I decided just now I like to start these with reviews with a bit of random exposition about the game, just to get it fresh in my mind. First things first, I can’t help but adore that Horizon Zero Dawn(HZD) starts off a few miles from where I live. No further comments on that regard as people felt like the setting was a big part of the story, anyways. I love the main character, she’s a bad ass chick who seem to “over-sexxxed” as many of the other AAA devs decide to do. The face capture they did from Aloy’s model is scary good. I loved the complicated traps and elaborate things you could do, but as my bow got stronger, I found myself using my tool kit less and less in favor of easy quick kills with my bow. Despite pulling from other games formulas, they fleshed things out quite a bit more than say, Far Cry: Primal(while it was fun many of the cool abilities were locked behind tedious story missions a classic open-world lie) While upgrades to your tool kit aren’t unlocked as naturally as they are in some other open world games. While I understand a lot of people very much enjoyed this game, I found it above average and bordering on spectacular. Meaning what exactly? It’s great, but it trips on it’s own shoes.
Art Style Atmosphere and Ambiance(includes music score): 2.2/2.5
.2 Deduction for not having a notable score, I don’t remember any of the sounds, and when I try and think about them I find robot noises, and memories of Skyrim. So, the monsters stood out, but the soundtrack felt epic but forgettable. The character design was fantastic, the people looked great, the facial movements were incredible. The enemy design was some of the coolest robot deer and crocobots ever conceived. The levels were big and open, but sometimes felt empty. Plenty of Robot herds, and stuff to collect, but if you take the time to complete side missions, you very rarely feel like killing excess herds is necessary. So those spaces begin to feel empty.
Combat, Collectibles, Armor and Weapons: 2.0/2.5
Do you like to play a sneaky archer? This game is for you then, the stealth combat is very good, and works very well, especially with armor buffs. But it almost works too well. You can easily pick off an entire herd by stealth killing your way through the bushes and whistling to lure mobs in. Even in the day time… Granted, I only played on the normal difficulty so enemy AI could be significantly smarter on higher difficulties. The melee options are fairly limited and you only have one melee weapon, it could have been cool to see some weird close range weapons(whips, an Axe, a hunting knife for those big time ballers who wanna go through the game killing everything with only a ‘big ole’ kha niff’) The armor designs were varied, but there weren’t enough of them, they did feel very tailored to the ability unlock tree so they at least synergized well. The trap weapons were cool, but felt just felt lacking in comparison to the late game normal bow with damage mods. The collectibles were easy enough to find and spread out enough to promote exploration, and the rewards are fantastic(especially if you save scum and open them for desired results), having an easily purchasable map for all of them was very nice.
Exploration and Mechanics: 2.2/2.5
The world was cool, but sometimes I wondered if I was wandering to see something familiar (because the game is set where I live…) and just enjoying the exploration for that joy alone. But the mountains look cool, and they tell a story of battles fought against robots. So wandering the mountainous regions of the game was fairly fun, even though I was scantly rewarded for scouring every nook and cranny. The mechanics were good, the bow aiming was easy enough to get down, the weapons all worked as intended and felt easy to use, and easier to exploit. Riding Robots looked fantastic and it felt fairly cool, I just wish you could ride some of the bigger ones, embrace the full dinosaur motif and ride into battle on a fire spitting giant gas t-rex bot, or Maul down hordes of bots on one of the giant sabertooths.
I’m not normally one for lengthy exposition in games, so this game loses some points for it’s lengthy opening sequences. The mid-game doldrums of “Wait why do I care again?” I actually fizzled out after the mid-point and only felt spurred to finish the game for the sake of a fair review score. The character Aloy and the sequences of the game felt very genuine, the voice acting was good, the world you could see through the lens of the characters didn’t feel bleak despite being bleak, the people we’re surviving. I love the strong female lead, I thought the Dad and Daughter themes were excellent, even if it was a bit heavy handed at times.
While my review is not actually complete, and I would very much like it to be. This post is long overdue but, the game itself isn’t compelling me to finish, so I will give a final score and revision on such a date that I complete the main story. I did most of the hunting challenges, I am only missing two long necks, I’m very nearly finished… But I’d rather replay Dark Souls 3 without armor, help people in Bloodborne, write weird fiction. Really, I’m procrastinating playing this game, which really says everything doesn’t it?