Two weeks ago I finished Gravity Rush 2 and had an amazing time with it. I still have to finish some side quests and can’t wait to play Raven Story’s free DLC later this month. Then, the following week I finished The Last Guardian, with a really emotional ending that left me a bit exhausted. But only three days later I started Horizon: Zero Dawn and was really impressed from the very first moment. When a game does that, it’s something special. Guerrilla Games, the developers behind Killzone saga, have outdone themselves from every single point of view: story, gameplay, art, music and… yes, graphics. The post is almost spoiler free, just I will detail a bit more the opening at its end, before the video. I also tried to keep those spoilers at minimum by using captures from the very first moments of the game. A gallery is coming soon, with more spectacular images, some of which are already available in flickr.
Right now I’m like 16 hours in, a lot for my usual standards but couldn’t stop playing it during weekend. Starting with story, it catched me from the very first moment (the one I’m sharing here today). It’s interesting, a bit mysterious and with a good main character. At the beginning main topics are tradition and religion, but later you will start learning about the world that surrounds you and about what happened 1000 years before. The side stories are also good enough to maintain attention and make side quests interesting.
Speaking about gameplay, best thing I can say is that I’m having a great time playing it, more than I was expecting. It could be because the RPG touch is very light (I usually feel overwhelmed with very complex systems), because the way Aloy moves through the world, because combats are focused in action and combining different strategies (including traps) or because all the menus, including crafting, are created to be really accessible. It’s hard to explain but everything mixed makes every single moment a pure joy. I always dreamt with game like this, one where main character moves like in a third person action adventure game. Guerrilla Games have nailed it which is admirable because it’s their first endeavour in the genre. And well, fighting against dinobots is the highlight of the game, exciting, varied, spectacular.
Both, story and gameplay take place in a beautiful world, really well constructed and mixing natural elements with ancient constructions, with carefully designed mechanical creatures that are integrated creating something really fascinating. It looked difficult to mix all those elements on the paper but, again, it works amazingly well. The world itself is big enough, not the biggest I’ve seen, but a joy to travel and discover. Varied and beautiful, with geographical references and with forests that feel like forest, mountains that look natural (you can climb some of them, not everything) and majestic ruins that make your jaw drop. Put dynamic time of day and weather and some dynamic events over it and you have a world you really want to discover and travel through. And during those travels but also during intense combats, the game also has a great soundtrack composed by Joris de Man, again, big, varied, emotional, epic… excellent.
And finally… yes, technically the game looks out of this world. I’m playing it on my original release PS4 and feels like playing in a new machine. What this game engine moves, with rock solid stability, with great image quality and great dynamic lighting, is incredible. And it also is a really polished game, I’m having almost zero bugs during all my playtime. I was expecting something like the forest in Killzone: Shadow Fall (some rock textures, trees and lighting looked similar) but Guerrilla Games also surpassed my expectations from a technical point of view.
It’s strange for me to write for so long, but I’m having such a great time playing this game that couldn’t resist. Today I’m sharing here just the beginning of the adventure, more will come later (obvious photo gallery, probably some moments or a landscapes video). From this point, there will be some spoilers of game’s beginning. The game starts a bit slow, but really liked it. It takes its time to build first characters like Rost, the man who raises you or the Matriarchs, who will speak about traditions and religion. After the very first moments, with a beautiful movie and credits showing baby Aloy, the first time we play with her is still a little girl, trying to learn and grow, with the handicap of being an outcast. We don’t know the reasons but it’s one the key elements of the game. During those first moments, we learn the basics of the game, is mostly a tutorial, but we also have the first contact with ancient technology, showing some remains of the past. This adds more mystery. What happened one thousand years ago? Why was civilization destroyed? Sometimes it’s hard to know where to cut an opening. For this video, I decided to finish it with the beautiful transition that happens while Aloy trains to success at the Proving, a tribal event that could change her condition and become part of the Tribe. The Proving itself is another great moment of the game, for what happens and also because after that moment the game truly opens and shows its potential. But for now, here a little introduction to the world of Aloy, to the world of Horizon: Zero Dawn: