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Horizon Forbidden West: Review

This Review contains no story spoilers for Horizon Forbidden West

Videogames have always been an outlet for incredible storytelling and moving, relatable lessons. The Horizon series serves as a testament to storytelling and amazing character growth, as well as providing a beautiful and tragic alternate earth setting.

As I stepped into Horizon Forbidden West, I was curious where Aloy’s story would head next after her previous conquest of Hades. Horizon Zero Dawn, although ending in triumph for our skilled hunter, left many questions in its conclusion regarding her frenemy Silens. Questions that I’m happy to report were addressed from the get-go, with the second entry taking place 6 months after the destruction of Hades. Jumping straight back into the Chaos of this machine inhabited world, I asked one question! Does this sequel match the phenomenal first entry?

Where Zero Dawn served to introduce this world, its characters and the various adventures that could be had. Forbidden West builds on these concepts, adding various improvements to both game mechanics, combat, and ultimately every avenue. From the start of the game, you are introduced or reintroduced as a returning player to the stealth and combat mechanics. The core is the same here and any returning players will pick this up as quickly as riding a bike or in Aloys' case a robot moose. This is then built upon after some tutorial time through the new and improved upgrade system which allows players to focus on their preferred skillset. From stealth to hunter, melee and more, there are plenty of options for players to move Aloy into a combat flow that suits them.

Like its predecessor, Forbidden West is lush with beautiful settings to both explore and battle in, reiterating the beauty of this vegetated earth. The graphical update provided by the PS5 truly showcases the power and capability of the next generation gaming hardware, as well as the Decima Engines potential. With exploration being pushed through a new phase of verticality with underwater exploration being a focus, as well as a new gliding feature. This already stunning and detailed world has been given multiple levels of possibility for casual players and completionists alike.

Without going into too much detail on the story, we see the quest of saving the world be continued by Aloy and her companions fighting familiar and new foes. Although taking place in an entirely new setting and with new more deadly tactics and enemies, Aloy rides into every battle on her mechanical moose ready to save the world. Having learned much on her travels on her previous quest and had some further time in the 6 months between entries. Our Hero has her own internal battles despite her previous personal growth. Dealing with relying on people that she never had prior to her heroism at the end of Zero Dawn. We also get to see her allies both old and new connect and grow, providing emotional scenes and some of the darkest moments in this series.

Forbidden West is more of the same beloved content that had many fall in love with the series introduction, but with many additions befitting a sequel. Where many sequels fall short of achieving a step forward, this entry supplies solid improvements in every field that paint it into a masterpiece. That however can be its downfall to those who were hoping for major changes. Although it’s rare that a sequel of this calibre makes a grand change of story, character or mechanics there were many who hoped we wouldn’t get more of the same.

As someone who appreciates the beauty that this series provides, the excellent storytelling involved and the incredible combat with colossal Dino-mechs. I enjoyed everything that this game had to offer, and ultimately was left touched by the story told here. If you loved the first entry, Forbidden West is everything you love with so much more added on and you won’t regret picking up your bow a first or second time.

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