Friends of my YouTube channel have been asking me to play HORIZON ZERO DAWN since it came out last year. I wasn’t in a rush, to be honest, because I’d watched an interview with developers from Guerrilla Games who basically said, “we had some concept art with these cool robot dinosaurs and we needed a story about why they exist.” Seemed gimmicky.

And then there’s Aloy. I’ve had about enough of the “sassy redhead” stereotype — Merida, Annie, Pippi, Ariel, Kim Possible, Cait, Saffron, etc. I wasn’t feeling great about the mechanics, either, as I find it difficult to play third-person games.

But my oldest bought the game while I was in the hospital a few months ago, so I figured I’d do it for a Try-It Tuesday. With narrative director John Gonzalez, who was behind the most meaningful and moving experience I’ve ever had in a video game, the Honest Hearts DLC of Fallout: New Vegas, I at least expected an excellent story.

I am happy to say I enjoyed the hell out of this game. Gameplay was so smooth I hardly noticed I wasn’t playing in first-person. Even the frequent cutscenes — normally something I dislike — didn’t bother me, though they were sometimes awkward or jarring when transitioning from player-controlled action to cinematic storytelling. A flaw I am willing to forgive, because at least there weren’t any quick time events.

The world of HORIZON ZERO DAWN is beautiful to see, and I found myself marveling and enjoying the scenery in the same way I do when playing Skyrim. There are elements of this game that remind me a bit of Fallout, Far Cry 5, and other games, too.

The game is fun and the mysteries it presents are intriguing. I am torn between wanting to rush through the story to find out why these mechanical creatures exist or why Aloy and Rost are outcasts, and wanting to spend hours shooting turkeys and hunting robots for wires and metal shards. I plan to continue playing in the days and weeks to come.

Rated “T” for teens, for blood, drug reference, language, mild sexual themes, and violence.

~ J.L. Hilton

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