Yes, I know, this month’s review should have been Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But that isn’t happening here for 2 reasons. 1-The game is too huge, and between travel and moving house, I wasn’t able to play it for a decent enough amount of time to warrant a fair review and 2-there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said on the 10,000 other, bigger reviews!
But ok, look, my one paragraph review: BUY IT. It’s a 10/10 must-own and as you’d expect from Nintendo/Zelda, doesn’t disappoint at all. I’d personally advise getting it for the Wii U and not investing in a Switch just yet, due to the various launch technical issues, availability and price in Kuwait, and a very small game library. There’s barely any difference between the two versions anyway.
Instead, this month, we will take a look at a game that was also released recently, is equally as much of a masterpiece, but sadly got overlooked due to the release and media bandwagon coverage of Zelda. With Mass Effect: Andromeda out now too, this brand new IP has been unfortunately sandwiched in between 2 blockbuster franchises, and I wish that it had been scheduled better in order to stand out and get the proper attention and appreciation it deserves.
Horizon Zero Dawn has been eagerly awaited by PS4 players since it was announced and shown off a couple of years ago. I could never remember its name for some reason, so I’d always refer to it as ‘that robot dinosaur game’. It’s still ‘that robot dinosaur game’ to me but it’s also a whole bunch more.
The game is set in the far future, with humanity having mastered holographic and robotic technologies. After an unexplained catastrophe destroys humanity, the machines dominate the planet. Horizon follows the story of Aloy, from girl to woman, who has been deemed an outcast by her tribe and sets out to learn more about her history as well as the machines.
The game could be seen as a mash up of other big titles, including Uncharted, Gears Of War and most notably, Tomb Raider. Aloy moves exactly like Lara Croft, and that extends to climbing and battling, especially when it comes to using the bow and arrow. The crafting system also seems to have been heavily inspired by Tomb Raider, not to mention the campfire save points. This isn’t a bad thing at all, and I don’t consider it a blatant copy/paste since Horizon combines these things along with many others of its own. They just took the best mechanics from the best games in order to create the perfect package.
There is so much to do and see in Horizon, with it being an open world environment you can pretty much do what you like in any order (after passing the game intro which naturally serves as a tutorial). You have the main story, as well as side missions, which come in at around 30-40 hours of gameplay. There is much to explore and a massive area but feat not; you can obtain means to traverse the map a little later into the game.
Now, about those ‘robot dinosaurs’ (aka the machines). You’ll encounter many of them, especially the smaller types that serve as the main enemy type. These alone are awesome to see and eventually kill, made all the more satisfying in that you can loot them (as you can all of the machines) once beaten. Later in the game you’ll encounter bigger and tougher machines which look amazing and leave you feeling genuinely nervous, but the sense of accomplishment when you take one down will have you ready for the next gargantuan to destroy! Enemies come in human and robot form and are nicely varied that you don’t get bored of seeing the same foe during every battle.
You have the usual open world tactics of assault and stealth approaches when it comes to enemies, and both work extremely well with equal rewards no matter which you chose. The crafting system is thorough, allowing you to create/upgrade weapons, ammo, potions and more. You’ll find many crafting materials in the environment, as well as when looting beaten enemies, and you can even craft ammo on the go which you’ll definitely require!
While the game isn’t unusually hard, you’ll find death common while playing. For me, I didn’t get annoyed by this; after all, when you’re fighting huge metallic machines, what do you expect!? If anything, I found dying and restarting a great chance to re-evaluate the approach to the battle and adjust it.
If you want an in-depth adventure game, with plenty of game time that isn’t Zelda, this is the one. But regardless of Zelda, or adventure games or anything, do check this one out. You’ll be pleasantly pleased.