Games reviewed in 10 straight-to-the-point questions, every Wednesday.
Game: Horizon Zero Dawn
Platform: PlayStation 4
Time to beat: 40 hours or so
Q1: Who’s this videogame for?
Horizon is an open-world action adventure game. Think of it as a mix of Tomb Raider with a touch of Turok and a side of Zelda. If that sounds interesting, then this game is for you.
Q2: What’s the story like, and does it require any prior knowledge?
You do not require any prior knowledge to play the game and, what’s more, I would recommend you play Horizon without reading too much about it (other than this awesome review, of course) or watching trailers. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised: the story is exciting and will grip you from the very beginning.
In a nutshell, Horizon takes place in a world where humans are divided up into prehistoric-like tribes (each very unique) that don’t necessarily get along very well. You play as Aloy, a member of the Nora tribe. Something happens early in the game and the Nora tribe sends you out into the world to investigate it.
The world is full of aggressive robot dinosaurs with rocket launchers and laser beams that shoot to kill and you have to hunt them with a bow and arrow. Just imagine a T-800 Terminator who got lost in Jurassic Park and got confused as to what to do with the dinosaurs. Their offspring are the Horizon dinosaurs.
Q3: What’s the learning curve like?
During the first hour or so of the game you play as Aloy when she is a little girl, which serves as a basic tutorial. After that, Aloy grows up and, like any other action adventure game, you have very basic abilities. As you level up in the game you can go unlocking new abilities and there are training grounds where you can practice some of these.
I played the game in Hard mode and I found it challenging at the beginning but after a few hours, as you get new abilities, more health, better gear, you get the hang of the game and you plough through robot dinosaurs like a hot knife through butter (well, maybe not that easy but they do kill you less frequently!).
Q4: What are the controls like?
I had no issue with the controls or the gameplay whatsoever. Very intuitive throughout.
Q5: Does it have split-screen?
Q6: How’s the online component?
Non-existing. This is a 100% single player campaign game.
Q7: How’s the presentation?
This is one of the best looking console games. Guerrilla Games raised the bar with the overall graphics, environments, character design… The level of detail and care put in the game is incredible. But one thing that really hit home for me were the animations. All human characters look and move so naturally that they genuinely look real. And the way the robot dinosaurs move and attack is also exceptionally well done.
Even though they are not part of the main story line, I highly recommend you complete all of the Cauldrons. These are 30-40 minutes dungeon-like areas that are well worth your time for their in-game rewards and exciting level design and presentation. The designers could have made them all the same, but instead they choose to make them different which is greatly appreciated and makes them way more fun.
Q8: What are similar games / alternatives you’d recommend?
You can try God of War or any of the Uncharted games. Also any of the new Tomb Raider games and Zelda Breath of the Wild are similar in some ways to Horizon.
Q9: Anything you wish you knew before going in?
Not really, as I said before, the less you know the better!
Q10: Should I buy it?
Absolutely. And also buy the DLC.
Horizon Zero Dawn is a very brave game. My hat goes off to Guerrilla Games: they took a massive risk in making a triple A game based on a new intellectual property (IP). And they pulled it off. Big time.
If this would have been a sequel, I think I would have given it a high 9, but given the cojones Guerrilla Games had to make this new IP I give it a:
10 out of 10 killer robot dinosaurs