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As my plucky yet oddly interchangeable astronaut plants the ESA’s flag tall and proud on the moon’s surface, I can’t help but afford myself a smile. This is cool, and after a lot of hard work and a tense series of challenges to get my people to and from our celestial neighbour, I feel a real sense of achievement.
I’m also very aware of how hard it can be to capture the magic and wonder of space exploration. Mars Horizon, a turn-based management game about running a space programme and leading humanity to the stars, tries to strike a delicate balance between accessibility and visual splendour; and you can tell it’s having to work to do justice to both.
When talking about developer Auroch Digital’s own take on space exploration, it’s impossible to ignore the elephant on the launch pad, Kerbal Space Program. The comparison is inevitable because there aren’t many games that share their premise: space exploration, as defined by gritty hard science and engineering rather than the space fantasy of a Mass Effect.
It’s also a harsh and unfair one: KSP is brilliant, but Mars Horizon takes a fundamentally …
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