The space race was a cultural war, a massive step towards a connected planet and a churling slush of post-war funds, rivalries and intents. Mars Horizon is a fascinating idea, attempting to emulate the history of humanity’s astral intents and simulate the journeys we will take in the future.
Mars Horizon, from Auroch Digital, puts you at the head of a national space programme, responsible for leading development, securing personnel and overseeing the intricacies of the entire department. It all begins as a very historical effort: each faction starts with modifiers based on national attitudes. A few years in, however, and the game starts taking on a mind of its own. This is where Mars Horizon really shines — when it shirks history as a tutorial and moves towards the modern day.
While it may part from history, the science is completely grounded in reality. Auroch Digital have been working with the UK Space Agency ensure that everything included makes sense on a physics and astrophysics level. This parting of realities means that there are moments in the game where your carefully trained astronauts make a mockery of themselves, lashing out and drawing negative public attention. Negative public attention equals negative finances — do you fire them or take the hit?
Then there’s the fact that you can mount a rescue to attempt to securely recover Sputnik 2 and its passenger, Laika, from space. Auroch Digital’s take on the past, present and future space race is fascinating, and from meeting a member of the team while visiting the Bristol Game Hub, it is clear that it is their passion reflecting into the game.
Carefully selecting research, balancing rocket composition, and gradually expanding your base is what you’ll spend a lot of time doing. However, where Mars Horizon stands out to me is in its event system, the potential volatility of your crew and the ability to create both alliances and rivalries with the other agencies. It’s all a bit Grand Strategy, which is something you’ll never hear me complain about, with history left to rewrite itself amongst the title’s extensive event selections.
Each of the different agencies have access to their own parts and contractors, which — combined with that event system — should ensure a lot of variance in booting up a different programme. This is something the team at Auroch are especially focused on, citing ‘Balancing is a production focus. We want to achieve balancing that allows the United States to feel like the United States — the same is also true for Russia and Europe respectively.’ on Mars Horizon’s store page regarding their plans for Steam Early Access.
Original plans were for Mars Horizon to launch in late 2018 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. However, there were plans for it to exist in Steam Early Access for three to five months prior to full release — and the year is running short.