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REVIEW: Horizon Zero Dawn

Here's our review for Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn is a brand-new, open world action RPG title from Guerrilla Games, exclusive to PlayStation 4 – and it’s brilliant.

You play as Aloy – a huntress outcast from her tribe since birth, you must learn where you came from while you struggle to survive in the wilderness – full not of bears and mammoths, but of giant robots known as the machines.

These machines range from crocodile-like snapmaws, to Jurassic Park raptor-like watchers, to even giant longnecks. One of the most compelling challenges in HZD is discovering the individual weaknesses of each of the ‘breeds’ of machines and working out how best to dispose of them.

HZD sets up the story in such a way that you begin playing Aloy as a child, and follow her journey through to adulthood. As such, the player discover her parentage and purpose at the same time she does, giving HZD a beautiful vehicle in which to immerse the players without completely mindboggling them with story info that you perhaps don’t particularly care about.

You learn to hunt as Aloy does, you learn about those around you in tow with our protagonist, thus offering a tutorial to gameplay mechanics without it ever feeling like one. Horizon Zero Dawn manages to make you feel genuinely interested in Aloy’s universe, in her relationship with the clan, in her relationship specifically with Rost (her guardian), and how she fits into the world. Where do these Machines really come from?

This aforementioned crafting is easy to pick up, with the game giving you the basics and letting you figure out the rest. You pick up everything off the ground or scavenge it from creatures/Machines you’ve killed, and either create weapons, ammo, or even new bag space to carry everything around.

Combat is wonderfully fluid. You have your bow and arrow, which includes different kinds of arrows, but you also have this kind of staff that you can use to brutally wallop enemies with either light or heavy attacks. Of course, your bow is preferred, as most machines have close-range attacks that will severely deplete your health if you get too close, but if your reflexes are fast enough a nice dodge-roll and a heavy attack with your spear will dispose of enemy machines pretty quickly. With regards to combat specifically, there’s something relentlessly satisfying about taking down Machines with just a bow and arrow. It’s like the polar opposites of primal and plate prehistorics come together to provide this rewarding feeling of David vs Goliath proportions.

Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the first new IPs in a while to truly reintroduce the feeling of exploration and wonder into an open world. You want to explore, you want to engage with the AI (who don’t feel like AI at all), and most importantly you want to find out Aloy’s story and how she fits in. It’s compelling storytelling at its best.

There isn’t much to fault when it comes to Horizon Zero Dawn. From the impeccable world design, to the crafting and gameplay mechanics, to the fresh approach to the enemies, everything just works. If you don’t have a PS4, or if you’re considering upgrading to a PS4 Pro, this could very well be the game that pushes you over the line.

Horizon Zero Dawn is out March 1

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