Horizon Zero Dawn Review (PS4)

Horizon Zero Dawn

This was one of the E3 games that I seen and knew that I had to have day one. With games like this, I usually like to go in knowing as little as possible so that I can discover and explore on my own. Plus with this being a completely new IP, there wasn’t a lot to go on. There were a few trailers, a few that blew my mind and then one that made me question why I had pre-ordered the collectors edition. All in all though, I went through with my pre-order and was able to complete the game fully. Keep reading to see what I thought about it.

Horizon Zero Dawn takes place on earth in the far away future. There are machine based dinosaurs and everyone has gone back to a simpler way of living. Gone are the technologies of today and everyone seems to live an overall happy type of life. You’ll play as Aloy, a motherless outcast from the Nora tribe. Since she has no mother, she’ll be given to another outcast of the Nora tribe Rost. Rost will raise Aloy from an infant, give her a name, and then train her to be able to compete in the proving which will turn her into a Nora Brave and be an outcast no more. Things don’t exactly go as planned though as the once mostly docile dinosaur machines have turned hostile at every turn. This threatens the entire world as everyone knows it. It’s up to Aloy to not only put a stop to it, but to discover the mystery of Zero Dawn.

Ashly Burch is great…but… Ashly Burch is great. Her voice acting skill is undeniable as she’s voiced memorable characters like Tiny Tina from Borderlands and Chloe from Life is Strange, but there was something about this role that didn’t seem fitting. While not discrediting her as an actress in any way, Aloy just felt like a tribal version of Chloe. I don’t know if the two characters were too similar and voiced in the same way that made it seem off or if it was the way that Aloy just spoke like a rebellious teenager all the time that it just became cringe worthy when she spoke. Either way, the performance given kind of hindered on the game just a little bit.

The game starts off with this beautiful cinematic that just had the tears streaming as you see Rost struggle to give this motherless girl a name. You’ll also see Aloy struggle as a child as she’s not accepted because she’s an outcast and eventually make her into the strong woman that you’ll play her as. She’s the only one who can bring people together in order to take down these metal devils and basically save the world. The main story of this game is so twisty and turny that there is no way that this isn’t interesting. The main concept of this game and why things are they way they are is just mind blowing. I was shocked at how clever the main plot of the game was. It’s an amazingly crafted story that suffers just a little with the tedious side quests that seem to have no meaning and are basically fetch and come back quests and errands. These hinder on the main story a little and really just act as filler because if you just played the main story along with the important side quests than this game would have been a hell of a lot shorter. My final game time came in at just a couple minutes shy of 50 hours. That was basically doing everything the game had to offer including side quests, errands, and collectibles. At times this made the game feel like a little bit of a chore to play, but when it got down to just having the main story left, I couldn’t step away from the game.

Total Commander Shepard moment – Mild Spoilers There’s this part in the game, before the big battle, that if you recruit all of your allies and bring everyone together, which can or cannot happen depending on how you play, you’ll get a chance to go to each of their stations and have a brief chat with them before heading off to bed for the night. Sound familiar? Maybe because this totally borrows from each and every Mass Effect 1-3 moment before each boss battle, except for the part where you end up in bed with one of your squad mates. Unlike Commander Shepard, Aloy ends up in an empty bed.

The playability for this game is great and that’s because it borrows from other games like the new Tomb Raiders and Far Cry: Primal, but expands on them and does it in its own way. This game takes using a bow along with other not-gun weapons to a new level as well as crafting ammo, traps, and medicines. This is an interesting aspect of game play, but it also requires a lot of collecting and gathering. It also involves killing a bunch of random machines unless you want to spend your shards at a local merchant. All of the weapon types and combat scenarios felt extremely natural in game and I was more than comfortable using the bow. While this game had no bugs or glitches at all, an extremely rare thing with the recent amount of games I’ve played, there were a couple of downfalls. Each area is heavily populated with these dinosaur machines meaning that if you aren’t sneaking around in every single area, you’re extremely noticeable and open for attack. It’s nice to sneak around, but that doesn’t mean I want to do that the whole game. Sometimes I just want to be able to run from point A to point B and the game kind of punishes you for that as you’ll get attacked constantly. Without crafting fast travel packs or purchasing them, you’re then basically screwed. There’s also the fact that when you do need to buy something from a merchant, it’s kind of a pain to do so. For me, a constant commodity I was running out of was wire. I could never keep enough wire and there is no multiple purchase option. You have to hold down X over and over and over again until you get the desired amount of whatever it is that you’re buying. Those were just a couple of annoyances that I found.

What can I say about the graphics other than they are simply beautiful. Everything from the different areas of the world, to the characters in the game, to these huge machines that you’re taking down, they were perfect in each way. Each cinematic scene was well crafted and added to the game and the few facial animation downfalls that happened every once in a while, didn’t take away from any of this at all. It was still a very well crafted beautiful open world game. From the moment that I started the game to the moment I ended it, I was impressed with the graphics and the amount of work that went into them.

There are a total of 56 trophies for this game. Each and every one of them are easy to get and you’ll basically end up getting them as you play along throughout the game without having to worry about them. I can see that you would really only have to go back for a couple of them here and there, but other than that they should come naturally. While each of these worked for me without a problem, I know a buddy of mine, @TheAlbumWeb, was having a problem with the All Acquisition machines killed trophy. There seems to be a glitch with this trophy to where you can kill all of the acquisition machines but it won’t pop. Luckily he was able to get it after some time meaning that he was finally able to get the platinum trophy. A huge congratulations to him for that because I knew he spent way more time with the game than I did. While I’m not sure if this has actually been fixed or not, this is a trophy related problem and should be noted if you’re going for the platinum. You may or may not end up having a problem with this trophy and if it doesn’t get fixed, it kind of sucks.

While there is no multiplayer for this game, it was said that there would be some social aspects included in the game. I have no idea what this means because this was a strictly single player game. When I hear that there is going to be some type of social aspect I usually cringe because this means co-op or straight up multiplayer, but this hasn’t been added in at this time and I’m not sure it even needs it. There are some games that you just play by yourself and this is one of them. I don’t need someone tagging along while I try to hunt dinosaurs and I don’t need to play team death match with bows and arrows. The game is fine the way it is and the whole “social aspect” thing should be kept out of this game.

Overall I give this game a 4 out of 5.

What’s Great:
+ New and clever plot line that hasn’t been done before and was extremely interesting once you got to the core of it.
+ A new and exciting take on techniques used in other games and made better by this game.
+ Beautiful graphics that make the game and show was a game in 2017 should look like.
+ Smooth running game that had no major bugs or crashes during the full amount of time put into it.

What’s Not So Great:
Side quests and errands that hinder on the main game just a litte.
The constant need to be in stealth mode along with an unrewarding fast travel system and weird buying from a merchant problems.
Voice acting is a little off and sometimes there are problems with facial animations.
All Acquisition machines killed trophy glitched for some people.

While I was overly critical of this game at first, it was one of those games that got turned around and came out on top. The story is there and the main character is a quality one. Yes the voice acting is off, but that doesn’t discredit Aloy as a character. The only real problem I had with this game is the way too many fetch and come back quests and errands that had no real point and didn’t feel like they contributed to the overall game in any way. Other than that the game was an excellent original game that hasn’t been done before story wise even though it does borrow some other of the game mechanics from already established franchises. While this might not have been a day one buy for you and at the moment it has no replay value, I would still give this game a seal of approval. If you want to spend the full $60 on it you won’t regret it and if you want to wait until it goes on sale to save some cash you won’t regret it either. Saying that, it is a game that deserves to be played you just have to determine how much you want to spend on it.

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