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Horizon: Zero Dawn // Review

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To ensure her future, Aloy must uncover the past, and look to a new horizon.

Born an outcast of the Nora Tribe, Aloy spent her childhood in shunned. Determined to discover her own worth, she spends her life training with her adoptive father, Rost, in the mechanical wilds that have grown over the remnants of our civilization. Hunting machines and animals for resources, she learns to believe in herself, and not the sacred deities who did nothing for her in her exile. Now, ready to prove herself to the Nora and find the answers for where she came from, an ancient evil rises that threatens not only the Nora, but all of the tribes inhabiting the Earth.

Horizon: Zero Dawn puts you into the role of Aloy, a young, skilled, huntress who strives to uncover the mysteries of the past, her own, and that of the ancients. Set in a post-post-apocalyptic Earth over three hundred years into the future, nature has grown over our skyscrapers and roads, and humanity has turned from iphones and drones to more basic tools, such as bows and spears. But, technology still has a place in this primitive setting as animalistic machines that take on the appearance of horses, crocodiles, and dinosaurs dot the landscape, making traveling between the different lands dangerous for the unprepared.

The story and setting are what shine in this new game. In a time when most games are remasters or sequels, Horizon offers a fresh adventure. While it’s difficult to create a truly original narrative that doesn’t share some similarities with other great titles, Horizon’s twists and intrigue on the usual post-apocalyptic themes keep you engaged. After every main quest, I would find myself speculating on what’s going to happen next based on what has happened before in other games, and each time I found myself relieved to be wrong as I watched Aloy’s story unfold, and the story of our ancient civilization. Unlike Fallout which focuses on what was left behind after the end of the world, Horizon shows what life can create to make a new world.

Horizon may twist the story elements to keep you interested in a new adventure, but the game and mechanics felt borrowed. Not stolen or rehashed, but borrowed and tweaked to work for this game. The gameplay felt like Witcher 3, the setting is similar to Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and the native and tribal style felt like Assassin’s Creed 3. I’m sure there are other comparisons to be made but these three are what stood out to me. But, despite the similarities to past games, the gameplay does offer up challenges. Unlike most third person shooters, Horizon does away with the traditional snap or sticky targeting, and instead slows down as you aim your bow to hit critical points on machines. Aloy’s inventory, while sometimes frustrating to manage, offers a number of ways to approach each hunt, whether they’re animal, machine, or human. The game tries to push you to use Aloy’s stealth mechanics, setting traps, luring targets in close for silent kills, but, like most stealth games, all of that is thrown away when a wrong move sends a group of enemies after you. More often than not, any plan I made quickly fell apart, resorting to me crafting and shooting arrows wildly, rolling out of danger, until finally taking down the herd of giant, fire spewing, laser blasting, machines.

For me, Horizon: Zero Dawn is one of the few games of this generation that I had to stop and stare at the beauty this game had to offer, the first being Witcher 3. This is also the second game of this console generation that I got at a discount, and after playing, I wanted to go back and pay the full price. It may not be the most original game ever imagined, but, just like the tribes of this new civilization, they take the scraps of the previous world and make something truly unique.

Trey Anthony Guillory (a.k.a. Trey Guillotine) is an aspiring journalist, a YouTuber, and a huge nerd.