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“Horizon Forbidden West” impresses with detailed plot, beautiful graphics and unique combat-style

The sequel to my favorite video game of all time has finally arrived, and it may prove better than the first game did in 2016. 

In “Horizon Zero Dawn,” a narrative-style game and first in the series, you play as Aloy, an outcast child who grew up fighting machines and investigating the technology of the Old Ones that lived a thousand years ago. Without delving too much into the root of the story, Aloy finds the key to saving the world from an AI called HADES, created as a safety measure and purging system. 

Returning as a war hero and savior to many, Aloy appears in “Horizon Forbidden West” searching for the backup system which keeps the Earth alive called GAIA. The Earth is dying from an invasive plant called “the blight” which kills all other life in its path. Aloy must find the technology to cure the land of these plants and discover the true motives behind one of her allies’ choices to stop her from destroying HADES at the end of the first game. 

The complexity of this story had me hooked from the first time I saw Aloy on-screen. No part of this story is left untold, and for a writer like me, I soak up the entire narrative as if I was reading a futuristic novel about life rebuilding itself after humanity’s inevitable destruction. 

A sequel to a game like “Horizon Zero Dawn” is worth the wait. I’m thankful the developers took their time to make this sequel have as many exciting elements as its predecessor. 

I played the first game when I was starting to get into more complicated and challenging games. It’s one reason I recommend this game to anyone wanting to dive deeper into combat-style games with narrative elements to balance out the intensity. This sequel has kept the same combat mechanics with added features and more tutorial directions for players unfamiliar with the controls. 

Before I nerd out too much with the mechanics and added features of this sequel, I have to mention how gorgeous this game looks on-screen.

The natural environments display vibrant colors and textures across all landscapes. Aloy’s outfits are heavily detailed, along with the people she interacts with on her main and side quests. Each city has an intricate style based on the tribe of people settled there. There are even more customization options for Aloy’s character, including face paint and dyes for her outfits. 

These games have never only been about fighting machines, and that’s why I love them. 

As I expected, a few glitches appeared within the first few hours of gameplay, making me laugh at the ridiculousness of my opponents getting stuck in rock formations or Non-playable characters (NPCs) getting trapped in places they can’t escape. Nothing too severe to make me stop playing out of frustration, though; it’s likely an update will come out in the next few months to help with these initial launch issues. 

For someone who’s not great at high-intensity combat, this game is frustrating at times. Each machine you fight has different strengths and weaknesses, causing players to adjust their weapons and attack style constantly.

It’ll take many deaths for me to learn the ropes, but I guess that’s part of the process. 

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This game series is known for its strong themes of human destruction, climate change, religious tensions and the prophet-like person to fix it all. It can be hard to predict what would happen to humanity after the fall of the planet, but the producers do an excellent job of portraying life beyond the confines of our modern technology.

I could talk about these games for hours with the amount of content they have packed within them. And the best thing is how the game allows you to choose when you want to interact with the larger story. Occasionally, I get tired of the extensive talks I have with characters in the game, yet I can decide if the information is worth my time. 

Out of all the games to spend $60 to play, “Horizon Forbidden West” is the best choice by far. And hey, maybe this will help us better understand the faults of humanity through a colorful, exciting video game experience. 

Rating: 9/10

@earlgreyincense 

elizonar@miamioh.edu

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