Guerrilla Games has moved on from the Killzone series to create a brand-new IP in Horizon Zero Dawn. Take a look at what we thought of the transition inside!
Guerrilla Games is a developer that has been around for the better part of the last 17 years and are mostly known for their Killzone series on PlayStation consoles. The only other game they developed was Shellshock Nam ’67 published by Eidos. It’s always hard for a team that is known for one franchise to move on to something new. Sometimes it ends up being the death knell for a developer, sometimes it solidifies their place among the best. After playing Horizon Zero Dawn, it looks like Guerilla Games are in for even more success.
Creating a brand-new open-world game is a tough task. So much goes into making a game with that type of magnitude. The world itself has to feel like a living breathing world with lore and a story behind it. Guerrilla Games did a great job to create a beautiful new world and a fantastic story behind it. The addition of an upgrade tree and the diverse combat pull the whole experience together. It’s certainly a game that kept me interested for the entire story, so let’s dive into why it was so good.
Horizon Zero Dawn starts out with a man named Rost and a baby who we find out is named Aloy. After a little bit of backstory from her childhood, the real journey begins as we fast forward a few years to a teenage Aloy beginning her quest to figure out the central mystery of the story (yes, I’m omitting any spoilers because this story is better if you go through it yourself).
Aloy may very well be the next great PlayStation character. Her personality really allowed me to become more immersed in the story and the game itself. Ashly Burch does a wonderful job voicing this important character and adds a lot of charm and sarcastic humour to the game. You can decide the way that she responds to certain events, but it really doesn’t change her noble and heroic demeanor. It’s fun to watch Aloy evolve as a character as the story unfolds and I commend Guerrilla for creating such a enjoyable heroine.
Horizon Zero Dawn features a nice amount of compelling animal-like machines that roam the world. There are recon machines, predatory machines, flying machines, and many more. Each of these machines have a weak point which makes them easier to defeat. Aloy has a special ability called “Focus” that allows her to scan each enemy for these weak points. It’s a nice way of making each fight feel a bit different from the last. I liken it to having a mini boss battle. There isn’t a shortage of challenges with the flying Glinthawk that shoots ice blasts or the dinosaur-like Thunderjaw. The beauty of it all is that you have to learn on the fly, there’s no hand-holding tutorial to get you through it. It’s something you have to work through on your own which is a lot more fun in my opinion.
As you become a skilled warrior, Horizon never feels like you’re just floating through the game. Each battle brings with it the possibility of death if you aren’t careful. The machines are largely very intelligent, probably some of the most intelligent I’ve encountered in a video game. Even the machines that patrol a set route will attack you if they’re alerted and will continue to scan for you if you manage to hide. The thing I noticed most was that they’ll even look up for you if you climb up to a higher vantage point to get away. These machines are relentless at times and really require some quick-thinking to avoid and defeat.
Aloy’s weaponry is a mixture of different bows and elemental arrows. It’s always fun to use a bow and arrow in a video game and Guerrilla really nailed the feel of it in this one, especially when using the concentration skill which slows down time. Aloy also has other weapons like the Ropecaster which shoots out ropes to immobilize enemies as well as the Tripcaster which creates tripwire traps. I love the idea of these different types of weapons, but when you’re trying to utilize them against multiple enemies, it’s a struggle. These weapons end up being too slow to utilize with any effectiveness when you’re up against the more difficult enemies.
The good thing about Horizon is that it doesn’t expect you to just fight every machine that happens to be in your path. Most machines travel in packs with recon machines called Watchers patrolling the area looking to alert the other machines. Fortunately, there are specific areas of tall grass that Aloy can creep through to get by undetected or lure a machine in for a stealth kill. It is fairly difficult to lure a specific machine, though. I definitely had some trouble with all the machines ganging up on me just trying to hunt a specific species.
One of the more satisfying skills in the game is when Aloy learns to override machines’ brains. This can make them a passive mount or make the machine fight on your behalf. It’s nice to have some type of reinforcements in a game that is so focused on finding your own way. It’s always nice to watch your new-found minions destroying a field of machines. I would compare it to using the planting evidence on enemies in Watch Dogs 2, it’s equally as satisfying.
Aloy doesn’t just battle machines in Horizon, the whole world is littered with hostile enemies waiting to take you out in the many bandit camps that are strewn across the land. You can try and take these enemies out as you please, but stealth was how I chose to do it more often than not. Most of these enemies have some heavy armor and aren’t so easy to defeat. As is the case with most games, you can’t hide bodies. Be prepared to take out the enemies before they find the bodies or you’re in for some trouble.
These bandit camps are just one of many side activities scattered throughout Horizon Zero Dawn’s world. Other activities include digging in bunkers for clues pertaining to the story as well as climbing to the top of a machine called a Tallneck to reveal more of the map. It’s not much different from other games in this genre rewarding you with loot and XP for your troubles.
It’s amazing how immersed you can become in Horizon’s beautiful world. It’s a diverse map containing snowy mountain tops, beautiful water areas, and daunting deserts. Aloy moves around the world fluidly and I didn’t notice any great problems with any of her different moves. I was pretty impressed with how responsive the controls were.
Horizon Zero Dawn is a beautiful creation from a studio that wasn’t accustomed to creating this type of a game. It’s different in a lot of ways while being familiar at the same time to other open-world games. I enjoyed learning about the characters and the world around them through the lore that Guerrilla created and truly loved figuring out the central mystery that the game makes you chase from beginning to end. Aloy is a fascinating and charming new character that you want to see succeed against the incredible machines and humans alike. Check out Horizon Zero Dawn, it’s the best games released in 2017 thus far.
*This game was provided by PlayStation to FYIG for review purposes*