The launch of Laya’s Horizon is finally here and the game is ready to delight anyone with a current Netflix subscription, as it’s the latest Netflix mobile game. From the makers of previous smash hit mobile titles like Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey, developers ‘Snowman’ have spent the last five years pouring their very heart and soul into the making of this newly released mobile game. And it’s one you should definitely check out if you subscribe to Netflix.
For the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of testing out Laya’s Horizon in both pre-release and review builds prior to the game’s official launch on May 2. And to say Laya’s Horizon is anything other than a magical, surreal experience would be doing the game a disservice. This is something you will need to experience for yourself to get the full effect. Just know that you’re in for a good time.
Laya’s Horizon is a Netflix-exclusive launch title
Like quite a few other games this past year for Android and iOS, Laya’s Horizon is a game that’s exclusive to Netflix. When asked about why the studio went this way instead of premium or traditional free-to-play offerings, Snowman said this was simply the route that made the most sense. It allowed them to focus on developing just a really good quality mobile game. Without the worry of charging players for the game directly. Or sidelining and alienating parts of the player base with a game that was rife with ads.
No ads, no in-game purchases to get rid of them, and no in-game purchases for gear or upgrades. Just a fully-fledged mobile title that you have complete access to as part of the Netflix subscription. Where unlocks require player progression and time spent. And oh my, is that time spent going to be well worth it.
The gift of flight
So, what makes this game so special? It’s quite simple really. It gives you the gift of flight. You might think, “you can fly in tons of games, what makes Laya’s Horizon any different?” And that’s not an unfair question. But most games don’t allow you to fly the way Laya’s Horizon does.
If you’ve ever had the chance to try out games like No Man’s Sky in VR, where you’re jumping into hyperspace as you jet set around the galaxy in your ship’s cockpit, you know how surreal that is. Almost like you’re actually flying through space exploring the universe.
I won’t go so far as to say that Laya’s Horizon does that for you on such a grand scale. But it’s probably as close as any mobile game will ever come. And it’s all thanks to Snowman’s ingenious vision for how the flight mechanics work.
When you were a kid, you can probably remember pretending to fly using your arms as wings. Maybe you wore a cape too. Snowman took that idea and implemented it here. In Laya’s Horizon, you take control of Laya who will leap off cliffs and mountain peaks. To control her flight, the game uses gesture controls. Where each of your two thumbs will control one of Laya’s arms. You can move them independently to control whether she turns right or left. Or slide them up or down in sync to move Laya up or down.
Sliding your thumbs inwards will pull Laya’s arms inwards. Making her more aerodynamic and giving her a speed boost. Meanwhile, sliding them outwards will force Laya to open her arms and legs wide, briefly pivoting her to a vertical position. Slowing her down. Frankly, it’s a magical detail that really tries to put you into the role of Laya. And it works amazingly well.
Explore, expand, collect
Now that you know how flight works, what about the actual game content? Well there’s quite a lot of it. Laya will start with one single cape that she can use to fly down the mountainside. As you complete races and other small tasks, you can unlock and equip new capes. Each one having its own unique abilities depending on what kind of boost you want Laya to have.
One can give Laya an enhanced speed boost (this is actually the first cape you’ll acquire). There are also charms, one of which has the ability to suck in collectibles called sparks like a magnet. You’ll need these sparks, too, so it’s definitely a charm worth equipping. And there are many more of each item type that are there to discover. You can also explore a pretty vast landscape filled with different biomes. Basically, there’s no shortage of content.
And flying through it all is a pretty cool way to see everything that Snowman has built.
The controls are easy to learn, but tough to master
There is little out there that’s as rewarding as overcoming a challenge. And that’s kind of how I feel about the controls in this game. They’re extremely easy to learn. Heck, the game walks you through how to do every little movement Laya can perform before you really set out to chew on the real meat of the game.
But while these descriptions of what to do are simple to read, putting them into practice is an entirely different story. They’re a bit of a challenge to say the least. A challenge however, that is a fulfilling experience once you nail things down. Easy to learn and tough to master.
Even if you shy away from challenges in games more often than not, I would urge you to stick with it and really get the controls down. Because once you do, the game becomes so, so much more fun, as you’re able to effortlessly zip and glide through the world. And it’s already insanely fun to play to begin with.
There are lots of mobile games, many of them worth your time. But few if any will provide you with a gameplay experience like Laya’s Horizon. In most cases I wouldn’t recommend getting a Netflix subscription just to play a game. But that isn’t the case here.
Sign up for Netflix for a month or two. Or even just a free trial if you have one available. Play through Laya’s Horizon and experience the wonder that it offers. And in between your flight sessions, enjoy whatever other content Netflix has that you can kick back and watch.
Just, if you like mobile games, especially ones with overflowing amounts of forethought and attention to detail, do yourself a favor. Play. This. Game. You can grab it on Google Play now.