Developer: Guerrilla Games
Release Date: 01/03/2017
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Let's just say The Terminator would be running away
There’s something about being dropped into a brand new world and finding it to be dense with a deep story, scary aggressive creatures, and beautiful new age yet tribal setting.
Horizon Zero Dawn revolves around Aloy a fiery red headed woman, as hunter who has grown up as an outcast of the Nora Tribe and is an outcast because she is motherless. She and the inhabitants of the Nora Tribe live in a world in the set in the future where humanity has regressed to primitive tribal societies as a result of some unknown calamity that destroyed human civilization while large robotic animals generally referred to as “Machines” dominate the Earth.
The Nora Tribe are mainly hunter-gatherers based within a mountainous forest who have strong taboos against the ancient technology of the “The Old Ones”. It’s within one of these ancient ruins of the Old Ones that Aloy finds a “Focus”, a device worn by the Old Ones that serves as a neural interface allowing the user to see things only visible to them through a three dimensional interface. This has many uses such as opening doors that would otherwise be locked and recordings left by The Old Ones.
Aloy sets out to discover answers as to why she is an outcast and uncover the mystery of the world's other dangerous creatures, the large robotic animals referred to as “Machines”. Simply called "Machines" because of the many varieties they come, they take inspiration from animals from the times of The Old Ones. From the deadly crocodile shaped Snapmaw to the vulture-esque Glinthawk. However, a recent phenomenon known as the “Derangement” has caused many once docile and friendly machines to become more aggressive towards humans, meanwhile, larger and even deadlier machines have begun to appear.
Not to mention the “Corruption” a disease or virus that infects various machines, making them harder, stronger, better, faster and deadlier.
The Horizon Zero Dawn story will take you all across the awe inspiring world, which is as diverse as it is big. Each area has its own unique feel to it. From the sun scorched Grand Canyon inspired Mesa, the dense and lush Predator infested Jungle, nature reclaimed ruins of former cities and snow covered forest mountains.
The Gameplay is a futuristic take on primitive weaponry that range from slings that shoot freeze grenades, electrified trip wire and the good ol’ reliable bow and arrow. There are many enemies throughout the world of Horizon Zero Dawn, from the machines to the people and even the terrain. Half the fun of the battle is pre-planning and strategy before diving in and taking on these terrifying robots, and a splash of make-it-up-as-you-go cause things didn't go to play. As you have to use the environment to hide, sneak or outwit your foes, it only takes one wrong move or badly timed dodge from them to get the better of you.
“I personally find this game great when it’s approached as a stealth-based game rather than run-and...arrow style charging head first into combat.” - Jake
The various machines have their own strengths and weaknesses against certain elements, weak points that can be revealed with the focus and exploited to try to get the upper hand. One of the great parts is knocking off a gun from a machine, picking it up and wreaking havoc on the very same machine.
The different machines that inhabit the world and and animals can also be killed and harvested for items which can be used to craft ammo for your weapons, upgrades for your backpack, health and antidote potions. Each machine and animal has different items that can be looted, it can be annoying at times when you need to hunt a specific type of machine or animal in order to acquire the parts you need to craft that illusive backpack upgrade or more ammunition.
Metal shards can be looted off enemies which is used as currency for trading with merchants for items and equipment, but it is also used for crafting purposes. It can be difficult trying to balance the need for more ammo or buying that new outfit.
Each side quest in the game feels unique though the marvelous story telling. While most of the side quests boil down to Go-There-Kill-Something or retrieve something, you'll find quite a few quests have many twists and turns making them all quite memorable. No two are the same.
Graphically, Horizon Zero Dawn looks and sounds fantastic. To the sound of the wind whistling off the mountains to the sound of massive machines in the distance at night. You do need a shiny new 4K TV to take advantage of the HDR and 4K features but I wouldn't say it is necessary, Horizon Zero Dawn looks just as impressive if not more as Uncharted 4 does.
In the beginning Horizon Zero Dawn comes across as a mash up of Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3 with a dash of Assassin's Creed, and it does well to carve out its own unique identity within the popular action-role playing genre. Coupled with wonderfully flexible combat and a deep story, nature and technology are combined and showcased and is the forefront of this beautiful game.
Horizon Zero is a challenging unique game free from the stigmas of other third person adventure games free of fetch quests and grab three of every item but a joy to play through the main story and beyond.
The graphical brilliance that was shown in Guerrilla Games first PS4 game Killzone Shadow Fall is present in Horizon Zero Dawn, but without the generic and boring story that KSF had, and I applaud them for trying a new IP and they really succeeded with Horizon Zero Dawn.
"I bought a PS4 specifically to play this game and I wasn't disappointed" - Jake