After 18 hours of gameplay, I beat one of the best indie games of 2021, HORACE. It's credited to only 4 people, and they impressively made a candidate for GOY (Game of the Year). HORACE's story has so many truths about love, life, and human nature that even non-gamers should be entertained.
You play as the lovable robot, Horace. You're tasked with cleaning up the world by picking up 1 million pieces of junk before the robot apocalypse. The journey is deep with references to the classic 16bit era and pop culture. On the surface, it's just a hilarious 2D platformer, but upon a deeper look, HORACE is an excellent Metroidvania-inspired experience.
Gamers will be backtracking a lot, but it never feels like a chore. You might be spending too much time playing addicting mini-games trying to earn cash. Or you might end up in the arcade, blowing said cash. Yet both are only additive to the overall superb level design.
Oh, and did I mention the boss battles. ? Holy sh*t they are fun! The difficulty level of the plentiful encounters and extreme platforming will have gamers dying, a lot. I died close to 2,000 times. Yet what separates HORACE from other punishing platformers like CELESTE/SUPER MEAT BOY are the powerups, including an orb that allows players to respawn at frequent checkpoints. The challenge comes from trying to save those much-needed additional hits for the boss battles.
My only complaint with HORACE was the mid-section. Just when the game hits its stride, there's a fetch quest that slows things down to a crawl. If you make it through that part, you'll be over the "moon" for what comes next.
HORACE is available on most gaming platforms and this review is based on the Nintendo Switch version.