A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Tackles emotional issues concerning exclusion, loss, responsibility. Also explores themes of family, particularly concept of motherhood. Sensationalizes combat but without overtly graphic depictions of violence. Rewards forward planning, strategic thinking.
Positive Role Models
Aloy is a strong female protagonist interested in helping people, serving justice when needed. Confident, capable, she eventually commands respect from virtually all levels of authority. She's a warrior, but most battles are with machines. There are instances when she opts not to fight, gives her adversaries a chance to avoid combat.
Ease of Play
Combat requires skill, can be extremely challenging, but becomes easier with practice.
Violence & Scariness
Players fight, hunt a mix of machines, small animals, humans using bows and arrows, spear, bombs, unusual-looking guns. Small splashes of blood appear when humans, animals are struck; dark red bloodstains from past battles visible on ground in a few key locations.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A reference to "porn."
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Occasional mild profanity, including "bastard," "bitch," "damn," "ass," "s--tpocalypse."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References to drinking beer, smoking, though neither shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Horizon Zero Dawn is a vast role-playing game (RPG) with moderate violence. Players assume the role of a female warrior who was cast out of her tribe at birth. She's clever, capable, and just, eventually respected by most people she meets. Fights -- involving weapons such as bows and arrows, trip wire traps, and some unusual-looking guns -- are fast and frenetic, but most are against machines rather than living creatures. When players battle humans and animals, they see small splashes of blood with each successful hit. Parents should also note that spoken dialogue includes infrequent instances of mild profanity as well as occasional references to drinking and smoking.
Is It Any Good?
This is one big game -- not only in terms of length but also the size of its enormous map and the scope of its story and lore. Horizon Zero Dawn provides players with a captivating world rich in history, culture, politics, theology, and conflict. It has the depth and breadth of an epic fantasy or a science-fiction novel and just as many factions and characters. And everything is cleverly woven together to create a mythological tapestry where it's easy to lose oneself. At the heart of it all is Aloy, a smart, skilled, self-assured heroine who's easy to like and fun to cheer on -- not just while fighting the massive machines that roam her land but also while confronting closed-minded or conniving adversaries during her quests.
The story and the stunningly rendered world in which it takes place is what will pull most players in at the start. But what might eventually prove even more gratifying for some players is the action. Aloy's battles with the machine animals are fast and furious, forcing players both to strategize and rely on their reflexes as they lay traps, acrobatically leap away from attacks, quickly switch between weapons, and pick the right types of ammunition to suit their enemies and the situation. Some battles are nothing short of exhilarating. If it has a flaw, it could simply be that it borrows a little too much in terms of play concepts and mechanics -- outpost raids, crafting, dialogue design, and more -- from its open-world contemporaries. But the sheer imagination and scope of the rest of the game is so impressive that a few pilfered ideas shouldn't be too hard for most players to overlook. Make no mistake, Horizon Zero Dawn is among the best and most impressive new entries in the relatively sparse genre of lush, large-scale, single-player role-playing games.
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