Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing video game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro. Five years in the making, this highly anticipated game released on 1 March 2017 and has garnered widespread positive reactions. The game is set in the natural splendour of a distant post-post apocalyptic future, in which mankind is no longer the dominant species and mysterious machines roam the land. The game is essentially one of exploration, not only of a dangerous new world and its wild, mechanical inhabitants but also of the protagonist, Aloy’s, identity.
The game takes place in a future dominated by fearsome mechanical creatures. In this new future, humans live in scattered tribes, with their ancestral origins unknown and the fate of their ancestors being one of myth and legend.
Horizon Zero Dawn opens in the homeland of the Nora tribe where we are introduced to Aloy, the young outcast girl, who is determined to find answers as to what happened to her mother and the reason for why she was cast out at birth. This plot is fascinating and engages the player throughout the entirety of the game, making it a video game that is difficult to put down. Together with its visual feats (which will be discussed below), Horizon Zero Dawn’s narrative provides players with a sense of watching the game unfold as a big budget, blockbuster film rather than just a video game.
Players play as Aloy from a third-person perspective and are able to utilise a variety of different methods to defeat enemies, including setting traps like tripwires, shooting enemies with arrows, using explosives and utilising melee combat. Players can also hack into a selection of creatures using the ‘Override Tool’, transforming them into makeshift vehicles or travelling companions.
There is plenty to do in this exploration game, with the main quest said to take around 30+ hours of gameplay to complete at a normal pace, with the odd side quest. The main quest follows Aloy’s journey as she attempts to piece together her mysterious origins and that of all living life in this futuristic world. It it through this main quest, that we learn of the dangers that only Aloy can prevent. The side quests in the game focuses more on the tribes and personalities inhibiting the new world. These side quests provide for a better understanding of the world we are in and the people we meet. While considered an aside, side quests do share and complement many of the themes in the main quest. Of course, there are also plenty of optional activities, which allow players to dive deeper into the world of Horizon Zero Dawn.
The game allows players the freedom to play as they wish, allowing them to explore the game’s vast open world as they choose while also providing them with a variety of options of multiple paths to follow. For long term value, this freedom of play comes in handy as it makes each replay session of the game feel unique and interesting.
Despite the large open world, Horizon Zero Dawn is the perfect game for someone delving into the world of gaming for the first time, or someone who prefers playing video games casually. The game has varying levels of difficulty, from easy to very hard, which allows players to choose exactly what level of difficulty they wish to play the game in.
Horizon Zero Dawn is absolutely breathtaking and is by far the most stunning video game I have ever laid eyes on. From the gorgeous scenery to the magnificence of the mechanical creatures and exceptionally detailed characters, the game is simply enchanting. It’s visual aesthetics is not the only aspect of the game which draws me. In addition to Aloy, the characters within the game are incredibly likeable and add to the story well, in that, the relationships the characters have with one another are important and provides for a level of realism to the game’s narrative.
There is a strong theme of feminism within the game, which is rather unique. It was refreshing to have a strong female lead in a video game of this kind as well as the inclusion of the ‘mother’ being central to the world as the giver of life who is sacred and cherished. In a way, Horizon Zero Dawn provides a sense of female empowerment which is encouraging as a game to attract more female players and gamers.
All in all, Horizon Zero Dawn is absolutely eye-opening as to the wonders of game development technology. With spectacular gameplay, stunning visuals, an engaging storyline and brilliant characters, it’s no wonder that the game is Sony PlayStation’s best selling new IP.