Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Horizon Forbidden West has finally been released and it surpasses its predecessor in many ways. However, I personally didn’t feel as captivated by the game as I did with the first one. I wonder if I’m just burnt out by open-world games like many others. The lore of the game is somewhat complicated, and it feels more like an open-world Ubisoft game rather than Horizon Zero Dawn. I don’t think it’s possible for a game to completely allow me to escape from real-world problems. Nonetheless, I found the game to be excessively complicated, with long cutscenes that hindered my enjoyment. I wanted to wreck robot dinosaurs, not sit through lengthy dialogues.

Horizon Forbidden West has definitely built upon its predecessor, incorporating new features that enhance the gaming experience. Guerilla, the developer, took the solid foundation of the first game and expanded upon it, although they might have become a bit too ambitious in the process. In terms of the story, you once again play as Aloy, embarking on a time-sensitive mission filled with mystery to save the world. Throughout your journey, you encounter a variety of characters, many of whom may be friends or foes, blurring the lines of morality. The story is conveyed better through cutscenes this time, compared to audio and text files in the original game. However, the storyline is heavily reliant on the lore, and players who skipped the first game may be confused. Even having played the first game five years ago, I struggled to fully understand the storyline. It’s advisable to watch a recap on YouTube to get a better grasp of the story. I fell in love with the story in the first game, but this time, I felt overwhelmed. The number of story beats caused my brain to struggle to process everything. I wish the game didn’t depend on excessively long monologues, especially at the beginning, as it slows down the pacing and made me bored during the first few hours of gameplay. It wasn’t until later in the game that things started to get interesting. In fact, I found myself falling asleep twice within the first few hours due to the slow start. The world of Horizon would benefit greatly from additional supplementary materials like a book tie-in or an animated series. There’s so much depth to explore, and I’d love to delve deeper into it. Overall, my thoughts on the game are as confusing as the storytelling itself.

What I loved about Horizon Forbidden West: The performance and graphic modes provide incredible experiences, and seamless switching between them is a treat. The facial expressions are out of this world and the best I’ve seen. The swimming mechanics are surprisingly enjoyable. The environment looks fantastic, with something to do in every direction. Aloy’s personality has received a much-needed upgrade, making her less one-dimensional. The skill tree is fantastic and allows for personalized gameplay. It’s the most visually impressive game I’ve played. The side quests are a significant improvement from the original game, featuring engaging, lengthy quests that introduce great characters. The machine strike mini-game is addictive and enjoyable. The robot enemies are exciting to fight against, with countless ways to take them down.

What I liked about Horizon Forbidden West: The rich lore of the world is appealing, but it can become overly complicated, especially if you miss important supplemental items. Riding robots is fun but it can be easy to miss items while doing so. The motion controls add to the experience, particularly for bow shooting. Combat has improved from the first game, although it still has room for more improvement. The human encounters in the wild are much more thrilling, especially when fighting enemies with fists and a spear. The game provides a great sense of freedom, as long as you don’t get stuck on cliffs. There are numerous collectible costumes and weapon upgrades to discover.

What I disliked about Horizon Forbidden West: The PS5 Dual Sense controller didn’t enhance the game for me. Repeating the same loot grind became boring. The controls felt overwhelming and unclear due to the sheer number of mechanics to remember. The momentum of gameplay was often disrupted by cut scenes. The game needs more defense options, as the only real evasion tactic is rolling, especially against enemies capable of one-shotting you. The grappling hook, known as the Pullcaster, was mediocre and failed to impress me. I encountered several bugs and visual errors during my playthrough, though I expect them to be addressed in future updates. Many activities in the game end up feeling repetitive despite taking place in different locations.

What angered me about Horizon Forbidden West: The game has an incredibly slow start, with the first few hours being boring. The hair graphics were distracting in both performance and graphic mode, as they awkwardly disappeared.

In conclusion, I had a difficult time writing this review because I couldn’t figure out why the game wasn’t clicking with me. I hoped that by persevering, I would recapture the magic of playing Horizon Zero Dawn, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. There’s a lot to love about this game, but I feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to remember and do. Perhaps my personal life’s busy schedule makes it hard for me to fully immerse myself in the game. Alternatively, maybe this game simply isn’t suited to my preferences. Not every game is. I tend to enjoy simplicity, and this game is the complete opposite. I will continue playing, but I need a break for now. Sometimes, you just need to put the controller down and step away for a while. Hopefully, by the time I return, the bugs and performance issues will have been resolved. Despite my mixed feelings, I sincerely hope there will be another sequel to this game. Guerilla has set the stage for more adventures with Aloy and her friends.

TLDR: If you’re looking for a mentally challenging game, be prepared for a long journey and grab a big cup of coffee.

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