Review – Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
Sometimes, people make mistakes. Back when I first played a demo of Horizon Zero Dawn at Brasil Games Show 2016, I was severely disappointed with the game. My major complaint was with the game’s very poor framerates at the time and subpar visuals when compared to the (PS Pro) trailers I’ve seen at the time. Not to mention that its developer, Guerilla Games, was previously known only for its Killzone series of games, which made quite a few people skeptical when they’ve decided to tackle something much more ambitious.
Now that Horizon is finally out, I can proudly say: I was wrong. No need to worry, this game is fantastic.
Horizon Zero Dawn turned to be great. A little demo, which made the game just look like a third-person Far Cry Primal, really didn’t do it justice. Horizon is much more than that. It’s far from being a simple open world gathering game with robot animals. The game is more like an action-RPG than anything else, full with leveling up, experience points, dialogue trees, sidequests, inventory management, skill acquiring, etc. There is much more in it than meets the eye.
Its story grabs you pretty quickly. Without wanting to spoil it, all I can say is that emotional moments will be witnesed not long after the game starts, which will make you care about the characters and the lore faster than most RPGs out there.
Overall, when it comes to storytelling, Horizon does a pretty good job, but what about its gameplay aspects?
Admittedly, the first half hour or so of Horizon can be a little bit tedious, given its setting, initial character looks and mandatory tutorial sections (which, admittedly, help you to get used to its button layout). Once you’re through with it, and the game’s actual plot starts, it all starts to get very fun. Combat is easy and fluid, as is using your bow against enemies. Crafting arrows happens with the touch of a button, which also helps making the overall combat mechanics fast and bureaucracy-free.
The map is pretty huge and varied. Granted, it can’t be compared to the size and scope of Breath of the Wild, but it doesn’t want to or need to. It’s perfect for the game’s setting, it features varied landscapes, many collectibles and secrets, a much needed fast travel system, and above all, it’s not solely comprised of natural landscapes. As the good ol’ RPG it is, Horizon also features quite a few towns, which help to increase the variety of environments you encounter.
Is Horizon flawless, though? Well, no. If I had to point out one consistent flaw in the game it’s the difference in the polishing quality between main NPCs and sidequest NPCs. Granted, that happens in most RPGs these days, but the disparity between those two is quite big and very noticeable. Main NPCs feature stellar voice acting and pefect facial animations, some of the best ever put into a video game. Aloy has facial expressions so realistic that even Geralt from The Witcher 3 looks like a PS2 character in comparison. The sidequest characters, on the other hand, feature poor facial animations and voice acting. We’ve all seen that Brom video on Youtube before the game’s release, after all, so you know what I’m talking about.
All in all, while those flaws are noticeable and quite annoying, they don’t tarnish the game’s overall quality that much. Horizon is still pretty amazing.
Horizon lived up to the hype. It’s beautiful, it’s engaging and it’s packed with tons of content. I’m sorry I’ve ever doubted you, Guerilla Games, this one’s a must for PS4 owners.