Horizon Forbidden West review
I'm new to the Horizon franchise, having played the first instalment, Horizon Zero Dawn, only a few ago while looking for something new to explore on the PS5. Fighting robots and such machines felt like a good change from the racing sims that I usually spend time on and Zero Dawn did not disappoint. While I haven't managed to finish the first instalment, I'm glad I familiarised myself with it before sampling the sequel - Horizon Forbidden West. The new instalment does give you a recap of the story, but plenty of jargon and references to the original's storyline may make newcomers feel a bit clueless. Otherwise, Horizon Forbidden West promises plenty of action and Hollywood-calibre storytelling to keep gamers on the edge of their seat. And if you like machines that extend beyond cars and bikes, Horizon will certainly keep you entertained!
If you are well-versed with the Horizon universe, you will continue to be amazed at the beautiful visuals which still remain one of the game's strongest draws. Sure, the facial animation on some characters feel crude at times, but otherwise, the game looks impressive overall. The storyline picks up on the original theme of saving the world from mass extinction called upon by man-made machines but also centres around an infectious red plant that is killing all the flora and fauna in its path. The story, therefore, unfolds around a time-sensitive mission and brings the lead character Aloy to the titular West and exposes her to tribal conflicts, ramifications of events from the original story and much more as the story twists and turns through its massively long gameplay.
Like the original, Forbidden West features plenty of exploration too, but the open-world isn't as free or accessible as something like Assassin's Creed and you are often restricted to predetermined routes. This can get infuriating at times, especially when tackling the machines that out to trample or decimate you. But the combat is often engaging and the animations and choreography are modelled exceptionally well. As you would expect, your choice of weapons and upgrades dictate how efficiently or heroically you can bring down the enemy. Combat with the machines feels as exciting as before, by the melee combat with humans feels much improved.
There is plenty of puzzle-solving and well-planned side missions (that never feel repetitive) help in procuring or crafting weapon upgrades and these missions are nicely integrated into the main storyline while making you explore the various settlements across the West that are created in stunning detail. The characters, familiar or new, add plenty of value to the gameplay and better narratives and conversations prevent the game from feeling monotonous. Since the character animation is based on known real-life faces, the cut scenes are a delight to watch and morph nicely to the actual gameplay.
Horizon Forbidden West is easily the most beautiful game to hit the PS5 so far and a great way to show off your next-gen console to friends who are still waiting to get their hands on one. Its single-player storyline is quite long but promises hours of engaging gameplay and its fine mix of natural and unnatural worlds are bound to attract gamers from different genres, just the way the original did.