Horizon Forbidden West Review

Publisher: PS Studios/SIE| Developers: Guriella Games| Release Date:  February 8, 2022, | Genre: Action RPG| Reviewed On PS5

Game was purchased personally.

Introduction

Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn and like its predecessor is an open-world action/RPG hybrid.

You have more companions this go around.

Gameplay

Gameplay has been greatly expanded from the original. One aspect that has been greatly expanded is the melee combat with its skill tree. This was a flaw of the original but now has been corrected. You can do various combos which can stun your opponent and finish them off with an arrow shot.

This also has been expanded in terms of the ranged combat which has abilities such as a burst short, charge arrow shot, and a volley that can hit a wide area. This gives the arrow combat (which is mostly what you are going to do) even more depth.

Last, but not least is the open-world which has more opportunities to discover and more terrain to climb. Borrowing from another Decima Powered game, Death Stranding, a scan feature that can be activated by clicking the R3 Button will allow you to see what is or isn’t climbable which takes a lot of the guesswork of what things you can climb on a cliff face or not.

Traversal also adds in a grappling hook which allows you to climb to higher elevations faster, and a Breath of The Wilde-Esque glider which lets you go airborne for longer periods.

There are even more mounts to also try, and even a flying one which helps reward discovery as opposed to fast traveling everywhere.

From a mechanical standpoint, it does what a sequel should do is use the original framework and turn it up to 11. The length is about right with a critical path will run you 30 hours and doing the side stuff may take up to 70+ hours. You are getting your money’s worth with this one.

The Facial Expressions are top notch.

Graphics and Presentation

The graphics are a showpiece of what the PlayStation 5 can do up to this point with far draw distances, intricately detailed character models, and tons of NPCs littering towns and settlements.

You can choose between a performance mode with up to 60 FPS and a resolution mode that caps it at 30. I think it looks best in the resolution mode since there is a lot of detail that can be lost in the shimmering in performance mode which has been reduced in Guerrilla’s subsequent patches. Both feel well with good input responses.

Sound is also great with various ambiances such as the wind, animals, and machines that can be heard at a distance. Music, meanwhile, is an appropriate mix of the tribal chorus with a more industrial soundtrack that reinforces the post-post-apocalyptic setting.

Voice Acting is also great with Ashly Burch reprising her role as Alloy, Lance Riddick reprising his role as Saylens, and Carrie Anne Moss as Tilda, a new character.

Swimming is not annoying in this game.

Story

Story is told through slickly produced cut scenes, and further expands the Horizon universe that paints The Far Zeniths (the humans who tried fleeing Earth during their self-made Apocalypse) as more complicated characters than once thought. Without going into spoilers, the story asks is humanity worth saving or starting over? You’ll enjoy the victory, and Alloy’s ingenuity, and you’ll lose allies along the way, but one thing that put off some is the focus on the sci-fi elements of the story. I enjoyed this because it gives a glimpse of Earth before its fall, and gameplay-wise helps with the enemy variety.

Speaking of cut scenes, the side quests have gotten a bump in terms of production value. Gone are the boring shot-reverse shot-blocking that were the first Horizon’s sidestories. This too has a lot of variety than just killing a certain amount of enemies. You’ll be gathering salvage, sneaking into enemy fortresses, and freeing prisoners.

NPCs will even react to completed side stories and main story events making the player more immersed in Horizon: FW’s world. It makes the player feel like they’re affecting a living world.

Conclusion

Overall, Horizon: Forbidden West is a great sequel that greatly expanded the gameplay, lore, and presentation. I really can’t wait for the third one to see how it ends. The unfortunate thing about these games is the release timing since they get near such genre-defying titles such as Zelda Breath of The Wild or this year’s GOTY contender Elden Ring, but this shouldn’t make you ignore the lengths that Guerilla Games and PS Studios have brought to this showpiece title to the PlayStation 5 and good PlayStation 4 port.

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