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Between Horizons Review

Interstellar investigations for the next generation

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The evidence suggests that detective games are hard to make. Even when developers find moderate success, like Frogwares did with The Sinking City, the detective components can still be rudimentary or arbitrary. That is because making good investigations requires the cohesion of mystery, clues, motives, logical deductions, proof, characters, red herrings, interrogations, and more. And even when most are done correctly, it must be presented clearly and naturally. Between Horizons is a 2.5D detective adventure from DigiTales that gets most of the basics right. And although shortcomings are present, the core foundations make it one of the most promising detective offerings in some time.

Between Horizons

Between Horizons is set on a generation spaceship called the Zephyr, home to roughly 1300 souls, destined for a habitable planet light years from home. With 100 years left until they reach their destination, most on board will never see the mission conclude. Stella is the Assistant Chief of Security, working under her father, William. When a mysterious figure is spotted fooling around in the server room, Stella and William give chase. William becomes trapped under a bulkhead door and is killed, and the stranger vanishes without being identified. Stella is promoted to Chief of Security and becomes the primary investigator associated with all cases that spring from the Zephyr’s least satisfied residents.

Not everybody aboard is happy with the status quo. A note found hidden in a wall indicates that a secret group are trying to garner support and are planning secret meetings to express their collective unhappiness with the ship’s long-standing rules and those in command. The Captain of the Zephyr wants you, as Stella, to track them down and put a stop to their clandestine operation, before they do something that could jeopardize the mission. As the story unfolds, further mysteries are revealed and the drama rises. The narrative relating to the ship’s generational mission is fine, although it could have been expanded. There was also room to establish a closer personal connection with a few characters, so there was more balance and a greater sense of place.

The Zephyr is a cylindrical ship, so walking in one direction will eventually bring players back to where they started. This circular design is good for navigation as you are never too far away from any one place. Transit stations enable fast travel to each of the ship’s major areas, and elevators (or stairs) allow shifting up or down the tiers. While the layout is straightforward, there are no quest markers and the world only uses basic icons for navigation. Players need to read case notes and go back through conversation logs to know where to go next. Thankfully the ship slowly unlocks sectors, starting with the initial Command wing and finally the Biological areas. A few characters can take a while to find, even with some guidance from associates, and although this is an authentic depiction of real detective legwork, it could have been reduced given the ship’s futuristic setting.

Between Horizons

Players solve cases by selecting answers to questions posed in Stella’s useful PDA. These include, what network was the hacker trying to infiltrate? Who left painkillers in the navigation room? And, which character recycled the paper that the dissident group was using to send messages? In typical detective fashion, it usually involves conversing with relevant people, scanning the area with an overused ping (for clues and interactive points) and maybe taking a closer look at the evidence. You can also present evidence to individual characters, which might get them to talk, although most presentations are met with the unhelpful “I don’t know what you want me to say” message.

Many cases require the application of mathematics, which contributes to the generally logical solutions. Players might need to identify which network had a lopsided flow of information by translating symbols into numbers, or discover who was in a room by comparing door timestamps with interview notes. Most of the math is simple enough but can require abstraction. Given the math focus, it is a shame that randomization was not utilized—codes are always the same—so subsequent playthroughs would require just as much analysis. Most other solutions require logical deductions by ruling out potentials until there is only one possible answer remaining, like when isolating the faulty power node. The PDA does a good job of tracking info so, in the majority of situations, cases are enjoyable to solve.

The cool part is that Stella can actually pick an answer without gathering all the evidence, which helps the detective aspect feel more natural. If the player has a hunch (or believes they have enough information) they can pin it all on a person. If correct, the accused might be apprehended and more information is gathered. If wrong, then the powers that be will be unable to confirm your findings and should probably throw you out the airlock. Based on the accusations, characters can die, as the dissidents act without interruption. One fun bit in the story is when Stella gets caught in a trap, but this can be avoided with forethought. It should be noted that the story does not change dramatically, with only a few different endings and some late-game permutations. But it is nice that accurate deductions help identify the dissident leader and may expose who killed Stella’s father.

Between Horizons

Not every case is satisfying. Sometimes the evidence is too circumstantial or ambiguous, like when ruling out a person by checking their alibi. All this requires is interviewing two others, but they could all be dissidents, and there is no further evidence to back up their story. In another situation, one character mentions they saw a silhouette, but this is too vague to be so important. In general, players do not need to account for false information from witnesses or suspects, which is a huge shame. It would have been nice to see more clues, complex interrogations, and ways to recognize deception via dialogue choice or contrary evidence. With more depth, Between Horizons would have leapfrogged many other detective games to become a genre leader.

Between Horizons uses an appealing visual style with 3D backgrounds and 2D pixel-art characters. The combination is similar to Backbone, another detective game from 2021, although not quite as slick or detailed. Some of the best looking areas of the ship are underutilized, like the Laboratory and Farm, and these have good color and adequate visual depth. The 2D characters are fairly low resolution, and their silhouettes do not always match the profile image stored in the PDA. There is no voice work for character dialogue, but Stella speaks her mind at major plot points, like a narrator. While the PDA stores information well, it is not possible to sort, filter, or search evidence. And since both people (over 40 unique individuals) and items are listed as evidence, it becomes unwieldy by the end.

Between Horizons

Between Horizons is a good detective game that takes place on a compelling generation spaceship. The story has enough intrigue, as players uncover more secrets and slowly identify members of a dissident group. Cases feature logical deductions and mathematical solutions, with most having enough proof to satisfy even the most doubtful. It is also great that players can submit answers without going through all the steps, and face the consequences of any mistakes. Some cases needed a bit more fine tuning, with more clues and deeper investigations. But despite this, there is a solid 5-6 hours of investigative work here, and for fans of detective games, it puts forward a strong case.

Our ratings for Between Horizons on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Presentation
70
The visuals are decent, with colorful and layered 3D ship backgrounds, although some of the pixel-art characters needed more detail. It only has minimal voice work and limited music.
Gameplay
75
Solving cases by piecing together clues and deciphering math problems works fine most of the time, although tracking all the evidence can get a bit unwieldy. Some cases are also less robust.
Single Player
70
Mysteries on the Zephyr are steadily unveiled and all cases relate to the dissident group as issues keep escalating, while still providing moments of satisfaction as individuals are apprehended.
Multiplayer
NR
N/A
Performance
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
GPU: ASUS 6700 XT DUAL OC 12GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
PC Specs

90
No performance issues, although there were some long loads at pivotal story moments.
Overall
76
Underneath the spaceship setting in Between Horizons is a grounded detective game that features good logical deductions and math-based solutions. More case depth and presentation tweaks could have taken the mission further, but it is still a fine option for the gumshoes of this generation.
Comments
Between Horizons
Between Horizons box art Platform:
PC
Our Review of Between Horizons
76%
Good
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Between Horizons is ranked #801 out of 1971 total reviewed games. It is ranked #10 out of 25 games reviewed in 2024.
801. Between Horizons
802. Impulsion
PC
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Screenshots

Between Horizons
10 images added 21 days ago
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