Horizon Zero Dawn’s fresh face immediately brought intrigue to a genre that's seen fans become increasingly jaded over the years. The vast open-world setting, peppered with explorative opportunities, possessed just enough charm to keep most of us curious throughout the development process.
The PlayStation exclusive lives up to its promise.
The D-pad allows you to flick through Alloy’s inventory items - various potions and traps - on the fly, but feels awkward during intense situations. You'll often come to a standstill as you fumble around for the correct item, which is equivalent to serving yourself up to enemies.
The world, known as the ‘Embrace’, is a huge accomplishment on Guerrilla's part, constantly flirting with the technical limits of the PlayStation 4, and, arguably, this generation of consoles in general. Horizon’s visuals play a spectacular part in bringing the world to life, frequently causing you to pause and utilise the built-in picture mode to capture the sights as you overlook wintry mountains or traipse through blazing red deserts. Climbing onto a Tallneck - dinosaur-inspired machine hybrids - uncovers parts of the map to allow for deeper exploration; the desire to do which is hard to resist.
Cauldrons - Horizon’s equivalent to archaeological gold mines - provide light challenges that are best conquered through stealth. These cavernous pits reap rewards in the form of overrides, allowing Aloy to hack a plethora of machines to turn them against each other. This feature compliments stealth greatly, particularly if you're one to generally avoid confrontation.
Whilst Cauldrons and other side quests offer a moderate experience boost, many are simple and unengaging fetch quests. This paired with awkward NPC encounters can drain some of Horizon’s infectious energy.
Its world is a warm and open invitation that encourages you to explore its every corner.
Aloy works with a number of tribes, who resort to blind faith and religious tendencies in the uncertain times, throughout the course of her adventure. A dialogue wheel injects an element of player choice as you interact with these settlements, but the decisions you make are far from imperative; put simply, it serves only to bring you closer to Aloy.
The shared struggle of humanity makes for an intelligently woven story that touches on many of today's relevant political and societal themes, evoking a sense of genuine curiosity to discover more about Horizon and its world. How Aloy’s role fits into this puzzle is constantly challenged, and the result in its conclusion is riveting.
Horizon is an exciting addition to the PlayStation catalogue and a testament to the prospect of what an open-world game can be. Although Horizon’s cohesion is often disrupted by the occasional bit of goofy dialogue or clunky inventory management, its world is a warm and open invitation that encourages you to explore its every corner. With a surprisingly charming storyline that will feed your curiosity, Guerrilla have produced what will likely be the next big PlayStation franchise.