Guerilla Games is back with a bang with Horizon Zero Dawn, after a rather lukewarm run with Killzone: Shadow Fall. Boasting a strong entry in the open-world genre, it showcases a deep and well-written story full of mystery, stunning visuals, intricate design that revels in it’s complexity and a memorable protagonist. Horizon Zero Dawn is an absolute must-have.
Horizon Zero Dawn is set in a post-post-post apocalyptic world: set hundreds, if not, thousands, of years after society’s mysterious downfall. However, unlike in conventional post-apocalyptic games like Fallout 4 and The Last of Us, the remnants of humanity have devolved to a primitive and nomadic way of life, forming tribes and hunting with spears and bows. They compete for survival with giant robotic animals. 26 species in all, that roam Horizon Zero Dawn’s expansive open world.
At the very beginning, we’re introduced to Aloy, our flame-haired huntress who is cast out from her tribe. Voiced by Ashly Burch, she’s a charming and, at times, sarcastic character with a big heart and is an absolute joy to watch and play. We follow her journey as she seeks to discover more about her past and the past of the human civilization that came before her, all the while battling formidable robotic predators. This offers a unique and intriguing storyline, making the player become desperate to find out more about the mystery surrounding Horizon Zero Dawn’s world.
Horizon’s most compelling feature is its combat. Aloy has a lore-friendly device, called Aloy’s Focus, which scans beasts for several weak points. This feature pairs well with the games 26 unique species of robotic animals to provide exciting combat opportunities, as hitting different points triggers different results, from Bellowbacks exploding to cannons falling off the back of Ravagers.
Aloy is usually the underdog in most fights, and fighting large groups of enemies is usually futile. Planning out attacks and being stealthy, is therefore, the way to go in many cases. The on-the-go crafting system means you’ll never run out of ammo mid-battle. Aloy is equipped with an ever-growing arsenal, which makes every encounter incredibly tactical. Her arsenal consists primarily of customized but primitive weaponry, mostly upgradable bows and elemental-infused arrows. She can also craft and collect a variety of tools like Ropecasters and Tripcasters, making combat all the more fun and engaging.
As you upgrade your skill tree, Aloy gains access to special skills like overriding a machines brains, which can have different effects depending on the machine. As your skilltree is further upgraded, the effects of overrides last longer, giving you access to your own private army of robotic death-machines. Watching them fight your battles for you is extremely satisfying. Aloys basic movement and actions, like climbing, rolling and rappelling, are fluid and responsive and very well executed
Horizon’s world is both incredibly beautiful and terrifying. Journeying across the world in search of your next quest is a treat itself. The game offers a number of stunning environments to explore, from snowy mountains to lush green forests and vast deserts. The eerie ruins of skyscrapers provide a glimpse into life before the apocalypse, painting a surreal scene. Every frame is a painting, with no detail spared. Taking a short break just to take in the view is a bit of advice you won’t regret following. Another fun little feature is the dedicated photo mode, which allows you to capture and preserve the game’s stunning landscapes in all their glory.
There are no significant glitches in H:ZD’s massive open world, which is quite a feat in a game of this scale. However, there are some minor glitches like arrows getting stuck mid-air, which I’m sure will be patched soon.
Verdict: Overall, Horizon Zero Dawn’s stunning visuals, immersive story and engaging gameplay makes it a worthy contender for Game of The Year, and is a game that every PS4 owner must experience. I would rate the game a 9 out of 10.