Horizon Zero Dawn – Review

It took me a total of 51 hours, 47 minutes and 22 seconds – but I got 100% completion in game. I got Platinum (all trophies / achievements) at just over 50 hours, and still lacked one side quest and one errand to do, which I found in Free Hope. Let me say this first, i enjoyed every second I played this game, and in the end, it has become one of my favorite games of all time – rivaling games such as The Witcher 3, but saying that, it doesn’t surpass TW3 in my book.

The first thing you notice as you begin playing is that the graphics and soundtrack are superb.

Graphically it beats games like The Witcher 3 simply because the FPS doesn’t drop and I found hardly any glitches whatsoever – except the occasional machine dino break dancing after death. The soundtrack only adds to the wonderful ambience, adding an element that both delights and terrifies as you trudge through the beautiful post-post apocalyptic landscape. This is simply the most beautiful game I have ever played, visually striking with a wonderful attention to detail.

Mechanically, the game borrows heavily from games such as TW3, Assassins Creed, Far Cry Primal and Tomb Raider – there is also elements of other games as well. What it does borrow it borrows really well. Everything, from climbing to shooting a bow feels natural. In fact, using the bow feels so natural that when switching to another weapon, it feels unnatural using it – but no less enjoyable. In combat, the game gives you many options – including just going all out, no stealth and blasting enemies, or the more subtle approach of setting traps and blast wires and leading machines and humans alike into a symphony of destruction as you whistle to get them to cone closer to you. Combat in this game FEELS natural – meaning it isn’t clunky or over complicated. At the same time, even being level 50 with the games end game power armor equipped, you can still easily die if you are not paying attention and dodging attacks on a regular basis.

The game is challenging enough on Normal that it provides a good experience. I have not tried it on any harder difficulty – Normal was good enough for me, providing a good balance between paying attention to the story and being challenging enough to not feel like I was rolling through enemies too fast.

Story wise, Horizon Zero Dawn tells the story of a civilization ultimately created by humanity to survive a man-made apocalypse. I’ll leave that there as the only true story spoiler – but I will say that the story was well thought out and very well told. Every element, every bit of information is important, and even though there are several side quests through out your journey, none feel like they are taking away from the main story, but in fact adding to its mystery. I will be honest, though I had an idea of how it was going to play out, the story did ultimately surprise me – and that is a good thing, with me not being able to guess all of the intricate details in the end.

Beyond the main story, we see a true human element in the side quests and little adventures that the game brings up – from finding people who are lost, helping people get revenge, clearing bandit camps and clearing dungeon like cauldrons – everything in this game feels right and again, ultimately adds to the end result, which is a well thought out and described story that brings us to the salvation of human kind.

My only complaint is that even though the game is open world, and a large one at that, I did not feel the need to actually explore. Ultimately, if you buy the “special maps,” all of the collectibles will be placed on your map. Yes, it is a general location, and I confess, Google helped me a couple of times, but the need to actually run off in a general direction simply wasn’t there. Instead, I would run off towards a particular map icon – be it a metal flower, and ancient vessel or a long neck to get my prize or open up even more of the map. This made the discovery of collectibles more like another fetch quest versus something that i actually found during the journey throughout the world. That being said, I have not discovered all of the date points, but since those do not count towards the completion percentage or the achievements, I wasn’t too concerned.

In the end, I got platinum before I got 100% completion –

Platinum Trophy – 50 Hours In

And getting 100% completion was as simple as me finding the one location I had not yet gone to to get my last side quest and errand –

100% at 52 Hours In

Ultimately, the game felt a little short to me – though left open ended enough for DLC or a sequel, I felt like it could have been a little more there. Essentially, knowing what I know now, I feel like I could have done everything in about 45 hours or less – and with a guide, which isn’t out until tomorrow, probably even quicker. However, I did really like that for the most part, the trophies/achievements were gained for typically though normal operations – except for the 23 training dummies – and i really appreciated that.

