When I first heard about Horizon Zero Dawn, it was in the conversation for Game of the Year…a couple weeks after its release in March 2017. Unfortunately, it was usually in a sentence like “This would be Game of the Year, if not for Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” After reading some reviews and gameplay on YouTube, I had to have it…but first I’d need a PS4. I was finally able to pick it up in September 2018…shortly before Spider-Man came out, so I was flipping between the two of them for a couple weeks. Horizon 100% lives up the hype.
You play as Aloy, a young woman trying to prove herself after spending her entire youth as an outcast … literally – she was cast out of the tribe as a baby for reasons that . In the prologue of the game, her guardian agrees to train her for the tribes coming of age ceremony, and her childhood passes over the course of a training montage reminiscent of the “Son of Man” sequence of Tarzan. When you retake control, she is a highly competent survivalist. In the interest of spoilers, I won’t get heavy into the plot. Sufficient to say there are some emotional beats throughout, in addition to the beautiful visuals and enjoyable combat.
The game plays like most other RPGs I’ve played, with a skill tree and crafting. It’s also an open world once you’ve finished the first chapter, similar to the Great Plateau in Breath of the Wild. While the world map looks big, it doesn’t take long to travel across it. My one major complaint with how the game is designed is that the day-night cycle seems to tend toward night. That might just be me noticing when it’s night more often because there isn’t a ton of environmental light and it can be quite dark. Just a small complaint.
Aloy is a fantastic video game protagonist. She spent the first 19 years of her life in essential seclusion, so she is discovering the world as you explore it. It’s all accessible once you leave the Embrace (that’s the first zone). The enemy types are varied and beautifully designed; the machines are really incredible. The first time you see a Thunderjaw or a Stormbird are arresting and the Tallnecks (which function as “Ubisoft Towers” revealing more of the map) are really impressive. One of my favorite mechanics in this game is the weapon wheel; the various types of arrows, including fire, ice, and explosives, provide different ways of tackling each machine, switching between them is effortless, and crafting ammo on the fly takes all of 3 seconds. A good comparison is the weapon wheel in Spider-Man.
I can talk about this game for days. It took playing this game for just 5 hours to fall in love with this game and this world. I want 7 more Horizon games. I think it should have won Game of the Year over Breath of the Wild; that’s how good this game is. This game just scratched the surface of the world lore and I can’t wait for more.
PLEASE MORE ALOY!!!
Do you love this game as much as I do? Or do you enjoy being wrong?