Horizon: Zero Dawn

Yes, the scale of that monster is accurate. Yes, you get to actually fight that.

Time Played: 94 hours got me 100% on the trophies for the main game and the Frozen Wilds, but still not 100% completion within the game. (By the time I finished all the questlines I had 96.67% completion of the main game and 94.55% completion of the Frozen Wilds. With only about 10 more hours, at 104 hours I had also completed a speedrun of New Game+ on Ultra Hard)

Aesthetics/Graphics: Stunning. The world they created was gorgeous, brutal, breathtaking, harsh, mundane, and epic all at the same time. Everything was meticulously detailed. Seeing how they depicted nature reclaiming whole cities was especially interesting. I absolutely loved the mesh of futuristic tech with more primitive, old-world styles and cultures. What I always found to be the most awe-inspiring, though, was how you could climb to the top of a mountain, look at the view and see for miles and miles and miles and know that you could climb down from the mountain and go explore each and every mile of landscape you had just seen from the peak.

Gameplay: Similar to God of War there was a bit of a learning curve figuring out the cues the game was giving me. Some of the cues in this game are extremely subtle, but they are always very well done.

The actual mechanics of the gameplay were good, but I honestly felt a little overpowered by the end. I re-played with a New Game + on Ultra Hard and they did some pretty major re-balancing. However, for the first play-through it was a nearly perfect difficulty on Normal. Also, I never felt overpowered in the Frozen Wilds. Never.

Using fires as the way to save the game was an interesting new tidbit for me. It reminded me of Dark Souls (never played, just know some about it), and looking into it, it does seem to be set up almost the same exact way. I liked it, though. Added a bit more...grittiness? Tension? Menace? I liked it.

Story: Phenomenal. So much to it. So much to discover. The sheer amount of information available to those willing to look for it is astonishing. I LOVE a game with a good story, (part of why I love The Last of Us so much), and I always enjoy finding every last artifact or any detail that could tell me more about the world, the story, the characters, etc. So when I tell you that I got overwhelmed by the amount of available information...that's saying something. The detail and complexity of the story were just so well done. I also loved how, if you cared to, you could learn the life stories of people completely unrelated to the main story. That added such a depth to the world that I really appreciated.

Moving. I will not lie, I cried at the end. Not as much as I thought I would but somehow also more than I thought I would? I wasn't expecting to cry at all because I didn't expect the game to have that kind of ending, and then once I realized where things were heading I thought I would cry a little more than I did. I blame it on my Dad sitting right behind me and watching as I finished the game (I can be a bit emotion-shy).

The Frozen Wilds: Since the PS4 I bought came with the complete edition of the game I didn't have to buy or download the Frozen Wilds DLC separately. I honestly don't know how the game developers separated it from the main game, though. The story involved seems so integral to the story and questlines of the main game. Obviously, you don't need it to complete the main game, but if you love the story and want to know more then I would HIGHLY recommend getting the complete edition or buying the expansion. At $12 for the download I would say it is well worth the money. You get a bunch more quests including a pretty big one, a ton more story, a whole new area to explore, new beasts to conquer, new friends to meet, and new challenges to beat.

Language, Romance, Gore: Some sparse, very minor language. No real romance to speak of. Some gore, although there is more talked about than shown really.

Soundtrack: I feel like the music was very different from the usual videogame styles. I think part of it was because of the heavy story element throughout everything you do. Part of it was also due to the massive size of the world that allowed for different styles of music to correspond with different locales. And I think a part of it was the mix of futuristic and primitive as related to the game. Overall, though, I absolutely loved it and it definitely gave me chills at the start of the game.


The world is ENORMOUS.

The ending was a tad bit anticlimactic. It was building up to be this big huge thing, and while it was big it wasn't as huge as I was thought it would be. It wasn't what I was expecting, wasn't what I had stocked up for, and seemed really short and easy for the ending to such a huge story.

So much information it overwhelmed even me at times.

It seemed to get a bit easy by the end, honestly. Frozen wilds stayed super hard the entire time though.

Young Aloy was weird. Uncanny Valley for sure. Thankfully she didn't stay young very long.

WAS NOT PREPARED for ACTUAL CHOICES. They let you make actual dialogue decisions and I have never had that happen before (Besides Skyrim, but that's different). I spent so long on the first option terrified that I would choose wrong. (Hint: there is no wrong answer.)

I did enjoy seeing women in a lot of different roles and positions. For example, there were women who were rougher than their men, women who were stuck vocationally because of being female, and even characters that were almost gender-neutral or possibly even trans-male. There are also matriarchal societies, and my personal favorite...a not-overly-sexualized female protagonist!

The stock phrases that Aloy says pull me out at times and over as many hours as you are playing they begin to get repetitive pretty quickly.

This game really felt like a mix of Skyrim, Assassin's Creed, and the latest God of War. It had the massive open world, compass, and world-discovery style of Skyrim. It had a lot of similar moves of Assassin's Creed (a lot of running around, parkouring it, hiding in foliage, and jumping out and stabbing things, etc). And it had the mind-blowing graphics, detailed world, and deep story of God of War.

I did not prefer that after the final main quest the game resets the world to pre-final-quest state. Everybody is talking about this big thing you've got coming up and it just feels like I never fully completed the game because the final quest is still active in my quests list.

Was it worth the money?: ABSOLUTELY. It's running about 27 bucks on Amazon right now, but I would have happily paid 40 or 50 for this game. (That's less than a dollar an hour for so many phenomenally fun hours!)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Epic, Moving, Breathtaking. 🌟

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