Horizon Forbidden West – Game Review

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Horizon Zero Dawn, released in 2017, has become an interesting PS4 exclusive: the authors of the Calzone shooter series unexpectedly made a large-scale open-world action RPG. And a very worthy one: beautiful, with a catchy setting, a memorable combat system – it turned out that it was very fun to shoot parts of animal robots from a bow.

However, Horizon Zero Dawn was far from ideal: the team’s lack of experience in the most difficult genre betrayed a dead (albeit colorful) world, as well as garbage side quests. From the direct sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, I expected the standard “bigger and better”, that is, a linear and predictable improvement on the weaknesses of the first part, but in general – everything is the same.

On the one hand, it got it: Horizon Forbidden West was clearly made with an eye to the criticism of the original. On the other hand, objectively similar games simply cannot be compared linearly. Horizon Forbidden West is a new example of the “perfect sequel”, like Terminator 2 for movies or Mass Effect 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2 for games.

The world of Horizon did not run out of steam after the first part, but became more interesting

Despite the warm attitude towards Horizon Zero Dawn, I, like many, was alarmed by the very idea of \u200b\u200bthe continuation. The game, of course.

was exciting to shoot deadly futuristic machines with a bow and bludgeon them with a spear, but I played Zero Dawn mainly because of the powerful intrigue: what happened to our Earth before the events of the game? And the developers already then exhaustively answered this question, fully retelling the story of the death of our civilization.

Therefore, frankly, even the scene after the credits of the first part did not work well as a plot hook. Well, yes, probably, there are still problems in this world, but I rather don’t give a damn about them. After all, everything that concerned exclusively storylines in the present was boring. Few people admired the tribes represented in Zero Dawn: the backward redneck Nora, the monarchical Carma, no Osram and a few more stereotypical sinister sects-cults.

Horizon Forbidden West just annihilated this problem. Here, Alloy doesn’t dig through the same territories held by a couple of dreary factions, but embarks on an epic journey to the West to save the world. The biosphere is rapidly dying due to the red plague and superstorms, and only our heroine with a special origin can stop the catastrophe.

The West is represented in the game using plot moves, as if borrowed from the “Game of Thrones”, with political intrigues, murders and multi-move. Immediately after the bright end of the prologue, the tribes suddenly become a much more interesting and multifaceted component of the setting.

Here are the bloodthirsty, but not monosyllabic Tenant warriors, who live by the rule “who is stronger is right.” And peace-loving Uttara, who devote themselves to agriculture and build their entire worldview around it. And a few more big factions and a few notable sub-factions that I won’t spoil.

Alloy’s epic quest is built in such a way that she will have to get acquainted and for some time immerse herself in the life of each people of the Forbidden West – that is, the game works like a road movie.

Getting involved in the affairs of different tribes this time is incomparably more interesting. Not only because they have more interesting unique features that contrast with each other and complement each other.

Rather, because of the noticeably prettier script as a whole: unlike the first part, Forbidden West has memorable dialogues, a dozen funny jokes and many moments when even third-rate characters do not behave the way you expect. And Alloy’s key allies have ceased to be extras – it’s even a pity that they can’t be taken to a permanent party, as in BioWare games.

The cultural diversity of the game world is also emphasized by the differences in biomes. In Zero Dawn, for example, the big beautiful world was poor in context and meaning: some kind of jungle, some kind of desert, some kind of high-rise zone. From the notes it turned out that “it’s somewhere in the USA”.

but the authors did not beat the environment in detail. In Forbidden West, everything is much richer: here is Nevada (with an interesting new backstory), and Las Vegas sunk in the sands, and dilapidated Los Angeles. In some ways, the sequel feels more post-apocalyptic than the original – because this time you remember more often that you are running through the ruins of our Earth, and not through some strange sci-fi scenery.

However, the real interest of the “Forbidden West” is rekindled by the script. It’s very hard to believe, but the main hook of the game is even more powerful than “find out why robot-dinosaurs and primitive tribes run across the destroyed Earth.” Guerrilla Games has diligently kept the game’s main plot a secret – in the trailers they presented only a secondary conflict with the rebels who have learned to subjugate machines, including new mammoths. Which, by the way, is also cool, but pales in comparison with the real plot.

Let me just say that in Horizon Forbidden West, the history of the past and present of the Earth are intertwined much more closely than before. This is definitely one of those games, with the passage of which you should not delay in order to experience the maximum emotions from surprises. And even without that – science fiction, stunning in its ambitiousness.