Game Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn
Updated: May 27, 2019
Typically I snag these games immediately when I see such majestic trailers, however, in the last few years there has been some real stinkers out there that showed such promise. With the increasing video game prices, I waited for a while before I decided on the game. As luck would have it, it was available at the local video store so I gave it a shot.
The story is set approximately one thousand years in the future, in a world where humans have regressed to primitive tribal societies as a result of some unknown calamity. Their technologically advanced predecessors are vaguely remembered as the "Old Ones." Large robotic creatures known merely as "machines" now dominate the Earth. For the most part, they peacefully coexist with humans, who occasionally hunt them for parts. However, a phenomenon known as the "Derangement" has caused machines to become more aggressive towards humans, and larger and deadlier machines have begun to appear. There are three tribes that are prominently featured: the Nora, the Carja, and the Oseram. The Nora are fierce hunter-gatherers who live in the mountains and worship nature as the "All-Mother." The Carja are desert-dwelling city builders who worship the Sun. The Oseram are tinkerers known for their metalworking, brewing, and arguing.
Aloy was cast out from the Nora tribe at birth, raised by an outcast named Rost. As a child, she obtained a Focus, a small augmented reality device that gives her special perceptive abilities. After coming of age, Aloy (Ashly Burch) enters a competition called the Proving to win the right to become a Nora Brave, and by extension, a member of the Nora tribe. Aloy wins the competition, but the Nora are suddenly attacked by cultists. Aloy is almost killed by their leader Helis (Crispin Freeman), but is saved by Rost, who sacrifices himself to save Aloy from a bomb. When Aloy awakes, a Matriarch explains that the cultists had gained control of corrupted machines. Aloy also learns that as an infant, she was found at the foot of a sealed door that the Nora worship, and was believed by some to be cursed, hence being cast out. An Oseram foreigner called Olin (Chook Sibtain) informs Aloy that the cultists are part of a fanatical religious group calling themselves the Eclipse. They worship a demon called HADES (John Gonzalez), who allows them to corrupt machines. Olin indicates that the reason Aloy was targeted by the Eclipse was due to her resemblance to an Old World scientist named Dr. Elisabet Sobeck (also voiced by Burch).
First thing to start with, let’s talk about the graphics of this game. Completely mind-blowing. I have always praised Naughty Dog for it’s in depth detail they put into every piece of their game. However, this game really illustrates on how the world would end up if the world was overrun by machines. Guerrilla games pushes their game to the max with mind-blowing scenery and realism with the characters that anyone watching this game would be unsure if they were watching a movie or a video game. For what the story needed, the graphics and experience needed to be on point. Good on you Guerilla games. The Control scene was something that you needed grasp at first, but there was a little learning curve. Especially when it came to crafting ammo on the fly during a battle. I found the gameplay was quite smooth so that even in the heat of the battle, you can jump/dive, shoot and craft more ammo even when you are in a pinch. The only thing that bothered me was the swimming mechanics. It was completely horrible and unrealistic. I always dreaded when I needed to swim across a 5 foot river because it felt like it would take more time swimming than finding a bridge to cross.
The level tree was completely basic. It felt like I was playing a UbiSoft style game for example Dead island/Far Cry, and it didn’t feel like much effort was put into it. In a world full of tech that Aloy knows how to manipulate, why can’t this have been expanded on more? Understanding that you can take over machines as you level the tree. But why not expand on your weaponry besides buying from new merchants? Maybe build pieces of your armor rather than a tunic with certain abilities? The game was designed to be an open world RPG, why not use all the elements of it? The Story was not new, but the story was refreshed and tailored with more in depth story arcs. We all know Skynet will be the death of us one day. Terminator and the Fallout game franchose has told us this at least 6 times since I have been alive, and movies like Mad Max have given us a glimpse of a post-apocalyptic world before. But Horizon really paints the picture of how it all started/ended while looping in more information as you move along.
I completed the game in 6 days but there is still a lot of side quests that needed to be completed. There is an expansion being released in the winter, so it appears I will be picking this game up as a purchase in the near future. Don’t pass on it.