Horizon Zero Dawn Review - More Post-apo!

Author: Przemysław Zamęcki
Date: 2017-02-20 09:01:00
The review was based on the PS4 version.

How many times have we been through this? Machines rebelling against their creators take over the world, leading to the extermination of mankind. Only our contemporary or even future generations will be able to create a truly destructive real power controlled by artificial intelligence. What begins today as innocent fun may end tomorrow with a complete catastrophe - the reset of civilization. Almost like James Cameron's Terminator . The work of the Guerrilla Games studio takes up this topic, taking us into a distant future in which technologically advanced society is a long-forgotten past . People in Horizon: Zero Dawn are primitive creatures who live in constant fear of machines ... and of people from other tribes - nothing has changed here.

In search of Aloy's identity

Aloy of the Nora tribe is an outcast. Someone who is not talked to, does not trade, and even chases him away by throwing stones. The girl does not know her background, and Rost who is bringing her up - also an outcast - has no intention of sharing secrets with her. Nevertheless, as a mentor and trainer, he prepares Aloy for an attempt to bring the girl back into society when she is entering adulthood. The limited space of the neighborhood of the young woman's home village will soon turn into a great world, existing only so that we, as players, do not get bored during its exploration, during which the heroine will learn about her heritage.

The plot of Horizon: Zero Dawn sounds clichéd and does not differ much from dozens of similar stories. Here is a character thrown into the whirlwind of events, discovering the secret of his origin, gaining more and more information about not only his past, but also the world around him. Like Odysseus, he experiences successive adventures to finally reach the desired destination. There is nothing to blame - the plot of the game is not particularly ambitious. It can also be predictable. However, despite numerous shallows, it is definitely not boring .

Moreover, the more it develops, the more interesting it becomes. This is an important observation, because the first two or even three hours of fun in the open world of the post-apocalyptic future turned out to be extremely painful for me. Boring, over-the-counter and - frankly speaking - not even very pleasant to look at.

Poor start

I had the impression that all the shortcomings and disadvantages of the game, which the creators were undoubtedly aware of, were fully premeditated at the very beginning of the game. The location where we start the adventure is not very pretty, and it looks empty . The linear nature of the first missions does not help either - the feeling of relative freedom fades when we are constantly interrupted by a numb conversation of mannequins, and the Polish voices of the characters sound so hopelessly dispassionate, as if you were at a meeting of a circle of not very talented writers.

Added to all this is the poor translation of the dialogues, apparently made by a few people without knowing the context of the whole conversation, which results in such flowers (I quote from memory and certainly not very accurately):

After several dozen minutes, I gave up dubbing and set the game to English with Polish subtitles. It's a pity that the foreign-language actors didn't really show off - with a few exceptions - but I didn't risk changing again until the end of the game.

Yes, dialogues. As I mentioned, there are extremely uninteresting chats at the beginning of the game, but the character models are even more offensive . They are beautifully crafted with razor sharp textures, but unfortunately behave like mannequins . Stiff movements and bizarre facial expressions (for a long time I had the impression that the characters were speaking through their eyebrows - they moved them so funny during the conversation), eyes with a blank stare. It doesn't look good. The presentation of the conversations itself is not stunning either. The camera just takes turns showing the interlocutors - just as if the developers didn't have enough time to better direct this element of the game. Strange, because all cutscenes are great against this background.

The further the better

And when, after those first three hours, I finally set off to explore the rest of the game universe, something I didn't expect happened. With each passing minute, this ruined world was getting more and more interesting, more and more addictive . I didn't look back, and I was already intrigued, getting to know, even absorbing what the Dutch from Guerrilla Games had prepared. The graphics, music, mechanics of character development and fighting with oversized machines - all this adds up to a great adventure that drew me completely for the next thirty hours.

There is no need to cheat. This better and better impression is mainly due to the beautiful graphics . The terrains we move around are very diverse. From snowy wastelands, through green valleys, to the desert scorched by the sun - in each of these places the game generates unforgettable views. The marketing campaign focused mainly on forested areas, but do not be surprised if at some point the area you visit begins to resemble Monument Valley - after all, the action takes place in the area of the destroyed United States.

It is enough to look around a little to see villages and trade-border factories, ruins of skyscrapers destroyed by time and climate, still working robot factories or even a large city to which we are heading in the early stages of the game . The reviving civilization was shown in more and less advanced forms. In a camp full of bandits equipped with primitive melee weapons, a leader suddenly appears holding a huge "knocker", coiled from some dangerous machine. Surprisingly, such a mishmash of ideas does not spoil the immersion at all.

Artificial intelligence is artificial

It's a pity that this almost perfect mechanics of clashes is spoiled by stupid artificial intelligence controlling enemies. By infiltrating an enemy camp and killing enemies silently, we often find that the machines do not pay attention to the human allies lying around the corpse. When a man sees a fallen comrade, he rushes towards the body most often, stopping in front of him and exposing himself to a shot . Half a platoon of thugs can be mowed this way. Or robots, because they too react similarly to their own losses.

Even if something exceptionally goes wrong and we alert a dozen or so opponents, but we do not let ourselves be detected and we hide in a hole for some time, the others - as if nothing had happened - would eventually stop noticing the danger and return to their previous activities. To be clear: the animations, the presentation of the fight and the satisfaction with neutralizing enemies are amazing, but the performance of the AI should definitely improve.

Science and gathering

I mentioned skills. They have been grouped into three trees, thanks to which we develop the skills of a hunter, warrior and / or feeder. The latter make it easier to collect raw materials, recover mines or dominate machines, which provide us with often invaluable services, including allowing you to travel faster. If I had to fault something, it was the fact that while running back and forth I was able to lock the figure twice in a completely open area. Without the possibility of moving in any direction, I had to save myself by loading the last save.