2023 eh? Christ…
Post games you’ve beaten to discuss and look back at on your death bed
Jan 13th - Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
I’ve always been curious to play this one, as the series gets a lot of jokes thrown its way for launching in the same week as BOTW and Elden Ring; which many people, in my view rightly (certainly in the formers case) changed the open world ‘formula’). Equally I know reviewers and have friends who absolutely adore it, putting it up there with Sony’s finest efforts for story, exploration and action. So I wanted to see for myself.
Overall, I had a good time. I mainlined it and only did a couple of side missions and optional quests, but I really enjoyed the two Crucibles I beat and figuring out how to get up all the Tall Necks. It’s very fluid to play and easy to pick up. For a game with a lot more crafting and busy menu work than I’d normally enjoy, I didn’t find it overwhelming and I definitely spent more time fighting and exploring than doing admin.
Combat wise, I never quite mastered it but I had fun. I always struggle ‘reaction and accuracy wise’ with bullet time cover shooter games, but I loved the systems and thought you had to put into disarming the mechs. The bow felt great but I never got to grips with the other tools.
It looks gorgeous for a game half a decade old. Some of the snow fields really look stunning and the cut scenes show off pretty impressive character work.
Story wise I enjoyed it, it was solid. But as I’ve gotten older, I don’t want story games to interrupt the gameplay constantly with cut scenes, showing me a decentish story but an average one by modern TV standards. I like games that either don’t bother with much narrative, that leave it for you to delve into if you care (Metroid Prime, Dark Souls) or tell it through aspects of the gameplay (Outer Wilds, Portal, The Last Guardian). It’s probably why I’m generally less into the flagship Sony titles, and I don’t think the narrative here is as strong as The Last of Us or God of War.
Being good, but not quite as good, as another title, was probably how I’d sum up Horizon. I liked the aesthetic and vibe, but I feel like Enslaved was more original. I like the crafting and combat, but preferred it in Tomb Raider. The exploration and freedom was good, but BOTW changed everything for me. The writing and story was woven into the game well, but Witcher 3 did it better. I liked taking out hideouts and scaling heights to unlock the map, but Far Cry 3 had more tension.
As an almagamation of many of the last generations best games, Horizon is really commendable, super slick and very enjoyable. But it feels like it’s the end point of a formula that I’m personally happy to now move on from.