Horizon Zero Dawn is a game for those who love the feel of exploration, but also want a strong story to keep them moving forward. The vast and varied world the game is set in has a very believable sense of progression itself, but the story really keeps you going. Which is saying a lot for a game featuring robot dinosaurs.
The story here is presented in a variety of ways, with most of it being presented as you progress but with a wealth of extras for those who want more. As you wander about the world you will find out a lot about the world that once was, or not, it is up to you. I really appreciate the little things, like the ancient messages that hinted at what life was like for the average person before the world ended.
With the story set in a post-apocalyptic world mixed with futuristic technology while adapting the tools and cultures of people from the Prehistoric age, the people behind this concept made a leap in terms of story writing. As the main female character being introduced as outcasts of some sort of tribe, we’re served with the usual, born-different type of character stereotype. Though presented with the usual set-up, what made me engrossed in the plot was the ability of the writers/developers to use this setup to connect to far much more interesting lore of Horizon, and thus made me discover every bit of information from a piece of minor information to a much bigger revelation.
Dinosaurs and Robot dinos may seem like a strange point to start with but in a unique way, it communicates the overall theme of Horizon Zero Dawn. This is a game that tries to make some sense of the things it introduces. This works well since no one but me was asking why the robots look like they do.
The combat in this game is what I’ve truly sought. And Horizon, without a doubt, was able to present me with a thrill I was looking for. Playing in Hard difficulty, the game is still not as hard as Souls, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t give me a challenge. With robots as big as dinosaurs, and with a well-coded AI of humans, I find myself struggling in the start which forced me to loot every enemy I’ve killed and travel beyond the scope of the main quest, completing activities here and there, that resulted in my character being over-leveled when partaking the main quest.
With each robot having unique movements, some excel in melee and some in range, adding with the humans with bows and guns, my heart beat faster as I dodge through attacks and wiggle my way in their line of sight. There’s a ton of strategies you can use to approach each cluster of enemy. Either way, the wide set of weapons opens up a lot more opportunities to strike your foe.
The music also deserves credit, as it empowers you to fight your way facing an army of robots, no matter the risk, with tons of explosions and metal being chipped away, the energizing soundtrack complements the battles you will face. Though you can also relax to the mellow music of each area of the map as you travel all across the land to engage in activities to grind your way out of misery. Or you can just stay in Meridian and enjoy the cheerful music of the day or the calming tone of the night.
While a portion of the skill tree is dedicated to improving the spear, melee combat is still undeniably more limited than ranged attack options, and rather ineffective and disappointing to use in direct combat, an aspect which I hope could be iterated on in subsequent games.
Moving up the tiers of equipment (armor and weapons) naturally excited the innate Monster Hunter in me, not to mention having to farm for rarer resources, and spending time studying weaknesses of each robot and coming up with strategies on how to take down each one swiftly and efficiently.