major space agency with a view to reaching the moon and beyond. Let’s take a look.

 


 
Starting at the very beginning of the space age, beta players were able to choose between three different space agencies, covering America, Russia and Europe. The end game will have five to choose from. While the end goal of the game will be to reach Mars and have an astronaut on the surface, I must admit to not even coming close due to the limitations of the beta. However, my short time spent in the game did see me launching satellites, putting animals into space and even getting as far as the Moon. Reach for the stars they said. They didn’t say to watch out for the rain though.

 
Mars Horizon is very much a management game and will likely pique the interest of any fans of the genre. The player will be responsible for everything involved in the space program, from choosing research and parts for the rockets, to picking the launch window and competing with the other agencies. Yeah, turns out the space race is a cut throat competition.

 


 
Research is at the heart of everything, as the player spends their monthly research points unlocking new missions, new parts for their rockets, and even new buildings for their base. Time moves forward and the player will get different things unlocked, but having to compete with the other agencies, as the rewards for being first are more, adds a certain amount of tension to the game. Everything takes time to complete, from building the actual rocket, to adding more reliability to the launch, so time management is essential.

 
But so is money. Unlocking new buildings for the base will allow the program to move forward, but actually placing these buildings will cost money. Buildings include things like research labs or larger launch pads, allowing for bigger rockets, but even placing them will require decisions. The base is laid out on a grid, and the player will have to remove areas of overgrowth in order to place new buildings. I would assume this means that the player could eventually run out of space, but proximity to other buildings can also have an effect on where to place something new.

 
Even at this point in development, there are a huge number of different rocket components for the player to unlock, with varying sizes, costs and reliability. Once a rocket has finally been built, it comes time for the most exciting part, the launch. Well, first of all the player has to choose a launch window, and if the weather turns out to be less than favourable, they will have to decide if postponing may be the better option. Rushing to beat the other agencies is important, but the reduced faith in your agency from having a catastrophic failure really isn’t worth it. Players will need the support of the public to stay in business.

 


 
With mini games once the player actually reaches space, an already massive selection of things to research, and events popping up for the player to make choices for various rewards, there is never a dull moment when running a space agency. The main missions will move the space race forward, while optional side missions can be taken on to again offer other rewards.

 
Playing the beta was actually far more fun than I was expecting, and the whole “one more mission” mentality quickly set in. Considering the early stage of development, everything ran perfectly smoothly without a single bug. With that said though, there is still a lot that needs to be added. Aside from the further game content that will take the player to the moon, there really needs to be some kind of tutorial. Right now, it is not intuitive to start playing, and needs some explanation. The visuals are fairly simple, but have a certain charm so will not be too much of a negative if they don’t improve. The mini games are quite fun to start with, but quickly become more of a time waster and could do with either some variety, or the chance to skip them altogether.

 


 
But look, this is what betas are for. The developers will take the opinions of those who took part and make their changes. Mars Horizon is due out later this year and will be coming to PS4, Xbox One and Switch alongside PC. I would never have considered it, but it turns out that running a space agency is a lot of fun. Fans of management games who have their heads in then stars should keep an eye on Mars Horizon. Head over to the Mars Horizon Steam page.

 

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