Horizon Zero Dawn Review

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

A mystery dying to be solved!

With Horizon Forbidden West now released, we put aside some time to traverse back to the dystopian state of Horizon Zero Dawn for one final playthrough before bringing you our expert Horizon Zero Dawn review.

If you are a fan of open-world action-RPG games, Horizon Zero Dawn is the culmination of all the best bits and pieces of the past games of its kind. It is unfair to say that it is the same game over again because open-world games are made to play the same. But what separates Horizon Zero Dawn from the rest? Well, we are confident to say that its mystery-filled storyline and its compelling battle mechanics are the best reasons to play and finish the game in its entirety.

Horizon Zero Dawn Gameplay
Release Date
PC & Playstation
Open World RPG
Game Length
40+ Hours

Yes, open-world games can be similar at times, but you can quickly tell when a game is well-thought-of when you get hooked with the story and its dense lore right from the start. And Horizon Zero Dawn wouldn’t be anything if not for its mystery-filled premise—among other notable things.

But, is Horizon Zero Dawn still worth playing despite being 5 years old? Scroll down to uncover all there is to know about this incredible open-world game for Playstation and PC

→ {TL;DR} Skip To Review Verdict

Horizon Zero Dawn Gameplay

Gameplay Overview

Developed by Guerilla Games, the world of Horizon Zero Dawn is not like anything you’ve seen before. It takes place in a very distant future centred by the rise of machines. So distant, people have forgotten about smartphones, computers, and the technology we recognize in the real world today. Instead, the people in this world began to build tribes and defend themselves with bows and arrows.

The only thing that looks high-tech is the machines that resemble different wild animals. And get this, the chrome animal-like machines are feral. They are ready to attack any human that gets in its path—until you encounter another mystery of how Aloy, the protagonist, gets a hold of a piece of technology that allows her to override the monsters and use them to her advantage.

Sounds interesting, right? Well, as we said—Horizon Zero Dawn is nothing, if not, for its clever story and mysterious premise.

The Storyline

You’ll be absolutely itching to solve this one.

In fact, the itch is so strong, you will easily spend 40 or so hours to get the answers!

If you ever watched or read the Attack on Titan Manga—Horizon Zero Dawn’s story is somewhat similar when it comes to mystery. In Attack on Titan, the people within the walls did not know where the titans came from. They didn’t even know what existed outside the confined walls they lived and died in. In Horizon Zero Dawn’s case, as the main character, you have no clue what the machines are and how the world ended up in a post-apocalyptic state.

Essentially, the story is a slow burn, and as you progress, it gradually reveals answers—having you itching for more revelations. And just like any other good story, the build-up is everything.

The world is in a dystopian state, but the mechanical beasts are not the only enemy. The story also revolves around darker and more complex themes, such as politics, human greed, and more—which also means you will need to eliminate evil humans. On this front, the game did an excellent job tackling dark subjects like ethnic cleansing and more real-world issues with abandonment, jealousy, death, and more.

The dialogue is absolutely fantastic as well. In some in-game conversations, you can choose how to respond. You can be cold, understanding, or just neutral with your responses. Although it doesn’t affect the game’s outcome, there is a satisfying feeling about immersing yourself and getting a chance to feel like you are the main character.

Plus, it enhances character development too.

Horizon Zero Dawn PC Review

Be Prepared For The Map

Horizon Zero Dawn’s map is vast. Yet, absolutely terrifying. Although we really felt like exploring can be a bit of a chore at times, especially when you have to fight for your life when you encounter hard-to-beat enemies, the stunning landscapes and top-notch graphics are definitely a soft compress on the eye sockets.

In addition, Aloy has plenty of skills that you can use as you see fit if you don’t want to challenge these beasts head-on. You can set traps, stealth-kill enemies, and even override beasts to aid you and attack in your favour.

What we definitely enjoyed the most about the map was not killing random mechanical monsters—but exploring the ruins. The ruins reveal that the world of Horizon Zero Dawn is not any different from ours, but it is an intelligent reimagination of how the real world will end up in the very distant future. We’re talking about thousands of years ahead.

