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Rating is 5 out of 5 stars.
As a longtime gamer I was rather lukewarm about Horizon Zero Dawn’s trailer at E3. Although it looked good at first glance it looked beautiful but information around the background of the game made me skeptical at first. All things considered this is a new IP on the PS4 being created by Guerrilla Games. Which is known for The Killzone series which became mediocre at Shadow Fall; Which I neglected to play because it seemed like a mediocre attempt to milk the cash cow. Killzone 3’s ending seemed like a definite ending in the series; But let me digress.
So, I purchased the game recently and was blown away by the movie opening and meeting baby Aloy & her adoptive father Rost which he gives a little insight into the world and the robotic animals that inhabit it. They appear part of a tribal society of humans led by a group of matriarchs. After pressing the start button and setting up a new game we’re given to a time skip as Aloy is now appears around 9 or 10. You are dropped into her shoes in a quick introduction to game play.
As Aloy ages into a young woman. A warrior trained by Rost in hunting and fighting; We’re given beautiful cut-scenes of Aloy doing her hunting against mechanized animals and Rost showing approval. As the story progresses Aloy wishes to become part of the tribe and getting answers behind her mysterious birth and the only way she’s allowed to do so is to pass a ritual called the proving, so that way she will no longer be an outcast she will be accepted to be a Nora tribe Brave.
Most of the tribe shun her as she is an outcast by birth, not by choice. As Aloy’s entry into the proving to get answers behind her mysterious birth is only part of the game’s story as she’s soon set upon a group of outsiders called The Eclipse which kills many of the young warriors of the tribe which was in the proving. But nonetheless Aloy was made apart from the tribe and she wants retribution for the attacks and the killings. So, granted authority by the Matriarchs she embarks on a quest for answers, which not only leads to her origin but also answers many of the world’s larger questions about the way the world is.
As Aloy you traverse many landscapes, jungles, deserts, mountains, and arctic regions of the map. The land mass is large as the game takes place in a dystopian future Colorado… Aloy has an arsenal at her beck and call her trusty spear and bow and arrow set. In her travels Aloy will come across many strange people, and characters in her journey, she can also acquire new weapons and armor sets from vendors which populate the world map.
Littered around the world’s map appear to be special dungeons called cauldron’s which are large assembly plants that actually create the mechanical robots which run rampant in the world. Each cauldron you conquer give aloy the ability to override these mechanic monstrosities and make them amenable. Some you can ride like the Strider and Broadhead which are a robot horse and bull respectively. Although TBH I wished to override the Stormbird which is a huge white bird seeing it for the first time on the snowy mountain side can give any player pause it’s sheer size is vastly intimidating alone.
But no fret because as you play along Aloy is equipped with a small modular device called the Focus which gives her a heads up display and logistics with creatures and human inhabitants of the game, The focus has a great knack of highlighting areas of the machines weak parts which can give you an edge on them in combat if you also have the right weapons selected to take them down.
After several hours in, I did a couple of small side quests but none of the main story because I was in awe of how beautiful the detailed world looked running on the PS4 in high 30fps at times I seen no slowdown. Details including hiding in tall grass and luring the robots in while you strike from the ground in devious sneak attacks. The way the snow sounds as you rush in shooting your arrow to take down a large Sawtooth tiger machine. Weather cycles happen regularly while traversing through the countryside. Snowstorms, rainstorms, fog, and haze all appear to immerse you further into the game world.
Lastly, let me come to the story which is the backbone of the entire game. Although, the game is fun on it’s own. The story wraps into everything concerning aloy’s birth, the machines, the reason the village was attacked and her reason for her being an outcast and her mysterious birth as you play along you sense a larger world existed in the past with aloy’s finding of her focus she analyses radio clips and holograms of a world unlike our present day earth but the humans of her past befell a great apocalypse of biblical proportions and as Aloy’s journey into why everything happened the reveal is satisfying. The ending when Aloy journey’s to her mother’s resting place after you complete the game was heartbreaking and bittersweet at the same time because you wish for Aloy to be reunited with her mother but Aloy herself knows it could never happen. I do NOT wish to ruin the entire game by spilling it all out here.
The game in my eyes is a virtual masterpiece. No expense was spared. Graphics, Story, Music everything was on the 9’s…. Must own especially if you have a PS4.