Star Story: The Horizon Escape Review

The brave pilot of the space “Mini Cooper”, who did not reach the rank of Commander Shepard, but still ready to carry out important missions in the name of the galaxy, flies to save crucial scientific data from a lost research ship on another interstellar frontier. His lonely light years are brightened by the artificial intelligence Nekortana, who also helps the hero in his adventures. Spoiler: it so happens that exactly at the coordinates of the mission, there is something capable of destroying the entire universe. New planet, new enemies, new friends – all within a reasonable fifteen minutes for one playthrough!

Five of which will be taken up by the prologue.

A cosmic journey of discovery

Star Story: The Horizon Escape nobly wants to bring together a happy Swedish family, a text-based quest, science fiction, a casual setting, and simplified mechanics from “big” games. If you suddenly remembered such entertainment as Faster Than Light, you remembered correctly. The developers of SS about FTL also did not forget and inserted their own twist into the game. The formula for success for these projects is truly the same. The proportions are different.

No matter how the game’s title tries to deceive us, the story of the journey to, um, the planet “Horizon” is the main attraction. We fly to a remote planet, the spaceship makes an emergency landing, and then it’s up to us. The first serious crossroads happens almost immediately, and the road splits into three different directions. What to do, go towards the caught SOS signal, try to dig out our ship from the ground, or go on a hunt for local artifacts? And how will all of this affect the main mission? And according to all the laws of the genre, there will only be even more branching of the plot. The developers say that there are a total of 24 different endings here.

In short, the narrative in Star Story is the main dish. The other elements are more like spices, seasoning the story of how our adventurer first landed not very successfully, then tried to solve urgent problems, then met the locals, and so on.

In other words, a visual novel. And what is the main flaw of the overwhelming majority of visual novels? That’s right, they have a problem with interactivity. To choose every half an hour whether to go with a schoolgirl with big eyes and an unconventional approach to hair coloring or to go home and do virtual lessons – oh, and if only you could go somewhere to a non-alcoholic school bar? Or personally choose which classmate to pursue?

Exploring the vastness of space

In the sense, it would be great for us to shoot from science fiction laser guns ourselves and set up a crafting and leveling hub. We would immerse ourselves more in the game atmosphere, progressing through the story would be more interesting, and overall. That would be awesome, that would be cool.

And all of this actually appeared in our Star Story! For example, random encounters and turn-based battles with lots of different weapons and four types of damage – corrosive, fire, electric, and, um, regular. And also different types of armor, so that guns had to be used in the right order. But let’s not stop there – guns can and should be upgraded. Of course, through continuous resource searching and advanced blueprints.

But you can’t craft everything at once, first the character must level up! Three classic branches are offered to choose from – intelligence, strength, and charisma. And all three are leveled up to the maximum, fortunately this focus is quickly discovered.

Wow, the interactive quest is starting, hold on to it.

Navigating the stars and celestial wonders

It is evident that at some stage of the evolution of game mechanics in a picture book, the designers finally realized the need for a sight on a non-stressful casual game and got scared. As a result, a prologue was attached to the main story, which literally explains step by step what Star Story is and how it works. You laughed at how the text author describes the simplest game elements and explains easily understandable mechanics, while the game even teaches them. With a serious face.

God forbid a casual player gets lost and gets upset. They promised a simple and enjoyable quest, and here you go. Some kind of leveling up, skill points, the need to use items. Damn it. The demons trapped the casual player in a basement with hardcore combat, damn it.

I declare as an experienced gamer: if I were 12 years old, I would go play “Counter-Strike”, and if Star Story were just my first game, I would grasp its basic rules on the fly. Developers, why did you overdo it? You already have all the healthy and understandable icons, weapons and armor are visually coded so that the combat is intuitively understandable, and there are hints on the dialogue options, indicating which reply will give what bonus. Let me go straight to the first level, you have the basics understood without explanations, and your tutorial doesn’t teach the non-trivial aspects of the game.

As a result, it feels like you go through the first level twice in the debut attempt. On the other hand, Star Story only has four “levels”.

The release version did find something to surprise with. A subtle walk through an alien desert literally turned into a real Dark Souls after just 20 minutes from its start. My hero died. Not from a completely stupid fight, not from a suicidal mood in dialogues, no. The protagonist honestly followed the quickly discovered plot scenario, chose adequate replies, and the text transparently hinted that everything was going according to plan. It’s just that the plan, as it suddenly turned out, was to not let the hero reach the happy ending.

The evacuation looming on the horizon turned into two paragraphs of uneven text battle, sudden betrayal, and an intermediate game over.

Unraveling the mysteries of the horizon

It turns out that out of the 24 proposed endings, almost all of them are about how our hero died a death of some degree of nobility. And then the game makes a joke out of it. Tharsis Just now in Tharsis there was a powerful plot twist, in Star Story – a reason for a “New Game Plus”. In other words, the story’s mechanism is turned back, we once again harshly land on the planet, but now we have, firstly, experience points and inventory from the previous playthrough, and secondly, some knowledge about the grim near future and guesses on how to prevent it.

The real endgame of this seemingly casual entertainment is to piece together the mosaic of a grand story, leading each first journey through the “Horizon” to a sad end, and break the vicious circle. That’s why it takes only a little time for a single playthrough. Dunes, ruined cities, and cosmic mysteries are waiting for you again. With a hint that it would be nice to look at the local cube of quest Rubik’s from a new angle.

I’ll be honest: the cool conceptual twist of Star Story stunned me so much that I didn’t reach That Very Ending. I wanted a pleasant epilogue right away, or if not right away, then at least on the fifth attempt. Are we in a casual game or what? The same casualness and narrowness, by the way, started to drag SS down after a couple of hours. The combat doesn’t get deeper over time, the same random encounters become tiresome, the ceiling of development is almost reached, and the plot starts to demand that you turn where you don’t want to and say what you don’t want to.

But even considering the above, a couple of hours can definitely be spent in Star Story. More, if the story hooks you and you want to finish the adventure to the victorious end.

P.S. By the way, almost simultaneously with the release of the game’s client, its Russian version was also released. That is, there will be no language barrier, which is important for a text quest, for any of you, dear readers. The screenshots in English were taken by me “out of habit”.

Star Story: The Horizon Escape
Adventure, Quest
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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