[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in The Getaway Bundle, now available at IndieGames' co-created site: Indie Royale.]

Shattered Horizon is an orbital multiplayer FPS with a lot of big ideas yet a tragically small community. Hopefully their Indie Royale debut can help out with the low population problem because this is a really neat, science focused FPS that does something entirely different from every other multiplayer shooter on the market. It's atypical zero gravity design is bizarre, unwieldy and takes a lot to get used to, but when you get into the groove it sets the stage for some pretty ridiculous firefights.

While I wouldn't necessarily peg Shattered Horizon as hard sci-fi, it's clear that a lot of focus went into researching the realism of a 32 player deathmatch in space. For starters, the zero gravity aspect of the game simply feels real, which therefore makes it disorienting and otherworldly. There's no friction or stabilization as you jet through the void, and the only thing that can tweak your inertia is smart use of your multidirectional jet-pack. But for all the surface similarities, Shattered Horizon shares very little with the high strung kinetic action of jet-pack shooters like Tribes and its ilk. Shattered Horizon is much slower paced and harder to adjust, so rolling, ducking and good use of cover is the key to winning a fight, not speed.

The other neat hard sci-fi aspect is the way the game fakes certain things. Take sound, for example; you can't hear noise in space, but the game explains this away by featuring a built in sound simulation in your suit. You probably couldn't stand on a tiny asteroid, but your suit will let you lock on to surfaces for some much needed stability. It all comes together when the game subverts these comforts; a stealth feature removes your signature from player radars, but disables the UI and the sound to trigger some eerie agoraphobia, while standing on the so-called floor next to someone running around on the wall next to you completely wrecks your spatial awareness.



Aside from the fun space setting, the rest of the game plays like a straight old school FPS. You can pick your weapon to suit your playstyle, but aside from that there's no unlockables or overarching metagame. Ranking up simply changes your player tag, but the gameplay remains static and balanced no matter how long you play. Some will appreciate the balance while others will be frustrated by the lack of rewards or progression that many modern shooters have adopted. It all comes down to taste, really.

It's a good thing an update added bot support to the proceedings, because the biggest downfall of the game is that there just isn't a lot of people playing it. I started playing about an hour after the Indie Royale launched, and there was maybe three or four other humans across the few dedicated servers that are still up. Bots do help, but it's a lonely experience and doesn't do much to keep you wanting to come back. If you want to get the most out of the game, organizing matches with friends or online communities seems to be the way to do it, or simply stick to the rather fun four player co-op horde mode. It really is a quirky and fun FPS, so with any luck this bundle will help boost the community and give Futuremark some incentive to get a few more updates rolling.

[Shattered Horizon and five other games are available in The Getaway Bundle at IndieGames' co-created site: Indie Royale.]