Game Commentary: Horizon Zero Dawn

I have done a 100% run of Horizon Zero Dawn. I could have finished it sooner but I was preoccupied for a while. What's my verdict? If you own a PS4, you absolutely HAVE to play this game. It's not without some problems but at the end of it all, it was a brilliant experience well worth the investment.

Horizon's story is surprisingly deeper than I thought it would be. I'm not one for open world story-telling and admittedly, I still am not but Horizon presents itself beautifully and well enough that I couldn't help but get invested. You have the typical animation quirks of the genre with a wheel-driven conversation approach to most things but again, it's a complaint present in almost any open world game and you have to keep in mind that this is the studios' first attempt at the genre. For what it is, it's fantastic.

The journey through Horizon isn't quite clear-cut as it is in say....Final Fantasy XV. You don't just get side stories telling you of the culture in the world or have any thematic importance. These sort of things are buried within the world itself and somehow, somewhere through it all, the message the developers wanted to get across got into me before I realised it.

Horizon contains themes surrounding racial segregation, religious and cultural divide, political empowerment and gender roles just to name a few. The best part is that they never knock these messages into your head. It's entirely up to you to see them as it is entirely up to Aloy to explore the world to her desire. I didn't expect to love Aloy but I do. I really do love Aloy's character and I most definitely want her back. The studio did a fan-freaking-tastic job selling her to me in the beginning and by the end of it all, I couldn't ask for anything more. The studio didn't set out to write a strong, female protagonist. They set out to write a character.

Can't help but use photo mode for everything

Gameplay in Horizon excels at making the experience as natural as it can be. I'm not talking about the combat as that is pretty straightforward. I'm talking about applying that into its world. More specifically, when it comes to the machines. You have dino-robots in Horizon and you hunt them in the open world. That is a very, very bold idea to put on the table. There are so many things that could have gone wrong and while I can definitely think of more that they could have done, what they did was already satisfying enough. The machines aren't just there for you to hunt. They're there with purpose and if you observe them, you can see it. They don't feel like enemies. It feels as though the developers created the world and the machines happened naturally from it. There were so many "Holy Crap" moments that I'll probably give Nathan Drake a run for his money. The people who said this feels like a David Attenborough documentary or robo Jurassic Park, they are absolutely right. Never once have I experienced nature like this in a video game.

Couple this explorative-focused gameplay and story-telling with beautiful, ambient music and drop-dead gorgeous graphics and you've got yourself a behemoth of a AAA title. Horizon has done things I certainly did not expect from it. I can't exactly recall when it was that I started looking forward to this title. Whatever it was, combat was the main driving force. I wanted to fight machines with Aloy. Imagine the stupid fun it was going to bring!

After everything is said and done though, I remember the combat only after the world and story. A fantastic experience with a solid foundation that overwhelms you. I have no doubt that this will be one of the best series in gaming to come.

Yes, I did get a platinum trophy for this game


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