Horizon: Zero Dawn Review

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A New Age

We live in a truly special time. A time where a bunch of developers from Amsterdam, who are famous for making first-person shooters, can turn and make an action-rpg video game about a red hair woman who fights robotic beasts with a bow and arrow. It also means a lot when said game is as awesome as that description sounds. Guerrilla Games have truly made something special, and it signals a much needed change from their previous IP; Killzone.

Gameplay

Overall the gameplay is where this game really shines. The bow and arrow in this game just feels so much better than in previous games. Hanzo mains can find refuge here. I know I said this was an action-RPG but the RPG mechanics are not very deep. When you level or complete certain missions you’ll earn skill points to use in a skill tree. This allows for flexibility in how you tackle the early game but it didn’t feel like an obstacle. It also didn’t feel like it did much. As you play the game you’ll naturally get better at the mechanics and that’s how I felt I really grew in the game.

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One thing you may notice as you play this game is how unique it all looks and yet feels very familiar. Loot and crafting feel pulled from recent Far Cry games, as well as how you unlock the map. Bow and arrow combat remind you of Tomb Raider. Climbing feels similar to Uncharted. The beasts and open world seem like a mix between The Witcher, Zoids, and at times Dark Souls. The gear though diverse in bonuses dont feel all that different and I hope it’s something they expand upon in a sequel. Overall everything mixes well together into a strategic, calculated, yet frenetic adrenaline rush followed by a sense of accomplishment when you take out some of these big threatening machines.

Story

The story was better than I expected it to be. I also had pretty low expectations going into it. Basically you play as Aloy, a woman born and outcasted from her tribe and raised by another outcast and tries to learn about her heritage and to gain access back into her tribe. Uncovering the secrets around her birth unearth other mysterious things going on that give an explanation as to why the world is the way it is. The story is worth paying attention to and I don’t want to spoil anything. More importantly the world building and character interactions are all done very well.

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Looks

This is a very pretty game.

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It also looks this good while being a huge open world.

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All of my photos were taken using a regular PS4 and I hear it looks even better on a PS4 pro on a UHD TV with HDR. This game has a photo mode and it’s also a lot of fun. It’s just a very impressive game to look at. The Decima engine Guerrilla has crafted is truly remarkable and I can’t wait to see what Kojima-sama does with it in his upcoming game Death Stranding.

Conclusion

When you put all of these pieces together you get what I believe to be Sony’s best PS4 title, and an early contender for game of the year. Congrats to Sony and Guerrilla Games on this fantastic title. I look forward to exploring more of this world as Alloy in the future.

5star

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