Horizon Zero Dawn is a game created by Guerilla Games.You can buy it here: Horizon Zero Dawn – PlayStation 4 It’s an action RPG that focuses on a single narrative in a post-apocalyptic world. I wanted to break this game down and focus on the good points that it gets right and some very glaring bad points. Let’s start with the good points.
Shine Like A Diamond
Horizon Zero Dawn is an extremely pretty game; it’s probably one of the most beautiful games on the PS4. Now, due to the level of graphical fidelity, the whole world feels immersive and realistic. The world never feels too far off from our own in terms of realism and I think that nails the art and thematic direction the game was going for. Here’s a video showcasing this pretty game.
This game is stunning and looks good on both PS4 and PS4 Pro; I’d say it’s one of the most beautiful games on the PS4. The level of detail and realism really affected the story and combat indirectly in Horizon.
Now, because this is from the creators of the Killzone franchise the combat is an over the shoulder shooter-Esque game in terms of combat. The difference is that the protagonist uses weapons a hunter would use with some room for imagination. These include various bows, slingshots, traps, and a spear. Now, the game has you fighting robots of various sizes; most robots are based off animals in our era or earlier (cats, birds, ostrich, crabs, reptiles, etc). And, there’s more to them than that.
Each machine helps another, creating an ecology of sorts among the robots; You will not find machines alone but in packs. And it’s your duty to figure out the most effective way to fight their group as a lone hunter with the tools you possess. This design choice and smart enemy AI, combined with realistic movements, makes the game’s enemies each feel like a boss in their own right. This keeps the combat interesting and rewarding; no two fights feel the same. Now, let’s discuss the story and interesting side points.
Horizon’s Story focuses on the main character Aloy’s quest to find her mother. Because she was considered an outcast by the tribe for being abandoned at birth. This is the premise and sparks a personal story for the players to enjoy. Now, what makes it enjoyable is how the story blends into the world.
The world is a post-apocalyptic earth with human tribe civilizations dotting the map. In this world, no knowledge of our world remains. This leads to people forming tribal cultures with their own set of Gods. From my perspective, it’s interesting, because it captures tribal culture well and leaves the player curious about the world. Eventually, the main character ventures to the outside world to find out about her mother. This leads to substantial world building; answering questions about machines, the old world (our world at its apex), and her mother. The story emphasizes placing the protagonist at the center and playing detective as they follow the paper trail. But, it has a glaring issue that plagues most RPGs; it lacks replayability. Let me explain in depth.
Most RPGs are like roller coasters; they’re fun rides, but you don’t have a reason to instantly get back on over, riding another roller coaster or visiting another attraction. Horizon Zero Dawn has that problem because of the design goal.
The game’s narrative, side quests, and challenges all help to increase the ability of the protagonist for the final confrontation. After that point, there are no hidden enemy types or post-game content, and the best armor in the game can be obtained before the final conflict. But, that wasn’t their goal.
Now, I think this is okay because the goal was to create an RPG, not an RPG with a post-game content treasure trove. But as a developer if we want to create an RPG with immediate replay value, we have to consider our approach: what goal in mind do we have for our game? Some examples of detailing our approach are: creating post-game enemies and challenges, having story sections in the post game, make the game capable of speed runs, or provider higher difficulty settings that contrast from previous modes. All of these are options to consider, and there are more. Either way, Horizon Zero Dawn is still a good game that hits many good points and should be added to your collection of games if enjoy RPGs.
If you’d like to buy the game, check it out here: Horizon Zero Dawn – PlayStation 4 If you have your own thoughts, please comment down below; I’d love to hear from you. As developers, it’s important to learn from other games and mediums to enhance our own games.