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Horizon Zero Dawn was the greatest surprise.

Content of the article: "Horizon Zero Dawn was the greatest surprise."

I just finished HZD a few nights ago. What an experience. I saw the glowing reviews and heard its praise. I never believed it to be a bad game. RPGs aren't really my thing so I held off until I could get it for cheap. Now I only wish I had played it sooner. There was a recent post in this subreddit on the same subject, so I apologize for the redundancy, but I wanted to share my own thoughts.

The first thing that stuck out to me was the stunningly beautiful setting. From the snowcapped mountains to the sunbaked deserts, I was continually in awe as I explored. Guerrilla did an excellent job of capturing the beauty of the American West. I did not expect there to be so much mystery. With each mission and data entry I only grew hungrier to uncover what had happened with the Old Ones and how the tribes had acted prior to the game. The combat satisfied me what with the numerous ways in which you could go about it. I usually went full stealth, but occasionally went in bow and bombs a-blazing.

I rarely get very attached to NPCs. HZD has many side characters, and most of them are your run-of-the-mill NPC. However, I was grew very attached to three NPCs: Erend, Rost, and Sylens. I felt like Erend's story of failure and redemption, full of guilt and demons, could have been a full game itself. We did not have Rost for long, but we knew that he did everything he could to provide for a daughter he had no duty to. The little time he was around left me with a burning desire for vengeance. At times, I was more interested to find out about Sylens than the main threats. He was such an interesting guide, answering one question but leaving two more. The post-credits scene has me giddy to meet him again and find out about his quest for knowledge.

Read:  Control is a lovably eccentric shooter that took me completely by surprise

Lastly, there was one element that made HZD one of my favorite games: Aloy. She is such a wonderfully written character. Huge props to Ashly Burch for the amazing voice acting. I expected this outcast warrior girl to be hardened beyond repair, but goodness was I surprised. She was overflowing with personality. That itself made the plot so much stronger. Too often characters fall in love with a boring player-character and will follow them to the gates of hell. A lovable, personable character like Aloy is much more likely to inspire that kind of following. Her humor is excellent, too. Each quip landed and it never felt like the writers were trying to put in a joke; they actually felt like something a witty person would say in real life.

I won't pretend like HZD didn't have flaws. Hopefully the facial animations (or lack thereof) and lackluster dialogue will be remedied in Horizon Forbidden West. I won't be getting a PS5 for a while for a couple of reasons, but when I do, HFW will be the first game I play on it. Although it took three years for me to get to it, HZD has cemented its standing as one of my favorite games ever.


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