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Horizon Zero Dawn review
by ChayBee

I first caught wind of Horizon Zero Dawn from a friend I believe way back when the game wasn’t even released yet. My first reaction to Horizon was that I wanted to play it; the game looked like it combined things that I really liked in games: mostly exploration and good combat against a variety of enemies. But what made Horizon stand out to me was that the machines you fight were made out of different parts and tearing them off could change the battle significantly. I had high expectations for the game, the only thing that really kept me from playing it was its exclusivity, which wasn’t addressed up until recently, 3+ years after the game came out initially. Waiting for the game to release really put out all the hype I had for it and having played it now, even without said expectations, the game was still disappointing to me and I can’t really recommend it.

Let's start with the things that Horizon does best in my opinion: the world and the story. In many games, there are things that we accept although they don't really make sense in the game's world, things like: enemies respawning infinitely, enemies specific to one level or region in the map, enemies dropping just one or two pieces of an item. Many games do not have answers to those questions but Horizon does, it's not always a satisfying answer though I appreciate how Horizon gives those inexplicable aspects in games an actual explanation.

As for the actual story of the game, I didn’t think highly of it. This is because of one major issue: the story is too predictable. I already knew what was going to happen by the time the story revealed its big twist. The game drops some big hints right at the start of the main quest and that took out the mystery in the story for me. If you like a story that keeps you guessing, this isn’t it.

Let’s get into the combat of Horizon. The combat in Horizon starts off great but goes downhill once you have already seen every enemy. The first time you see an enemy, you scan it to learn more about it. What does each component do, what is the best way to initiate combat, etc. The difficulty curve of Horizon, at least at the start, is made by introducing tougher and tougher enemies to fight though after this, the game doesn’t really know how to ramp up the difficulty from there after you see the last enemy in the list. The difficulty curve of Horizon at that point comes from increasing the number of enemies you fight at a time. The difference between midgame and endgame encounters is the number of enemies you have to keep track of. If you hate combat against groups of enemies in games, you will probably dislike Horizon’s combat too. Also, there aren’t really any bosses in Horizon; once you see every enemy, you have pretty much seen every enemy the game has. On the player’s side, there are a lot of weapons to use but you are restricted to having only four at any given time. This means that you either have to just use your favorites or to navigate the menu every time you want to use a specific weapon. I did the former.

Next is the exploration. The world of Horizon Zero Dawn is gorgeous. The machines are very lifelike and have very natural movements, the stylized lighting and level of detail in the game are a sight to behold, and the various locations you go through are varied and are twisted enough to feel familiar yet mysterious. Though the world itself is beautiful, exploring it isn’t. There isn’t really much to do out in the world aside from combat, sightseeing, and story. Moving around in Horizon is just average. You ‘climb’ mountains, cliffs, towers, etc. by following a predetermined path while looking at the pretty visuals. You swim through rivers and lakes, watching the reflections on the water while waiting for your character to get to land. And when you’re on land, you walk/sprint to the next quest marker while basking in the beauty of the world. I wouldn’t call this bad but I wouldn’t call it good either.

That pretty much sums up my thoughts on Horizon Zero Dawn. I think that the above is enough for you to gauge whether you will like this game or not without getting too deep into it. While it has some amazing visuals and a good enough story, the combat and the open-world exploration has many flaws that make me not recommend it outright. But if you think that what I’ve been saying sounds awesome, then go ahead and buy it. I hope you’ll have a good time.

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