Impressions – Horizon Zero Dawn, Part One



Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything for this blog. Between a recent move, writing I’ve been doing elsewhere, and other life-related stuff, Good Enough has kind of gotten away from me. But no longer! I vow to get more content up here in a subjectively timely manner, and I’ll start with a new column I’m going to call “Impressions.”

Impressions, as I envision it, is a series about games I’m currently playing through. Because it takes me literally months to finish some games, any review I post will be untimely and moot. Instead, I’m going to take notes on games I’m playing. These notes will be things I deem worth talking about and discussing, something I can offer an opinion on based on my time with the game. Remember, this is not a comprehensive review of the game, but just my observations on what I’ve seen so far.

The first game in the series is Horizon Zero Dawn.

Impression the First: The open world is fantastic.

I’ve found myself with open world fatigue. That is, it feels like every other game takes place in a huge open world with a billion things to see and discover, and a billion side quests to complete. This isn’t a bad thing inherently, but it demands a significant time commitment, which means I’m spending less time playing other awesome games. I have a family and a day job, so I need to pick my games carefully.

Luckily, the world of Horizon manages to stay the fatigue. In an industry filled with bleak post-apocalyptic worlds, and dull grey color palettes, Horizon is a breath of fresh air. It’s colorful, teeming with life, and just begging to be explored. There’re also a large number of supporting characters that each offer some kind of optional quest. These characters feel real and fleshed out, their plights sympathetic. The world of Horizon is one that I am eager to travel.

Impression the Second: This is the Jurassic Park game I’ve always wanted.

Robot dinosaurs, each with different weaknesses, prowl the land. They move and behave like real animals, hunt in packs, graze the metal ruins of the old civilization as if feeding; it feels like Jurassic Park come to life. This makes it much more empowering when you manage to take down a rampaging Sawtooth, or plant your traps in such a way that you clear a herd without taking damage.

The presence of robot dinosaurs also adds a level of majesty that other open world games lack. The first time you spot a Tallneck wandering the world feels like when Grant and Ellie first saw the roaming herd of brachiosaurs. I can’t wait to see what I discover next.

Impression the Third: How the fuck are there turkeys?

Some terrible catastrophe befell humanity at some point in the distant past, leaving the survivors to revert to tribal living. Presumably, most of civilization was wiped out, along with a huge percentage of Earth’s wildlife. But cunning foxes, resourceful raccoons, and stout, sturdy boars have managed to avoid extension.

And also turkeys?

Look, I have nothing against turkeys, but like, aren’t they idiot birds? How did they manage to survive? Do they carry the key to human survival in their DNA? Is this a The Last of Us situation here, and humans ought to study them for a potential trait that will bring about the resurgence of civilization? I certainly hope the story addresses this.

Impression the Fourth: I really, actually care about the story.

Speaking of story, Horizion’s is full of intrigue and mystery, which is going a long way in keeping me moving forward. With most open world games, you’re introduced to your character, given some kind of thin story thread to provide motivation, and then dropped into the world, left to explore.

This is not the case with Horizion. The larger mystery–the origins of main character Aloy–is presented in such a way that I absolutely need to uncover it.   The setup is admittedly drawn out through a lengthy tutorial, but it provides enough story hooks that I was eager to keep playing.

That’s it for this edition. I’ll be back soon with more impressions soon, because I legit cannot stop playing this game.

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