Today we’ll be looking at Magenta Horizon, a Metroidvania from one-man developer Hellfire Railway Interactive and published by YouTuber turned indie game micro-publisher 2 Left Thumbs.
Magenta Horizon is available now for PC via Steam and will cost £8.29/$10.99.
Don’t Fear The Reaper
Magenta Horizon is a Hollow Knight-esque Metroidvania, where you play as Gretel, a Reaper looking to make her way back to the Nest Sanctuary after her exile. Along the way you’ll rescue lost souls, find new upgrades and of course, fight hordes of monsters, demons and bosses. It’s a fast-paced action game that’ll keep you on your… thumbs? Yeah, we’ll go with that.
After choosing the difficulty, you start the game with the coffin of Gretel being stumbled upon by an old Scottish fella called Archibald. After Archibald understandably runs away upon your awakening, your journey begins. You must first chase down Archibald. It is here you will be introduced to the gameplay. I really appreciated how tutorials were handled as the game uses interactable objects. This meant that upon replaying, I’m not forced to go through the tutorial all over again.
While going through the introductory level, you’ll be introduced to the game’s core mechanics. These largely revolve around combat, platforming (which I’m terrible at) and collecting keys to get through demon gates and progress further. As well as the Scythe, Gretel will have access to other weaponry for combat. Not only is there a ranged attack, but there are bombs to mix things up. I’ll be honest though, I found I mostly used the healing bombs, which provided a nice health boost when you attacked enemies hit by the bomb. It also meant I could just tank most hits.
All-in-all, the combat is really satisfying. You don’t try to avoid hits per se, it’s more about trading hits and being the last man standing. There is enough variety that it doesn’t just become a “spam attack” bore-fest. It also presents a good challenge, especially at higher difficulties and you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed by enemies.
The platforming, now that’s a whole nother kettle of fish. Because I suck at it. Seriously, even in this quick clip underneath, which is some of the easiest of the game’s platforming offerings, I got caught out a couple of times. But that’s good. If you’re going to have platforming it should be a challenge. It will most definitely keep you on your toes. You will have to make use of all of Gretel’s move set, dash’s double jumps and hook dash to navigate levels. None of it was impossible, but it certainly put my middle-aged reflexes to the test.
But it’s not just about evading traps and beating on enemies. That is to say, would it be a video game without a few collectables strewn in? No, of course not. Thankfully, Magenta Horizons collectables aren’t nearly as egregious as *ahem* some games. It is mainly power up and keys you’ll be collecting. Power-ups are pretty self-explanatory, and the keys will be required to pass through these living demon gate things that still make me a bit uncomfortable with their rows of teeth and pupil-less eyes. No thanks.
Graphics & Audio
The game looks stunning. Like a gothic oil painting of the underworld, but a bit brighter than you might expect. It looks fantastic. The levels are well-designed, the scenery is beautiful and some of the truly monstrous enemies are almost nightmare-inducing (I’m looking at you demon dolphin). Undeniably, everything about this game has been lovingly put together.
In terms of audio, everything from the moody piano on the menu screen to the metal-esque boss fight music, everything sets the tone perfectly. The sound effects were all well designed, I might have just liked a little more, I dunno, crunch to the attacks, just to help them feel a bit weightier I guess. Despite there not being much in the way of voice acting, what little there is does its job and does it well.
Magenta Horizon isn’t a particularly long game. It should only take you a few hours to make your way through the available levels. But with the collectables and the ranking system upon completing levels, there is plenty to come back to.
To conclude, Magenta Horizon is a beautifully put-together little game with satisfying combat, challenging platforming and very little to complain about. Seeing “SSS Rank” pop-up after absolutely laying into a boss makes you a little giddy. In truth, I wouldn’t mind if it was a bit of a longer experience, but considering this was a game built by one person, it’s still a triumph.
Magenta Horizon reaps a Thumb Culture Platinum Award for itself.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.