Horizon: Zero Dawn Review

Robotic animals roam the mountains, from which one can hide in the grass. People know how to hunt them and even dismantle them, but still live a primitive tribal life. It is impossible to be angry at this happiness, but it is also impossible to take it seriously. However, we are lucky – Horizon: Zero Dawn does not claim any reasonable pretensions from the very beginning. With the first trailers of HZD, the developers made a deal with us – we turn off all logic and in return get complete nonsense, a good pompous AAA game, where you can hunt techno-dinosaurs.

The world of Horizon

The girl from the village of Arroyo spent her entire childhood near the ruins of Shelter 13. Harry’s fate was destined to be full of trials – as a baby, she was deprived of her home and entrusted to the care of a veteran of hot post-apocalyptic spots, who was also exiled to the wilderness for unknown reasons. The first major turning point in the story occurs in the young sorceress’s childhood, when she receives a scar on her forehead and finds a “Pip-boy 500k” in one day. Since then, Neo has been able to see the Matrix and predict the behavior of the machines that have taken over the Earth. The second significant hour struck when the Chosen One passed the sacred parkour test and returned to her tribe. As soon as the matriarch proclaimed Eris’s victory, enemies from neighboring tribes arrived and managed to simultaneously burn down her home, kill the heroine’s father, and incite a machine uprising. After a triple dose of motivational speeches, the matriarchs could not come up with anything better than to send the Vault Dweller into the big and scary world beyond the sacred lands. To search for the water chip, seek revenge, and find out who Luke’s real father is. And mother. And everything else.

Jokes aside, everything happens exactly as described in the prologue. But contracts, contracts. It doesn’t matter how many stamps and nonsense are stuffed into the plot, decorations, characters, the world, and all available angles. This nonsense is beautiful, and if you surrender to it, happiness will come, because Horizon: Zero Dawn managed to catch the blue bird named The Legend of Zelda by the tail.

Nature in Horizon: Zero Dawn

So, HZD is our standard sandbox with scattered attractions of varying attractiveness on the map.

It is worth mentioning that after the paternal tutorial slightly lowers the occasion and releases us into the microcosm of sacred tribal lands, the heroine immediately deviates from the plot path because we have reached the point of hunting for mechanical animals. Isn’t this the essence of the whole game?

The first session of conquering the mechanical fauna turns out to be short but intense. Intense because it’s fun to fight with mechs right away – here you have a greedy headshot bow, stealth in the bushes, close combat with rolls, and a pleasant mechanics of it all. Auto-aim in close combat sometimes fails, but otherwise, nothing interferes with a good engaging fight. Short because you come across only a few iron dogs and horses, and it’s obvious that you need to open the gates to the big world as soon as possible.

And there, everything is just wonderful. You just stick your nose out the door, and adventures rain down on you from the left, right, top, and bottom.

So, HZD is reminiscent of “Zelda” in that the game kind of plays itself. You talked to a stranger two minutes ago, he called you somewhere, you followed him, traveled to the other end of the map, destroyed a bandit camp along the way, found three artifacts, encountered three new dinomechs, collected a bag of healing and not-so-healing herbs, learned something new about the world’s history… And suddenly, it turns out that six hours have already passed, half of the available amusements have been tried, and it’s time to move on.

A post-apocalyptic landscape

For a long gaming session, the only thing that can get boring is silly hide-and-seek in the carefully designed red grass bushes. I want to go out and just beat someone up. Anyone. And you know, if you really want to, you can go out and just beat someone up! Not everyone and not always, of course, but the possibility itself is delightful.

The only thing that breaks the adventure trance is the episodic fits of the main heroine. Sometimes, instead of obediently grabbing onto a rope, our Vault Dweller decides to dive headfirst down the mountain. Or, forgetting about the intense fight with machines, she starts venting her anger on rocks. Yes, as usual, the camera is mocking us. A separate anecdote is when some robot-buffalo charges at you. It charges, charges, smashes after a masterful somersault of a bullfighter, and flies somewhere behind the heroine, and most importantly, the cameraman. It’s good if at that moment the self-guided spear from the close combat button doesn’t get lost, but if the target is lost, then that’s it, we rush into the bushes and wait for a sudden attack. Invisible animal-like robots – they are like that.

Aloy in her robotic world

But the Horizon: Zero Dawn development team excels at panoramic shots and those very sunrises. Whichever way you look, there is beauty all around. It’s pleasant to just run around the game world, like a tourist. Especially through the winter landscapes, especially when it’s early morning in the post-apocalypse.

The actors don’t disappoint either. Although our Chosen One clearly overacts, constantly squinting, raising eyebrows, and making complex faces, and the Russian translation, as usual in recent years, only spoils the mood, our heroes are also pleasant to look at – well-sculpted, dressed, painted, and animated with love.

The robot design is also impressive. In general, there is nothing to complain about, the graphics in HZD are luxurious from all sides. Perhaps, your humble servant has never seen a more beautiful game on PlayStation 4. I admit, the console had good graphics from the start, take, for example, “Killzone: Shadow Fall”. But I don’t know. It’s one thing when someone’s amazingly textured but still annoying forehead is being pushed into your face from the screen, and another thing when every second spent in the game brings you joy.

Stunning Horizon vistas

Zero Dawn is definitely worth recommending.

In every generation, there are projects on most consoles that may not be groundbreaking in the genre or milestones in gaming history, and they may not have grown into a super brand, but they were simply excellent games that people remember from those times. Horizon: Zero Dawn, in my opinion, falls into this category.

Especially since truly exclusive entertainment is scarce for consoles nowadays, hehe.

Horizon: Zero Dawn
Action, Adventure
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Guerrilla Games
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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