This is a review and it may contain some spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum.
I’ve always loved video games, ever since my parents picked up a Nintendo in the late 80s. I remember how excited I was when the original Tomb Raider came out and how amazing it was to have a capable female in a video game. I think that’s why I instantly fell in love with Horizon Zero Dawn. It gave me all the same thrill of watching Lara hurtle across an expanse to catch a ledge the first time, with amazing graphics and a unique post-apocalyptic story. I like pretty much everything about the main character, Aloy.
It was developed by Guerilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment using GG’s Decima engine, which you may be familiar with from Killzone Shadow Fall. It’s actually being used by Kojima Productions for the highly anticipated Death Stranding. In fact, there are several collectibles in the game that are pieces from Death Stranding, which is to me, very Hideo Kojima in nature, he loves to hide things.
The controls are a breeze! Everything about it was easy to adapt to and there weren’t any finger crunching button combos. The game allows for several weapon types to be equipped at once and you can quickly switch between them with a pull up wheel that allows you to create additional ammunition at the same time. I favored the bow above other weapon and trap types, but I did try them all out. Each weapon class, such as bow, a tripcaster that you use to set up trip lines, and a ropecaster that you use to tie down the machines that roam, come in different makes, each with it’s own strengths and weaknesses. I prefer weapons that could use fire type ammunition. Honestly, everything about the control setup is great, I wouldn’t change a thing. The game includes a lot of climbing and I do feel like that’s been dumbed down a little. As long as you are pushing the L stick in the right direction and hitting X you’re pretty much fine. I feel like there are some spots in the game that would have been trickier if climbing and jumping was more challenging. Battles with the machines in the game can be tough as you are usually fighting a large number and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
HOLY CRAP THIS GAME IS PRETTY! Seriously, this game is gorgeous. Now, I’m playing on a big ass TV, its 60″ 4k, HDR and only 6 months old, so it’s gonna depend some on your display capabilities. Even still, you could probably play this on a tube TV and it would look good. The draw distance is fantastic, if it’s clear weather in the game and you’re in flatland, you can see so far. The green of the grass is so vibrant, the blue of the sky is bright, and the running water sparkles when it’s sunny. Meticulous attention has been paid to the textures. You don’t see repeated textures on the surfaces of rocks. The face animations during conversation were amazing. This is no Mass Effect: Andromeda, no one’s teeth are terrifying to look at.
The pacing is really even with the voice acting, nothing feels rushed about the conversation. The characters are able to pause and let a sentence bear weight before moving on to the next. It was really great to listen to because the story is so compelling and if it was rushed it really would have been jarring and taken me out of the narrative.
So here is where is you are gonna a few spoilers, again, I’m keeping it as few as possible. It all takes place after a world extinction event, which is pretty clear in the commercials. There are limited animal resources, few agricultural resources, and people rely largely on the parts scavenged from the machines that now roam. The story of how we’ve gotten to this point is slowly revealed as you delve through ruins, and discover documents and files pertaining to the last days of civilization. The whole thing is very tragic. It’s a situation where corporate greed and military opportunism come together and wipe us all out, it doesn’t seem too far fetched right now.
This game was fun to play. It was intuitive, and gorgeous. I loved it up until the very end, and by that, I mean I loved it except for the end. I went through hours of game play (please don’t ask me how much. My numbers are way off as I’d leave it paused for hours taking care of the baby.) The actual final battle was not particularly challenging. I did it from far away from the boss and while I was treated with an interesting cut scene hinting at a cool sequel, I was infuriated by the next bit. I got a notice that my game would be brought back to my last save point before the end of the game and I could continue to play. I’M SORRY WHAT?! Imagine beating Alduin and then getting sent back to just before you left for Sovngarde in Skyrim! I had hoped to finish the game and then be able to wrap up the few side quests I had left. Instead I’m in this video game purgatory. I have to just sit here with a game that can’t really be finished. My choices are new game+ or wander around in a world that’s waiting for me to hurry up and save them. It seriously irks me.
The DLC is really good. It ties into the main game really well and offers several extra hours of additional play and opens up additional map areas and collectables. I would wait until just before the final battle to play it because you’ll acquire a great weapon that can be further modified and waiting will trigger plot in the DLC you might not otherwise have. You have access to several new weapons and armor with the DLC that will certainly be effective in the last battle.
It’s a game worth playing and I look forward to the sequel, they’ve certainly left room for it. I took half a star because I’m so infuriated by how they end it. I’m all about that 100% and it’s making my brain itch.
3.5/5 Get the game, for reals.