The Dawn of What May Be Sony’s Most Epic IP
Sony Interactive Entertainment and Guerilla Games embarked on journey to build something unique and exciting. Something that would remind us exactly why we love games with a great story. Horizon Zero Dawn does just that, as it perfectly captures the essence of vicariously living through emotionally charged characters in a setting beyond our wildest dreams. After fives years of development, a splash at E3 2015, and a few untimely delays, Sony’s most epic title in years has finally arrived.
The action RPG, puts you in control of perhaps Guerrilla Games’ most polarizing protagonist, Aloy, as she embarks on a journey across a captivating post-apocalyptic world. You are tasked with uncovering the mysteries behind her origins, why there is this battle between humans and machines, and the reasons for her being her community’s outcast. Perhaps the biggest, understated question posed within Horizon Zero Dawn is certainly what happened to civilization prior to Aloy’s thrust into survival. I haven’t quite gotten the answer to that question, but my journey thus far has been deeply captivating.
The story is what truly makes Horizon Zero Dawn such an intimate experience. Following Aloy from when she was just a baby to her current role as a huntress seamlessly fused a deep connection with the protagonist. Guerrilla Games does a fantastic job of following creative writings’ golden rule of “show, don’t tell” by letting players experience each piece of Aloy’s story, rather than forcing it upon us. Every interaction seems to build on her life and who she is as an individual. I couldn’t help but find myself almost instantly and emotionally connected to the questions surrounding her existence.
As Horizon Zero Dawn ’s story starts to unfold, players are given bite-sized chunks of gameplay to progress. The way the game gives you exactly what you need during each arch is a display of pure video game genius. I never once questioned my ability, or inability, to complete various tasks, nor did I even question the controls during my initial playthroughs, as they organically unraveled. This method of distributing limited information is a risky move, but it pays huge dividends when done correctly. Horizon Zero Dawn lands firmly on the list of those games which achieved this sort of gradual presentation perfectly.
Horizon Zero Dawn ’s captivating story is complimented by a breathtaking landscape that seems to go on forever. The sheer beauty this game exhibits is remarkable; it’s no wonder this title took five years to complete. It very much takes the look and feel of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us , but without the dark undertones. Rather, Horizon Zero Dawn is bursting with an array of life-like textures that bend and flex as the story progresses. This subtle technique pulls players right into the thick of the story and effortlessly creates an immersive experience. Undoubtedly countless hours of rendering went into this part of the game. Everything, from the vast wilderness, forest ranges, and mountains to the meticulous refinement of the ancient ruins, perfectly binds together this impressive world. Even the flowers and trees move and sway as if they were alive and well. Simply put, it looks stunning.
The machines are not immune to the impressive levels of detail. They borrow a lot of their elements from real-world animals, but manage to maintain a certain degree of uniqueness. Even as you stalk them, you can’t help but marvel at their artistic beauty. They don’t quite make a lick of sense in a world like this, but that’s the amazing thing about their construction. Horizon Zero Dawn , and the story as a whole, would feel lost without their wild machinery inhabiting a land that isn’t theirs.
Horizon Zero Dawn makes use of a clever combat system that grabs elements from both the action and RPG genres. Neither precision nor creativity is lost within the fights, as you might expect with such a blend from two opposing worlds. Rather, the game requires you to take full advantage of your surroundings, physics, and cunning tact to take down opponents. Use cover to outsmart and outgun your opponent or take them head-on with no mercy. The choice is ultimately yours to make, and Horizon Zero Dawn supports either decision.
Regardless of the enemy’s size, Aloy will find a way to defeat them with her arsenal of craftable weapons, upgradable perks, and endless combinations. Players can take full advantage of Horizon Zero Dawn ’s skill tree system to upgrade her abilities in some of the most epic ways we’ve ever seen. I’m going to avoid potential spoilers here and let you find out first hand what Aloy is truly capable of doing. However, I can tell you the game maps out crafting weapons, gathering supplies, and how to level-up in order to gain those perks within the first few hours of gameplay.
Speaking of gameplay hours, Guerrilla Games claims Horizon Zero Dawn ’s main missions will take roughly 30 hours to complete. However, my guess is nearly double that, as the main missions contain a significant amount of depth. I could very well be off in my estimates, as I typically take the Sunday stroll approach to completing games, but I’m convinced the total time is more than the 30-hour mark. The side missions and story elements, on the other hand, will easily stretch your entire session to at least the 60 hour mark, even if you blaze through this thing like a total boss. This game has a massive amount of content and replayability, both of which complement a solid set of controls and an even more impressive world.
When all is said and done, Horizon Zero Dawn far exceeds my expectations and is on course to be one of the best titles the gaming community has seen in a long time. A critic’s review doesn’t do justification to the awesomeness contained within this living work of art. It’s a story-centric adventure that will certainly send you on a captivating journey from start to finish, and then some. The beautiful thing about Horizon Zero Dawn is that it truly reminds me of the first time I stepped foot into the shoes of Master Chief. This is certainly something special that must be experienced first-hand, It rightfully lands atop my list of best games in 2017.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 5.0 Graphics
Absolutely stunning, you can’t get much better than this. 4.5 Control
Solid controls that impressively blend together two elements from gaming genres. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The beautiful visuals are perfectly complimented by realistic FX and engaging voice overs. 5.0 Play Value
This game is truly massive with lots of quality replay value. 4.9 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|