Horizon Zero Dawn – Review

Impressive doesn’t begin to describe Horizon Zero Dawn, the most recent game from the developer Guerrilla Games, makers of the Killzone franchise.

When Horizon Zero Dawn was first announced I have to admit I was a little intrigued but still skeptic as even though I enjoyed Killzone 3 I still thought it was too much by the book, predictable and maybe a little afraid to expand its ideas.

I’m glad to say Horizon Zero Dawn is the complete opposite! It sure may use many things established in games in these recent years but it does everything others did so well. Not only that but it also brings a lot of creativity to the mix of both RPGs and Open World games.

If I were to classify it, I’d say the game is an open world action game combined with light RPG. The light RPG may sound negative but for Horizon I think it’s a compliment. The game gives you many customization options for your arsenal of weapons and equipment but not to the extent that takes you away from its gorgeous world. It’s not easy to explain it but while weapons and armor have attributes and elemental properties attached to them, you don’t need to be constantly upgrading it to enjoy the game and I loved this option here because the gameplay is one of the best I’ve seen in years.

Story

Without giving much away, you play in a post apocalyptic world. However it’s not like what you’d expect if you’ve been playing Fallout or movies like Mad Max. Here it feels like the the world has moved on from the apocalypse and people are rebuilding. Nature has taken place where there used to be buildings, new things are being constructed above the old ones but you still see reminiscent things from an old era. Not only this but some metal creatures from the previous civilization are still inhabiting the world combined with some some common fauna we are accustomed to like rabbits, boars and foxes.

This combination of old and new, metal and nature creates an incredible world to see and explore makes it something truly unique.

Graphics

I think it’s safe to say that up to this point this is the best looking PlayStation 4 game. Not only technically but also artistically. For the technical side, there’s so much stuff happening at once, so much detail, all while maintaining a stable FPS. As for the artistic side, this is on my opinion where it really stands out as from the tiniest detail of the smaller objects to the most grandious structures and the world combined, everything looks so beautiful. The use of so many different colors, sunlights is a blast to see. At times I would just stop to enjoy the world.

Gameplay

So we come to the meat of the game. Here is where among my praises I unfortunately have some complains. Bear in mind that my complains are just a small thing in a world of awesomeness.

The combat feels tight, preciseand always fair. I like that while enemies have weak spots they are not glowing all the time or worse, having a pop up telling you what to do all the time. If you want though, you can use a scanning ability to see them. Interesting to mention that the scanning here while far from perfect is nowhere near as intrusive, boring or pointless as they were in Mass Effect Andromeda.

Being Horizon an open world RPG it’s expected to have its share of sidequests but unfortunately here it’s kind of a mixed bag. It seems the game has two types of them. Some are available after story missions and are somewhat of a follow-up of what just happened and these are awesome. Not mandatory but they flesh out the characters and are better thought out. The rest of the sideways are the typical go there, kill this, collect some of this. Not special but not so bad either. I think these are expected at this point in open world games but is always nice when sidequests have a little more flair to them.

You possess many weapons to tackle your objects and most of them are great to use. It’s been so long I had fun using a trap in a game I can’t even remember but in Horizon even traps are fun to use. There were a few I didn’t find much use for but I’m sure more creative players will.

The game seamlessly blends action with stealth making exploring the world much more fun, be it fighting through each encounter or avoiding them.

Sound

About the music I’m not sure there’s much to say. When there is music is good but nothing particularly memorable and thought most of the game you hear more ambient sound. Is day the music is there when it needs to be but it works well this way.

Where the sound shines though is on the game’s sound effects. The mix of nature and metal sounds are excellent. It really makes for a very distinct combination. A good example I can think of is when your weapons clash with metal enemies, it feels really good and each strike packs a punch.

Overall

Horizon: Zero Dawn, in the end, while not a breath of fresh air, feels so good because it managed to do so well in almost everything it attempted to. The end result was a load of fun and for those that would like an open world game but with combat and set pieces more seen on more constrained games, Horizon is a great recommendation.

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