I’m at the end of the game, and while there have been moments I’ve enjoyed, overall I’ve found the game underwhelming and at some points downright bad. Some of my issues:
- The writing – I’m used to clunky dialogue and bad exposition in games but Horizon takes it to another level. The dialogue is stilted and unnatural, and large parts of it don’t make sense. How does Aloy immediately know what a Focus is called? Why isn’t she freaked out by it? Why doesn’t anyone notice or comment on it? This is all in the prologue but it persists throughout the game. Why is nobody freaked out seeing Aloy controlling machines? Why does everyone in this post apocalyptic world speak our exact version of English? I know these are all minor complaints on their own, but together it really breaks the immersion.
- The open world-This game is absolutely gorgeous, I’ll give it that, but the world design and exploration mechanics left me feeling flat. Maybe it’s because I played Breath of the Wild before it, but the lack of climbable surfaces is frustrating and disappointing. You’re supposed to be the badass wilderness warrior, but you can’t climb over a chest high wall? This would be forgivable if so much of the game wasn’t centered around climbing. But the only way to climb is to find the very specific climbing routes they lay out for you, which isn’t particularly fun or interesting.
- Encounter design-This is the one part where I’ll accept maybe I was “playing the game wrong” but to me the way the areas are laid out does not mesh well with how I wanted to play. At the start of the game, machines are presented as powerful and scary, and you should use stealth and traps to take them down. However the large open world encourages moving as fast as you can, so I’d often find myself stumbling into a herd of machines and getting slaughtered. I don’t know if it’s that stealth and open worlds don’t mix, but I feel they could’ve done a better job setting up machine sites as individual encounters that you can see ahead of time and plan for. Similarly, encounters with humans are equally frustrating, since again it feels like they encourage stealth but oftentimes don’t give you the ability to clear areas stealthily. You can always start off stealthily, picking off enemies from a distance or popping out of tall grass, but eventually the stealth path ends and you’re forced into combat.
I have a bunch more issues, like the insane overload of lore, the lackluster combat, the uninteresting skill trees… And don’t get me wrong, there are some things the game does well, like the enemy design, the graphics, and the overall story. But man, I thought this game was way overhyped. Or am I missing something?
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