Briefiew – Horizon: Zero Dawn

There’s this website called PSNProfiles which helps you keep track of your PSN Trophies. It shows that I’ve played 576 games as of today (only games that support trophies count) but, among all those, I’ve only platinumed 17. So yeah, you can’t consider me a trophy hunter. The thing is, one of the few platinums I have is the one for this game, Horizon: Zero Dawn. Does that mean that the platinum is easy? Maybe, but what it really means is that I enjoyed this title way more than the average game.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is an action RPG and while that distinction would usually be used on RPGs that feature a real-time battle system like The Witcher, here it’s not quite the same. This game really sits right in between the action genre and the RPG, it’s an hybrid of both.
On one hand, the combat is stellar. It’s fast and responsive, it sure is thrilling but it’s also strategic in some ways. It doesn’t feel like it’s been held back in any way like some other Action-RPGs. Giving the impression that this was the primary goal Guerrilla set for this title: having the battles against your enemies feel fun. It also helps that the game let’s you go stealthy which has always been a favourite feature of mine.
On the other hand, there’s the RPG mechanics. They are everywhere nowadays really, even the new Tomb Raider games have some crafting in them. But Horizon isn’t just an action game with a few RPG elements. Sure, the roleplaying elements aren’t as deep as the aforementioned Witcher but there’s plenty of weapon types, upgrades, skills to learn, crafting elements and more specially, a pretty wide array of side-quests that are actually fun to play. The scope here is certainly smaller, it would “only” take you around 40 hours to see and do everything in this game instead of being a 200 hour experience like some more typical epics.

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You could describe Horizon’s world as post-post-apocalyptic. There once was an advanced civilization there but that ended. Now humans try to rise from the ashes of that forgotten world but they’re still in a mostly tribal state. Also… there’s big robotic animals everywhere.
The game’s story puts you in the shoes of Aloy. An outcast of the Nora tribe, discriminated for not having a mother. One day, the tribe is attacked and more specifically Aloy is targeted by some cultists known as the eclipse. That event will trigger a quest in which Aloy will be travel the forbidden lands trying to uncover the reasons behind that attack and her own identity in the process.
I feel like that’s as far as I should go for the game’s story though as I don’t want to spoil the journey for you. Horizon does throw a lot of questions about this exotic world and its factions but it also manages to answer those questions quite successfully. There’s plenty of good characters to meet along the way and even the stories you’ll encounter during the side-quests will be quite interesting.

Horizon’s graphics are gorgeous. The world is huge, full of detail and color. The lighting and its day-night cycle is very well done and so they are the different weather effects you’ll find across the different regions. This is one of the prettiest games you can find on PS4 period. Some facial animations during secondary dialog could be better and I’ve encountered some texture popping when riding fast on a mount. But apart from that, the game really does looks amazing.
In the audio department the game does well too. The game has a pretty solid cast of voice (and performance) actors. The noises of the creatures and the different sound effects are great and the same applies to the game’s soundtrack. Overall, this game is a joy to look but also to hear at.

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Things I liked

  • Action: The game has full on combat but it also has stealth and both of those aspects it does quite well. The controls are tight and the different weapons in the game are very fun to use. Loved to tear those robots into pieces, holding them down with ropes and setting fire to them. I hope that last part didn’t make me sound like a psycho too much.
  • Story: Not talking just about Aloy’s personal quest but also the whole lore surrounding the world of Zero Dawn. If you’re gonna be playing a game for over 30 hours, it better have a gripping story to keep you wanting more and I’m happy to say that Horizon has that. I should also mention that I really liked Aloy as a character herself. She’s well spirited but she is far from bland and her design is also pretty badass.
  • Creatures: Talking about the robots now. They are very well thought-out. Each creature has its own behaviour and attack methods. They have their own strengths and weaknesses and hence a right way to take them down. Special mention deserve their animations which are just perfect.
  • Polish: It’s almost a given these days that whenever a game is this big, it usually comes with a pretty big array of unsolved bugs. That’s not the case for Horizon so I feel that if it has to be mentioned when a game is buggy, a game that feels so polished like this one should be praised for it.
  • The concept: The basic concept of this game is genius to me and I’m kinda surprised this wasn’t done before but well… At least I’m glad that they got the thing so right on their first try. Let’s hope there’s a sequel so I can tear down more robot t-rexes.

 

Things I didn’t

  • Platforming: This is regarding the climbing done in the game but also some instances where Aloy has to jump to avoid obstacles and such. Sometimes the character didn’t do what it was expected to do. It’s not that it’s terrible all the time or anything but it was only during some of those instances when I got frustrated with the game and in a game this polished, those moments stood out like a sore thumb.

 

Things that eh…

  • Identity crisis? : This isn’t something I personally had any problem with it but I feel like some people might. It could be that you’re an RPG fanatic and you’d want the game be less action-y and be deeper in the RPG part. Or it could be the other way around and you wish the game was more straightforward with the action getting rid of the crafting and such. The game is right in the middle and while I loved the formula, there will be people who won’t (like always).

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Who’d like this?

This is the definition of a must have. If you own a PS4 you have to have this game and I’m sure it’ll make people buy the console so they can play it. It is fun, it is pretty and it is long.
Everyone has their own tastes so you might find Horizon to be one of the best games on PS4 or just a pretty good robot game but I don’t see anyone not enjoying this game to a certain extent so… get it.
Also, because it has such an original concept, it feels like one of those games that might be considered in the future what “defined the entire generation” like Bioshock or Dark Souls was for the last one.

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