Horizon Zero Dawn Review

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

Horizon Zero Dawn Review: Horizon Zero Dawn leaves its mark on the open world genre with robotic beasts and a brilliant story that will make you crave more.

 

With the arrival of Horizon Zero Dawn, gamers have been blessed with a gorgeous and stunning open world and a mysterious story that keeps you guessing until the very end. It follows an outcast named Aloy as you embark on a mission to uncover the secrets behind her origin and what happened to planet Earth hundreds of years in the past. Ride and slay mechanical beasts, craft and purchase different weapons, armor, traps, and potions, and learn different skills as you progress throughout the game.

Story (Spoiler-free!)

Horizon Zero Dawn‘s story takes place hundreds of years in the future, as primitive tribes of humans have formed and robotic animals roam the land. You play as Aloy, a curious young woman who grew up as an outcast of the Nora tribe. After an attack on your tribe severely weakens them, you go on a quest for answers and vengeance.

Guys and gals, the story is great, REALLY great. Throughout its story, Horizon Zero Dawn answers one question and has you asking three or four more. I haven’t played a story based game that has sucked me into it like Horizon Zero Dawn has in a very, very long time. Both Aloy and the mystery surrounding the world she lives in are very intriguing.

Aloy is the shining star of Horizon Zero Dawn. She’s witty, adventurous, but most importantly, relatable. It’s not often you come across the main hero of a story that you can actually picture as real. Aloy isn’t some super strong-bulldozing heroine and she most certainly is not some bimbo generated just to garner attention. Her character is one the audience connects with emotionally. She second-guesses herself, she makes sly sarcastic comments that others don’t necessarily understand, she doesn’t think of herself as some goddess or better than anyone else. Aloy just tries to do what’s right for the benefit of everyone, even those who cast her out as a child. Her personality is what really drives the narrative of the story home.

Surrounding Aloy is a decent supporting cast. Nobody else really stands out, except for Rost, another outcast who the tribe asked to raise Aloy when she was a child. Rost is another character that you can hold in high esteem. He’s really Aloy’s inspiration for doing what she does. He’s the father she was truly blessed to have.

One thing that really helps drive the story forward is the use of your Focus to find data hidden around the world. The Focus is a sort of headset that allows its user to view holographic data. Aloy uses it to find data points as well as finding weaknesses in machines. I will say this; it is very important to use your Focus, especially on main story missions, to find those hidden data points if you want to grasp the full details of Horizon Zero Dawn‘s story. There is a ton of background information for you to find and piece together how humanity ended up in the state it is.

Aloy aiming at a Watcher, one of the smaller machines in Horizon Zero Dawn

Aloy aiming at a Watcher, one of the smaller machines in Horizon Zero Dawn

Gameplay

Horizon Zero Dawn is a third person over-the-shoulder, open world adventure game. It can be described as a mix between Tomb Raider, Far Cry, and The Witcher. Aloy can run, jump, dodge, slide, crouch, and climb as you explore the world around you. You can hunt animals and machines as well as gather resources to craft ammunition and bigger pouches to hold more items. The game features a weapon wheel that slows time as you seamlessly change weapons to keep the action going.

There is usually always something to do. While there are three different mounts that Aloy can override, I found that traversing the land on foot was best most of the time. The world is huge, and there is so much to explore. To reveal a bit more of the map, climb up one of the Tallneck machines. Explore hidden ruins called cauldrons that allow you to learn how to override a set of machines. There are also various raider camps around the map that you can clear out.

Whether you are doing side quests, hunting challenges, cauldrons, clearing raider camps, or finding collectibles, there always seems to be something going on. Horizon Zero Dawn packs a lot of hours of game time if you really want to go for that 100% completion rate.

Mechanics

Mechanics in Horizon Zero Dawn run pretty smoothly. Movement is a huge thing that the developers pretty much perfected. Sliding and dodging are very helpful when coming into contact with enemies. Using your skill points also opens up a whole new range of features for you to use, such as stronger silent strikes and being able to gather more resources from the same source or craft more ammo from the same amount of resources.

There is a plethora of different systems at work. The user interface is customizable so you can tweak things to however you desire. I would highly suggest using the UI in dynamic mode. It gives Horizon Zero Dawn a more cinematic feel by making the UI disappear when not actively in use. Of course there is also the experience system that allows the player to level up to unlock more skills.

To add onto all that, there is a stealth system at play. You can hide in tall grass to hide yourself from the enemy. Crouching also makes you less visible. When alerted, a yellow indicator will appear on top of whichever person/machine suspects you and will continue to fill up until it is completely red, meaning the enemy knows exactly where you are.

All in all, Horizon Zero Dawn is a spectacular game. A superb story brought to life by an amazing central character. Smooth gameplay and beautiful mechanics compliment what is one of the most gorgeous game environments I have ever come across. My Horizon Zero Dawn Review score is easily 9.7 out of 10 overall. If you have a Playstation 4, this is a must have game.

 

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