Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the biggest games to come out in a long time. I wanted to share my honest views of the game.
In all honesty, it very quickly became one of my favourites. Quite often I may get bored if a game’s opening hour doesn’t catch and keep my attention, and I’ll stop playing. This wasn’t even close to being the case with Horizon. The beginning of the game puts you straight into Aloy’s shoes as a young girl and you’re introduced to her, her guardian and the people in the ‘tribe’ and you see how they treat her straight away. After a little bit of investigating as child Aloy and the tutorial, you then meet adult Aloy and get properly into the gameplay.
The tutorial itself I didn’t find tedious in the slightest. It was straight to the point and informative while also very minimal in fourth wall breaks.
Aloy herself is a great character. I’m usually quite critical of protagonists, but having spent quite a while trying to think of a single thing I disliked about Aloy, I came up with absolutely nothing.
She’s fierce but not overbearing. She’s beautiful but not sickeningly perfect. She questions the beliefs of other people without being self-righteous. And she stands her ground while still having respect for other people. Her personality feels very real and I found myself cheering her on more than once as I was playing.
Ashly Burch voices Aloy, and I couldn’t imagine anybody more suited to the role. Her voice was soft but stern and didn’t annoy me once. Her voice, along with her lines, suited her character perfectly and really made her seem like a real person, rather than a scripted video game character.
The main story is captivating and while I did manage to predict a couple of things before they happened, It’s still in depth and really well thought out. The tiny details of the story really made it feel complete for me and some of the twists and turns that both the main quest line and the side quests sent me on were great. There are plenty of side quests to keep you busy that are all as interesting as the main story. You get to learn about the histories and personalities of a lot of the NPCs which I really like.
The gameplay feels smooth and as realistic as fighting giant animalistic robots can be. Each machine seems to be modelled, either directly or loosely, on a real animal, which I thought was quite a nice touch, especially since the story is set on a futuristic Earth. So it made sense that these machines would have been designed around animals that we know. They’re all very cleverly designed.
The only machines that irritated me were the Glinthawks. Possibly because I generally hate flying enemies in any game, but partly because of an annoying glitch-type issue that happened almost every time when fighting one. With Aloy’s bows, you can aim and slow down time to make the hit easier to make. But if you aimed at the Glinthawks in the air while in any sort of grassy area, the grass would get in the way of the “camera” as you aimed and half of the time blocked the view of the Glinthawks making it quite difficult to hit them. Hopefully it’s something that will be patched soon, but if not; finding an area away from grass if at all possible will make aiming into the air much easier.
The sneaking element of the game I really enjoyed. I do generally prefer being a sneak and picking enemies off one by one using stealth tactics rather than rushing in all weapons blazing, so I had no doubt that I’d find the stealth parts fun anyway.
The graphics in this game I think are beautiful. The attention to detail on the faces is really impressive and each and every person you encounter looks completely different in terms of facial features, skin tones, eye colours, mouth movements and just general facial detailing. It makes each person feel unique just like in real life. It’s a really nice touch that keeps the NPCs from all seeming like generic extras with no defining features.
The only issue that took away from that a little bit for me was the lack of emotional range in the faces. Other than their eyebrows occasionally raising or lowering, there isn’t a lot of movement when it comes to faces.
The CGI looks beautiful, but I did feel that facial expressions were generally quite robotic. But if you can look past that, the detailing is great and very realistic.
The art of the landscape and architecture in this game is phenominal and I often found myself just stopping to look around at Aloy’s surroundings. There is a camera option that I absolutely love. You can pause the game and go into the camera mode to create your own screenshot. I’d imagine it’s mostly for the purpose of using it as your PS4 theme. The adjustments you can make really allow you to make the screenshot look exactly how you want. From adjusting the focal point to control what part of the image is out of focus and by how much, to changing the time of day to create the perfect feel you want.
Overall, Horizon Zero Dawn has easily become one of my top three favourite games and I think that the hype around this game was well deserved. It’s a gorgeous game with minimal flaws. It didn’t take me very long at all to fall in love with it.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★