What I’m Playing, part 11

Horizon:  Zero Dawn

Even though it’s just March, this game is definitely a contender for my Game of the Year.  Guerrilla Games has done an amazing job crafting a rich and beautifully detailed world in which primitive man lives in a world filled with technologically advanced machine animals (cue Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals album).  The weather effects in this world are fantastic – rolling fog, heavy rains, sunny days, star filled night skies – all of them are amazing to behold.  It’s a very good idea that a photo mode was included in the game because I’ve taken some stunning screen shots of this world along with the rest of the gaming community.

Things of interest in the game are the campfire save points, how ridiculously easy and fast it is to make new arrows and other types of ammunition (this has probably ruined me for other shooter games), the instructional videos for each weapon that you can watch at your own pace to give you an idea of how a weapon works, the dialogue trees that are similar to that of Mass Effect, the medicine pouch (which is used at any time by simply pressing up on the D-pad), the maps that you can purchase that show you where all the collectibles are (you only need to purchase them once, not multiple times like I did…apparently the first set of maps shows you everything that you need to gather) and last but certainly not least, the NPC men in this game are all quite sexy:  Roth, Erend and Olin to name a few.

Please note that this entry will be filled with spoilers.  Proceed at your own risk.

At it’s core, Horizon: Zero Dawn is a cautionary tale warning about the downfall of humanity through greed and the out of control advancement of technology.

You play as Aloy, a woman who spends the majority of the game trying to find out where she’s from and who her mother is.  The truth is that she’s a clone of a scientist, Elisabet Sobek, created by the terraform AI, known as GAIA, to try to prevent the world from being destroyed by the rogue AI, HADES.

The game starts with you as a young child who has been outcast from the rest of the Nora people because you don’t have a mother.  This is because the people of the Nora tribe don’t understand that Aloy is a clone and was created inside the facility that the Nora people consider a holy place.  During the opening, you fall into a very old cave, a place that the Nora consider to be unholy because it was from the “metal world” of the old ones.  In truth it’s an old research facility / bunker full of dead bodies.  It is here that Aloy finds and old bluetooth that still works (people in the game call it a Focus) and it is also here that you learn how to turn it on and off and how to use it to see things that are otherwise invisible and how to scan lore objects to pick up pieces of the story.

This cave is where you first start to learn that something terrible has happened to cause the world to be in the state that it is, but you’re not quite sure what.  After you leave the cave, you’re taught how to use the Focus to track the paths of the machines so you can stealth your way through the game.  I thought that I was going to hate this game for that reason at first, but over time I grew to enjoy outsmarting the enemy while I hunted them.

After Stealth training and the tutorial cave, you’re treated to a fun and wicked cool training montage where Aloy goes from being a child to an adult.

Over time, you slowly begin to uncover the terrible truth about what has happened in the world:  a man named Joe Faro created a line of war machines that eat biomass for fuel and are unhackable.  He turns to a former employee and now business competitor, Elisabet Sobek, for help.  Her solution is to create Project Zero Dawn which will renew and re-create life on Earth once Faro’s swarm of robots is destroyed.  It’s never really revealed just how she managed to stop them, unless it’s something in the GAIA program that I didn’t catch, but she did manage to defeat the robots.

The sense of hopelessness and curiosity about the past is overwhelming in this game.

What begins Aloy’s journey is that her guardian, a man named Roth, tells her that if she wants answers from the tribe she’ll have to participate in The Proving and win.  If she does, she’ll get whatever she wants.  So that’s what she sets out to do.  The Proving (which was a scripted event so there’s no way for you to lose) ended with Aloy and the rest of the contestants getting attacked by a group of raiders.  They had come to kill Aloy specifically but ended up killing everyone but her.  This sets you out on your journey to discover the truth about the world and your place in it.

Your first stop is in the city of Meridian where you meet the Sun King, Avad which spawns a host of side quests too numerous to list.  You also are reunited with the ever sexy Erend and are treated to many other pieces of NPC eye candy in the city.

Meridian is in the land far outside Nora territory in the middle of a jungle.  There is also a large desert and many snow covered mountains for you to explore.  The scope of the world map is breath taking to say the least.  During my time with the game, I discovered most of the map but not 100% of it.

From here the game goes on a very long wild goose chase to the far corners of the world where Aloy searches out the enemies of the city of Meridian as well as those that have personally done her wrong.

I’m not going to say anything else about the plot as I think I’ve said enough already.  The only negatives I can say about this game is that when people speak, their lips don’t exactly match their speaking voice and having the final boss battle of the game be timed is pure bullshit.

All in all the game is a fantastic journey of hope, sorrow, joy, loss and battle.  I didn’t bother with trying to find every collectible but I’m sure I will at some point.  According to the save file it took me about 55 hours to complete the game, and that was with doing quite a few side quests.

  • Is the platinum attainable:  yes, mostly through collectible hunting
  • % of trophies at the time of writing according to PSN:  48%