What’s the deal?
A masterpiece 6 years in the making and definitely the most beautiful looking game I’ve played in a long time. From majestical snow-covered mountains to arid dessert to tropical jungles, the landscape is truly breath-taking at every turn.
However, the quality of this game goes way beyond something that is merely aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The entire environment feels alive, mystical and at times slightly terrifying as the robo-baddies you take on become larger and more complex as you progress through the game.
The story – yes, post-apocolyptic is nothing new but this is a truly engaging tale that resonates with the latest technological advances we are witnessing today and where these could lead if not properly policed – regardless of how far fetched things get during the last act.
Whereas a game like Fall Out uses the setting of nuclear destruction and all the potential what if scenarios an all-out nuking of planet earth could create, the apocalyptic future used in this game is surprisingly original. Rather than a wasteland of radioactive humanity, Horizon Zero Dawn is about a last ditch attempt to save the entire planet (plants, animals and any other form of bio-matter), rather than simply the human race. It’s a sobering premise to begin with and as bleak as this future may sound the setting is anything but with Guerilla Games proving once again the graphical possibilities of the PS4’s gaming engine.
The controls and gaming mechanics gently introduced in the first few levels via a subtle tutorial are easy to grasp and enjoyable to put into practice. The game offers a great blend of exploration, stealth and full on action giving you the choice as to whether adversaries are to be engaged or completely avoided.
Given that each adversary can be taken down via a number of ways this adds a dynamic to the game missing from other titles like Assasins Creed or The Division where gameplay becomes mind numbingly repetitive. Rather than simply standing over a hidden box and holding down a button to regenerate or resupply everything in Horizon Zero Dawn is based around hunting. Whether its the adversaries you need to get past or scavenge for parts or the other more docile wildlife whose carcasses can be converted into health and weapon upgrades you’re always left with the choice for how much you want to hunt.
In addition to being beautiful and fun to both explore and play its also worth mentioning just how huge this game is. In the beginning fast traveling across the map costs you resources meaning that you need to choose wisely as to which trips you will do on foot and which you will opt out of. Later in the game, you have the option of unlimited fast travel but that too can be a curse since you normally need to restock your supplies after each major encounter.
What doesn’t work?
Some aspects of the plot, such as the talking heads exposition gets a bit tired after a while, especially since there’s no reason why more of it couldn’t be delivered by characters while playing the game which is something the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Uncharted have executed with more finesse.
The fact that early on in the game you seem to spend as much time searching for potions and plants to heal your wounds as you do in battle itself can feel like hard graft but to be honest you’re too distracted by the gameplay and graphics to care.
There also seems to be some inconsistencies in the facial graphics from time to time and in some towns traders talk over each other, which, when there are 10 in the same area all taking at the same time is slightly annoying.
Who should play it?
Anyone who enjoys a good RPG and owns a PS4.
Enough said. If not now then at least when its come down in price, this is not a title to be missed.
If you own a PS4 Pro, then this is exactly the type of game you bought it for.
RETRO RATING – 9/10
Charlie McGhee Retro Ramble 2017