Horace, Switch Review. A Great Expansion Of The Platformer Genre


Let’s analyze Horace, a video game by Paul Helman that surprised us with his strong commitment to storytelling and gameplay that doesn’t stop growing at every step

Unique and amazing. These are the first qualifiers that come to mind after playing Horace. This is something you need to keep in mind, because we promise you that the images you were able to see do not do justice to this. large small store. Yes, you can ingest something else in the relevant launch trailer. We then look at some of the vast and diverse amount of things it keeps inside. Likewise, that is what you see in that video but a huge iceberg rocking with vigor. Wait for us for a moment in this Review, we have no doubt but, after reading the text, we will have aroused your curiosity to play it. We gathered the last piece of the robot together and started walking.

Classical music as a soundtrack, Literary quotes to open each chapter, the beginning of Halloween John Carpenter, Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Pinocchio, Asimov robots, Artificial Intelligence teddy, the story from painting from Altamira caves to Dalí going via Munch or even Leonardo Da Vinci, video games starting from Tennis for Two and Pong with stops in Sega arcades, joints, hallucinatory mushrooms, the Strauss de Strauss Zarathustra making connections to the lysergic end of 2001 A space odyssey … All of this and much more is referenced in Horace in his first half hour of playing! We believe it is because of the author of the work. Pól helman turn these scattered elements into a meta-story, and the beginning of the pixelated image of the former British television production company Thames, in which we read his name, is already a declaration of intent.

Accumulation of references as a form of identification

Because the cataract of such data can only be started from a firm, conscious and, no doubt, personal purpose: more or less than include in your work all the audio-visual material that helped you define as a person, as a creator. It could be a naval wink, like that warehouse we cross in two seconds where a dusty and Nike air-skate from Back to the Future 2 lives with the Ark of the Covenant, or something assimilated with mechanics and storytelling, like an example of various stages we play, with the colors and shapes of the Spectrum games, on an old tube TV that the Queen of Hearts shook from Alice in Wonderland. It is not a whim, therefore, because the result feels like a wild tour of Helman’s memories and cultural baggage. And whether that recognition is one of Horace’s great pillars.

The robot Horace takes possession of the Artificial Intelligence boy who became a two-hundred-year-old man. It is a pure and perfect thing being created by imperfect and imperfect humans. Like his literary references, our vulnerable main character is unable to think in folds against deception or bad faith, finds it difficult to catch jokes and knows no evil, no death … until he is seen before him in the figure of its creator. His synthetic brain has been hanging for years in the face of something he is unable to assimilate: the passage from existence to nothingness. And Horace dreams, during that long period of disconnection from the world, that he pursues an unacceptable image of his father who is missing through the clouds. When you reconnect your mind, everything you knew has changed around you, in a worse way.

Horace, Switch Review. A great expansion of the platformer genre

The narrative is always in the first person. Horace’s monotonous synthetic voice tells us with the same premise what is happy and sad, about family circumstances or those in danger. It is a story that is free of irony, enhanced by the insane and mechanical vocabulary, where the questions arise again and again. Horace is constantly wondering what is happening and why, but he rarely gets an answer. We guess a figurative heart beating behind a cold sheet of his chest, protection between tangled cables and springs. Because the words released haptotically by your vocal synthesizer keep emotion, fear and love hidden between zeros and words.

Horace may seem ugly at first glance. His square cases, in which everything is placed at the service of the game, do not at first help to empathize with what we have said. Magic happens at playtime. By the time we start going through these scenarios, we have already spent some time getting to know the various main characters of the game. It is in short distances, in the media and in close relationships when the classic story rules, what we see reflected the feelings and emotions in those pixelated faces.

Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep?

The work of animation is outstanding, and it is able to show, with the slight change of a few pixels, the double intentions in eyes that do not yet stop, the doubt in a trembling thumb, the resignation against denies, love in arched eyelashes and in the laughter that is visible beneath them. We argue, all of this is based on the proper repositioning of the few pieces in the face and body. The result of this is that it does not cost any empathy, not only with Horace, but with the rich and diverse group of characters that accompany it.

