Horizon Zero Dawn, 2017
Signed up the 22/06/2017
Horizon Zero Dawn is a single player PS4 Exclusive, action adventure RPG developed by Guerilla Games
Young Aloy and Rost
The game is set "a thousand years from now" and follows a young hunter by the name of Aloy, who's on a journey of discovery about her secret past, and the mysteries of the world, now dominated by machines. Humans, who were once technologically advanced, have reverted to tribal communities in this dystopian future.
We're introduced to Aloy in the beginning as a child who is an outcast, and she is taken care of by Rost, her "adoptive father", if you will, who is also an outcast. Aloy doesn't know who her parents are or why she was outcast as a baby, and she seeks answers. Under the guidance of Rost, she trains to become a better hunter and to equip herself with the skills necessary to find the answers she needs.
Playing through the game, the story becomes deeper, becoming less about Aloy's past and more about the happenings in the world, one of which is the "Derangement" - the anomaly of machines, which once peacefully coexisted with humans, suddenly becoming more aggressive towards humans. Another mystery coupled with this is the sudden appearance of bigger and stronger machines. The game also explores another major event that takes place close to the beginning of the game, but mentioning it would be spilling spoilers.
A lot of information is thrown at you while you play this game - about the tribes and the history and the rules of the world and the machines and so much more, so it requires quite a bit of attention during the cut-scenes. It has a pretty interesting storyline which keeps you attentive and it doesn't fail at throwing well delivered shocking moments at you. It's fun to explore the open world full of mysteries to better understand what's going on. Don't worry, though. You won't be bombarded with too many mysteries to solve.
The narration and synchronisation of voices with picture are a bit off, even with the released patches to the game. This doesn't really take away from the game's great story and gameplay, but it is pretty noticeable, particularly during the interactive cut-scenes. It seems to be fine during the normal cut-scenes though.
Gameplay and Features
The game works on a skill point system, where you level up, earn points and use those points to unlock skills; quite simialr to games like Assassin's Creed: Syndicate and/or Watch Dogs 2. These skills are used to better your hunting, your scavenging, and your general fighting. Skill points are earned by completing missions, side quests, hunting, taking over camps overrun by bandits, and multiple other ways. They do take time to accumulate though, so I suggest completing side quests along the way and exploring before making progress with the main quests to get your character skilled enough to complete the main quests without excruciating difficulty.
As mentioned, Aloy is a hunter, so she has quite a few different types of weapons at her disposal. Most of these weapons aren't available straight from the beginning of the game, but soon after some of the events of the game take place, they must be purchased from Merchants - sellers of different resources, ammunition, and weapons for Aloy to use in her quest. The weapons include Sling Shots, Rope Casters, and several types of bows, to mention a few. Each weapon, of course, has its specialty and weaknesses. They can also be upgraded using some of the resources you find in the wild - the plants and machine parts - making them more powerful and more suited to your needs. They don't come cheap, though (like, AT ALL, BRUH!), motivating you to explore more, kill more machines, and gather shards (the game's currency) to buy stuff.
Aloy can also purchase different outfits from the Merchants, each with their own advantages. Some allow you to move around more silently, some provide armour to protect you against hits, and others protect you from the elements like fire and shock.
These cannot be customized to suit your personal style (like changing colours or adding beads, etc).
Another great thing about Horizon is that it challenges you to think like a hunter. You have to strategize and use all your weapons and tools to the best of your ability, taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of your prey. Going in guns (or bows, in this case) blazing isn't gonna work most of the time. The machines and people you face are usually much stronger, faster, bigger (WOAH, THOSE MACHINES CAN BE VICIOUS AND BIG, just look at the game's cover!) and more experienced than you, and you thus have to find smarter ways to deal with the lot. And, as usual, you're always outnumbered, but it's nothing a main character - who needs more hits to die than the general populous - can't handle :).
There are quite a number of different types of machines whose designs are based on animals, ranging from the small and quick Watchers (similar to raptors) to the big and ferocious Sawtooths (Sabertooth like) to the REALLY tall and graceful Tallnecks (similar to giraffes).
The control scheme is pretty standard, akin to the control schemes of many other 3rd person action adventure games. It's easy to get the hang of which button does what, and the beginning of the game serves as a tutorial to how your character moves and how the basic weapons are used. Tutorials are also offered for every weapon type when you purchase them, and can be completed at any time during the game. Basically, it's pretty quick easy to get the hang of moving around in the world of Horizon Zero Dawn!
Possibly one of the best features this game has to offer is its Photo Mode, found when you pause the game using the Options button. This mode allows you to pause the moment, and take a good picture. This is nothing like taking a screenshot mid play. This feature allows you to change the camera angle and zoom, apply a filter, change Aloy's pose and facial expression, change the camera focus, change the contrast and brightness, and SO MUCH MORE. Then, all you need to do is hide the user interface and take a screenshot of your perfect picture. This can be done in the midst of battle while you deliver that final blow to that Sawtooth Machine, or just while travelling. The game is absolutely beautiful, and the inclusion of this feature to best capture the raw/edited beauty is commendable. I personally spend a lot of time doing this, and you probably will too.
Horizon Zero Dawn is BREATHTAKING; It feeds your senses. You could spend quite a few minutes in one sitting just walking about, admiring the scenery (and taking pictures). The beautiful mountain sides and the luscious flora are enough to suck you in. It's surreal. I haven't been mesmerised by a game like this since Unchared 4. There are so many small details that developers probably spent hours on perfecting that a gamer can appreciate. For example, during the interactive cut-scenes, you can see the individual strands of hair moving realistically with every character's head movement or with the wind. As a gamer, one of the best ways to tell how good a game's graphics are is to look at the hair (amongst other things), and Horizon Zero Dawn passes this test with flying colours!
The machines, which actually play such a big role in the game, look and sound so mechanical and... "machine-y". The movements are robotic and pretty realistic.
Another great detail is one that has to do with characters getting wet. In my experience, when a character in a (PS4/XBox One) game is submerged in water or is under rain, it's the clothes that get wet. Not much focus is put on the character's skin - their arms and their face - in this regard. In Horizon, however, this is not the case. During an interactive cut-scene in the rain, you can actually see the drops of rain falling onto the skin of the characters, and you see their faces actually get glossy and wet as a result.
I'm basing these comments on my experience with this game on a standard PS4; I haven't even seen it on a PS4 Pro and 4K capable TV for which this game is enhanced. Basically, the graphics are probably better than what I've seen (which messes with my mind).
The graphics engine is powered by the Decima game engine.
The greatest thing about Horizon Zero Dawn is... well, eveything. It's the mysterious storyline. It's the breathtaking scenery. It's the great exploration and hunting. This is seriously a game you WILL NOT regret buying, and is easily one of the greatest games to grace the PS4, and any console for that matter. It's a must-have.
Post a reply