“An unmissable 5 star tale that sets a new standard.”
Horace is a classic platforming tale of a small robot on a big adventure that is without a doubt, hours of fun from start to finish. The amazing thing is that it was made by just two very passionate & talented people, Paul Helman & Sean Scaplehorn who clearly put their heart and soul into this game and was published by 505 Games. Whilst being truly brilliant in not just it’s story, level design and script, Horace pays tribute to other games in the revered platforming genre from the 80’s and 90’s, whilst also nodding it’s red and blue fedora to British humour, with nicely paced references to other retro games to boot.
Offering just over 15 hours of exciting old school action platforming, fused with some fresh & innovative ideas that breathe new life into the classic platforming genre,
Horace pushes the boundaries of the genre with profound storytelling & quirky, nostalgic pop culture references. Story wise, Horace is both quirky and over the top and will keep you playing from start to finish with what can only be likened to the Disney tale of Pinocchio. As already mentioned, Horace is a robot who is designed to learn how to function like a human. After being brought to life by a character known only as The Old Man, Horace has an idealized childhood, raised in a huge mansion around weird and irregular characters, including one that has a fondness for Magic Mushrooms, which Horace also partakes in, due to his naivety in not realising what they are.
With the old man as his mentor, Horace comes to learn what his meaning is in life, ( that being a robot bin-man), and as such develops several skills akin to what you’d expect from a platformer. These obvious initial skills include running, jumping and a dash jump, however as you progress, Horace is gifted Anti Gravity Boots, which he can use to walk up walls and on the ceiling and gloves that enable him to pick up heavy objects and hurl them at enemies, which comes in handy as you make your way past several bosses, cracking puzzles and partaking in timed dangers and events, including a drum battle (think Guitar Hero).
In all, Horace takes original typical platforming tropes and gives the genre several new ones, including a ball which when holding it, allows you to jump twice as high whilst hanging from the ceiling. Its unique desire to make Horace a standout platformer is what makes Horace excel, and quite possibly become the new benchmark for platforming games. Although it can be slightly repetitive in it’s gameplay, coupled with an awesome soundtrack, Horace is without a doubt, one of the best platformers ever made and that repetitiveness does not diminish what is a spark of genius creativity . The story, like the mechanics, is also well done. Told through Horace’s sense of naïve, childlike wonder, as you guide Horace through the trials and tribulations of what the living and a sentient robot may experience in their lifetime.
If you are interested in superb level design, excellent storytelling, terrifically detailed 2D pixel art graphics, emotionally evocative chip music, great vibrant characters that are full of humorous touches, hilarious situations that will have you shouting out loud & emotional gut-punches, then Horace is an absolute no-brainer. It’s moving without being manipulative, clever without being too smug, and nostalgic without being a lazy rehash. Horace is an indie masterpiece, which every gamer who enjoys a quality gaming experience should play. A masterpiece that owes so much to its medium, but has the strength, creativity & identity to stand alone as something very, very special indeed. Although, it has been lost in the Nintendo Catalogue shuffle, do not sleep on what is, one of the best Switch games out there.
I highly recommend adding this superb indie classic to your switch library ASAP! As such, Horace get’s the full 5 stars from me & a must- play for any gamer loving Platform Action Games of the highest calibre. Horace is out now on Nintendo Switch and PC!
ShinobiRyder is a freelance games journalist for ICUGamer and an independent reviewer. You can find him on Twitter @Wkdplay
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