Gaming Piracy: Try Pirates Of New Horizons

By John Walker on February 29th, 2012 at 1:49 pm.

Coo lummee, that's in-game too.

Can you remember as far back as October 2010? No, nor me, but fortunately all my acts and deeds are collated in an almanac, so it is that I can recall my enthusiasm for the prototype of Pirates Of New Horizons. A third-person action game, that evokes memories of Ratchet & Clank, featuring a double-jumping, pickpocketing, grapple-hooking pirate, on a flying pirate ship in a world inhabited by robots. Those are the ingredients for all of gaming. And now you can play a demo chunk of it in your browser, via Unity, with the hope that you’ll pre-order at the end.

Pre-ordering will unlock another island to you right away, along with getting the grappling hook, some ninja soul shoes, and a jetpack. Last time I wrote about it, I criticised it for not containing a jetpack. It now contains a jetpack. You’ll also get a version you can download, early access to new bits of the game as they’re added, and you’ll eventually be getting the full game at a lower price.

And having played it for a bit, I’m all for that. It’s rough around the edges – I’m not sure it’s such a great plan to let you fall off the edge of islands so easily, and it would be nice if the central character, Annha, could grip ledges/edges – but it’s also enormously enjoyable. Looks lovely too – bright, chunky graphics that evoke the third-person glory days of the PS2, but updated for swishy modern ways, to the point where it looks just stunning – the two images in this article are in-game wot I took.

It really is a touch pretty.

I love how explorable it feels, that while there’s a rather insistent throbbing green arrow omnipresently hovering at the top of the screen, it can be defied and the islands searched for hidden extras, with no invisible walls preventing fun things like climbing onto roofs and bouncing all over. I’m a little surprised that there aren’t more areas to explore, as the 2010 version featured the same locations, albeit far less detailed.

Pre-orders cost €15, although there’s a €25 option that adds in a previous game, Planet Buster, eventually the game’s soundtrack, and rather brilliantly, they’ll print out your photo and hang it on their wall. Both are an attempt to bring in the funding to continue developing the game, and I’d suggest with the rather lacklustre extras in the more expensive “Captain Edition”, this is more of an option to increase your patronage for the project more than anything else.

Developed by ex IO Interactive and Crytek peeps, Exit Strategy, there’s pedigree here, and you can see for yourself if it appeals by playing the game in your browser right now.

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41 Comments »

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  1. CaspianRoach says:

    The Hall of Captains idea is brilliant! I would love to see the final result :)

  2. Frie says:

    Actshully the first level in the asteroid field is new/wasn’t in the game’s prototype!

  3. povu says:

    I gave it a try, it’s pretty cute. Still a bit clunky with its combat especially but that’s to be expected at this stage.

  4. CMaster says:

    It’s pretty charming in a bunch of ways.
    However it’s also a little ropey – some objects are mysteriously non solid so you clip through them creepily, and the townspeople have been made to a different scale and style than the player character – the town girl head is about twice the size of Annha’s.

    Also, some adult needs to take Annha aside and explain that bras are meant to be worn under clothes.

    • dontnormally says:

      It’s coming along so nicely.

      Awesome to see this awesome game getting awesomer.

      [edits]:

      1. The Asteroid stage looks awesome! I love the aesthetic they have going here.

      2. They added a feline sidekick. Named Professor Whatever. Good show.

      3. You used to be able to download the Preview, and it included the Volcano level. Funny that you have to pay for those, now.

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      Snidesworth says:

      It is a little ropey, yeah. The main character’s animations need a load of work more than anything else, I think. For a game that has such charm it’s virtually criminal that her movements are rather clumsy. Look at how the hero moves in the best of the 3rd person platformers and you’ll see so much character injected into their motions.

      I did enjoy it, though. The ability to scour each level for secrets is definitely a plus, especially since they don’t look like they’re meant to be searched at a glance.

  5. NothingFunny says:

    Takes forever to load (on 10Mbit), I gave up after 30mins

    • John Walker says:

      It loaded in about five seconds for me, on a slower connection.

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      Lousy healers are awesome downloaders, so it seems.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Sure it’s of no help to you, but it loaded pretty quick for me. Also I was pleased to see that it works despite me being on a work computer with millions of blocked ports

    • NothingFunny says:

      I guess my ISP was acting up, it loads fine now during night time

  6. JackDandy says:

    This demo is pretty dang sweet- The fact most of the levels are fully explorable and there are hardly any invisible walls makes this that much great. You have no idea how much I appreciate touches like that- reminds me of Megaman Legends somewhat.

    • EvilLaufter says:

      When I played it, I thought of Megaman Legends as well. :)

      The game is very cute and charming and it brings me back to the days when I was a lot younger. I can’t say there are many games that have done that recently. Here’s hoping the game does well.

      Edit: Thinking about it some more, is it just me, or does the clunky combat actually add to the charm?

  7. Firkragg says:

    Note to self: Preorder this first thing next month. Poor student is I :S

    Dig the style and the music. Anyone else slightly reminded of Monkey Island by the town music or is that just me?

  8. InternetBatman says:

    Don’t have the money to preorder right now, but I love the aesthetic and the platforming. I’ll definitely get it some time.

