Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Horizon Zero Dawn: PS4 Review

Horizon Zero Dawn: PS4 Review

Developed by Guerrilla Games
Platform: PS4

Delivering a new IP is not an easy task these days.

In the gaming world, sequels and established titles rule and creativity is largely confined to indie games.

However, Guerrilla Games has just changed all that with the dropping of Horizon Zero Dawn, a new IP and a game that would easily and safely be a contender for Game of The Year come December time.

Set in a post-post apocalyptic world of Earth where nature has taken back the planet and where robot creatures / animals roam the countryside, this third-person action game sees you taking on the role of the outcast Aloy.

With her ginger hair and outcast status, Aloy's aloof in a world of tribes and desperate to know why she's been so removed from the world she lives in. With her trusted carer from birth, Rost, himself outlawed for their connection, Aloy must find her way in the world and discover the mysteries within.

However, with this massive world, side quests and other things to do such as salvage parts from hunting the beasts within, Horizon Zero Dawn has a hell of a lot of stuff to do. From setting traps and using trip wires to snare the metallic beasts, the game's quick to introduce you to a world that feels natural and feels rich in both wildlife and story.

Even though some of the dialogue and interactions can feel a little clunky as you negotiate your way through the world of Aloy and her awakening, the choices you make bring different facets of Aloy to life. From a simple interaction to helping others with their plights, the difference to her is marked. Be it showing empathy or giving you a feeling of her loneliness for being cast out for reasons unknown to a child, there are moments of great heart with Horizon Zero Dawn waiting to be explored.

Equally, there are moments of wonderment too.

The nature and robotic creatures are excellently realised. From the Raptor-like Watchers stalking the undergrowth to the Strider horse like creatures, all efforts from Guerrilla have gone into ensuring this feels like a David Attenborough Walking With Robot Dinosaurs writ large. Either from the small head movements of the creatures or the way they stick to packs when attacked, everything feels like a metal evolution of the animal kingdom - and it's intoxicating to behold.

Crafting, collecting and attacking feels like a mesh between Far Cry and Tomb Raider's collective ethos, but that's no bad thing and as you build your skill set and weapon traits, the game's opening up feels more intuitive. It's a good thing too as you can't simply wallop a creature with a spear later on, ensuring you need to apply your hunter mentality to guaranteeing your health doesn't take a major beating.

As the game opens up beyond its initial small yet somehow big scale, it's quite jaw-dropping. From an uptick in the creatures that roam and threaten to what you can do - corrupting machines and riding them, setting up other quests and side missions; you could spend your time doing anything but the main story missions. The scope is incredible and will eat plenty of your time with ease.

All in all, Horizon Zero Dawn is a great open world game - there's more than a lot to do, and more than a lot will be rewarded in the exploring. While some of the more human elements and the basics are a little clunky at times, the lushly rendered environments and the critters within more than make up for the shortcomings.

It's to be hoped there's more to come from Aloy's world because Horizon Zero Dawn does much to ensure that deep diving into it pays off in spades.

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