They say opposites attract. I’m not sure that this expression is true, or that it can be applied often at all, but I know of one case where it fits perfectly. This event is called horizon zero dawn. This game combines seemingly incompatible things, and even if sometimes such incompatibility becomes a little more obvious than we would like, in total it gives a rather unique experience. So much so that this game is one of the first things that come to my mind when people ask me “why I love video games”.
Just evaluate the concept itself: something happened to live on earth, and now people have rolled back in development hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, and live in tribes. At the same time, iron creatures that look like animals are walking around everywhere, and for some reason, they are very aggressive towards people. What happened? Why are cars so mean? And how does a simple bow with arrows help to fight them? There are so many questions that are waiting for answers, and such a setup that it is really difficult to pass by.
Fork in the eye, my iron friend.
Perhaps the most important and curious thing that horizon combines is perfect sharpness, politeness, and … Crooked oddity, let’s say so. And this applies to both the gameplay and the plot. I can sing praises for a very long time about how amazing it plays (and don’t worry, I’ll get to it soon), but at the same time, I can resent strange and sometimes frankly illogical flaws or game design decisions for a significant amount of time. I can at one moment in a good way go crazy with what the plot is trying to tell me, and at the next, I will burn with the desire to punch my forehead looking at a wooden production or hearing strange and mediocre voiced dialogue.
Now imagine the most wooden character animation you can. Get it. Sadness itself
It’s a dangerous combination that requires mistakes to be made in the right places and, while still noticeable, not interrupt the right moments so that they are perceived as part of the overall charm, and not as obvious and serious flaws. Ironically, it’s very easy to make a mistake in such a case and make the game look like an outright rogue, if not worse.
But the guerrilla studio, in my opinion, did everything right. Before the release of horizon zero dawn in 2017, they were exclusively focused on their series of first-person shooters kill zone, but at some point, she took a sharp turn and decided to build something like an action in the open world and the third person, yes also with a completely different setting and in a different universe.
The task, in truth, is monumental even at the level of the genre (not to mention the fact that they had to adapt the engine created for a linear shooter to this genre), and yes, here you can see the lack of experience in creating such games among the guys. But when you have a unique and carefully crafted concept, and much more well-made and well-received projects behind your back, this kind of experimentation becomes more feasible.
Well, I, having completed the game four times in two and a half years (including my most recent passage on the maximum, “ultra-high” difficulty), knocked out platinum and spent a total of more than 230 hours on this matter, I’m ready to tell you in detail what the guys did, what is not, and what I think about all this.
In 90% of cases, this choice only affects the next few lines of characters.
And as an action, it works just fine. One of the first things that I want to praise here is the combat system, which reveals more and more over time, while not imposing new tools on you, but encouraging experimentation. It is only at first glance that it may seem simple and slightly delusional, they say, “Shoot robotic animals with arrows from a bow? Cool, but is it a little crazy? Firstly, bows in real life are a very dangerous thing, and secondly, this is a very complex and incredibly diverse system that gives you great freedom in terms of destroying hostile iron creatures.
Firstly, there are as many as 26 varieties of machines themselves, all of them are of very different types, classes, sizes, with their strengths and weaknesses, and each type needs its approach. Secondly, your arsenal is not limited to only one bow and arrows. There are at least three types of bows, and each can use three different types of arrows. But besides them, there are all sorts of traps, slings with explosives, and many more much more specific types of weapons. Well, as an auxiliary element, alloy, the main character, has a very evil spear – the only melee weapon in the game which is opposite to pgslot. All this opens up a lot of room for experimentation.