It’s crazy to think that it’s been over three years since Aloy and her robot dinosaur friends crept out of nowhere and stole the hearts of millions of PlayStation fans around the world. An unexpected contender for Game of the Year 2017 (boo you, Breath of the Wild), Horizon Zero Dawn is finally within reach of millions more as its PC release looms on the, ha, horizon. By now we all know that the game was a commercial and critical success, but does that charm carry through as it attempts the leap to a new platform?
Horizon is set in a post-apocalyptic world with a twist - 1,000 years into the future, mankind has regressed to a tribal-like state where robotic creatures known as Machines rule the land, which has all but returned to a wild, natural state. The protagonist, Aloy, is an outcast of her tribe who seeks to uncover the secrets of her past whilst stopping a dangerous cult from using the Machines for their own evil gain. As a child, she stumbled upon “Old World” technology and came to be the bearer of a device known as a Focus, which allows her to tap into technology around her as well as the Machines.
As it was in 2017, the narrative here is certainly an enjoyable one. I had very few expectations when it came to the story as I find that games like these often excel in other areas, but the narrative is what kept me talking when the credits rolled. If you enjoy sci-fi elements and a genuinely engaging plot, I think you’ll like what’s on offer here. The world-building is also spot-on, with references to the Old Ones (us), and fun little collectibles with glamorous names that really just boil down to old mugs and watches that these tribal people don’t understand. It’s quite humorous and a real treat to uncover.
Following an open-world format, Horizon involves all the usual fare; there are main quests and side quests, as well as special side activities such as hunting challenges, bandit camps, and mini-dungeons known as Cauldrons that are more difficult, but offer great rewards. There’s also a special Machine called a Tallneck which acts as a walking tower that can be interacted with to clear areas of the map (much cooler than the Ubisoft climbable towers). All of these do the job well, barring some side quests which felt a bit short and meaningless at times.
While resources do become rarer at the higher upgrade levels, it never reaches a point of feeling pointlessly grindy...
Using Aloy’s aforementioned Focus, you can examine a machine for weak spots as well as identify any external weaponry.
I started up the game and from the first shot of Rost’s face in the opening cutscene, I actually loudly exclaimed “Holy crap” because I didn’t remember it looking this good.
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Sony Computer Entertainment
7 August 2020
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