Written by: 2beardz
Horizon Zero Dawn (HZD) is a third person action RPG from Guerilla Games (known for the Killzone series). It takes place in a post-post apocalypse where man is in a hunter-gatherer stage and for some reason Robotic animals stalk the lands. You play as Aloy an inquisitive young woman who was born into the Nora ( a primitive matriarchal tribe, think Native Americans but kind of futuristic) but raised as an outcast.
The first thing you notice about HZD is just how beautiful the game is, Killzone games have always been visually impressive but the vistas in this game are truly a sight to behold and the fact that it’s truly open world makes it all the more impressive, the game also features an extensive photomode where the above pictures were taken. Walking around the world you see the beautiful vistas, the snow capped mountains and Aloy’s extensive animations.
The moment-to-moment gameplay has you walking, running, and riding beasts across the world doing side quest for in game characters and moving along one or two main story plots at a time. Although it’s an action RPG the emphasis is the action, there is some choice in tone but no altering of the story line and no deep RPG mechanics (e.g. Conversational battles, skill checks, or alternative ways to complete mission). The action is fast paced, you have a variety of weapons: bows (fast firing or sniper), sling rope caster (for tying down robo’s), trip wires and all have different element effects, which can be leveraged to quickly take down foes. I mainly used arrows and slings with elemental bombs, and had a lot of fun taking down the various robots, they had varied attacks and were always somewhat challenging. Unfortunately it’s not all roses in regard to combat as fights against humans pale in comparison to the robot: the AI for humans isn’t quite up to snuff, sneaking with a whistle is quite overpowered and in general they were pushovers compared to robots, luckily you don’t fight humans half as often as robots.
There are a variety of different robo beast to battle with, which range from elk like, to raptor like (or if you’ve ever watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles they’re just like mousers) to bulls, to full on dinosaurs with cannon toting T-rexes and Pterodactyls. When fighting you do have the ability to slow things down while aiming which allows you hit weak points and on certain enemies allows you to use their own weaponry against them, which is very satisfying. You also will be doing a lot of gathering of resources and using them to craft things like ammo and bigger pouches ala the Far Cry series. One thing I really enjoyed about the game is that it punishes you if you get caught not paying attention, even as I reached level 40 the T rex equivalent Thunder jaws still struck fear into my heart.
The main quest asks what happened to humanity so long ago that left them in this primitive state and why are these robots that look like animals attacking people. The game takes you from the Nora lands to other neighboring tribes and has you solving the problems of the little people as well as uncovering the events that brought about the collapse of society. I won’t spoil the plot in this review but I was very intrigued by the story, at about the half way mark the main story line really picks up and I pretty much ignored side missions until I saw it through. I will say the story is self-contained and has one of the better endings in games that I’ve played recently. Outside of the main quest you have various side quest and tasks, unfortunately most of the side quest follow the formula of go to a location and scan for some item or foot prints, have Aloy talk to herself a little, repeat a few times and then fight some robos.
The game also deserves a shout out for having a very diverse cast, it has women and people of various races in positions of power and handles them well for the most part.
One minor grievance I have with the game is Aloy is a real chatty patty for lack of a better word, she’s almost constantly talking to herself, which I suppose is explained in game by her being raised outside of society. But it still is annoying when she says the same quip for the tenth time when you collect some shrubs.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a beautiful, well written and most importantly to me fun to play game that takes elements from many other games and puts its own spin on it to create a wonderful new IP. I enjoyed my time with the game was engrossed in it’s world for 35 hours to do the main story and about half of the side quests. It is a remarkable game and highly recommended.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a published by Sony and Available on PlayStation 4