…and plenty of arrows. So many arrows.
So about a week ago the fabulous PS4-exclusive game Horizon: Zero Dawn invaded my conscious awareness, and like the horde of hostile robots filling its setting, something had to be done to address this!
Namely purchasing and playing the game at every opportunity. (And also spreading the good news, since the game hasn’t been on my radar or that of several friends.)
I must admit, I am a sucker for pre-historic / post-apocalyptic scenarios. I love piecing together the fact that something terrible happened to humanity in the deep “past” (usually our distant future), and I love seeing the elements of human culture storytellers and artists see fit to incorporate into their ruined worlds–the metal bones of skyscrapers or the rusting panels of ancient radar dishes, the “new” Bronze Age civilizations built atop the remains of what came before, the various ways people in these worlds have adopted the scraps of technology they can’t understand.
In other words, Horizon: Zero Dawn had its hooks in me pretty easy.
I did at least look into reviews online before putting a copy in my shopping basket. I’ve learned too many painful lessons from spontaneous purchases over the years. Based on what just about everyone was saying online–both professional game reviews and user feedback–I felt I’d get my money’s worth.
I was not prepared!
If I had to narrow down what I love so much, I’d say Horizon is like Tomb Raider meets Mass Effect… an interesting combination of sci-fi story, “open” exploration, and thrilling combat in a variety of styles.
– Fluid fighting that is fast-paced, thoroughly enjoyable, and rewarding for the varied approaches available. Go stealth bow-assassin, or creep up and stab unsuspecting foes, or set a variety of traps and lure enemies into them, or use elemental weapons to render enemies vulnerable to your attacks, or just run in and spear the crap out of everything. All of them are fun and exciting methods; none feel tacked on last minute or treated like less than ideal playstyles.
A friend put it as, “The game doesn’t tell you to play this or that way. It just gives you all these tools, and you realize, ‘I could do some interesting things with these…’”
– Beautiful graphics even on my plain old normal PS4. The people look realistic without being creepy. The world looks tangible and gorgeous.
I want to explore this place and take liberal use of the in-game photo mode.
– Great voice work and interesting story line. Pre-historic / Post-apocalyptic with a heaping dose of mystery. How did civilization collapse? Where did all these robots come from? What happens when I set alight all these explosive canisters on the backs of that herd of robots? (Spoilers: beautiful, powerful explosions.)
– Indepth details you can explore to piece together more of the world’s history… along with some chilling or touching tidbits. There are text entries aplenty, but you often get to see holograms or hear audio recordings from the time before the collapse.
– A perfect in-story explanation for the “magic sense” mechanic. In other games, it’s Detective Mode because of Batman’s gadgets or intellect (the Arkham series), or some kind of Survival Instincts because Lara Croft is Lara Croft (Tomb Raider). Horizon has that, but it explains why the heroine Aloy knows so much more than a random tribeswoman should.
So far, Horizon has shattered all my expectations and reliably pulled me back in for “just another quest.”
Well done, Guerilla Games and Sony. You have a winner here. Take a bow.