Horizon Zero Dawn an exhilarating new action role playing game exclusively for the PlayStation 4 system, developed by the award winning Guerrilla Games, creators of PlayStation’s venerated Killzone franchise. Killzone is a first person shooter and an answer from Sony to Microsoft's Halo franchise. As Horizon Zero Dawn’s main protagonist Aloy, a skilled hunter, explore a vibrant and lush world inhabited by mysterious mechanized creatures. Embark on a compelling, emotional journey and unravel mysteries of tribal societies, ancient artifacts and advanced technologies that will determine the fate of this planet, and of life itself. With Horizon: Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games tried to decent into uncharted territory. How well did they do? Let's find out.
The story of Horizon: Zero Dawn is set in a post-post apocalyptic world where human have reverted back to their primitive states and the world is filled with mechanized wildlife. You play as Aloy, an outcast from her tribe who is on a journey to find out the mysteries of her origin and how the world ended up the way it did.
Straight away, when you start the game, you get a sensation that you’re playing a game whose story is being told by Disney of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. This is by no means a bad thing, just a surprising one. Set 1000 of years after mankind came to brink of extinction, the game takes us into a world dominated by aggressive and corrupted machines and to a world where mankind has switched to the old ways and is working to step up from the ashes. The game has an incredible sense of mystery. The game revolves around the character Aloy, of the Nora tribe who is an outcast. the game shows her journey from an outcast-ed,helpless kid to one becoming a beautiful, strong, confident woman who plays an important role in saving mankind from the machines and uncovering the past mysteries of mankind. The story line is so beautiful and one can easily relate with the character Aloy. The game scenery is very impressive. It has beautiful mountain ranges, ruins of the old ones, tribal valleys, snowy mountains, semi desert ranges, lush grasslands and many more. One cannot get away from the desire to explore. The story manages to stay engaging till the end as Horizon: Zero Dawn does something which most do not, it raises more and more questions and builds up the suspense as you progress into the story to only be answered at the end. That sense of curiosity keeps you moving forward without wanting to stop. Also, it should be pointed out that in the final parts of the game where the secrets of the story are revealed, a few scientific terms will be used, so for those of you not familiar with the terms, it would be wise to keep a dictionary handy so that this aspect does not prevent you from completely enjoying the storytelling aspect of the game.
This section is where Horizon: Zero Dawn takes the least amount of risk and plays it safe by incorporating different mechanics from different games. To put it more simply, the overall controls and systems feels much similar to Crystal Dynamics’ rebooted Tomb Raider series, the world map has a striking similarity to Ubisoft’s Far Cry series and the mini compass looks and functions exactly as Bethesda's Elder Scroll and Fallout series. The game even offers a dialog wheel much similar to Bioware’s Mass Effect series.
Even though Horizon: Zero Dawn indicates similarities to these popular franchises, somehow Guerrilla Games managed to make it work. The game functions as an open world game where you need to hunt and gather resources to craft useful material such as weapons, ammo, armor and upgrades. Hunting is a vital part of the game and doing so cleverly is key to survival and success as almost every animal is bigger and stronger than you and can easily kill you. Horizon’s combat is its most compelling feature, thanks to the variety found within 26 distinct species of animal-like machines that roam its great far-future expanse. These beasts have several weak points that can be scanned using Aloy’s Focus device (a lore-friendly device that gives you Witcher-like heightened senses), and hitting different points can have different results that change the way a fight plays out.
Management of resources is also an important aspect as your carry is limited much like your resources and almost all resources have multiple uses, for instance 'Metal Shards’ act as the game’s currency, used to buy weapons and outfits from merchants and at the same time is one of the primary items needed for ammo crafting. Even the game's fast travel option is limited in the form of fast travel packs. They are easily craftable and do not need much resources but you will unknowingly burn through your resources for the packs.
Few issues which I personally had with the game when it came to gameplay was the Camera angles and absence of a lock-on system. The Camera always has a tendency of angling as it saw fit. One minute the camera would be angled at the right only for it to be angled to the left which can get pretty jarring as it always tries to maintain a somewhat over the shoulder angling. Even during the platforming sections, the camera isn't panned out far enough for us to properly see where the next foot hole is to grab onto. This is one aspect which I hoped they would have let Uncharted 4 influence them. Lack of a lock-on also produces some bothersome issues. Since you will be at times fighting certain beasts which are almost the size of a bus, they can cover large areas pretty quick. So having to manually control the camera while running away from the beasts makes it a bit difficult. Even during melee combat, since there is no lock-on, I often found myself swinging a little to the left or right of the enemy and missing the target.
Out of all the games I have personally played and reviewed, Horizon: Zero Dawn has to be the most detailed and graphically impressive. Everything from draw distances to Alpha particle effects to geographical design quality to God Ray effects screams detail. Even the mechanized wildlife design to foliage design and their reactions to the wind blowing has extreme levels of detail and the dynamic weather system with different detailed geographical landscapes such as deserts, dense forests to snowy mountains creates a sense of realism which was never before seen in an video game. Guerrilla Games(the developers) should be commended for this technical achievement. This game shows us just how much potential power the aging system has if used efficiently.
Now, Considering the technical aspects of the game, the resolution is rendered at a full native 1080p at 30fps on the Standard PS4 and checkerboarded 4k at 30fps or 1080p at 30fps on the PS4 Pro. The game tends to perform almost the same on both platforms with extremely minor drops ( 29 fps from 30 fps) seen on both platforms. The Standard PS4 tends to have a few more instances where the frame-rate drops the single frame. The single drops are barely noticeable when you are playing the title.
Main OST of the game composed by Joris de Man, The Flight and Niels van der Leest.
Audio settings as with most titles are bare boned except for your standard settings, which are: Speech Volume, FX Sound and Music.
The game's OST(original soundtrack) is an exceptional one with each track perfectly matching and creating the desired intensities for the scene. Voice acting is mostly done with a certain level of professionalism, with only certain instances where the intensity of the moment did not match the tone and expression of the speech. Another thing noticed during dialogs was that lips did not sync properly with the dialog. This is not much of an issue and does not occur all that much to be concerned about.
OVERALL SCORE: 37/40
92.5% approval rating
Everything about this game spells beauty. The lush forests with dense vegetation, the snowy mountains containing hidden secrets, the desert landscapes across the flowing river, everything in this game is an candy. The gameplay is smooth and although it borrows a lot beats from other games, it pulls them off in an even better manner to the point that its innovative. The main story is 20 hours long, give or take. The express symbolism throughout the game (Advanced machines in a primitive world) is quite deep and in many ways, explores the trails in humanity. The story, quite surprisingly, is very good and the protagonist, Aloy, is extremely likeable. Hell, you might even fall in love with her. The numerous side-quests tie into the main story perfectly and there's nothing in this game that could consider a chore. The crafting system is pretty well-refined and is integrated into the combat system to offer unique opportunities to take down your enemies, both mechanical and human. You could fight them with your main weapons (And there are quite a few of them), override another machine to do the fighting for you, or just use it's own weapons against it. Imagination's the limit. Overall, Horizon is a promising new franchising full of potential and Marvel.
The only downside for this game is that it's a Playstation 4 exclusive and will not be available for PC and XBOX. That being said, Guerrilla games would have probably received the funding for this project from Sony specificaly for the exclusivity.
Note: All the screenshots porvided for the review were taken personally by me during my play session of the game using the in-game photo mode, ever picture was taken during actual in-game gameplay. I Re-did the review of the game for steemit.
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