The beginning of the story has a great introduction that shows the world a thousand years in the future and humans have regressed to primitive tribal societies. Everywhere you look, it's clear that a massive calamity has happened and large robotic creatures known as machines are everywhere. The machines are dangerous because they will attack humans. This opening lets you meet Rost who is from a tribe known as the Nora and Rost is an outcast taking care of an infant who is named Aloy at the instruction of the Nora Matriarchs. The circumstances about Aloy's birth and where she come from are mysterious and this causes her to be an outcast as well.
A lesson with Rost about hunting and tracking when Aloy is a child provides some insight into how the controls work which includes hiding from the machines and sneak attacking them. That part was a lot of fun. This also gives Aloy a new tool called a Focus where she can use it to scan the area and get information about the machines and even track their pathing.
|Little Aloy hiding from a machine known as a Watcher.|
There is a time skip and Aloy is grown up (19 years old) and participating in an event the Nora have called the Proving because if she wins she will no longer be outcast and she can get answers about where she came from and who her mother was. Things don't turn out quite the way everyone expects and that is where the big story and adventure of Horizon Zero Dawn begins.
There is a sense of urgency to the story because there is a big mystery to be solved and Aloy wants to know the answers. I loved Aloy. Her independent spirit and intelligence were great. I really liked that there was a strong and smart female character and no one had an issue with it. There is a wonderful progressiveness to this game in the fact that there is gender equality all across the game. There's no one disparaging Aloy for being a woman who knows how to fight or complaining about how smart she is. It's Aloy being herself and she's accepted as she is and even admired for her fierce bravery and fantastic intelligence.
There are strong female characters all over the game. I loved it. Aloy herself comes from a tribe that has a matriarchal society and all the women are smart and strong fighters. One of my personal favorites was the Nora war chief Sona. She was cunning, a great fighter, and the mutual respect between her and Aloy was perfect. It's not just the women who are free of gender bias; the men in the game are as well. Take Rost for example, who had no qualms about raising Aloy and loved her and in all regards she was his child. It's a wonderful insight into the father-daughter bond and the bond between Rost and Aloy is a beautiful thing. There is also tons of diversity. I kept stopping and talking to everyone in the game because I was so impressed by how much of it there was in the game. Everyone was from everywhere: Black, Asian, Latino, Native American, White, and Mixed. Honestly, it made me ridiculously happy to see these things in a video game.I love that the developers for Horizon Zero Dawn understood that representation matters and went above and beyond to showcase that and it was a beautifully realized normal and real world.
|Aloy and Sona having a moment together.|
|The diversity in this game is fantastic.|
The gameplay in Horizon Zero Dawn is terrific. The controls are easy to navigate and the menu for items and crafting are user friendly. You also get a new ability for your Focus, overriding machines so you can make them friendly for a bit of time and this even allows Aloy to have a machine mount. Fighting machines was so much fun. There's a variety of them and Aloy is able to scan them with her Focus to track their pathing as well as find out what their weaknesses are so she can defeat them. Some are more dangerous than others of course, such as the Thunderjaw. The game definitely makes you plan out strategies for the best way to take down these machines and the rewards for defeating them are worth it because you can get parts for crafting as well as modifications for your armor and weapons.
|Aloy nabbing a machine mount with the override skill.|
The world of Horizon Zero Dawn is beautiful. I loved the open world and just exploring. You can find a lot of interesting things ranging from finding things from the old world to finding more information about the machines. One series of quests that I liked was climbing machines known as Tallnecks that looked like sci-fi giraffes and you can override them and unlock the map areas fully. It's also quite a stunning view from the top of them.
|Beautiful view from the top of a Tallneck.|
There are tons of side quests in the game as Aloy continues her adventure. There are also side quests known as errands where Aloy just has to do one task for the person. There are Hunting Lodge quests also where you can hone your hunting skills and get rare weapons as rewards. The variety of weapons Aloy can use are impressive and each one has a use for defeating machines. Crafting is a vital part of the game as well because Aloy can make traps and bombs for a slingshot weapon she has. All of this is geared for battling the machines and trying out different fighting styles.
|Aloy taking down a machine called a Rock Crusher.|
The story for Horizon Zero Dawn is amazing. I was completely engrossed in the story and each reveal to the plot was so interesting, I found myself playing for hours at a time. Aloy is such a great character perfectly voiced by Ashly Burch because she got the nuance of Aloy's emotions and tone so right and I found right from the start of the game that I loved Aloy and I wanted to know more about her and I wanted to know her story. She was interesting and the characters that she meets are interesting adding so much great depth to the story. The voice acting in the game is great and the music for the game is wonderful as well. Sometimes when you play a game you run into glitches. With Horizon Zero Dawn that was not the case for me. This was a game that had all the bells and whistles, no glitches, and was something I genuinely enjoyed playing.
After you beat the game, if you haven't finished everything such as errands and side quests you can go finish them up. You can also explore any areas you might have missed or finish up Hunting Lodge quests if you haven't already. Horizon Zero Dawn is an amazing story with robots, but it's also a terrific game that is absolutely worth playing.
|Rawr, robot dinosaur! Aloy fights a Thunderjaw.|
*Horizon Zero Dawn is playable on the following platforms: Playstation4