Verdict
Stunning graphicsFun main story line, lots of side questsStrong independent female protagonist
Not enough flirtingRain/dust storms are annoying Gets progressively easier
4.9Shoot for the stars
Reader Rating 5 Votes

Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the titles that makes you want to own a PS4. Released back in February 2017, it’s a game that deserves it’s awards. Beautiful graphics, fairly immersive plot line and good game mechanics. It’s hard to fault, but here’s my Horizon Zero Dawn game review.

The game starts with a beautifully cinematic opening, where you meet Rost, a viking-esque, nordic looking tribesman with blue facepaint and a baby. You learn that Rost and the baby are both outcasts and thus the mystery of everything begins.

The world of Horizon Zero Dawn is set in the future, about 350 years in fact. Technology has fallen and nature is the name of the game. Nature and machine animals. You are Aloy and you learn to use a bow and arrow, albeit a teched up bow and arrow.

In the “tutorial” part at the beginning Aloy finds a “focus”. This little device helps us see tech signals others can’t, and helps push the story forward, as well as track tracks from both machines and humans. You can’t play the game without using this handy machine.

The opening tutorial teaches us more about our environment as well as opens questions as to why Aloy is an outcast, and why machines are dangerous.

Later the story takes drastic jumps and the developers aren’t afraid to kill off characters you may or may not like. In some ways this makes the game better, it’s a solo game and you don’t have people tagging along all the time, making you more independent. In other ways, it made me a feel more detached as I wasn’t sure whether or not to become emotionally invested in characters anymore.

The open world is vast, the scenery changes a lot and everything is simply beautiful. It’s very easy to get stuck into the plot, as there can be several main storylines going at once, all converging towards the main plot in the climax. However there’s a lot of side-quests available, as well as ongoing missions such as “tallnecks” and “bandit camps” which offer a nice break.

Plot

The plot is well written. It’s a nice take on an interesting sci-fi theme – what happens to the world in the future. Who wins, nature or technology? There’s so much mystery at the start of the game, and finding bits and pieces about the past, and learning about the present is fun. Little snippets of audio recordings can be found everywhere. The hologram displays of video footage is an old story telling concept but works.

The “fall of mankind due to technology” does feel old at this point. And yet it’s somehow still compelling in Horizon. The machine animals are beautiful, and they are fun to kill. It’s a new take on fighting beasts.

The main story line has some great battles, and you have to really learn the moves needed to beat each one. There’s a huge learning curve to fighting the machines. Also doing the quests to learn how to override more machines makes this way easier, almost too easy in fact.

I like how the plot is drip fed. It’s like two steps forward one step back. Every answer bring more questions. I love that the humans have diverged in fractions due to incomplete knowledge and misinterpretations. That’s very believable.

I really can’t fault the graphics. They’re beautiful. The game also has a fun “photography” function which lets you take as many photos of everything as you like.

Characters

Aloy as a character isn’t the most engaging of main characters though. Whilst there are a few times you can chose a different response from her, it doesn’t really affect the plot line. Things happen whether you chose to be compassionate or not. Her story is interesting, but I found her herself to be a little boring.

It can be hard when the main character is a strong, independent woman. In some ways the game reminds me a lot of the Witcher series, only there’s less sex and flirting. Which I personally like. Aloy shows very little vulnerability. Sure she’s strong, but is she loveable?

I found myself enjoying the story with captain Erend, the mohawk vanguard with a drinking problem. He came across as a lot more human than Aloy. In fact, most of the side characters show a lot of humanity, those mourning the deaths of their families and loved ones.

The dialog can feel a little forced at times, a little cliched. However the voice acting is done very well.

Conclusion

Hero Dawn Horizon is a fantastic game. It’s worth getting the PS4 for. The bow and arrow mechanic is easy to get used to. The machines are fun to kill. The story line is interesting and there’s enough side quests to keep you interested for a while. The characters are likeable enough. It’s visually stunning.

Although it’s super beautiful, it doesn’t feel like the most original game ever. But that doesn’t matter because all the elements that are in it are well executed.