Horace, Switch Review. A great expansion of the platformer genre

Another of the great values ​​of the game is his ability (not effort, that is the mastery he gives) show something new almost at every turn. The essence of the gameplay is scenarios full of obstacles that kill us with one touch. We have magnetic boots that continually redefine the playing field and the way we perform our actions. The floor, wall and ceiling change their roles and force us to adapt in terms of physics and gravity. Many times the solution to a situation is as simple as rethinking the situation and acting accordingly.

The control is fine, with jerseys that perfectly correspond to the intensity we want to give them. The levels progress in complexity in increasingly labyrinthine stages, approaching the games of those games where progress is a real hell. An effective role-playing component will allow us to increase the number of contacts we can receive. When the game sees that we are dying more than necessary, it gives us little by little orbs that will make our way more bearable. We can catch them or ignore them, which will depend on the player’s hard profile which is more or less the same.

Horace, Switch Review. A great expansion of the platformer genre

As we discussed above with the stages of the spectrum plan, we will have multiple versions in form and substance, such as short first-person moments or car dyes that give more variety to the whole. For their part, the final bosses maintain the great general level with imaginative mechanics that even draw the bullet-hell spirit to sustain our lives. Diverse and increasing difficulty, they rarely disappoint.

Due to the extensive and interconnected 2D nature of the game scrolling is more difficult as we progress through our adventure. We can move the train through different stations on a map. In each of them we will find places where we can sell the waste we were cleaning around the world (Did someone say Wall-E?) And, with the money raised, we will improve the talents of our robots. For extra money we have the possibility to respond to job offers from the post office, restaurants, a brick factory … The fact of the matter is that this is even fun, because it is based on mini music and rhythm games that they have a great background of melodies. We will get too arcade rooms In which you play, for a few coins, emulsion games from Out Run, Space Invader, or After Burner.

Horace, Switch Review. A great expansion of the platformer genre

With a bit of luck and after more than ten hours behind us, we will find a cinema that will activate an extensive gallery in the main house featuring videos of the previously seen series and a juke box to listen to the soundtrack. . The huge number of boxes to be unlocked will give us an insight into the vastness of the title and everything that remains to be enjoyed. In this way, the increasingly difficult struggle to reach the end will be vivid by tons of referrals. Did you think these stopped appearing after the prologue? Well hold on to it, as it’s a complete metaphor in which we get Fritz Lang’s Metropolis from 1927, the ear scene in Reservoig Dogs, the bad sharks from the Bonds movies, The Wizard of Oz, Elthon John, The amazing car, the Volkswagen Herbie , the Wilson ball from Shipwreck, Friday the 13th mask, Metallica, the famous soccer match between enemy trenches from World War I, the spirit detector from Ghostbusters, Big Wish machine, Green Day, Star Wars canteen with its grim server, his TV interview mythical with Richard Nixon, Monty Python, Metal Gear Solid, Quotes from Sakespeare, Alexander Dumas, Benjamin Franklin, ahem, Princess Diana, etc, etc, etc.

Pixelated emotions

The robotic but delicate protagonist builds himself on the basis of adding memories, as much as those accumulated by the author of the game for a lifetime. If we are what we see, what we hear, what we create, the art that has given us a mark, what we feel and live, after more than nine years of hard work Paul Helman gives us a monumental biopsy with Horace. Message too: We can always be better people.

Horace, Switch Review. A great expansion of the platformer genre


Horace is able to surprise every step. It always offers radical new things in the form of mechanics or scenarios. It is a 2D pixelated platform that bets on a strong narrative component. Because of the excellent work in character design, we can fully enter a humanitarian story from the innocent eye of a robot. Hundreds of references to culture (video game, literary, cinematographic, television, pictorial, musical) are permeated on everything until they become one more series of the story. It is an extremely diverse, demanding but fair game, a classic worthy little successor to Artificial Intelligence or The Bicentennial Man. Strange, delicate, noble … The Horace robot is not made more human by wearing a suit, tie and bowling hat, but by its huge and pure heart.

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