Every console comes bundled with its own mascot, except for the Playstation. Their exclusive heroes are in abundance and when an original IP from a revered internal development team introduces yet another such protagonist, things get really interesting.
Enter Aloy, the brave, freckled, red-haired, post-apocalyptic warrior with a vengeance and a destiny to fulfill, and does she have huge shoes to fill with the likes of Nathan, Kratos and many others already on the PS roster. Grab your shadow Carja gear, polish that leather armor and stock up on arrows, we got us some Thunderjaws to hunt.
Set in the distant future, our planet is now reclaimed by nature and technology. Humans live as primitive tribes, hunting and foraging, putting to use what they hunt and scrap as tools to survive and prosper. All this while coexisting with ancient technology left behind from past times whose concept and purpose eludes humans. They consider them as relics from the ”ancient ones” and even as Gods and Devils.
The unique thing is in this distant future, the animals are not organic. Other than small game like rabbits, foxes, wild boars and ducks, most prize-hunting games are non-organic. It is clear from the first glance that these robots are designed to mimic animals such as bulls, broncos, alligators, T-rexes, and saber tooths. Horizon: Zero Dawn throws you into an alien, yet familiar, world with little to no explanations. Slowly as you play, it reveals more and more about the truth of what happened to the planet and its inhabitants.
Horizon is an open-world game set in a massive land. What starts as a simple and somewhat limited game soon transforms into a sprawling environment that changes with enough variety to keep you interested. The game certainly does its best to make you feel like a globe-trotter since it throws every possible weather condition and scenery at you.
The game thankfully keeps things easy with a very accessible map that marks each and every point of interest you walk near. Should you also find a ”Tall neck,” an overgrown mecha animal, and override it, you will uncover a huge chunk of the map. You can also buy maps from merchants to pinpoint the locations of collectibles.
The combat is Horizon is in two parts: close range and long range. The former will utilize spears, while the latter resorts to an assortment of bows, slings, and similar weapons. Add to your arsenal a plethora of traps and potions and you have a game that relies heavily on both stealth and action.
While you can spend the entire game hiding in tall grass, luring enemies towards you and killing them with one hit, this only really works for smaller enemies. Taking out bigger foes isn’t simply a matter of attacking; you need to strip them, knock out their components, and exploit their weaknesses. Rushing into battle will send you to an early grave.
The game also encourages you to discover “Cauldrons.” consider them as dungeons with harder enemies, some puzzles, and a boss. Completing them will grant you a set of additional abilities that will help you, for example, overtake multiple opponents at the same time by turning them against each other.
Horizon: Zero Dawn relies heavily on the ”Focus.”This smart piece of tech helps you immensely by planning ahead how to tackle a situation. You can easily turn it on to locate enemies, tag them, find out what they are weak against and use all this to your advantage. It should be noted that time slows down during the time you use this and even when you are crafting items, it gives you space but does not rule out the fact that time still passes and there is a chance for you to get caught or hurt.
All equipment can be modded to a certain degree to allow for extra damage and resistance. You need to scavenge for materials in order to make ammo and brew potions to survive. Failing to do so may find you in a battle with not enough ammo or healing items in order to ensure a win.
All these elements combined work incredibly well and none seem to overpower the other or steal the show. Horizon is simply a jack of all trades and a good one at it with everything being on par or even better than other similar-minded games in the market.
It should be noted that the game looks gorgeous in every possible way. The sense of scale in it is a thing of wonder, the voice acting is good, the plot is decent, and it really is one of those games that are meant to be both a visual and an audio treat with great music and amazing ambient sounds.
Horizon: Zero Dawn should also be praised for being one of the few AAA titles with few to no bugs and silky smooth frame rates. In this day and age, getting a game that works well straight out of the box is a rarity. I, of course, did encounter some small issues and the loading times can be a drag, but these small hitches are a small price to pay for such a big and sprawling game.
New, fresh, pretty, fun and stable. All these elements combined gave birth to what might be one of the best Playstation games. Given all the hype that lead to its release, and despite falling a bit short from the ambitious goals it set out to accomplish, Horizon is still an amazing game that demands your time and your hard earned dollars. Give this game a go, I guarantee you will be asking for more by the time the credit rolls.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a PS4 exclusive. A review copy was made available to us via Playstation.