Horizon: Zero Dawn Review
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Acquired via: Purchase by Reviewer
From the moment I saw Horizon: Zero Dawn at E3 2015, I was intrigued. It interested me even more when it was shown at E3 2016. Now that it’s out, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy playing this game.
The game takes place about 1000 years in the future. Humans live in primitive communities and surrounded by mechanical creatures. The creatures are the remains of the civilization of the Old Ones, which disappeared long ago. No one knows how everything ended up the way it did, and the very primitive people don’t seem all that interested.
You play as Aloy, an orphaned human who is outcast among her own people. One day, she finds an advanced device that supposedly holds the key to finding out the secrets of the past. She gains Focus, a power that allows her to connect with any techno-artifacts she finds and learn about how everything got the way it is.
The first parts of the game are rather dull, as it centers on the humans and their politics. Once Aloy gets her Focus and sets out to discover the secrets of the past, the game gets really interesting. The game and Aloy become much more interesting at that point.
Most of the fun with Horizon: Zero Dawn lies in its combat. While there are the same gather/kill quests that take up most open-world games, exploring the world will eventually find you facing some mechanical monsters and Aloy has to use her trusty bow and arrow. Fighting the mechanical monstrosities is incredibly enjoyable. Part of that joy is because of the controls, which work almost perfectly. You can have Aloy can dodge away from attacks easily. You also can trigger a slowdown with her bow attacks for more accuracy.
Aloy starts out with a basic arrow, but she will eventually find and equip different types of arrows. They include fire arrows, shock arrows that freeze some enemies in place, and harvest arrows that knock valuable parts off them. In addition, she has access to different bombs and traps. All are easily accessible via a weapon wheel that you can access easily, even while in combat.
The only combat-related thing in Horizon: Zero Dawn that sucks is melee combat. Aloy only has heavy and light spear attacks, and they’re not very good when using them against the mechanical enemies. Other than that, the combat is excellent.
As you explore through the game, new enemies pop up. Each newer enemy has new abilities and attacks, which keeps you on your toes. The good thing is that by the time you come across them, you’re able to handle whatever new they bring. Also, Aloy’s Focus can be used to discover weak points on enemies. The game leads you along very well, never overwhelming you on purpose.
You could still get in trouble by yourself. Rushing through the world will eventually get you noticed by multiple robotic enemies. Thankfully, Aloy has stealth mechanics. You can have her sneak around in tall grass and away from enemies’ sight. An eye icon will let you know when you are visible to them. You can use that to your advantage. While they’re out of sight, you can lay traps for them then lure them towards them.
Those traps, as well as all the ammunition can be crafted. After learning how to craft something, you must help Aloy find the reagents needed to craft the, Many drop from enemies, while others drop from small animals like rabbits and turkeys that still exist in this world. Others are found by harvesting plants. In addition, you can craft health potions as well as upgrading Aloy’s storage.
The robotic enemies are not just for killing. Beneath the ground are dungeon-like alien structures. When you get through them, you find machines that grant Aloy hacking abilities. Using these hacking abilities on them can have them leave you alone, fight with you, or allow you to them as mounts. That last one makes traveling long distances easier. You can also fight while mounted, which is useful. What isn’t useful is having to dismount in order to pick up any parts and materials. In a game with few bad points, this is the worst.
Other than that, the only other thing that annoyed me is the constant resource gathering. It’s not a bad thing most of the time, but some fetch quests get irritating. I don’t know how long I spent hunting for turkeys at one point just to complete a recipe. I don’t like to collect like in World of Warcraft. I like to kill things.
Everything else is perfect. Horizon: Zero Dawn looks amazing, even on my 1080p TV with the regular PS4. Everything sounds amazing as well. There is also no stuttering or slowdown in the game. Everything plays perfectly. The whole world is alive, and running or riding through it is great. The game is absolutely beautiful.
If you’re into open-world games, Horizon: Zero Dawn is for you. Action-adventure fans will also love this game. Guerilla Games hit this one out of the park. It’s definitely one of the best games to come out so far in 2017.