Horizon Zero Dawn is an open-world third-person action role-playing game published in 2017. The game takes place in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world overrun by machines, where humans have returned to tribal lifestyles. They must hunt and gather to survive, with limited access to technology. You play as Aloy, an outcast who was raised outside of human settlements. She must set on an adventure to discover the truth behind the machines, and her own past.
You are free to explore the game’s world which is populated by different types of machines, each with their own behavior, attacks, and abilities. Some machines can also be mounted for faster traveling. Gameplay consists mostly of exploration, combat, and stealth. In combat, you have different melee and ranged weapons that you may acquire. These different weapons create a good variation in combat, and some weapons work better against certain enemies. However, the game has a heavy focus on ranged combat which makes the melee feel pointless at times. Melee is only useful for stealth when you sneak on an enemy and use melee to deal great damage. But when fighting ensues, you will most likely end up using ranged weapons exclusively.
In addition to weapons, Aloy can also run, jump, slide, and dodge during combat. These different movements work nicely with fluid animations that keep the flow of combat going. Enemies also have weak spots that Aloy can detect using her Focus-ability. Hitting these weak points causes additional damage and may prevent enemies from using certain special attacks. These weak points are a welcome addition that adds challenge especially on higher difficulty levels, where hitting said weaknesses is crucial to success. You will also find various resources scattered throughout the world. These materials can be used for healing, crafting, and trading with different shopkeepers.
During quests, you may also talk to other characters. You have some options with a dialogue wheel, but these choices do not have a significant impact on the story and serve only to give the player some additional information. Also, during “flashpoints” you may choose from three different dialogue options: Compassionate, insightful, and confrontational. These flashpoints do not impact the overall story of the game but will allow the player to develop Aloy’s personality to their liking. Occasionally flashpoints will create a small variation in future dialogue.
The game’s presentation is overall very good, but I did notice many instances where a character’s facial animations would look strange. For example, some lip and eye movements can look artificial to the point that it becomes distracting. I found the characters and writing to be decent, but sometimes predictable unoriginal. But regardless, with a solid main character and fun gameplay, Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the better action games I have played in a good while, and I would recommend it for fans of the genre.
Game: Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows PC
Release Date: February 28th, 2017 (August 7th, 2020 for PC)
Genre: Action role-playing
All pictures were taken in-game by the author.
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