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Horizon Zero Dawn: a probably good game that I don’t want to play

It’s so hard for me to choose in this one: to recommend or not to recommend…? This is going to come down to my gut feeling and my gut is probably going to be wrong. But, here goes nothing:

There is a lot of fun to be had with this game. Aloy feels responsive and has weight – she’s got juice. So, traversing the land is never boring because movement is just generally fun. The combat is tense; I never felt needlessly overpowered as I played. The only thing that made me feel overpowered was a well-placed arrow in a robot’s weak point that fell them immediately. That was pretty damned gratifying.

That is, it was at first. But what was once gratifying became tedious when I faced the same robots time and again. That’s not to say that there isn’t variety, but an overabundance of crafting supplies kept me from having to find new ways to defeat enemies. Even the addition of new weapons only changed “rinse and repeat” to “lather, rinse, and repeat”.

I should mention that I think this game is goddamned gorgeous. I’ve never looked at a ruined apartment complex and thought “wow, pretty” before playing this one. And little details, like Aloy’s flyaways really brings the game to life. Oh, then there’s the soundtrack! The serene daytime music had me thinking of FFXIV (a very good thing) and the battle music got my pulse pounding.

But then there is the voice acting… The main characters sound great and I have no complaints about those. It’s the NPCs that sounded… off. Their performances weren’t necessarily bad, but the voice didn’t match their appearance and it came across as comical to me. Maybe I’m wrong on this, I don’t know. I know it broke the immersion for me, though.

This one is a mixed bag for me. I think the direction my recommendation will lean will come down to the fact that this is an open world game. Open worlds are generally not my thing and this game did nothing to change my opinion. I doubt I’ll finish it any time soon. With that I’ll have to give this one a thumbs down. Though, if Steam ever adds a “meh” rating, I might come back and change my rating to that.

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