Unknown Horizons is an open source 2D real time strategy game that combines city building with economic simulation aspects. It’s a comprehensive game that puts you in complete control over every little aspect and matter of your community, as all these little details will eventually help you expand your small initial settlement to a powerful and wealthy colony. The economical part of the growth is very important, therefore collecting taxes and supplying your inhabitants with valuable goods are tasks of vital importance as well. A well balanced economy in conjunction with effective diplomacy and strategic trades are the things that will help you increase and maintain the power of your city.
If you think that it sounds rather complicated, you’re not far from being right. As any other strategy game, it is not meant to be simple and easy. It requires quite a lot of thinking, analyzing, and making sure you’re taking the right in-game decisions. Anyway, getting the hang of it is not difficult, as it implements an effective “help” system and the interface is not unnecessarily complicated. Things are actually pretty intuitive and self-explanatory. Learning to play it is easy; mastering it is the more difficult part. Basically, you’re in charge of a group of people settling in a newly discovered archipelago of islands, randomly generated every time you start a new game. You make sure that these people have access to the goods and the services that every community usually need, and in return they will pay taxes. These taxes are the main source of income, which can be redistributed and invested in order to speed up the development of the colony.
Though appealing and neat, the graphics are not too great, as the game doesn’t focus on its visual part. I think this is a good thing in fact, as it maintains the game pretty lightweight, small and resource-friendly. Since it’s also free, it represents a viable alternative to the costly acknowledged paid strategy games of the same category (economy and city building simulators). Its advantages don’t come from the graphics, but from the complexity of the gameplay and from the fact that it is sure to satisfy any fans of strategy games. I like this game a lot and I hope it will get to be a successful one in its category.