Horizon Zero Dawn is a 'post-post-apocalyptic' game. In this strange, barely familiar world, the massive skyscrapers, and technology of our modern civilization have been abandoned. The remaining humans formed tribes. Now they hunting with bows and spears and living a life shaped around an earth-based, shamanistic religion.
These human tribes also have to contend with the machines, giant robots that resemble dinosaurs and other animals. These terrifying opponents were left behind by the Ancient Ones before the old world ended, and little is known about them other than that they're equipped with weaponry and power that humans of the new world simply can't compete with.
To play Guerilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn is to feel awe. There’s something about being dropped into a brand new game world and finding the mystery of it. Horizon Zero Dawn is one of those games, and it carves out a unique identity within the popular action-roleplaying genre. The landscape of the game itself is beautiful and terrifying. Its premise is a big mystery that begs to be solved.
Let's have a look at Horizon's ‘post-post-apocalyptic’ landscape:
Horizon Zero Dawn is a third-person action game that tells the story of a relentless young woman named Aloy. It's in this vision of the future that players take control of Aloy, who is a huntress & cast out from her tribe. She desperately seeking answers about where she came from. Early in her life, she discovers a strange item called a "focus" that allows her to scan the environment and see trails left by people. Aloy uses the focus quite a bit in quests and story moments & it's a powerful key to combat. The “focus” allows you to see the weak points on your robot enemies, which means even if you're using a bow and arrow or slingshot against them, you can target the exact points that will do the most damage.
Though she is in many ways the traditional video game protagonist — brisk in speech, unstoppable in power, ready and willing to go along with whatever quest she is given. She provides a perfect pair of curious eyes to slowly reveal the mysteries of this world.
Aloy herself is largely a tool accomplishing the needs of the game, but Horizon's cast of characters is strong enough to earn your investment.
That cast includes characters like the drunken warrior Erend, the new-to-the-throne and progressive-minded Sun King Avad and the mysterious, omniscient Sylens. The political maneuvering of the world of Horizon weaves myriad opportunities for intrigue both in this game and the future.
Set on Earth years after an unexplained apocalypse wiped out life as we know it, the story of Horizon Zero Dawn starts with our young protagonist Aloy learning about how to survive in a world filled with robot dinosaurs, known simply as Machines.
In the game, everything we recognize – from roads to buildings and factories – are unrecognizable to those that now inhabit the Earth. Nobody is quite sure what happened to the old world, and all that is left now are ruins of what once was – before it was reclaimed by Mother Nature.
As a young Aloy, you (the player) learn about the nature of the vast open world around you, from taking down dinosaurs stealthily to learning about crafting potions and other vital items. It’s essentially a tutorial for the rest of the game, but it doesn’t feel as out of place as it feels like a natural part of the story, rather than something that must be done before the game can truly begin.
Once an adult and after years of training in the wilderness, Aloy becomes the skilled, powerful character that we’ve seen in Horizon Zero Dawn’s popular marketing campaign. Now she is ready to take us on the open world and all the challenges within it. After proving herself worthy to those that labeled her an outcast as a child, it’s up to Aloy to unmask the secrets of her past and in doing so, shed some light on why the world it is as it is, and where the mysterious dinosaur-like Machines are coming from.
The game’s storyline is much like a Hollywood movie with an engaging and intriguing storyline along with phenomenal voice acting across the board. It’s not just the main storyline that’s compelling either, as the inhabitants that you meet along the way will provide you with side quests to complete while on your travels.
The people that Aloy encounters on her travels are varied, and tasks can include anything from slaying a flock of Glint hawks who is terrorizing a settlement or to tracking down a missing person, and everything in between. It’s only through side quests that you gain access to cauldrons, the self-operating robot foundries that shed some light on the origins of the Machines themselves. The way that it’s designed makes you want to seek out those with a side quest or errand, rather than being something that you must do to complete the game.
GRAPHICS AND PS4 PRO PERFORMANCE
Visually, Horizon Zero Dawn is easily the most beautiful game ever crafted for the PS4. Yes, it even beats the likes of Tomb Raider and Uncharted, two game series that rely heavily on high-end visuals to compliment the Hollywood-esque storyline. It seems as if the developers themselves are confident of their achievement, offering a Photo mode within the game for users to get creative with their snaps.
It helps the game become more immersive and more alive. Wandering through fields of long grass is much more picturesque when you can see individual blades of grass swaying in the breeze, or seeing individual hairs on Aloy’s head swept up by howling winds in the midst of a storm on a mountain top. Even if it’s only a glimpse of an eerie blue light emitted from the eyes of Machines spotted while wandering alone at night, it helps the world come to life.
While the graphics are phenomenal, it’s only when coupled with the atmospheric sound and dynamic soundtrack that changes depending on what’s happening that the game really comes into its own. You can hear footsteps on stone as you walk along rocky paths, and hear the hums and whirs of the internals of Machines as you crouch nearby in waiting. It all adds up to provide an immersive, dynamic audio experience that matches the standards set by the visuals of the game.
Frankly, what’s most impressive about Horizon Zero Dawn is that it’s powered by a PS4 and not a high-end gaming PC. This is especially true when running Horizon Zero Dawn on a PS4 Pro, with a 4K output at 30fps by rendering the game in 2160p checkerboard. Lines are clear and defined, textures are of an extremely high quality and the frame rate is stable while providing one of the greatest gaming experiences available on a console.
GAMEPLAY AND MECHANICS
Strong storyline and impressive visual makes Horizon Zero Dawn an impressive game. But for a game to really be successful, it needs to offer polished core mechanics that make gameplay as smooth and enjoyable as possible. And yes, Horizon Zero Dawn’s mechanics, especially battle mechanics, perfectly compliment the style of play presented by the developers.
Aloy’s weapon of choice, the bow, and arrow, seems to be the go-to weapon for recent games including the likes of Tomb Raider, although we must admit that none offer a more satisfying bow and arrow experience than Horizon Zero Dawn.
With no stamina system at play, gamers are free to dodge, roll and sprint and hide for as long as required to avoid the metallic jaws of the Machines that roam the open world. Combine this with a growing arsenal and a quick menu system that allows not only for the selection of weapons but also the crafting of ammo, and you’re left with a game where every battle is tactical.
Tactics are key to Machine battles – and everyone loves it. Rather than equipping Aloy with an overpowered melee weapon that can defeat anything with a single hit, there’s a range of Machines available all with varying strengths and weaknesses, and a range of approaches to take them down. It forces the player to observe and plan, rather than running in blind and rewards them with spectacular battle scenes.
There’s also a point-based upgrade system with three areas of focus – combat, stealth, and foraging – with users able to access new and upgraded abilities depending on their play style. It allows for Aloy to adopt the style of play best suited to not only the game but the player too, offering a hardened combat experience for those that want it, or a more effective tactical approach for those that like to observe and plan.
Of course, it also adds a sense of progression to the game, watching Aloy go from a stumbling outcast child to a hardened warrior capable of taking down the biggest Machines with finesse.
Horizon Zero Dawn is hands-down the best open world game available for the PS4, offering textures of an extremely high quality while maintaining a stable frame rate and providing one of the most impressive gaming experiences available on a console. what do you think about this Horizon Zero Dawn PS4 Game Review? Please make a comment here.
You can also check out our Sony PS4 Pro review.