Game of the Week: Last Horizon – Interplanetary exploration

Last Horizon

Last Horizon is one part resource management and two parts don’t-crash-into-that-planet simulator.

Imagine FTL and classic arcade game Asteroids combined forces to create a minimalist mobile game and you’ll have a good idea of how PixelJam’s latest game plays.

Your spaceship controls much like it does in Asteroids, and in fact, looks like a modern rendition of that particular craft. In order to navigate between planets the player needs to spin and use the ship’s thrusters sparingly, keeping a close eye on the fuel gauge located at the top left corner of the screen.

last horizon
The catch is you need to keep your fuel and oxygen resources at a high enough level to continue your never-ending mission of jumping between planets in order to locate the necessary material to create a habitable planet. On your journey you’ll quickly discover only some planets are full of resources, while others are barren wastelands of nothingness.

Players spin and fly between various planets, dodging space rocks and comets over the course of their mission. The most challenging aspect of the game is landing carefully on each planet without damaging your spacecraft. This requires careful maneuvering and a significant amount of patience, especially when a planet’s surface isn’t level and you’re forced to land on a specific portion of its jagged terrain. Trust me, landing your ship without any mistakes is not an easy task.

The game also adopts the “roguelike” randomly generated level trend that’s seen a revival in the gaming industry lately. There aren’t multiple lives in Last Horizon and the player has only one chance to complete his or her mission. If you fail, whether it’s by crashing your spacecraft into a planet because of mismanaged thruster force, or because you’ve run out of fuel, the mission is over. Then it’s time to start all over again.

This subtle change to the “life” method games traditionally adopt raises the stakes significantly and forced me to second guess almost every decision I made in the game. Should I try to navigate through that asteroid field directly in front of me in order to reach a nearby planet? Maybe I should play it safe and thrust to the right instead, hoping to locate a new earth covered sphere that’s hopefully full of much-needed resources.

Last Horizon 2
Staying alive longer than a few minutes is a difficult task and actually reaching a planet suitable for terraforming is equally difficult. This means that when you do finally find a suitable planet, the task feels like an accomplishment and something special.

Like all great looking mobile games, Last Horizon features simple, minimalistic visuals and a muted colour palette. The player’s insignificant white speck of a spaceship looks like it’s floating into the abyss, just as it should given the game’s focus on deep space exploration.

Last Horizon amounts to an exceedingly entertaining, bite-sized, arcade version of Subset Games’ FTL. It’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in Last Horizon’s elegant world.

Last Horizon is priced at $3.49 on the Apple App Store and $3.98 on the Google Play Store.