Horizon Zero Dawn comes to us from the makers of the Killzone series Guerrilla Games. Now with a different kind of game altogether from what we’re used to seeing from Guerrilla, is Horizon Zero Dawn a new IP they should be proud of or is this a failed attempt at an entirely different type of game?
Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing game that puts us in the boots of Aloy. A new heroine for the Sony brand and one that I can definitely say is an interesting and charismatic one at times. I played the Killzone series but at the time of writing this review I cannot for the life of me recall a single characters name. Thankfully Aloy is a memorable character and is one name I won’t be forgetting any time soon. Thankfully the story is an interesting one as well but I certainly do not want to spoil that for you, however all I will say is that the world of Horizon Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic future. As you explore the land you will uncover more of the history as to what happened to Earth and will also discover many of the world’s hidden facts.
A lot of information is also available through various conversations with many of the different people you meet in the world. During these interactions you are also offered many different questions that you can ask and also you can give certain responses that may change the story somewhat at certain points depending if you chose a caring, clever or angry response.
The game handles very much like that of Tomb Raider or Uncharted. While at the same time bringing its own uniqueness to the action role-playing series. Climbing rocks, ropes or hanging from a ledge is handled usually automatically after jumping or dropping down as Aloy will grab onto these parts which are usually colored yellow.
One of your most trusty devices that our heroine Aloy finds early in the game is the focus. A small device that sits on her ear almost like a wireless earpiece that people use to make phone calls. Except this is much more powerful. It can help to show a machines patrol path or information about that machine. The focus also helps to show animals that you can hunt for resources to craft upgrades or weapon ammo. The focus is a wearable augmented reality system that has helped Aloy survive up to this point however when you are out hunting or on a mission when the focus is active your movement and actions are limited so try not to use it during battle as that would be a very poor decision.
Unlockable skills are attainable via a leveling up system that also helps you know if a certain quest is able to be easily completed or should be left until you are a higher level. With the skills they unlock certain perks to help aid you during battle or for when you’re scavenging for resources to help upgrade weapon packs or explosive pouches. One of the skills that you can unlock and one I recommend you get first is the ability to increase your level of concentration which helps slow down everything including yourself to get a better aim on your opponent. This can be done whether you are sliding on the ground to cover or on the back of a machine mount. Along with concentration I highly recommend grabbing the silent takedown skill which can make certain situations so much easier when you are hiding in a bush and you are whistling at an enemy machine to get its attention. Once you have its attention, you will then have you the option to trigger a silent takedown for that instant kill. For other more formidable machines it only damages them somewhat.
Combat is done at first using bow and arrows or through melee combat using your spear. There are also several other weapons and explosives that you will have the option to use to help make confrontations easier. Weapons and other types of armor can also have small modifications added to them. Weapons are also available from merchants and are from one of the many different tribes you will come across in the game. Each with their own special perks and personal modification slots. Weapons, armor, resources and many other items are bought using certain resources and metal shards which can be found after hunting and killing machines. Hunting the machines is best done using your focus to help you to know a certain machines weakness and its weak spots that show up on the creature and are highlighted in yellow. You can also set certain elemental traps to help take them down or using Aloy’s mobility to your advantage by dodging attacks and firing back with everything you’ve got. Always make sure however to craft more ammo during battle via your weapon select screen.
Crafting is also a major part of the game that aids you in battle. Along with your health bar is your medicine pouch meter which can be filled by picking up certain medicine type plants you come across in the world. Always keep a lookout on your meter. Keeping that filled will always come in handy. You won’t always have potions to save you during a big fight.
Aside from the main mission which can take about 30 hours with the occasional interruption or two, Horizon Zero Dawn also has side quests and various other distractions to break the mold. There is a lot here to keep you occupied. Also at the same time you can chose to stick to the main story but if you’re a slave to levelling up and being over prepared for the main story like I am you’ll want to dive into a side quest or 20. Hunting ground for example are arena style challenges that pit you against different types of machines that have you preform different take down tactics so that you are able to earn certain marks that show off your skill.
There is a wealth of things to do in Horizon Zero Dawn, the choice is yours. Explore underground Cauldrons which produce the machines and once you hack each core you can learn about the many different machines to help you override them to control them so they can help aid you in battle or be used as mounts to help traverse the world that much quicker.
Graphics and Sound
Horizon Zero Dawn is a beautiful post apocalyptic world set in the future. A dynamic day and night cycle is present here and both look absolutely beautiful. I can’t applaud enough how beautiful the sun looked at different times of the day during my play through. Incredibly beautiful. Almost amazed at times by how much I love the look of the character models. Very impressive for the PS4. Flora and fauna are a wonderful standout feature here that makes exploring the world of Horizon that much more special.
I’m also loving the voice work as they sync up pretty well with the various characters lips. Which can usually be a problem for most games. Luckily the voice work and sound here are top notch.
Horizon Zero Dawn is an amazing experience that will definitely establish itself as a well-known PlayStation series with Aloy and most of the cast here as they are some of the most interesting characters I have come across in some time. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Horizon Zero Dawn and I still am. I hope to see more of this world down the track including its characters. Horizon Zero Dawn is a must have.