Horizon: Zero Dawn

**Please beware, major plot spoilers thrive in this review**

Holy shit.

If you know me, you know I love RPGs. I love being able to explore through a gorgeously created and intricately crafted world as my character, spending more time discovering new areas on the map and pretending the life I’m living through my PS4 is my real one, than I do actually completing the main quest. I love being inundated with dozens of quests and being overwhelmed as a completionist, trying to get through every mission, collect every valuable, destroy every foe and help every soul I can. My top games include the greats like SkyrimWitcher 3, and anything made by BioWare.

And that now, indefinitely, includes Horizon: Zero Dawn.

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I’ve poured almost 75 hours into playing the main story and, upon completing it, immediately logged into the PS Store and bought The Frozen Wilds DLC, which is downloading at home as we speak (and right before the weekend starts, like a BAMF).

There are so many elements that I love about this game.

The mechanics were awesome. I loved, particularly, being able to craft ammo from a quick menu, the stealth mode and using my Focus. I felt like a badass with every headshot that I got and every time I took down a machine (less so when they kicked me ass and I had a few nights of rage quitting, let me tell you). I really enjoyed the wide range of weapons you were able to use, even though this was meant to reflect, in a way, a more primitive society. It was easy to catch on, even though there were a wide range of things you could do as a player.

Of course, the graphics were gorgeous. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the world was and I loved discovering relics of the past (which reflects our current), like seeing a statue covering in vines or the ruined remains of a billboard, but seeing it through the eyes of a people who consider it ancient and unfamiliar. I think this is one of the main reasons I spent so much time playing it. I could spend entire sessions playing where I didn’t complete a single quest, but was just running around and exploring. And I’ll prolly do it here again soon, trying to find all the datapads I didn’t during my first playthrough.

Oh, and that score. Was not surprised to learn it was Julie Elven behind the vocals, who always sings such gorgeous stuff.

The highlight of the game, however?

That storyline.

That plotline.

Those twists.

I mean, friends, c’mon. It was just so brilliant. Just as Aloy wanted so desperately to figure out who her mother was, I wanted to figure out what happened to the world I was familiar with and how it became the world Aloy was in currently. The idea that machines became such a huge role in society and then took over is no new concept, but the fact that they took in biomass as fuel and could self-replicate, with no measure to stop them, so extinction was inevitable? And then, the solution was to create an AI called GAIA to recreate life from the ground up, creating an automated terraforming system? And the team who worked on it knew everyone was going to die and they lied to those fighting the machines so they could recreate life, but never live to see it!? But not only that, but when HADES, GAIA’s death machine if she messes up, allowing her to start over, goes rogue and GAIA destroys herself in attempt to stop him, but then also recreates Dr. Sobeck in the form of Aloy, in hopes that GAIA will be reinstated and HADES stopped?

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I say again.

Holy shit.

It feels like a long time since I played a game that had such a rewarding storyline. Especially when you take into account the way it’s delivered. When you begin to find abandoned datapads and vantage points and you start to learn some of the history behind the extinction of the human race, you can’t help but be ridiculously intrigued. Being teased like that just fueled my desire to learn more.

Then, of course, you add in the cutscene after the end of the credits.

I have two things to say to that:

  1. Fuck you, Zavala–er, I mean Sylens.
  2. Guerrilla, you need to make a sequel. You must.

I’m really excited to play the DLC. I might, even, after taking a break to dive into some of the other games I got for Christmas (I’m looking at you, Shadow of War), play the New Game+ and see if I can beat it on a higher difficulty, because this is a game and a world I want to get lost in much more than just one playthrough.

It’s just too good to do anything else.

Cheers.

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About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the "un" removed from that statement. With six books under her belt and more on the way, she loves to write about destined heroes who fail anyway, twisting classic tropes on their heads, animals who feel more like people and, hopefully, about characters and worlds for you to have an opinion about. She really can't wait for you to read these stories.  Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters' she's killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works as an evening librarian assistant. View all posts by Nicole Evans

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