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Horizon Zero Dawn Review

A new open-world adventure, set in a post-apocalyptic world teeming with dangerous robots roaming all corners of the land. You play as Aloy, a woman banished from her tribe at birth, on a quest to discover the secrets of the world, and to find out about her mysterious origins.

In the world that Aloy lives, humans have regressed to living in tribes, and gives the game a unique prehistoric vibe. Despite this, technology is what rules the world, in the form of dangerous robots.

These robots depict all kind of creatures such as birds, crocodiles and giraffes. They look great, move realistically, and really bring the world to life despite not being living creatures themselves.

Horizon Zero Dawn review
The battle are intense and exhilarating.

Fighting these robotic beast where the highlight of the game for me, and it’s probably the best combat in an open-world game to date! The game doesn’t want you to rush into battle though as the combat can be difficult.

Horizon Zero Dawn emphasizes stealth and preparation, and allows you to plan traps around before getting the beast’s attention. Nothing is more satisfying than laying down a heap of exploding wire traps and watching your enemies running into them, either killing them in the process, or damaging them enough to allow you to finish them off.

I loved some of their clever designs, such as having tall grass to hide in featuring red tips on the top to match Aloy’s red hair.

Every robot has their own unique attacks which you’ll need to learn. They also all have their own weaknesses to exploit, making battles with each type of robot a unique one. The combat is always fast, fluid, action-packed, and sometimes even breath-taking! My first battle with a Sawtooth was one of my best memories in this game.

Horizon Zero Dawn review
The action is fluid and controls are very responsive.

Like most RPGs, or games with RPG elements, you’ll need materials from the robots out in the wild in order to craft new gear. Different pieces of armour can increase physical defense, elemental defense, so you’ll need to craft and equip what you’ll need for certain battles.

Some pieces of armour contain slots for even more customization. There’s also a whole range of weapons to use, each with their own purpose. You’ll have your trusty spear for melee combat. Rattlers are your close range shotguns.

Then there’s my favourite- the Tripcaster which allows you fire wires between two points to cause various effects when enemies run into them. These effects include stunning with electricity, dealing damage with fire, or causing non-elemental explosions.

There’s plenty more weapons to choose from, but as can only equip four at a time, you’ll need to decide what works best for your playstyle.

There’s also an upgrade tree to gain and improve skills in three different areas. The Prowler tree improves your stealth and mobillity. The Brave tree is for those who like to play more offensively and helps with combat.

The Forager tree is a more diverse tree and helps with overriding your robot opponents, increase healing speed, and gaining more resources. This all just adds more depth to turning Aloy into a more powerful warrior.

Horizon Zero Dawn review
You’ll find many villages around with people needing your help.

The world that Horizon Zero Dawn is set in is stunningly beautiful. Every time I had a chance to admire the great views this game has, I always stopped and just admired. There are a few different types of locations to enjoy- forest, rocky mountains, snowy regions, and they all look amazing!

Everything about this game is just so polished from the weather effects, changes from day to night, to the grass and trees blowing in the wind, you can tell so much work was put into making this world feel so realistic.

As great as it all looks, in terms of things to do, it’s all a bit familiar. Being an open-world game, it features all the things we’ve all done before in this type of game.

There are plenty of collectibles to find, and while they can be fun to find, you can buy maps that show roughly where they are on the map. It does kind of take the exploration side of things away because you’ll know exactly where to look.

There are sizable bandit camps to clear out, and these side quests can take a while, especially if you take the stealth approach. But once you clear them it is immensely satisfying because they contain quite a few bandits, but some good rewards.

There’s also the training grounds to test your skills and you must complete unique challenges. Normally I wouldn’t care about these kind of activities and usually ignore them in most games, but they were surprisingly fun here.

Despite having fun side activities, still not a whole lot is done to evolve the genre, and while I do love open-world games, it is starting to get a bit stale doing these same kind of activities in every single one of them

Horizon Zero Dawn review
The views are breathtaking!

Aloy herself is a great character. She’s full of drive and is dedicated to her quest. She has a very memorable design and I can see her being here to stay in the group of popular Sony characters.

It’s just a bit of a shame that Aloy is really the only memorable character in Horizon Zero Dawn, whereas everyone else just feels like cardboard cut-outs.

Another criticism I have is that the main questline really is nothing too special, as most of the time you’re just travelling from one place to another just to unravel more and more information about the world’s secrets.

Walking from point to point isn’t exactly exciting story-telling, but the secrets that you do discover are actually pretty amazing! So it’s the backstory/lore of the game that is brilliant, just the actual story of the game is a bit average.

Despite these criticisms, its amazing combat, jaw-dropping visuals, and brilliant back-story make this game a must play! I can’t think of another open-world game that does combat better in terms of intensity, fluidity, and excitement.

Score: 9/10


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