Horizon Zero Dawn from Guerilla Games – Review
It’s late to the party, I know. Horizon Forbidden West, the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn has been out for a while as well. So if there is any game I should be reviewing, it should be that one, but I finally got around to finishing Horizon Zero Dawn. And to give away some thoughts, I do think it’s a game that is still worth checking out. But let’s talk a little bit about what type of game it is and the story.
Horizon Zero Dawn – Story
I won’t go too far into the story, as it is one worth discovering on your own. But you play as Aloy, an outcast from the Nora tribe. Shunned by this primitive society of hunters and warriors, her goal is to get into the tribe which can only happen when she is old enough to take the test and become a hunter herself.
However, the world is not an easy one to survive in. Technology is primitive except for machine creatures. And these machines have been become more hostile over recent times. So it is a struggle to survive in this world as part of a tribe, let alone cast out from one.
Horizon Zero Dawn – Game Play
The game play is mainly combat focused. You are in third person view where you climb around terrain, use a bow and arrow to fight, or use your spear, it’s up to you on how you want to play. You can hack and slash or you can snipe, or somewhere in between the two of them.
It’s not a button masher, though, in that there aren’t combos. There are certain skills that you can unlock, like a silent strike/assassination if the enemy hasn’t noticed you. But those are prompted for and is a single click versus a combination of clicks. So you can get better if you want to at those things, or you can use the skills you started with.
I will say, I prefer to play on easier modes because I generally play games for the story. Zero Dawn offers a lot of combat in that still. But I didn’t need to learn how to use some of the other equipment and traps as much because of the level I was on. Still with that, you would generally be using your bow and spear in most combat.
What Didn’t Work?
I just said, I play games for the story. And I love the story in Horizon Zero Dawn, however, there is a stretch, after the prologue of the game into the main story where that story is slow. You follow along with events that do matter, but don’t fill you in on the main story. And that, I wish, were more part of the game throughout. If you rush the main quest it could be, but that’d be rushing everything you are doing.
And finally, not a major negative, just if the story sounds interesting, you do fight a lot even in story mode. I suspect you might fight a bit less, but only a bit. You mainly just see easier monsters to fight, or weaker versions of the monster. So you still fight a lot during the game.
Now, on the flip side of what I said about the story the first time, the story really does work. When you get into the teeth of it and information dumps, you find out so much about this world which is fascinating. And the characters you meet along the way are really good. So it creates a very compelling experience with some good choices as to what you do in it.
I want to mention the characters you meet. But I think that is one thing I wouldn’t have minded more of, but also isn’t a negative, you get a lot of your standard branching ask for questions/backstory on things and then prompt to start quest. I want more choices and more choices with the characters. Side quests that were locked or unlocked by how you answered, not major things, but minor things. Kind of like I think of with Dragon Age: Origins. Benefits you get from how you interact versus more static, because the characters are great.
And the combat is not hard. Now, I again will remind you that I played on the story mode. That is the level of my gaming skill for the most part. I’m there for a kind of cinematic ride or experience. And Horizon Zero Dawn does a good job of not forcing combat to be too complex or hard. Complex is likely the better term.
And I like being able to pick how I want to fight. Most fights did end up getting up close and personal with the bigger monsters or bosses. But with smaller monsters, I got to the point where they are easy enough to just take out. So I spent a lot of time sniping those versus rushing into the fray.
I also think they do a good job of completing the story. Might seem obvious it ends, but it needs to complete the story and have enough to continue the story. I do not know if Horizon Forbidden West was the plan all along, kind of seems like it. But, it easily could have been a situation where they knew they wanted a sequel so they didn’t truly end the story of Horizon Zero Dawn. But instead we got a real ending to this part of the story and promise of more.
I really enjoyed that gaming experience that I played over several months. The game is fairly long, but not that long. And I definitely didn’t do or find everything that I could have. That said, I still experienced a lot of great game play and a lot of great story.
I don’t think that this game will suffer in play by playing at harder levels. I really think it mainly scales the difficulty of monsters you fight, not how many you fight. Or at least most of the combats will still exist no matter what. So you get story and you interesting combat throughout the game. Like I said, I maybe wanted more moments of heavier story thrown throughout the game. They stack up at the end, but overall a great experience of combat and story.
This is a game that I think will work for most people. There are some difficult moments in it, mainly dealing with loss. But it is not a game that is graphic in violence or sex. There is violence, but that is happening within the flow of the game. And it’s an action adventure game versus being a heavily RPG style game, so interactions are kept simpler.
My Grade: A
Gamer Grade: A
Casual Grade: B- (too much time spent fighting between story I think for a very casual gamer, but just barely)