It’s rare these days to play a game as different and unique as Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s no easy feat to seamlessly blend bow and arrow combat with giant robots in a single game and still have it make sense but Guerilla have somehow managed to pull this off successfully.
Horizon Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the war between man and machine have left humanity scattered into primitive tries who now occupy the decaying remnants of former cities. At the same time the world is left populated by giant wild machines, from horse like 'striders' to massive T-Rex like 'Thunderjaws'.
Your character, Aloy, is at the heart of finding out what really happened to the world as she battles against crazed cultist, killer machines and the harshness of the world itself.
The game itself is well deserving of the praise it’s received to date. The visuals are truly amazing and the world is expansive. Horizon Zero Dawn plays just as you’d expect given that you’re taking on giant robots with primitive hunter/gatherer weaponry. Rushing in head on will generally get the life stomped by a seriously angry machine so success depends on stealth, planning and patience. Traps become your best friend and the game definitely encourages the use of the more tactical skills Aloy has at her disposal.
For me the game play was definitely the highlight. I’m a big fan of stealth/tactical games that have a low tolerance for run and gun style play. Patiently taking down a pair of Thunderjaws through a set up traps within traps would not be nearly as rewarding if there was an option just to rush and stab them to death.
In terms of what could be improved in any DLC or sequel, my view is pretty much in line with the NZ Gamer review. The camera angle gets a bit funky when you are in close quarters, but this wasn’t really a significant issue for me as I didn’t take on many melee battles. Similarly, I would agree that the upgrade system isn’t that well explained but again, you work it out relatively quickly.
The only real area where I found the game a bit repetitive was in respect of the enemy AI – particularly the human enemies. Many of the enemies you face during the story mode are the cultist (who are trying to bring about Armageddon) and they are seriously dense. You can clear out most areas by hiding in a single spot and simply calling people over (who inexplicably have a tendency to walk over in single file). Machines are more or less the same but given how over powered they are in comparison to you I can understand why the developers took this approach. I don’t have an answer on how this can be improved, but towards the later stages of the game, once my gear/character was leveled, these encounters became fairly tedious.
Having said that, the game was great fun. I’ll definitely be getting the sequel when this comes out!