Guerrilla Games is well known for the fairly successful FPS series, Killzone. Moving from a genre like FPS to a third-person action RPG in a massive world is enough to make even the most optimistic fans sceptical. Yet somehow despite the very strong shift and the surprisingly short turnaround time, they have not only made an outstanding third-person action game but their best game to date and arguably PlayStation’s best game.
Horizon Zero Dawn drops us on Earth in the future. After humans created sentient robots, society fell a long way backward to the point of prehistoric tribes, where the current people only know life with the robots being there. The Nora tribe, under a strong religious matriarchy, pass a young baby Aloy to an outcast Rost to raise in the wild. As Aloy grows up she becomes more curious and accidentally finds herself in a forbidden ruin that leads her to find a little device to wear above the ear, which at will, can display information. As she grows up, with the assistance of her focus, Aloy becomes an outstanding warrior who wants to participate in The Proving. The Proving is a time that children become adults and outcast children can join the Nora tribe through completion, which will give Aloy the ability to find more out about her mother.
The above is the very early plot moments of the game, which portrays how in depth and meaningful the story is. There is so much story to enjoy with immense depth and meaning to what it shows, both in character development and the building of the world around them. The story only gets better as it goes with Aloy continuing to grow as a character and the world getting deeper. One of the key points in the story of Aloy’s character is dialogue choice. At multiple points in the story, you can choose between three options that Aloy could say, being heart, brain or fist. These options make very little difference except for the dialogue directly following. This is awesome because the dialogue is very meaningful which allows you to craft the Aloy you want and connect in different ways thanks to how Aloy reacts to certain scenarios.
The emotional connection of the game is brought home by absolutely gorgeous graphics. Aloy and Rost looked especially good but many characters look fantastic. What I noticed most, especially with Aloy, was the movement of the eyes. The eyebrow movement, eyes and creases around the eyes all moved in a way that adds a lot of emotion to the numerous dialogue scenes and cut scenes. Added to this is the beauty of the world, which is very well populated, crossing numerous terrain types from snow, to desert, to grasslands. On top of this is the smaller details, like the movement of the leaves, or wisps of mist coming off a river in the morning, the little details are mind blowing.
Then there is the gameplay. I was worried going into it that the game would be clunky like The Witcher, but the gameplay is outstanding. It plays more like Tomb Raider, both in the fluidity of controls and movement, the ease of combat plus the collection and crafting of resources. I’d describe it as a Tomb Raider game with the openness of The Witcher. Combat is made fun with machines which vary in size, shape, and difficulty. If you scan them, weaknesses like elements can be exposed, but more importantly, weak points will glow where if you hit that area, you can do serious damage.
Surprisingly the voice acting is very strong as well. Ashley Burch did an absolutely outstanding job as Aloy but there are of course some average voices with some minor characters. For a Triple-A launch the voice acting was top notch. Added to this is a great soundtrack that fits the tone perfectly and sets the mood in a way that allows you to sink into this amazingly built world,
10/10 – With the exception of a very rare glitch or two, like a couple of times the frame rate dropping a little when there is a lot of activity on the screen, Guerrilla Games may have made the most perfectly crafted game I have played. An open world game that plays like a tight third person action game, that looks top notch, with the perfect protagonist that has me eager for a sequel.