It’s the most wonderful time of the year Christmas time! With Christmas comes presents and for gamers that means a glut of new video games. I remember when Christmas came along I’d spend the entirety of it playing the latest Crash title or Spyro title while eating my fill of turkey and ham. Now I have to choose the games wisely as there are so many available and so little time to partake of all of them fully. This brings me to a game that I have had on my shelf for a long time Horizon Zero Dawn. I’ve heard so many great things and with the release of The Frozen Wilds DLC I decided that it was time to hit the trail and begin my journey across this post-apocalyptic world with lead protagonist Aloy.
Set in the far-flung future Horizon Zero Dawn is about how humanity has regressed back to ancient times after an apocalyptic event decimated the population of Earth. The world is now filled with killer machines that roam the planet and in this world humanity has to try so hard to survive against these incredible robotic beasts. The player follows Aloy an outcast from one particular tribe known as the Nora as she tries to find out who her parents are and how this personal journey of hers eventually encapsulates the fate of the world.
Horizon Zero Dawn is a breathtaking experience at numerous times throughout the game I found myself taking the majesty of the world in around me. You can see a small portion of my escapades in the images below. The team at Guerilla Games have outdone themselves in the creation of this futuristic Earth. From the windswept mountaintops to the lush jungles nothing is done in half measures the scenery is one of the clear standout stars of Horizon Zero Dawn. Another star of Horizon Zero Dawn is the lead protagonist Aloy portrayed by Ashly Burchshe. She is one of the most compelling and fascinating leads in a video game I’ve had the pleasure to play recently. Her struggle to find herself and figure out where she fits into the world is an all too real one and grounds this incredible story making it wonderfully relatable.
The gameplay is wonderful feeling akin to a hunting simulator especially on the higher difficulties (I recommend Hard as any lower will be too easy). The many machines you face will push you to your very limits and the ingenuity you have to muster is challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. You can utilise your many unique arrows with your bow to bring down the huge Thunderjaws, or the ropecaster to bring down the Stormbirds and if you’re feeling cheeky you can turn the machines against each other by hacking them with your spear. It’s this gameplay that allowed me to truly fall in love with Horizon Zero Dawn.
On the technical side of Horizon Zero Dawn there are at times severe hiccups, at one point I got trapped in a tree and that’s not a typo I literally was stuck in a tree while multiple enemies ripped me a new one. There was also the issue of the rendering of the beautiful surroundings dropping as I journeyed through the world of Horizon Zero Dawn. These issues ripped me out of the game and It was a shame because it is an incredible experience otherwise. There is also the story of Horizon Zero Dawn, though the end result is something quite tearjerking I found that the majority of the story was a mass of exposition dumping. The script of the game didn’t liven up the premise of the story and apart from Aloy there are a handful of interesting characters even though there are dozens of characters introduced to you through the many sidequests you partake in. The biggest problem I had was the villains there is nothing particularly noteworthy about the villainous element in Horizon Zero Dawn. There are two major villains, one human and the other machine and sadly neither is memorable. Hopefully this will be fixed when the inevitable sequel comes knocking in a couple years.
It’s been a great year for female protagonists in video games what with games like Tales of Berseria, Uncharted: The Last Legacy and Gravity Rush 2 to highlight some of the best and Horizon Zero Dawn has introduced a new wonderful female lead in the shape of Aloy and I’m looking forward to the next step in her journey. I hope this review has helped your Christmas shopping choices for the gamer in your life, Merry Christmas.