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Horn™ Review

By Andrew Nesvadba, on August 20, 2012


Horn™
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Beautiful and atmospheric environments including creepy, yet familiar cursed inhabitants.
  • Wonderfully executed narrative; occasional moments of humor keep the mood light.
  • Solid combat tied to a crafting system; farming not required.

CONS

  • Background crashes and level glitches forces level restarts.
  • No way to skip loading movie.
  • Heavy iDevice requirements; anything short of 4S and iPad 2 will have a bad time.

VERDICT

Horn brings a rich fantasy world to life, combining elements of classic and modern adventure titles to create something all its own; an incredibly engaging title and a definite must have.


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When Phosphor Games came out with The Dark Meadow they proved one thing in particular - they know how to craft a world from the ground up. Their latest release Horn comes to us care of casual gaming giant 'Zynga', but its a far cry from the time-sink cash grabs of the past, teleporting players to a world that melds adventuring classics like Zelda and Fable with the visual appeal of Team Ico's best, and ties it all together with Infinity Blade's slashing RPG-lite gameplay. In short, it's a jaw dropping title for the mobile platform.

Poor Horn finds himself alone in a broken and abandoned tower, with nothing more than a musical instrument, a strange crystal, and a rusty sword to protect him. Thus begins a journey of discovery as he realizes his world has been cursed, transforming its living inhabitants in to undying machinations.

Horn's beautiful Unreal engine powered world offers players a classic adventure setup. Taps move Horn around and allow him to interact with various world features including light puzzles to break up the string of battles that punctuate each stage. Approaching an enemy will initiate a separate control system where swipes produce a familiar series of weapon slashes, and contextual buttons on the side and bottom of the screen give you a chance to dodge the brutal strikes directed towards you.

Combat acts as a central element to Horn's gameplay, directing the resources you collect towards upgrading the many weapons, items and armor pieces you can craft in order to make combat easier. Despite the limited variety of enemies, you'll find yourself working hard to break through their defenses, hopefully exposing a weak point in order to swing the battle in your favor. It doesn't share the same back-and-forth complexity of something like Infinity Blade, but it does make for speedier encounters.

As such the combat never detracts from the strong narrative flow. Occasional journal entries provide a deeper insight to the town of Cuthbert, its surroundings and its cursed inhabitants; the voice-acting feels pitch-perfect; and the rich environments create an atmosphere that's rich despite its linear design.

All of this beauty does come with a heavy cost, notably the game will look and feel very rough on anything short of an iPhone 4S, or iPad 2. Other problems include the occasional background crash and glitched environment that will require an area restart, but resources aren't lost, so it's more of a waste of time than anything else.

It's rare enough to get a game this pretty, let alone one that also manages to marry its gameplay and narrative together to create something magical, making Horn an absolute must for those who own a new enough iDevice to play the game smoothly.

Screenshots

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