HorizonsZeroDawn-6
Aloy (left) training with Rost (right) during the Horizon Zero Dawn’s tutorial phase. Copyright Guerrilla Games, 2017.

It’s not often that I manage to give any game the time it deserves; to enjoy the story, to explore everything the game has to offer, to really embrace the experience the developers wanted me to have by playing their creation. I was recently lucky enough to have a few days to invest in Horizon Zero Dawn, and I was rewarded with a truly wonderful gaming experience.

Horizon Zero Dawn was released on February 28th, 2017 by Guerrilla Games as a PS4 exclusive. Guerrilla Games (subsidiary of Sony Interactive Entertainment) is best known as the developers of the Killzone franchise. Knowing that, it comes as no surprise that Horizon draws heavily on sci-fi and apocalypse-now themes while it does a wonderful job of being able to maintain rural and rustic elements.

The “open world” is truly stunning, varying from grasslands and forests to extreme mountain and wasteland environments, each providing different challenges in order to progress and alter how the player interacts with NPCs and enters combat. The game is very much designed around parkour and climbing mechanics, and while it provides many great scenes, at times it made me feel as though I was playing an Assassin’s Creed clone. Combat is certainly one of the game’s stronger assets; it scales well with the player, with the story, and is directly influenced by the player’s skill. There are several weapons to choose from to let the player choose and be creative with how they will engage enemies, but equally so the entire game (with the exception of Hunting Trials) can be completed with the Hunter Bow for Hard Point Arrows (piercing) and the Sharpshot for Tearblast Rounds (armor breaking).

What sets Horizon apart though is the female lead, Aloy!

Kidding. Gamergate might be true in some ways, but Horizon’s story is told so well that I have no doubt a female lead was the only way to go from the first day of development. The Guerrilla team put so much time and care in designing Aloy’s character, her personality, her emotions, her responses, all of it came together and created a character you wanted to see grow and discover the mysteries of her world. The story does a really good job of being subtle as it hints at current sociological themes while the player learns more about the past and the “Old Ones” who caused the world to change and become the reality in which Aloy resides.

What Horizon Zero Dawn did right:

  • Amazing story that completes the game and captivates the player.
  • Wonderful environmental graphics and cinematic scenes.
  • Does not concern itself with having Aloy as a female lead.
  • No additional DLC required to complete the experience.

What Horizon Zero Dawn could have done better:

  • Encourage the player to take advantage of additional weapons and combat techniques.
  • Spend a bit more time adding other parkour opportunities and be less rock climbing/cliff scaling heavy.
  • Allow for World Rankings with Hunter Trials to add a competitive component among the PS4 community.

Overall, I believe that Horizon Zero Dawn has an exceptional story with a plethora of supporting content with better than average gameplay.

I strongly recommend giving this game the same respect and time as I did.

8.5/10

Platinum Trophy achieved in 34 hours, 38 minutes.

This article is NOT sponsored content.