Let’s Discuss: Horizon Zero Dawn

GOTY contender and honestly it is well deserved. Let’s see why. Note: Not spoiler free.

Before I got this game, I honestly felt like this post-apocalyptic genre was getting tiresome and done to death. It felt like that. Everything was death and “the end”, there didn’t seem to be a lot of hope when these stories were presented, but Horizon Zero Dawn took a different approach to this. When playing through the main story of Horizon Zero Dawn there is no mistaking that this world comes after some sort of apocalypse. The game constantly reminds you of the “old ones” and of a world before the one that Aloy and her companions currently exist in. What happened to the ones before? Why are machines now the seemingly primary form of life on this earth? Horizon Zero Dawn takes you on an incredible journey of breathing life into an overdone form of story telling.

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We begin when Aloy is young and being taken in by her adoptive father Rost. She was out-casted at birth for some unknown reason and so she was given to an outcast to be raised. The story gives us glimpses of Aloy’s developmental years and reveals to us how she obtains her “focus”. A powerful mini-head piece that can process an amazing amount of information. With this she gains access to a wealth of knowledge not just about the old ones, but also the machines that exist around her. The story progresses as Aloy fights to rejoin the Nora tribe by becoming a brave. Things quickly go array when a terrorist group who are set on bringing back the machines that destroyed the old ones attack the tribe. They are known as the Eclipse and they are led by some entity known as Hades. Aloy is given the title of “Seeker” and sets out into the huge world of Horizon Zero Dawn. Along her travels she becomes revered as a brave warrior who can tame machines.  Aloy battles the Eclipse through out her journey and discovers the catastrophe that befell the ones before her. She learns that the Eclipse is trying to resurrect the machines that destroyed the earth before. She learns of Elizabeth Sobeck who created the GAIA program that repopulated the earth. Aloy discovers that Hades was part of that program, so she sets out to destroy Hades and the Eclipse for good.  The story is enticing and well done. I have nothing, but praise for the creative writing that built Horizon Zero Dawn. It was intriguing and it created a world that was so immense it feels like after the main campaign is complete one has only just scratched the surface of this world.

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In terms of visuals, Horizon Zero Dawn stands out. This game is beautiful. The amount of design put into the life and machines that dwell in this world was incredible and gorgeous to look at. The character models are pleasing to look at and you will be amazed by the lighting direction and just about everything design-wise in this game. Unfortunately, the game does have some slight issues with character animation and matching of vocals with expressions. The character animation in talking sequences can seem stiff and awkward, but outside of those there isn’t much to fuss over graphics wise. All in all, this is a good looking game and hey, it was actually completely finished unlike some other games that are on the market right now for the same price or more.

Game-play wise. The game is rather standard with it being action oriented, so expect a lot of fighting with your spear and sword. It can be rather uneventful when one has to climb up the mountains or other types of territory. This may be open world, but you can only climb in designated areas. This wasn’t a large complaint, but it could be rather disappointing when you wanted to climb some huge mountain, but there was no path up to it. While that may have been a let down, the game had some other interesting and fun little bits of game play. When you could rappel down from large cliffs or go zip lining it was fun and cool to watch! There was also the option wheel of responses that could help with forming Aloy’s personality. Aloy may be her own character, but you also play a part in her characterization and that was a nice touch to the game.

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My complaints regarding the game-play are minimal when compared to my praise for this game. This game is beautiful and the world immense; you will be sucked into it and want to explore more of this place (That is if RPGs are your thing). This game has so much to offer and discover. Aloy’s world is full of mystery and lore that is just waiting to be dug up. Other great points of the game include not having to pay money for extra content, not having to wait three hours to get more credits, and loot boxes being won by game-play rather than by forking over more of your money. This is a well done and complete game. The DLC that they released for this game wasn’t extra goodies to give you a leg up, but rather an expansion on this beautiful world. With the Frozen Wilds expansion now we get to learn more about the Banuk tribe.

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I just want to say thank you to the development team for creating and producing this wonderful game. While playing it, it didn’t feel like hours of my life. It felt like time was flying by because I was so interested in discovering this world and looking at all that I could from it. Right now I’m sitting at about 50 hours in the game and none of it felt like a waste. It was lovely and I am excited to play through the expansion pack.

Pros:

  • Beautiful world and a ton of lore surrounding this world.
  • Immersive and intriguing. You want to sit and listen to the shaman explaining the history of their tribe.
  • Design wise, this game is flawless.

Cons:

  • Animations can sometimes be very stiff.
  • The Deathbringer machine literally brings death. Holy fuck.

Final rating: 9 out of 10

 

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