Life is harsh, life consumes and yet life grows. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a story that is familiar and yet it provides a casting ray of hope for humanity in the games lore. Made by the impressive folk from Guerrilla Games, the story of Horizon is one that we all know from many movies and games. Robots out of control consume all organic life and leave humanity fumbling in the dark for a solution, a solution that would mean sealing what was left of humanity into vaults while a newly made GAIA A.I. would work to counteract the rouge robots on the surface of a now unrecognizable world. However our story takes place many, MANY years later. Rough guesstimates place the game at almost 1000 years after the initial event. The land is thriving, nature has regrown, animals frolic and great mechanical beasts stride beside them all.
Aloy is a woman born from a mountain (aka giant nursery vault where the new humans were conceived from sperm and embryo stores) and is seen as an a front to the human tribe called, Nora and thus branded as an outcast to live with another outcast. While we wish to maintain the story for those of you who have yet to play the game we can say that through events that escalate during her proving, she becomes emboldened to figure out why she was born and where her mother has gone. All the while she makes enemies with a fanatical group called Eclipse who worship a rogue part of the GAIA A.I. who seeks to cleanse the world. This is where the game throws the player out into the wider world and gives them the choice to tackle quests as they come and go while showcasing characters that have merit and lives to live.
A female lead that is relate-able and surprising: Aloy is a female heroine unlike any other. She has a drive to prove that she can be more than an outcast in the eyes of her peers and has what it takes to survive in a world that is foreign, yet older than herself. She is one of the best written females that I have seen in such an long time, she is far from frail and yet she has moments of tenderness that give her such a diverse feeling. She is not that female that runs around with scant clothing or armour and instead focuses on finding her place in this world, while trying to save it from an impending doom. She is not alone and she is far from the only female that is in a position of power and breaks the mold that we generally see from gaming.
The females of this world have greater rights and power, depending on what tribe they of course come from. Those from the Nora are seen as equals and those from the Sun Kingdom are generally treated lower, but we have seen several characters that break the mold and hold positions of military power. Aloy is the bread, the butter and the glue that holds everything together; she is phenomenal through and through. Her personality is one that most of us should be able to relate with; minus the ability to fight robo-dinosaurs. When she hurts you hurt and that is something that is wholesomely special in a game. You want to learn more about her and you want to know what makes her tick as she fumbles through this world as we all make our way through.
A Game that has soul, yet fumbles with cyclical issues: The game is a first for Guerrilla Games as they have never before attempted to make a RPG of this scope and scale. Yet they pulled out inspiration after inspiration and ended up with something that is as functional as it is playable. It just works, period. The game centers around an open world environment that has some degree of verticality with the use of long abandoned high-rises and underground vaults where new machines are born from. The game only blocks the player for roughly the first few hours, but once you push past that block then the world is nothing but your own oyster.
Along your travels you will face new and more challenging robotic creatures and you will encounter more side-quests than you could shake a stick at. To top it all off you have plenty of collectibles to track down and trade for special items. It is something that will keep you busy for many hours and the crafting/equipment is no push over. Weapons and armour can be customized to allow for better resistance or damage, while weapons benefit from damage increase or elemental effects. Everything ammo wise can be bought or crafted from gathered resources that dot the entire world. While it is plentiful there are moments in the game where not making sure you are stocked on crafting supplies and ammo could spell disaster; trust us on this one.
However the games robotic adversaries are at best predictable to a degree and once you over come them a few times, they become nothing but minor obstacles if not at the very least annoying. They remain that way for the duration of the game, annoyances that consume your ammo and resources. Heck, once you grab the best set of armor in the game they become less scary and more of pest. With that all being said they are still a joy to fight from time to time. Hunting them for certain components is fun and rewarding, but sadly boils down to picking the same ammo and tactics that you have used time and time again.
What is in the games Horizon: The question that we gamers often ask, is what lies beyond the end game, what is there in terms of replay value? Well I can say that once you complete the main story it reverts you back to right before you started the last mission; So in essence it is a hard ending. I can at least say that I greatly appreciate them doing this rather than just ending it and leaving the player asking, why? Looking at you Fallout New Vegas. With that being said there remains the chance of further DLC that will expand on the amazing story and lore that the game brings and as of this writing it has been reported that Aloy’s voice actress was in to do more voice work, so hopefully that translates into massive DLC!
Now without DLC, there is still plenty to do, especially if you want to platinum the game and grab all the collectibles. It is easy and frankly a breeze that is enjoyable thanks to the amazing sound-work and graphics of the game itself. However, outside of wanting to play the game on a higher difficulty I sadly don’t see a motive for restarting all over again; there just is not enough of a draw to do so.
Our final thought: To wrap up and condense our thoughts, the game is brilliant and beautiful; it also brings into the world some of the BEST written female characters that we have ever seen in gaming. While it may not be perfect with gender and race portrayla, I will say you see more diversity in this game than you probably every will from any other game. The gameplay is solid and while I cannot say I experienced any bugs, you will run into a feeling of dread once you best every robotic beast and find that they sadly become an annoyance and obstacles to over come. Horizon: Zeros Dawn can only be enjoyed on Sony’s PlayStation 4.
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