by Chris Priestman
previewed on PC
Pirates of New Horizons has been in development for a good while now and the developers, Exit Strategy Entertainment, are just about getting confident enough to start showing it off. This has manifested very recently in a public demo that anyone can play right in their browser. I would encourage anyone to go and do so if my words are enough to inspire such an action - it's definitely something the Nintendo generation will appreciate.
I know you are shocked - a game that uses multiple colours, how dare it! When approaching Pirates of New Horizons you are instantly startled by its shiny greens, blues, purples and so on. It is a shame that we have to actually point this out nowadays and say "This! I want more of this!" When did games become so dull in tone and colour?
So yes, Pirates of New Horizons is gloriously shiny, to the point where fans of Jak and Daxter, Spyro the Dragon and, well you know the rest, will be drawn to the game like moths to a flame. Fortunately, this saccharine presentation does come with a sumptuous supply of well-oiled platforming mechanics. Not just any old mechanics though, these are designed (and you can feel it) to cater smooth and fast paced gameplay. The double jump is essential to an endowment of freedom, allowing players to reach some stupefying heights at times - you are able to climb from soil to rooftop in a couple of seconds without so much as a second thought.
Of Gadgets And Sidekicks
It really is wonderful just to be able to leap around the rooftops to no dire consequence with a rarely found fluidity. In this preview version, not much is on show but the developers do brag a number of other tools and mechanics that make Rachet and Clank look under supplied. One example is using a combination of "spline surfing" (read: rail grinding) and the grapple hook to travel without even a single toe graced upon the ground, and with speed too! You will buy these upgrades - jetpacks, ninja sole boots and more - from merchants who will demand doubloons for such treats, which can be collected around the place with a satisfying chime, or by completing missions for the various folks with the normal problems and unfinished tasks.
This is where your trusty feline side kick comes in to play. Annha, who is the female space pirate captain of the game, is accompanied not by a parrot as tradition would insist, but a moustached and monocled cat. What's more, Professor Henceworth as he is known, has a PhD in Alternate Physics allowing him to be chucked at machines (literally) to repair them, as well as having the ability to fly with his tail. Sorry Tails, you're uniqueness has been stripped away by a cat. He's a delightful part of the game as he fills that Stewie Griffin niche: being ever so intelligent but ultimately still a cat with cat needs, as well as an adorable miaow.
One For Ye Landlubbers
There is not much more to add about the game at this point. There's a basic story which you can read up on. Basically, Annha's a pirate and like all of her kin pursues treasure, her motive being the desire to be rich. As mentioned, the game looks brilliant, very smooth and gorgeously polished. There's only a semblance of the story at hand but it seems like standard NPC fetch quests, gold collecting and ship repairing. The only real downsides are a few lacking animations but these are bound to be cleared up very soon.
Pirates of New Horizons is mostly memorable for its presentation and liberating gameplay though. Having only a tiny floating island to play in with the preview, I still managed to spend a good while collecting every coin, exploring every unfathomable area and speaking to everyone. It's a really well polished game and it deserves every scrap of attention it gets, even if it's just an "oh my, that looks bloody pretty" from the rare person who doesn't enjoy accessible platformers.