This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 45 May 2017.
Every once in a while, a game arrives on the scene that is both familiar and completely fresh at the same time. Horizon Zero Dawn is one such game. And it is one that deserves your attention.
The first thing that will strike you about Horizon Zero Dawn is how gorgeous it looks. The world is one of splendour and danger. It is a world set sometime far into our future when after an unknown calamity humanity is fragmented into primitive tribes while animal-like machines walk the world. Some tribes embrace the way of the technically advanced ‘old-ones’ while many do not believe in the ways that most likely led to the current state of world affairs.
You play as Aloy, a shunned female member of the Nora tribe, and one that clearly has a history. And if you couldn’t predict it, you are destined for something more, so before you lies a journey. And what a journey it is. Every tribe, beast and landscape presents unique challenges and story arcs in this open-world third person role-playing action game.
It might seem like the developers took every game aspect they could from Tomb Raider, GTA and The Witcher and others, and came up with Horizon Zero Dawn. But they have done so with such finesse that it seems quite effortless at times.
Present and correct is a skill tree, crafting, looting, side quests and compelling story. The combat is highly satisfying and each enemy needs a level of careful consideration in how to attack them. Some weapons and tactics can be devastating against some enemies and useless against others.
Weapon upgrades can really turn the balance of battle over to you and once you are in possession of an early upgrade to your melee weapon, you can take control of some machines. Literally. So if you need an ally or a distraction, turn one of the herd into a friendly and you could simply slip past the rest.
Because stealth is a viable – and often better – option when faced with herds or larger groups of creatures and humans. As with many other stealth games, monitoring enemy movements and using distractions can ensure successful sneaking. Thankfully – and against her own tribe’s belief – Aloy has a handy scanning toy available to her which can highlight movement and other details that might prove useful.
While Horizon Zero Dawn is not perfect, every minor flaw is easily overshadowed by the good in it. You may find some of the travel laborious but when the world is this vibrant, the destination is likely to thrill. Some of the dialogue interactions may seem longer than they need to, but with a story this engrossing, you will hang on every word.
One has to applaud the developers Guerrilla Games for releasing a complete game. One that sucks you in and keep you entertained for hours. Horizon Zero Dawn is a must buy, and at this early stage of 2017, we are looking at a game of the year contender.
Available on: PlayStation 4
Distributed in SA by: Ster Kinekor