I remember watching the E3 presentation for Horizon Zero Dawn last year with my brother. We were huddled around the computer watching the Playstation livestream. Among the games shown (God of War, The Last Guardian finally getting a release date) Horizon stood out among them all for me. Watching Aloy use the tools at her disposal to dispatch the robotic creatures that now roamed the land was a sight to behold. The fact that it was coming from Guerilla, the developers behind the Killzone series, also spoke volumes to me. Now, fast forward to February 28th, 2017 and here we are on the release day of Horizon. I’ve only played an hour and a half and currently sit at level 4 but I’ve definitely got a taste for what this game will offer. The graphics are phenomenal and the presentation is beautiful. The landscapes are breathtaking. Watch the wildlife around you go about its day, fish jumping upstream. The story begins with Rost, an outcast, caring for a young Aloy. He’s a surrogate father to her. Six years pass, now Aloy is being taught by Rost and this serves as a tutorial, showing you how to gather healing items and craft arrows. You also learn the ways of the robotic creatures and how to hide from them/attack them. They attack you with ferocity and if you miss a shot with your arrow, well that could be the end of you. There’s a careful strategy to the combat, if you don’t study your enemies weaknesses and just charge in, it’s game over.
Aloy is shunned by the other children in the village. There’s a scene early on that involves you trying to get out of a cave and you end up coming across a very important piece of equipment that will aid you throughout the rest of the game. It’s a device that lets you scan the creatures weaknesses as well as scan the environment and dead bodies to hear stories from before they passed, some even have a hologram of the person. In the scene, the hologram of the man is talking to his son and wishing him a happy birthday. Aloy continually puts the hologram on repeat and starts to talk to it, pretending it’s talking to her. You get a sense of how lonely this 6 year old girl is. If the story keeps up these emotional beats, we’re all in for a heck of a journey.
As I’m typing this I’m anxious to get back in and explore. As the adult Aloy, I’ve gone off and done my first sidequest. I had to help this woman find her brother Brom who had gone missing. After coming across a blood spattered campsite and a severed boar head on a sacred shrine, I found the brother shouting about how the spirits are making him do things. They made him kill a man. Now you are given the option to choose how certain dialogue plays out, kind of like Mass Effect. I’m not sure how deep this system goes, if it effects how people act around you if you’ve done something evil. We will find out. Once I get through the game I will give my full review. For now though, it’s definitely been a positive opening experience. -NVJ