This review contains minor spoilers for the plot Horizon Zero Dawn from within the first few hours
Sony has provided some amazing exclusives in the past few years for gamers to enjoy, and 2022 is not an exception. The day has been upon us for Horizon Forbidden West to hit the shelves, developed by Guerrilla Games and continuing the story of the strong and skilled redhead Aloy. Boasting the determination to not only save multiple clans within the world of Horizon but also prevent apocalyptic level events.
Aloy proved in her debut title that she is a hero that all can relate to and I for one was excited to jump into the sequel. However, before we continue her journey, I felt like her story should be relived and explored once more. So, without further teasing let’s jump into the entry that started it all, Horizon Zero Dawn.
Aloys journey begins as all stories do, as a cute little baby being escorted up a mountain so she can be named (we’ve all been there). After learning that she is ‘motherless’ and was found within a mountain shrine as a newborn, we see that Aloy is feared by her surrounding clan and is made an outcast. Every 20-year tribal misconception has a silver lining though, and in this case that is Aloy’s guardian Rost, the walking definition of ‘best dad’.
We watch our girl grow into a strong young woman through a montage of training and take full control of her amidst the final days of her outcast life. Throughout her childhood, you also explore the remnants of the Earths previous society that was wiped out. Granting Aloy a gift from the past in the form of a ‘focus’, a small device that can scan her surroundings and show her information (like google glass but successful).
The start of this journey sets our protagonist up as a black sheep that is constantly challenged by her surrounding clan. However, due to her determination, she overcomes obstacles with skills, ingenuity and at some points just pure strength.
As the story progresses Aloy learns more of the world outside of her clan and the history of the calamity that came before. Without spoiling anything (because I’m nice and you should play the game) her journey is one of both self-discovery and bonds. Aloy is a character that has suffered at the hands of ignorance throughout her life, and even with this past, she attempts to help all she meets.
Story aside, we do need to discuss are the visuals and the mechanics of Horizon, and my lord is this game unique in both categories. The visuals of this overgrown, natural world are stunning. Landscapes differ from vast green fields to barren and harsh wastelands, but what enhances the beauty of the world are the creatures that reside within it. The world is inhabited by mechanical creatures that mirror apex predators, from eagles to T-rex’s.
The design of these creatures is extremely detailed in both looks and for the purpose of gameplay combat. Fuel cells that allow the creatures to function can be exposed and destroyed, giving Aloy the advantage. They are called predators for a reason and the tables can be swiftly turned if the environment and gadgets aren’t used in succession.
Speaking of gadgets, Aloy is equipped with a bow as a standard weapon for combat and with a medley of arrow types to boot. Other gadgets such as a rope caster can also be purchased allowing you to pin creatures down and deal damage without the worry of being attacked. She is also equipped with a healing pouch and of course her trusty focus to assess the mechanical monsters weaknesses in battle. Stealth can also be utilized to allow swift executions or even just an advantage at the start of combat, leaving many ways for encounters to be handled.
My love of mechanical dinosaurs aside, Horizon Zero Dawn is a must-have for any Sony console from the PS4 onward. The gameplay is a fresh new take on your standard open-world game, the story is intricate and emotional, with bonds and character growth in spades.
The exploration of this vast and nature engrossed world will never leave you bored, providing numerous side quests, complex decision making and thrilling combat. Aloys first adventure is a truly unique experience and playing it just before the sequel's release has given me a newfound love for the series. If you own the PlayStation 4 or a PlayStation 5, this game would be an amazing addition to your collection.
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