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Between Horizons Review (PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X|S)

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Almost anything can go wrong in space, especially if you are trapped in a ship for decades. This strange concept is a moth-to-light attraction for most developers. Perhaps it’s the vast phenomenon that it represents that draws game studios to eerie events unfolding in space. Or maybe the launch of Neuromancer delivered the eureka moment where noir meets sci-fi and became a great discovery. 

For whatever reason it is, this hybrid genre is a tried-and-tested formula for DigiTales Interactive. Their previous title, Lacuna, introduced us to the detective noir sci-fi that set precedents for any game to walk in its footsteps. The game ideally uses the cyberpunk detective archetype, where you must get to the bottom of a murder mystery. 

Now, Between Horizons picks up the reins from Lacuna, set aboard the first humanity-generation ship. In hindsight, the game draws parallels to its predecessor, with pixel-art graphics and lighting effects that amp up the noir atmosphere. But does the title live up to the hype, or does the Zephyr ship crash and burn? Let’s find out below in our Between Horizons review. 

All Aboard!


Remember Elon Musk’s grave desire to have humanity establish a colony on Mars? As absurd as it sounds, it remains marginally possible, just like it was for the first man to set foot on the moon. But for Stella, our protagonist, this is her reality. Between Horizons tells the tale of a community leaving Earth to explore a different star. There is no background story about why the lot is traveling to another planet, but I guess humanity finally pushed Earth to its limit. And now, it's on to the next one.

Eurus d is the next habitable planet, a few light years away from Earth. 1300 humans, subtly referred to as ‘the only eggs in the second basket,’ make their way to this planet aboard the Zephyr ship, ‘humanity’s first generation ship.’ Ideally, Earth’s habitable status continues to dwindle, and it's up to the Zephyr-ians to complete the mission that would see civilizations jump planets. But after 33 years of space travel, conspiracies start lurking in every corner. Thankfully, aboard the ship is the tenacious Stella. As the daughter of the Chief of Security, Stella takes over this role from her father after his sudden demise. Your role is to ensure the humans aboard the ship successfully complete their mission. 

The game tells its backstory in the first few minutes, which paints a picture of doomed humanity in the course of redemption. The rest of the story unfolds through narrative scenes, which are mostly dialogue between the interesting characters. Lightly, the game feels like another Among Us approach but with better character creations. You must find the culprits or, better yet, impostors jeopardizing the ship’s mission before you run out of time. 

Also, beyond the overarching storyline, the game features subthemes that relate to personal freedom and intergenerational responsibility.

Deciphering the Cosmos

Between Horizons Tutorial between William and Stella

Between Horizon does its best at holding your hand. It’s akin to a toddler whose ever-so-cautious mother keeps giving stern reminders on how to avoid getting hurt. At first, the tutorials do a decent job of helping you navigate the ship. But further on, the game bombards you with information that can feel like a sensory overload. I still can't comprehend why the developers found this to be necessary since the game isn't as complex as it tries to portray itself to be.

Anyway, as Chief of Security, you’ll spend much of your time navigating the somewhat open world of the Zephyr ship. It’s set up as a ring, meaning the more you walk in a linear direction, the more likely you’ll end up in the same place. Thankfully, you get access to fast travel. But as good as the idea seems, you occasionally end up dumped at a general area instead of the specific area you selected.

Stella is equipped with a Personal Digital Assistant. You can access it anytime during the game to review previous conversations and ongoing missions. The PDA also displays evidence, like notes found by concerned citizens. These are, ideally, your pieces of the puzzle. The clues are not really brain-wracking. You just need to interpret the direct messages. From the PDA, you can interrogate your staff on their whereabouts based on the evidence you gather. Like I said, it does give off Among Us vibes. That aside, as handy as this tool might be, its design feels rather sloppy. Besides the incentive of finding out what’s going on in the ship, there wasn’t more motivation to pull up the dull-looking menu. 