Over all I give it a 9/10 – Excellent game play coupled with an amazing story topped off with amazing graphics and soundtrack that only felt a little short to me. I would have loved another 10-20 hours with Aloy in her machine infested world.


10 thoughts on “Horizon Zero Dawn – Review

  1. Yeah, kinda disturbed that much like other reviewers, the cultural appropriation of the lead character and the world’s humans aren’t discussed. It’s what kept me from buying this game.


    1. Probably because it doesn’t exist… there is no culture to appropriate anything from for these “tribes” of people. Not to get into any spoilers, but human civilization is gone, and because of actions by that civilization, a new one has risen, so to speak, in its place, making its OWN culture from its OWN environment, not borrowing from another one. In fact, each of the three distinct tribes – and even more so with the Nora and the Carja – have their own, distinct culture and belief structure that, in truth, does not borrow from anyone else. So, to be fair, the reason it doesn’t exist in the reviews is because it doesn’t exist in the game – except that Aloy discovers more and more of ancient human civilization, but even then, she keeps it from her tribe to protect their belief structure. To delve into this in any review would only cause to spoil the story for people who haven’t played the game so far.


      1. *sigh* And, as always, the poor excuses come out to dismiss the points I brought out. This game does not exist in a vacuum, not in our society where native culture has been appropriated and not when every Halloween, the same discussion has to be had about why no, really, you shouldn’t play dress up in racist, stereotyped costumes of native clothing.

        So, no, don’t give a fuck about the game’s story, and your excuse is the same as I’ve seen elsewhere. Congrats on being as predictable as everyone else.


      2. I see, so because the tribes in this game borrow from Native American tradition, as well as other traditions – not just Native American – but others, this needs to be discussed why? No, the game does not exist in a vacuum, and yes, aspects of Native American culture – from Mayan to Aztecan to Sioux – and all others in between – have some influence in the culture of the lives of people in this post-post apocalyptic game. The people in this game are created by technology and thrust into a world that is new – in this case, a North America that is new. It is safe to say, and even assume that another group of people living in a place like North America may just happen to develop culturally similar in nature to their dead and gone predecessors.

        I agree, I abhor the stereotypical Native American bullshit that exists in our society. I had the privilege to not only study NA culture extensively in college, but to meet and spend time with many people who both fully identify with their Native culture as well as those who no longer do.

        The fact that you are offended, for whatever reason, is your own affair. I have heard of no one else saying anything in this regards – and as you know, people who are offended are easily heard over everything else. I will say this, in regards to this game, you should simply get over it and realize you are simply looking for something that isn’t there. Native American’s don’t own the look of the tribes of people in this game, nor do they own the word tribe – it is not culturally exclusive to Native American culture.


      3. Thank you for making the point for me, that if you don’t see it, if you don’t have a problem with it, then there is no problem.

        Because hey, you have native friends…


      4. I have Native American friends as well as family members.. but since they don’t feel the way that you do, I guess they don’t count… another group of Native American’s being marginalized. The point is that Western society and culture has taken Native American culture and made a mockery of it, exploited it, and commercialized it – and this is beyond what Western Society has done over the past 400+ years to Native American livelihood overall. I get that, and whether you believe me or not, I understand it. I’m not condoning that in anyway. If you feel that this game – or any other game, or form of media – lays in that tradition, then by all means do not play it. If you want to argue that it is doing what you think it does, then provide proof and evidence, not just a “woe is me” diatribe about how terrible media portrays Native American culture and how American’s in general typecast Native Americans in their minds every day. You have provided no evidence that this game does this – just made an observation – one that I believe is in error, but an observation never the less. The last thing you do is marginalize the thought process of the rest of the world toward Native Americans. You lump everyone into the category of those who would marginalize the Native American culture for their own gain.

        I do appreciate your comments, your concerns and even your argument. However without evidence, and without you willing to actually discuss it – which I would be more then willing to do, even bringing you on my weekly YouTube videocast – your opinions go know where except to the category of troll.


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