In Horn, you play as a boy who wakes up one day to find his town in ruins and all the people and animals turned into giant armored beasts called pygons. As the lone human survivor, it’s your job to find out what happened, and to turn everyone back into their natural forms. The game draws inspiration from several popular franchises, but the most obvious is Zelda. So if you like Zelda games (and who doesn’t?), you’ll find a lot to love in Horn.
To end the mystical madness, you have to collect stones from sectioned-off areas– or levels– reachable from a central hub. Each area gives you environmental puzzles to solve and enemies to fight before offering up its magical stone. The areas are kind of like miniature Zelda dungeons, and they’re mostly well designed. Occasionally the puzzles start to feel repetitive, because many of them involve pulling levers or lighting fires in pots. But every time boredom started to creep in, the developers would throw us a particularly smart puzzle made up of new gameplay elements.
In Horn, Phosphor has created a weird, wonderful world that’s a pleasure to explore. The story is interesting, the RPG elements are satisfying, and the graphics are top notch. Anyone who enjoys a good action/adventure/RPG should give Horn a shot. It’s one of the biggest, best games we’ve played in quite a while.
There’s no onscreen D-pad in the game, so you move around by tapping the ground where you want to go. You have free movement, which is great, but the controls can be a little finicky. Horn isn’t equipped with any kind of pathfinding AI, so he only moves in straight lines. That means if there’s an object between you and your destination, you need to micromanage him to walk around it. As far as video game annoyances go, however it’s fairly minor.
The combat in Horn is similar to Infinity Blade (and the developer’s last game, Dark Meadow), but here they’ve taken it in a fresh direction. You still face off against enemies in one-on-one battles, and swipe the screen to hack and slash away at their health bars. But here you can roll all around the enemy, giving the combat a more loose and improvisational feel. It’s a lot of fun.
Each enemy has a weak spot that can be uncovered by cracking through the armor protecting it. Attacking an exposed weak spot does far more damage than throwing haymakers at random, so locating them is important if you don’t want to be slurping down health potions like an addict. There’s a limited number of enemy types in Horn, so it’s easy to remember where to strike each one. Overall, the combat isn’t as deep as Infinity Blade’s, but you spend a lot less time fighting in Horn.
As you progress through the game, you earn two forms of currency, both of which are required to buy potions and weapons. In case you’re worried that Zynga’s social/ freemium fingerprints will be all over Horn, you can rest assured that they’re not. Aside from the Zynga dog making a cameo on the game’s icon, you’d never know Zynga had anything to do with it. You can buy in-game currency using real-life money, but this is never flaunted in your face. In fact, it’s tucked away in a submenu of your inventory, and we didn’t even notice it until several hours into the game.
The RPG elements are fairly light, but they’re enough to give you a sense of progression and growth, which helps you feel invested in your character. And speaking of character, Horn features excellent writing and voice acting. The story is interesting and well-told, and the writing, acting, and graphics cohere together to draw you in. For an iOS game, the atmosphere and overall package are pretty remarkable.
Of course, not everything about the game is perfect. We experienced some minor graphical glitches and a couple of game freezes that made us lose some progress. But these downsides are easy to overlook.