iOS and Android can’t lay claim to very many AAA games, but this one definitely qualifies. Horn is from the creator of The Dark Meadow, and it looks spectacular.
Phosphor games doesn’t make your typical mobile games. In an overcrowded sea of Angry Birds clones and Temple Run wannabes, Phosphor dares to make thrilling first-person action games, which are custom-made for the touchscreen experience of your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Their first game, The Dark Meadow, was a nightmarish, heavily atmospheric hack-and-slash that owed a lot of its game mechanics to Infinity Blade but brought a fantastic original story to the table. It was built using the Unreal engine, and looked great for a mobile title. (Prior to Dark Meadow, Phosphor also created the “SpacePop” bubble-popping minigame in Kinect Adventures.)
Phosphor looks to have significantly upped the ante with Horn, which trades the murky interiors of Dark Meadow for expansive, Fable-esque exteriors and a fantasy world that’s based on the Old English tales of King Horn. The game casts you as the title character, a young blacksmith’s apprentice, who wakes up to find that all of mankind is gone, having been subjugated by giant stone demons that roam the countryside, and smaller minions that turn out to be the people and animals from Horn’s own village, transformed into monstrous creatures. This being a classic fantasy, Horn does what all good heroes do, and sets out to save his people from the stone demons’ curse.
Just as Dark Meadow had voiceovers and hints that came from a cantankerous, erratic old man in a wheelchair, Horn features a similar technique to draw players into the game and provide needed exposition — and humor. Early in the game, Horn beheads one of his adversaries, and decides to carry its still-alive head along on his journey. The monster is none to happy to be dragged along on Horn’s adventure, but will grudgingly provide help and advice when needed.
The non-linear gameplay consists of exploring the land, fighting enemies using sword, crossbow, and a musical horn, and solving puzzles. Everything, from walking to jumping, from fighting to using a grappling hook, are performed with intuitive finger gestures. There are nine levels spread across three worlds that you can explore freely, and plenty of secrets to find. And as you can see in the trailer (above) and screenshots, the graphics look incredible for a mobile game. It’s pretty much a given that Horn will only run on devices released in the last year or two (sorry, iPad 1). And since Horn is also an Android title, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see it ported to Ouya at some point in the future, though that’s just speculation on my part.
Oh, and did I mention that the musical score was written by Austin Wintory, who scored the acclaimed soundtrack for Journey?
Phosphor has teamed up with Zynga for publishing and marketing of Horn, which is expected to be released sometime later this year. Production is already underway for Phosphor’s next game as well, codenamed Project Awakened, that appears to combine modern warfare shooter type elements with superhuman abilities. Already excited!