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Thursday, October 07, 2021

Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

 Horizon Zero Dawn came with really good reviews. It is, however, one of those cases where the gaming press preferences run pretty counter to my own. The game's setting is a post-apocalyptic Earth where robot dinosaurs roam the earth and your player character finds a bluetooth headset early on that allows her to augment reality sufficiently to detect weak spots, examine their programs, and eventually gathers the weapons necessary to attack, takeover, or ride them.

I dutifully played the game on normal difficulty for a while, and did actually a large number of quests and got through 2/3rds of the game when for whatever reason I had to put it down for a while. I didn't start playing again until after I'd gotten a PS5, but had forgotten how to play. It was too difficult to play on normal after such a break, so I turned down the difficulty to story mode and just kept plowing through the quests to get to the finish.

What I've discovered is that the game's combat systems are way too intricate: you have only 4 weapon slots but you have more weapons than you can use in those 4 slots. Add to that the game's dinosaurs have a lot of different weaknesses, etc., so you're forever scrounging supplies so you can craft the right ammo to take them down. Even in story mode I'd run out of blaze canisters, until I discovered one day that the rewards from quests were in "treasure chests" sort of like loot boxes that you can open to extract the contents, and those actually have blaze canisters in some of them. Still, I ended up having to find a merchant to get enough so I couldn't run out.

The art for the game is gorgeous, and the story is decent. But the quests are kinda one-note, without the story telling in say, The Witcher 3, with its plot twists and misdirection. By the time I finished the game I understood the story but was not in a hurry to listen to any of the audio clips. I finished the game out of obligation but did not feel obliged the pursue the DLC. I guess I'm not going to be first in line when the sequel comes out later this year.

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