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PS4 Game Review

Downward Spiral
Horus Station


Format: PS4
Publisher: 3rd Eye Studios
Developer: 3rd Eye Studios
RRP: £11.99
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Age Restrictions: 12+
Release Date: 18 September 2018

Downward Spiral: Horus Station is a science fiction based VR game for the PS4. It was developed by 3rd Eye Studios and is an exploration with no dialogue and little in the way of text. The game tells the story through the objects you find while trying to reactivate the dead station.

There are two main ways of experiencing the game: engage or explore. The first allows you to play through the story, the second adds in adversaries which will try and hinder your progress.

Review imageThe menu gives several options. First up is the story which can be played either as a VR experience or just as well on the television. Multiplayer allows you and a friend to engage in either a ‘deathmatch’ or ‘horde’ scenario. In this mode the game offers up puzzles which require both players to solve.

There are four extras for you to enjoy, including the Developers Diary 1: Sound, where the sound designer talks about the soundscape and the use of more traditional analogue sounds. Developer Diary 2: Art has three of the artists involved in the project talk about the design of the game.

Developer Diary 3: Zero-Gravity Gameplay has three of the game’s designers talking about how the game was constructed. Downward Spiral: Horus Station Trailer gives you a small taste of the game and lastly Downward Spiral: Prologue Trailer is the only part of the game with any dialogue, like the rest of the game it shows much and tells little.

There are various audio settings for changing the mix between headphones – the best way to play the game – and speakers, you can also alter the master volume, the music and the chat volume. Video is limited to brightness and subtitles, though you’re not going to get many subtitles.

Review imageUnder 'controls' you can change vibration strength, controller sensitivity and invert the Y axis. There are options to auto aim and controller bindings. There is a choice of nine languages for the game.

Once into the game you must navigate the shutdown station in zero gee. At first this is a little annoying as you seem to go from what feels like one Velcro area to another. Thankfully you quickly pick up a magnetic grappling gun which allows you to shoot a line and then travel down it. It’s faster and way more satisfying than the hand over hand stuff. Eventually you will also acquire a bolt pistol for use in combat situations.

The game provides no HUD, but the environment will have highlighted objects with which you can interact with. I personally found the lack of a HUD made the environment confusing as many of the rooms look similar. There are maps displayed throughout the station, but it is often difficult to manoeuvre your character into a spot where they can easily be viewed.

So, you’re off to explore the station, if you chose the combat option you get three difficulty settings, which means you will either die a lot or not so much, though death has no finality attached to it. The soundscape is designed to create a sense of impending doom and apprehension and it does it well. It’s the little things which impress in the game, like when you finally get to exit the station all the music stops and you're left with the sound of your own breathing, very 2001: A Space Odyssey. Getting out of the station provides the best VR experience of the game.

Review imageWork your way through the game in its various modes and you’ll bag fifteen bronze trophies and one gold, no platinum. I think this is fair as apart for the occasional combat this is an exploration and puzzle solving game, but more than this it is mostly there to be experience.

Of course, what the game sees as its unique selling point (a story told via the objects) may leave some gamers feeling somewhat dissatisfied with just moving from room to room. But immerse yourself in the experience and Horus turns out to be a fun, albeit shortish, game.


Charles Packer

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