01 System Protocol: Horizon
If you’re looking for something atmospheric with an absolutely insane story look no further. You’ve stumbled across one of the most interesting and complex stories — in a game — of our time. Horizon: Zero Dawn is an elegant mix of futuristic machinery and humanity’s past. Your objective in the game is simply to uncover your origins and find out what happened to the world, but with most games everything isn’t what it seems. Riddled with aggressive animalistic robots you trudge on through beautiful environments, only to find more and more delusional tribes rolling out red tape that keeps you from your goal. You have to break the tribal bonds in place to fulfill your true purpose.
02 Immersive Story, Stunning Graphics
The best quality of Horizon: Zero Dawn hands-down is the story, or Aloy’s sarcasm…I haven’t decided yet. As she continuously rolls her eyes through each conversation with manic cults you begin to piece together Earth’s lost history. A history I won’t spoil in this review, you’ll have to discover it for yourself. I don’t know how many times I was surprised throughout the play-through, but there were a lot of twists to the story most wouldn’t expect so buckle up. The DLCs tie in perfectly into the main story as well. Instead of just adding more content it focuses on revealing even more about the main story. These expansions honestly just feel like a part of the main story that you shouldn’t skip if you want the true Horizon Zero Dawn experience.
If story isn’t enough of a reason to buy this game then look around. The graphics & environments in this game are stunning. Incredibly colorful and filled with (robot) life, just waiting for you to harvest the many plants you’ll need to stay alive. The snow dynamics are impressively realistic, sometimes I was just staring at Aloy’s footprints and would accidentally wander into a herd of not-so-friendly robots. Seeing that amount of detail on a console was mind-blowing for me, though that’s probably the reason why it can only run at 30 fps.
03 Robot Hunting at its Finest
The combat at first glance seemed linear to me when I saw the initial preview of the game years ago. But after playing I found out there was much more strategy and depth hidden away. You can choose the direct approach and run into a herd to hack and slash your way through, be the stealthy robot assassin the world needs, or a true hunter that abuses traps.
There’s many different arrow and trap types you need to use on the variations of robot-kind depending on their weaknesses. Using your visor you can analyze and find all their weaknesses to make for more efficient and explosive kills. The controls in Horizon are a little unforgiving as aiming the bow can sometimes be difficult even against the largest of enemies. Particularly the robo-birds are quite challenging to hit consistently, because Aloy unfortunately can’t aim too high in the air (because she has a spine).
Robot hunting has never been so refined & eloquent.
04 Inconsistent Controls
There’s really only two things in this game I found quite annoying, the controls & the max FPS. The latter being the more annoying of the two, but we’ll get to that. Controls in the game are well done but its the consistency that was bothersome at times. More than once I found myself accidentally climbing objects or getting stuck because of an awkward camera angle. I was killed multiple times by that nuisance when fighting mostly the flying variety of robots in the game, or the more difficult ‘boss’ fights. The inability to aim as high as you need to against our winged robot friends was a little frustrating at times.
The real issue is the max FPS is capped at 30. In a world filled with great modern games pushing 144fps and above it was an utter disappointment to learn that the game wouldn’t even be able to hit 60fps on a PS4 Pro. Especially after hearing time and time again what a beautiful game Horizon was. When I first booted the game I was excited until I realized the choppiness was going to be a part of the game for the entirety of my play-through. It’s true that eventually you’ll become accustomed to it, but the game is still harder to play as a result. Those that aren’t too sensitive to FPS changes won’t have an issue at all. However I played on a gaming monitor, which I believe to be a mistake as they implement technologies to strip out motion blur. This intensifies the choppiness 30 fps brings; I highly recommend playing on a proper TV (hopefully one with low input lag).
Horizon: Zero Dawn is simply a must-have for any gamer looking to delve into an immersive world. The gorgeous design and amazing story make for a unique experience that few games have, the unexpected twists and turns will keep your interest piqued throughout. When you crave more of the story be sure to play through the DLC as well, since it’s quite important to the main story and reveals even more about the robot infested world. If you can look past the low FPS — which I believe most people can — this will be a classic in your Playstation library for years to come.
Update – Horizon Zero Dawn is coming to PC! That will solve all the issues discussed in this review, regarding controls and FPS.