Let’s get straight to the point: should you play Horizon: Zero Dawn? Hell yes.
I have been looking forward to playing this game for – well, since I saw the first trailer.
We all learn from the most tender age to be diffident with trailers, as they usually let you down big time. But I’m an optimist – what can I do??
WHY AM I WRITING THIS ALMOST-REVIEW?
This won’t be a full review, as the title suggests.
I’m writing this post because I want to highlight the aspects of the game that I loved the most. And also because I want to make sure to let you know, dear reader, why you should play Horizon as well.
When I’m thinking of the best games I’ve ever played (such as Journey, Ori and the Blind Forest, The Witcher 3) is never just about the story. It’s the story and the design. And the animations. And the soundtrack.
I like my games the way I like my books – immersive to the point I forget to eat.
And if you follow me on Instagram you know that I eat all the flipping time.
Let me tell you what made me love Horizon: Zero Dawn so much:
It copies the good stuff
No shame in taking the good stuff from other games and implementing it.
Super smooth character animations and interaction with the environment à la Assassin’s Creed? Yes please.
Intuitive bow&arrow crafting + aiming Tomb Raider style? Bring it on.
A compelling, story driven quest system like the Witcher 3? Oh God, yeah.
A breathtaking, procedurally generated environment? Please marry me.
You feel like a real hunter
In Horizon you really feel like you’re a hunter in a world inhabited by dangerous robots that don’t really like when you get too close. You need to stay alert when you’re travelling around because even the weak robots can seriously injure you if you underestimate them. And rather than relying on you to get into a gear-frenzy mode to get more dps on your bow, the game forces you to work on your strategy first and be efficient with your resources.
More carrots, less sticks
I’m not the best at first person shooters because my aim is sh….ockingly bad. The best thing is that Horizon is totally fine with that and gives you options: moderate damage by hitting enemies anywhere or catastrophic amount of damage and environmental effects if you hit specific areas with specific ammo type.
Nothing new here, right?
Here’s the cool thing: the game doesn’t punish you if you’re a sloppy sniper and you can be totally rubbish like me and still bring the trophy home.
Incredibly enough, I was finding myself naturally trying to aim precisely.
Why? Because the game rewards you so wonderfully when you hit those critical spots. Slow motion aiming, huge explosions, critical damage, combo effects, total badass feeling – let me tell you. Hormones pumping. There’s nothing more satisfying that creating a chill blast in mid-air freezing all those bloody robotic eagles that were trying to kill you.
A jaw-fracture-dropping storyline
Common sense would be that at the base of every single game there should be a compelling storyline – right? Well, not really. Sometimes we tend to compromise with the story “because the graphics is so good” or “the combat system is amazing”. With Horizon you don’t have to choose, you get the whole package.
And frankly, the storyline is just a-ma-zi-ng.
I won’t spoil it but really – you should play it.
Side quests are not boring
Basically every quest I found was meaningful. No “gather 4 fox skin” or “kill 2 dinosaurs” for the sake of it. There is a purpose behind everything you do and the quests are actually stories with actual characters with actual personalities.
Aloy is a badass
After killing giant machines and countless foes single handedly I would have not tolerated to be talked down by some arrogant NPCs.
To my delight, Aloy was never shy in putting them back into their boxes during their dialogues – making me feel quite proud of (being) her.
Check out those animations!!
Aloy’s animations are so fluid and satisfying! I genuinely enjoyed climbing rock walls, pillar jumping or climbing on top of the Tallnecks around the world. It’s in the details – like the different animations to jump on/off your mount depending on which angle you approach it – that you see the love that’s been put into the development. And make your character feel a lot more real and cool.