Meet The Protagonist: Aloy

Aloy is a complex protagonist that you might disagree with from time to time. But, what makes her different from the other characters in the game is her curiosity. How come not many characters wondered why the world was in this state before her? Maybe they didn’t care enough to find out, or perhaps Aloy is special.

If she weren’t special, there wouldn’t exactly be a story, right?

Ever since she was little, Aloy was always fascinated with beasts and always wanted to leave the tribe to explore someday. Because of her curiosity, she stumbled on what seemed to be a mixture of a Bluetooth earpiece with a HUD called a “Focus.” If you ever watched the Dragon Ball Z Cartoon—the “Focus”— kind of resembles the Giger Counter that Raditz and Vegeta wore to measure the strength of their opponents.

However, the “Focus” does much more than that. It gives the user different abilities and lets you see the world differently—causing Aloy to believe that there is much more to this dystopian world than what the people are being taught. It basically gives Aloy Witcher-like senses that allow you to complete missions and move forward in the plot.

Unlike most games, you will not meet Aloy until you progress through the story. As far as you know, these violent machines are the only enemies. (Sorry for the spoiler).

However, the human element also plays a significant role, and evil can be universal.

Horizon Zero Dawn Combat

Gameplay & Combat

Every good story must be paired with fantastic gameplay. And, luckily for fans of open-world action RPGs, Horizon Zero Dawn does not disappoint in both aspects. We mentioned that the gameplay is very familiar, but that is entirely understandable since this genre of game is created in a specific way.

As you can expect, movement is smooth, you interact in the third person and everything about the game feels new.

One thing that became immediately apparent when writing our Horizon Dawn game review is that the combat mode is all about strategy and choosing the right weapons. Just like in The Witcher game, certain beasts have weaknesses, and you can use your heightened senses and knowledge to determine their weak elements and their weak points.

If you don’t use the Aloy’s “Focus” when battling different enemies, there is no chance to eliminate the stronger beasts—especially when packs gang up on you when you pass through their territory.

Defeating beasts may take some getting used to, but once you figure it out—that is where the fun starts. Every battle can be breathtaking, and every machine kill is very rewarding as you have to figure it out yourself, which makes for a more immersive experience.

Quest, Levelling & Crafting

If you are itching to get the revelations that got you curious to solve the game’s mystery, you can skip some side quests and focus only on the main tale. You can always go back and complete the side quests after. However, if you want to live in the game and play it as if you were the main character, exploration and completing side quests in between main quests is the best way to go.

Some of the side quests can feel like chores, but they do have excellent rewards and experience that will allow you to level up and build your character. As for crafting, ammo and potions come from the items you loot from enemies and flora you encounter when exploring. Make sure you gather as many materials as possible because you will always need them to create items that will help you heal and fight.

Levelling up is not as quick as other games, meaning you have to build your character based on your playing style, so make sure you use your technique points wisely.

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

Horizon Zero Dawn Review Verdict

Horizon Zero Dawn contains all the best bits from previous open-world titles and bundles them up into an incredibly large package. The best open-world games comprise an amazing story, excellent combat modes, and fluid character movement. Of which, Horizon Zero Dawn executes on all of these.

Although the game is 5 years old and does have its fair share of cons, Horizon Zero Dawn is still a game that you must play—especially if you are a fan of the genre. When you trade off the tediously large map and just simply enjoy the gorgeous landscapes, the terrifying creatures that roam around the open world will definitely get your excitement buds going.

Overall, Horizon Zero Dawn is an intelligent and moving game that will get you hooked on the premise alone. As such, we have graded this Horizon Zero Dawn review a solid 84%.

Thoughts on Horizon Zero Dawn? Hit the comments below.

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Horizon Zero Dawn Review Verdict
Jam-packed with everything that's great about Open World RPGs over the last decade, Horizon Zero Dawn is a massively intelligent, futuristic and dystopian mess of great entertainment. Although 5 years old now, this game is still a must own.
Stunning Scenery
A+ Combat Mechanics
Great Storyline
Took The L
Tedious Map
Editor Rating

Content Disclaimer: This Horizon Zero Dawn Review is independently written. We have not been commissioned by Guerilla Games, nor have we received any royalties for this article. This includes financial reimbursement, free advertising or the Horizon Zero Dawn game.

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