Horn has launched in Google Play and the Nvidia Tegra Zone today, offering a blend of 3D combat and platforming action in a very nicely-rendered package. The game’s story takes you through the quest of a young blacksmith that wakes up one day to find his world is in ruin and populated by large, grouchy golems. By sheer happenstance, the boy discovers these golems are actually people under a curse, and takes it upon himself to restore his friends and family to their original state and ultimately bring the world back to normal.

Graphics and audio

Android Central

Horn’s in-game graphics are really excellent. There’s a wide variety of lighting effects, the textures are rich, and the models are detailed. Fog effects add a great sense of distance, Animation is generally great, there were a few stutters in framerate when playing on the Nexus 7, but your mileage may vary.

Some of the user interface elements felt a little low-fidelity in comparison to the rich 3D graphics and lighting. For example, the font used for subtitles seemed a little sharp and bare-bones, almost as if it was out of Windows 95. Besides that, icons didn’t seem as sharp as they could have been. Still, the UI is amply responsive and has a lot of nice transition animations.

Android Central

Although the dialog is a little on the Disney side, the voice acting is high quality, and the storyline is amply compelling. Excellent cinematic sequences and the occasional storyboard-style narration are peppered throughout gameplay, and the setting’s back-story is further fleshed out by journal pages found throughout the world.

The music deserves particular praise, as it sets a great mood for the gritty fantasy landscape. Small bouts of classical music kick in on a contextual basis, be it after activating a switch or entering a new area. Ambient sound effects, such as the gurgling of a waterfall, fade in and out appropriate to the camera’s distance to it. The sound of footsteps are accompanied by the light jingle of Horn’s equipment.

Gameplay and controls

 

Android Central

Though Horn borrows a fair bit from Infinity Blade’s swipe-based, one-on-one melee combat schtick, it feels less precise and tactical. The only real option you have besides hacking away at an enemy as dodging to the left and right. There are also pyboom bombs that can stun your enemies for a short period of time, and some special attacks require you to react with a leap, but for the most part, you’re just trying to hack open a weak point and keep swiping at it. A blocking and combo mechanism would serve well to add a bit of challenge. Maybe a gesture-based special move system, so long as they’re getting inspiration from Infinity Blade. Individual encounters are scored based on damage dealt, armor broken, damage dealt to a Pygon’s weak point, how long it takes to finish a fight, and how much damage you take. 

Android Central

Since Horn is a smith (or at least an apprentice) there’s an extensive upgrading system in place. Every upgrade can increase one stat that a weapon offers bonuses to, be it damage, health, critical hit chance, or extra elemental damage. There are a wide variety of weapons, including swords, hammers, axes, and polearms, in addition to amulets and vanity costumes.

Through gameplay, players discover blueprints to new weapons, but even the ones currently owned can be upgraded using the Pygite crystals scattered throughout levels and awarded from defeating bosses. There are also Pygite cores which are more rare, but also required to upgrade or forge new equipment. Of course, this game is published by Zynga, so you can stock up on both Pygite and cores through in-app purchases.

Android Central

I had a mixed experience with the controls. I’m glad to see that these guys are trying to ditch the virtual joystick in favor of a more finger-friendly tap-to-move set-up, but it can often lead you to activating items you didn’t mean to. The most exciting parts about navigating levels usually involves reacting to environmental effects, such as tapping the screen in time to grab a ledge at the end of a jump, then swiping to clamber up; even that much gets predictable quickly. In the midst of combat, it can be easy to accidentally tap virtual buttons along the bottom of the screen, though I see that more of an Android issue that affects many games equally.

I found a lot of the stages fairly railroaded; your path is generally made pretty obvious, which is a good way to avoid player frustration, but feels perhaps a bit too linear.  Throughout the game, Horn learns songs to play on his, err, horn, which is a page taken right out of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but doesn’t add much to gameplay - you don’t even have to memorize which notes to hit in order to successfully play a song, just step up to the designated pedestals.

Pros

  • Strong, compelling story
  • Excellent graphics and setting

Cons

  • Fairly linear gameplay

Bottom line

Even if Horn amounts to little more than Ico meets Infinity Blade, there’s nothing quite like it available on Android today. The graphics are excellent, the story is compelling, and though the gameplay is a little linear, it makes for smooth progress and easy access to new eye candy. In-app purchases may be a turn-off for many (especially after paying $6.99), but I found them generally unobtrusive. 

 
There are 27 comments

andddlay says:

Looks amazing!

On nexus 7, after hitting the android market link it brings me to a page stating that the item was not found.

Simon Sage says:

Yeah, still waiting on it to go live. Should be soon!

ameadows252 says:

Like today soon?

Simon Sage says:

Well, it was supposed to be 40 minutes ago. Still waiting to hear back from 'em to see what's up. 

Simon Sage says:

They just told me it should be live in 15 - 20 minutes. 

ynomrah says:

Woot! Cant wait. Hopefully its not only available for tegra devices.

Simon Sage says:

Aaaaand it's live

Suntan says:

Aaaand, it's only available for Tegra devices.

Kinda wanted to play it on my phone.

-Suntan

junglejunkie says:

Chainfire3D may work...

BIGsinner says:

Tegra 3 devices. This game was showcased at the Google keynote address to show off the nexus 7's prowess of being a premiere tegra 3 device. Unfortunately, you are going to see more high-profile games in the future that require tegra 3 devices

ferrospork says:

Same happened to me when on my PC

HAAS599 says:

Whats the price of the game? Also, what are the prices of the IAPs?

adinofaries says:

that looks awesome!

junglejunkie says:

Link is up. It is $6.99.

triangle8 says:

Where's the Android Central giveaway? Let's not get outdone by those other android blogs...

NeoHoneyTea says:

Not gonna lie, this game looks frigging awesome! Just on the verge of downloading it. Thanks AC!

mmaestro says:

Developers: if you have in-app purchases for items in a game, I will not download it. The end.

BIGsinner says:

You should edit, "If your game is NOT free and you still include in-app purchases, than..."

I'm sure the developer will cave in soon..

Archienj7 says:

Why can't a higher end smartphone like the GS3 play it? I was looking forward to getting it, guess not though.

BIGsinner says:

http://www.gamerlive.tv/article/nvidia-tegra-3-powers-phosphor-games-cap...

It's because Horn was developed with direct involvement with nvidia, who makes the tegra chips. GS3 utilizes the Exynos chip. (which isn't a slouch either) But I'm sure this game is especially optimized to work with Tegra devices.

Quis89 says:

That looks awesome. On my way to download!

ameadows252 says:

Anybody else having issues downloading? I keep getting the 500 error code. Any ideas?

njcoutinho says:

Awesome ! Unfortunately I dont have a Nexus 7 or a Tab to play on

CDTI says:

Amazing! Playing this game with a Nexux 7 should be great!

ChromeJob says:

Thank you for mentioning Ico. I loved that game for its inventiveness and refusal to follow hackneyed conventions (aside from the periodict "smoke demon" fights that were totally unnecessary).

Boy I wish I had Ico on my tablet.

gimpy_hb says:

Game looks good for a mobile game but 7 bucks and in app purchases... hells nah not buying!

glitchgod says:

oh wow this is going to be one of the first things I get on my tablet.

if those are the actual graphics

WOW