    Also, does the demo end after you get the universal remote? The game keeps telling me to go down a shaft that’s covered with a gold plate.

    On a somewhat related sidenote, Unity is really impressive at this point.

    • Frie says:

      Nope, you need to get into that shaft! Try looking around you and see if you can destroy the entrance with something…

  9. Flint says:

    Gorgeous visual style.

    Have to keep an eye on this one, looks and sounds very promising.

  10. Persona Jet Rev says:

    I think you should criticise more games for not having jetpacks, John. It seems to help

  11. monstermurder says:

    Oh god I love the music! Anyone know who this is and if they have done anything else?

  12. Jamie Dewhirst says:

    This is bloody brilliant. Love the sense of exploration. As soon as I can go off exploring and be rewarded for it in some form, I’m completely sold, so when I found a heart piece at the bottom of the lake, my order was pre’d. Or something.

    As weird as it sounds, it feels like a good Zelda game. Cheers for bringing this to my attention.

    • Urthman says:

      Nonsense. Zelda would never let you do this awesome move where you kick a puzzle block and it slides right into place with no fuss.

      Zelda will always, always, make you watch the exact same slow animation of Link slowly pushing a block and making high-pitched “UNGH! UNGH!” noises every one of the dozens of times you have to push a puzzle block.

      Seriously, can we please have the guy who designed this block-moving mechanic design all the games like this from now on?

    • Jamie Dewhirst says:

      Well that’s what I meant. It feels like a Zelda game with all the tedious rubbish taken out!

  13. lith says:

    I have not been charmed so thoroughly by a game like this since Psychonauts. It really is a wonderful game. I love it. Love the music, the colours, the throwable Professor Kitty…everything.

    • Urthman says:

      I love this and am constantly amazed and disappointed that there aren’t dozens of games like this being made for the PC all the time.

      I would love it if Unity and similar engines made this sort of thing as common (and as varied and inventive) as 2D indie platformers.

    • trjp says:

      3D platformers are actually very time-consuming to make – and not really something you expect to see on PCs (no idea why but it’s just not a popular genre here).

      Unity certainly makes it possible to make some quite cool games relatively easily but creating whole worlds and sorting out combat and interaction with objects and the camera (a big issue) is not for the faint-of-heart.

      You can knock-out a 2d platformer in a fraction of the time AND make it tighter and more challenging to-boot – hence they’re way more popular.

    • Urthman says:

      sorting out combat and interaction with objects and the camera (a big issue) is not for the faint-of-heart.

      That kind of thing is what I’m hoping eventually we’ll have tools smart enough to sort out for us.

  14. trjp says:

    Very charming but it needs a bit of work on the camera (FOV) and I had to faff about with my mouse to to be able to see around myself properly…

    Otherwise it’s very “N64 action game” and that’s a decent compliment I feel.

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      Agreeance skill activated: definitely some (quality) n64-ish inspirations here…right down to the Banjo-Kazooie styled ‘voice acting’ (and, thinking about it, the sidekick too).

      [Scurries off to start the “every-two-years-wasting-yet-another-day-getting-an-N64-emulator-working-properly” process]

  15. Berzee says:

    It’s really weird, but I’ve never played a 3rd Person Unity game that doesn’t feel like a 3rd Person Unity game. I’m reasonably sure you could fullscreen one and hand it to me and I could tell you right away whether or not it was made in Unity.

    I wonder why that is? I suppose it’s because the standard basic movement that comes with Unity is Good Enough, but I’m not sure what makes it feel so…Unity-y.

  16. ZIGS says:

    This is lovely, the PC needs more games like this

    • Urthman says:

      Mini Ninjas is quite good.

      Kung Fu Panda is not great but it’s better than I thought it would be.

    • trjp says:

      Mini Ninjas is also easily acquired for less than the price of a pint in a trendy bar – see Play.com etc.

  17. Shroom says:

    That was so incredibly lovely! I was grinning all the way through like I was 10 again and had just got my PS2! My backlog is too huge and budget too strained to justify a pre-order right now, but I definitely will be when I can afford. It’s so nice to see a game running away with joy and imagination and colour and FUN!

  18. RegisteredUser says:

    She can hold my sabre any time!
    I wouldn’t mind following the green throbbing arrow!
    Thorough exploration sounds a right delight!

    Now make _that_ game.

  19. Tony Heugh says:

    SO MANY COLOURS. Trying this as soon as I get home.

  20. Bassem says:

    Very cute. And the music loop is sweet, I usually can’t stand looping music but this one is really nice. The game seems like fun, and the dialogs are amusing. Not sure about the price.

  21. ratbum says:

    Just a warning to those of you who see this and are thinking of pre-ordering. I got quite a long email from the developers containing this:

    You’re receiving this eMail because you have pre-ordered ‘Pirates of New Horizons’ to support the development of the game (and to receive your full copy upon release of course). You might have already been wondering about the lack of new media recently and we felt that you deserve an update. With much sadness I’m writing you on behalf of everyone at Exit Strategy Entertainment to inform you that full production on the game has been halted and at this point it is uncertain whether it is going to be completed. Making this game and your support has meant everything to us and we’re devastated to let you as well as ourselves down.