It's been a while since there was a game that had me stoked to continue playing beyond the opening hour. Games nowadays have to my tastes, very little to offer because if you have played one modern videogame this day and age, you have played them all. You're some omni-potent being able to carry a complete arsenal of weapons that rivals the combined firepower of the USMC, you have idiot-savant knowledge of nature and are an artisan crafts person who can juryrig an atomic-bomb out of two pieces of plastic and a paperclip, you outwit scientists, strategists, philosophers, surgeons and world-leaders, you single-handedly defeat worldwide criminal organizations that have unlimited funding and you're everybody's bitch doing unrelated chores because you're also in an open world.
Yup, I just described every modern game to date, including Horizon: Zero Dawn. In fact, the above fits Horizon: Zero Dawn to a tie. If you're looking for the most cookie-cutter modern game to ever grace a gaming-system, this game is motherfucking it. Right down to being impossible to kill and being audibly adored for being better than everybody else in the gameworld. There are no surprises in Horizon: Zero Dawn.
Yet, Horizon: Zero Dawn is also the most compelling game that I have bought in a while. I dare say it's the most compelling game that I've bought since 2014 threw game-development in an epic creative bankruptcy that still plagues game-studios to this day. Dutch based studio Guerilla isn't known for having low production-standards afterall as they're the people that Killzoned the PS2/PS3/PSP era. There was no escaping Killzone and if you lived in the Netherlands during that time, you damn well were going to know that Killzone was a dutch success. So Guerilla probably wanted to escape their Killzone painted corner and developed Horizon; Zero Dawn, applying their high production values to a project that's a carbon copy of every known open world game in the world. And I have to say that it payed off. The game starts off as Lionking with humans, but then veers into a condensed retelling of The Last of Us to end up being a reinvention of Pocahontas. But damn, is it done good. So very good.
So, here I am, schlepping the protagonist, Aloy, through the game world. I'm killing robots with my insane arsenal of weapons using 'game-stealth' (Read: becoming totally undetectable to everybody and everything.), I'm collecting everything to craft stuffs (By this time I have so much resources that I'll never run out of ammunition for my weapons for the remainder of the game.), I snark down my in-game betters because none of them have a hope of laying a finger on me and I do every morose chore because in true open-world fashion no NPC can take care of their fucking selves. I love it.
The best way to describe this would be, uhm, if you're forced to eat mac&cheese every day because no one makes something else because mac&cheese does the job then you become quite indifferent of mac&cheese. Familiarity breeds comtempt. But if someone comes along who prepares mac&cheese with love, care and an expert eye for detail coupled with a deep understanding of seasoning a dish to achieve perfection, then you'll eat that mac&cheese and ask for seconds. That's what Guerilla did with the tried and true open-world formula. They took mac&cheese, brought it to it's logical conclusion and called it Horizon: Zero Dawn.
If you have a PS4, get it. If Guerilla can get a jaded open-world hater like me to put in six hour sessions to collect wooden sticks, then Horizon: Zero Dawn surely will have something to offer to you. Heartily recommended.