Stella's Sleuthing Adventures

As a narrative-based detective adventure, Between Horizons blends storytelling, detective, and exploration gameplay. Puzzle-solving and decision-making are also core gameplay mechanics. Stella is free to roam the ship and interact with other characters to uncover conspiracies. But unlike Lacuna, the characters in the new title are precisely bland. What do I mean by bland? They simply do not breathe life into the game like the predecessor did. The dialogue between characters feels half-baked and filled with uninteresting puns and grammatical errors. This is unfortunate, given that Lacuna had a breathtaking experience tied to its gameplay. After episodes of running through the ship, speaking to characters, and crossing your fingers for clues, everything eventually feels laggard.

Besides this, each character brings depth to the gameplay with their own secrets and motivations. Plus, the branching narratives certainly add depth to the gameplay.  

However, we can't deny that Between Horizons wears more ambitions on its sleeve than Lacuna does. The game presents a bigger scope in area explorations and more characters to interact with. It certainly adds a bit of diversity. Also, it sticks to the choice-based gameplay that forces you to make choices as you progress. The game doesn't spare you the weight of the consequences of your choices. This means that once you have a voice, you cannot revert. The game makes things even more interesting with a timer for dialogue choice. Failing to pick one on time results in a default selection. Thankfully, the game’s auto-save option gives you plenty of replayability. Meaning you can explore different playthroughs for different outcomes.

The Glitchy Abyss 

Stella in Control Room

In gaming, the anticipation for a new release can be electrifying, akin to the opening of a long-awaited treasure chest. Yet, as you dive into the immersive worlds crafted by developers, it's not unlikely you’ll encounter pesky bugs lurking beneath the surface. These glitches, like mischievous gremlins, certainly disrupt the seamless flow of gameplay. It's not an element we should turn a blind eye to, but you can't help but rubbish a game after the nuisance experience. So forgive me if I sound too harsh when talking about bugs in Between Horizons. At certain points, my screen would jitter. Plus, my character would walk off a ledge and hang in midair. I mean, we are not doing a rendition of ‘Man on A Ledge.’ This is entirely disappointing, considering the devs have walked this path before. 

The Good

Stella Between Horizons

Despite the bad taste the game left in my mouth, I must admit I relished the visual presentation. Between Horizons' impeccable display of the 2.5D pixelated art featuring retro aesthetics and modern designs, which is commendable. The game’s noir atmosphere comes to life thanks to the lighting, special effects, and textures that are incorporated. It is certainly reminiscent of its predecessor. At least that part they got right.

Moreover, the soundtracks complemented the actions in the game, offering a deep, immersive feel. But you can’t help but feel that it doesn't match up to the masterful compositions in its predecessor. Let’s just say the soundtracks in the latest title get the job done. But, yes, it could have been better.

Beyond this, thanks to the branching narratives, the game offers tons of replayability with alternative endings. The mystery that lies in the gameplay encourages exploration, with various levels to unlock and clues to uncover. But the game’s strength also becomes its weakness. The boatload of clues can easily make navigation a nightmare. 


Stella talking to Noelia

In a nutshell, Between Horizons is not the stellar successor we all hoped for. It is bugged with various shortcomings, including glitches. But we can forgive all this owing to its immersive atmosphere and storytelling gameplay mechanics. For fans of the detective genre, this is a sway from the norm and a dive into a Cyberpunk space. The game holds plenty of potential if only many of its flaws are ironed out. For fans of the genre, it's a voyage worth embarking on, with the promise of smoother sailing on the horizon once the bugs have been fixed and the stars shine bright once more.

Between Horizons Review (PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X|S)

More Subpar Than Stellar

Between Horizons is a narrative-based adventure game unfolding in a semi-open world. Taking place on the Zephyr ship, players role play as Stellar, the Chief of Security. She must unravel a bunch of conspiracies, threatening to jeopardize the ship’s mission. The sci-fi narrative also features puzzle-solving gameplay mechanics. The game gravely showcases its ambitious concept but fails to make a follow-up. But beyond this, the game bravely explores rich sci-fi themes, and the thought-provoking gameplay adds levels of immersion.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.