If you are looking for one word to sum up Final Horizon, chaotic would be right up there. The chaos is born from the seemingly endless horde of mechanical invertebrates that attempt to lay waste to you and your colonised planets and thwart your progress across the galaxy. At times the onslaught looks to be swinging in favour of the swarm, before a desperate tactical switch of your turret swings the battle back to you.
Developed by UK studio Eiconic Games – who previously brought you Total Recoil and also developed PulzAR – this futuristic science fiction inspired tower defense title is set across multiple different planetary systems as you are tasked with eradicating this plague by the means of different turrets. These bugs come in many different types, with robotic wasps posing an aerial threat as well as ground based creatures, such as spider-bots and scarabs; nasty little buggers which can burrow and take your weapons offline. You also get to face off against fearsome scorpions, which pack quite a punch and can fire missiles. It makes you wonder – how are you supposed to defend against this?
Thankfully, as Final Horizon is a tower defence title you are equipped with a wide variety of towers to exterminate the vermin. You have the basic arsenal including the Chainsaw, which is a single barrel machine gun and the Icarus, which are anti-air rocket launchers. Later on you will encounter the Afterburner, a flamethrower, Groundquake, a mortar and the Thunderbolt, which is an electric cannon. On top of these (and arguably the most important) the other tower available to you is the power generator, which creates the energy you need to fund your base operations. Each tower costs energy to create, upgrade or repair and none of this is possible without a steady stream of power coming through. This makes the decisions regarding tower placement crucial, and is the reason why you need to constantly micro-manage the battlefield.
You begin most missions with basic towers in place and under instant attack, so quick thinking is needed. Ensuring you have the sufficient means to fund the base is one thing, but beyond that you will need to prioritise which towers go up first. Do you start with the Chainsaw? It’s a sensible approach as it will target both air and ground targets, whereas the Icarus and Afterburner are limited to aerial or ground. You could hold out for more energy to accrue before launching into Thunderbolts, but it could all be over by that point. Deciding when to upgrade your towers is also particularly taxing. Upgrading the weapons will significantly increase the chances of survival, although increasing the output of your power generators will ultimately lead to a much larger energy flow later in the game. How you play will determine how successful you will be in terms of not only completing the mission but also in fulfilling the objectives.
That’s because each mission has a basic survival objective from which you have to defend your base, escape pod, refinery or rocket and you only have a set number of “sockets” to place your defences – you can’t just stick them anywhere! In addition to the not all of the towers are available for each mission, with many unlocking as you progress through the campaign. You also have secondary objectives available for each mission which vary from simply completing the mission, finishing without something taking damage, collecting a set amount of energy as well as others, including a set number of kills once your kill streak is in play.
Kill-streaks are another great way of swinging the battle back in your favour. On most missions you will be assigned a predetermined weapon to help annihilate the horde, and these vary from overhead lasers and missiles, slowing time down or even an orbital missile blast. These are activated once you pass a set number of kills and you can choose when to activate it, which again is crucial. Are you being overrun and need to regain control? Are you trying to go for the objective requirement? It’s entirely down to you, but the longer you leave it you run the risk of being overwhelmed or not having enough enemies to complete the task.
It can be difficult to appreciate the presentation of tower defense titles sometimes, but if you do get a chance in between the frenetic gameplay you should really take it all in. The design of both the weapons and creatures are brilliant, and panning the camera across the scenery can really showcase the brilliant job that Eiconic have done. Speaking of gameplay, Final Horizon makes full use of the touch screen as well as the physical controls – and playing with the touch is really beneficial when attempting to instantly react to needing to repair or switch your defenses. The game won’t pose too much of a challenge, and the 50 odd missions will probably be completed after a few hours, but the challenges posed by the secondary objectives (as well as a little bit of replaying to hit some trophy related targets) will take you a little while longer. With a few devious challenges for competing some objectives simultaneously you might find yourself playing – and cursing – for a little while longer!