Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

Photo Credit: Guerrilla Games

Developer: Guerrilla Games

Genre: Action role-playing

Rating: T

Hunting giant robots with primitive weapons has to be a bit of a hard video game pitch, but Horizon Zero Dawn makes these intense battles between man and machine so rewarding. The first thing that most people notice when seeing Horizon Zero Dawn is the massive robotic creatures roaming the land.  To house these monstrosities Guerrilla Games crafted an equally massive map for you to roam with details and scenes that are so wonderfully crafted. All areas are free for you to explore right from the very start of the game; now going to the higher level areas isn’t really recommended since there will be very powerful adversaries all around you. The game follows the story of a young girl named Aloy. Her backstory at the beginning of the game is shrouded in mystery starting off as an outcast who wants to join the rest of her people in a clan. To not spoil the game, events follow that lead her to be sent on a mission of discovery; which in turn leads her to find the reason for the machines that plague the world that she inhabits. You use an array of weapons and ammunition to take down the behemoths and rival factions along with different play styles such as stealth which the game really likes to emphasize. You start with a bow and arrow and as the game goes on you’ll acquire many more such as projectile launchers, and trip wires. You’ll also be able to learn new skills, customize your weapons, craft items in the usual RPG format. 

The Good/The Bad:

The Good: It’s hard to pinpoint every thing this game does well. The gameplay which I would consider the “play your way” approach feels great. The most satisfying aspect would definitely be standing up to the machines and taking them head on; it requires a good amount of strategy, but seeing it fall apart when it’s health reaches zero has to be one of the best feelings the game can offer. Something that I’ve caught myself doing is just walking around the massive map and seeing all the different weather effects, sunrises, and sunsets that the developers put into the game. Textures are rich, colors are vibrant, and details so small are crammed into every corner of the game. The Decima game engine developed by Guerrilla Games itself is a marvel and I can’t wait to see what Guerrilla and also Kojima Productions do to further improve the engine.

The Bad: The only thing that could be improved in this game is the climbing mechanics. Playing games such as Uncharted and Assassins Creed might have spoiled me, but there are many sections of the game that call for traversal, but other than the specific scripted parts most of the game world is barren to these holds. The cliffs in this game that seem completely climbable don’t give you the option to jump up and pull yourself up. Which can be a bit frustrating especially since Aloy is able to reach much higher vantage points when the game calls for it. If I pointed anything else out it would border the line of nitpicking. Seriously this game is pretty solid.

Photo Credit: Guerrilla Games

Visuals:

For console gaming this game pushes all the limits. With details such as ants crawling around on the grass and sunsets that are in some ways rival the real thing it’s hard not to praise the game for it’s visuals. Facial animations are smooth and lifelike where you can even see reflections in the eyes of Aloy when she’s talking. You can tell that the developers spent so much time making this a game that you can truly believe is real.

Replay Value:

I’m not sure if I would play it again from start to finish unless testing my skills at the highest difficulty, but there are so many different quests that the game will have you very busy; easily rivaling games such as The Witcher and Skyrim in game length. You have different armors that you can buy or find, weapons to acquire and best of all giant robots to battle.

The Verdict:

With such a wonderfully crafted game world, story, and lore Horizon Zero Dawn joins games such as The Last of Us, Uncharted and Bloodborne as PS4 owners must haves.

Score:

9.5/10

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