Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn

From one Behemoth to Another

Horizon Zero Dawn marks the first attempt at something new by developer Guerilla Games, and also marks their first new IP since 2004. Having worked on Killzone games for so long, people were generally surprised when they saw what Guerilla Games had cooking up next for the Playstation 4, and it was a very pleasant surprise. After an amazing E3 demo, Horizon quickly became one of the most anticipated games to be released, and for good reason. Horizon Zero Dawn stands as an incredible example of what can be achieved by developers with a strong vision, and Guerilla Games prove that they can make a brilliant game, even if they’re outside of their comfort zone.

The machines that roam Horizon’s sprawling open world are just as dangerous as they are beautiful.

Aloy of the Nora

Horizon Zero Dawn is set in the far future, where Earth has been reclaimed by nature, and is now roamed by mechanical beasts called machines. Why they’re here, and what happened to Earth that led to it being in the state it’s in isn’t made clear at first, and it’s one of the undying questions you’ll undoubtedly have when starting up Zero Dawn. Humans live similarly to the way that cavemen did, in separate tribes, and surviving by hunting and gathering in the wild. You play as Aloy, an outcast of the Nora tribe, the reasons for her being an outcast not being fully disclosed until later on. After some initial back story in the form of a tutorial, Aloy tries to be accepted by the tribe in the form of The Proving, which goes horribly wrong, and after a chain of horrific events, sets Aloy on a path to discover who she really is, and what happened to the world so many years ago. I don’t want to go any further to avoid spoilers, but the first half of the story is honestly quite slow, and while Aloy is very well-developed early on, there’s no real hook to the narrative unless you really want to find out what’s going on. I honestly found it quite dull, and was confused as to why Horizon’s narrative was so highly praised, and then I hit the halfway mark. Over the course of one story mission, I had become fully invested into Horizon’s world, eager to find out more about the world and all the circumstances that led it to the way it is. It consistently shocked me with its plot twists and intriguing mystery, and I honestly couldn’t get enough of it. I absolutely loved Horizon’s second half, and the first half felt worth getting through in the end, if a little pointless. The characters are all extremely likeable, Aloy especially, who’s very well developed early on, and with multiple dialogue choices, you’re able to see her interact with people the way you want her to. She’s more than just a way for the player to see the world, and I truly hope she becomes a flagship Playstation mascot. The supporting cast isn’t nearly as strong as Aloy, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. Aloy’s father figure in particular was quite interesting, and some of the Nora tribesmen and women who Aloy cooperates with throughout the narrative always proved to be good company. Horizon’s side quests are also generally well written, and more often than not have an interesting over-arching narrative. Horizon Zero Dawn answered so many of my questions but created so many more, and the level of story telling that Guerilla achieve in the second half of the narrative is amazing, even if it gets off to a slow start.

Horizon’s machines come in all shapes and sizes, like crabs for example……


If there was one thing that hooked me from start to finish in Horizon, it was definitely its gameplay. It’s pretty standard affair for an open world game, but Horizon does all the things you’d expect in a typical open world in its own refreshing way that felt new. The map is absolutely huge, and there are a plethora of biomes to explore and hunt in. You can gather resources to craft new gear, potions, consumables and so on. Side quests can found everywhere, and traversal is generally enjoyable, as Aloy is extremely nimble and agile. She can climb most surfaces within the world (providing there are ledges) and she can also hack machines, some of which are rideable. Cities and points of interest are scattered about the open world, and dungeon like challenges called Cauldrons can also be found, which I found were incredibly well designed and challenging. I mentioned crafting earlier, and it plays a pretty big part in Horizon. Aloy has a plethora of weapons she can use to hunt machines, ranging from bows and trip wires to sling shots and machine gun-like rattlers. Every weapon has at least two ammo types you can use, all with different effects or elements.Which weapons and armour you craft determines its ammunition types and bonuses. You can apply modifications which give your gear boosts to resistances, damages and so on. As you complete quests and hunt machines, Aloy gains EXP, levels and skill points. The skill points can be invested into three different trees all providing skills relating to movement, combat and survival. Each point I spent felt meaningful, and I was constantly tossing up my options whenever I levelled up. When exploring, you’ll find bandit outposts, corrupted machines, hunting challenges, and Tallnecks roaming the map, which act as towers. Tallnecks can be climbed and hacked in order to reveal a portion of the map. The scale of these things is simply crazy and the first time you see one will undoubtedly stop you in your tracks just so you can take it all in. When you aren’t doing any of the above in Horizon, you’ll more than likely be hunting machines, and combat is easily what Horizon does best. It’s a weird mix of the recent Tomb Raider games and Dark Souls, but don’t let that put you off, it’s a lot better than it sounds. Aloy can scan machines and the environment due to a tool she finds called a Focus, and this tool is key to coming out successful in encounters. Each machine has multiple weak points or Components, and if targeted by Aloy, you do increased damage. It is paramount that you take the time to hit precise shots on these components or combat is incredibly tough. After acquiring some abilities like slowing down time it makes it significantly easier, and whenever you a hit a weak point it’s incredibly satisfying. Destroying these components can stop the machines from doing certain things, and in some cases, provide Aloy with heavy weapons to use against other machines. It’s intense stuff, and the natural fluidity and fast pace of combat lends every single encounter a sense of danger, whether you be fighting a gigantic Thunderjaw or a smaller Shell Walker. It feels so good to apply elemental effects with arrows, darting around the battlefield with roll dodges, laying traps and tripwires for your unsuspecting enemies. Humans are also encountered in the game, but are incredibly dull in comparison to the machines, and more often than not I found the human encounters to be quite a drag. The game has simple, yet robust stealth mechanics, which are paramount to thinning a herd that you otherwise couldn’t take on by yourself. On normal difficulty, Horizon proved to be quite a challenge, but never frustrating.

The dystopian setting of Horizon makes for some incredible environments.

A Beautiful Horizon

As always, I played Horizon Zero Dawn on the Playstation 4 Pro, and it is undoubtedly the best way to play the game. Horizon runs at 2160P checkerboard which looks absolutely amazing. Environments are lush, character models are intricately detailed, and the game never looks dull. Aside from the fantastic visuals, the game boasts some of the longest draw distances I’ve seen in a console game, creating an incredible sense of scope. The game is locked at 30FPS, but never drops, and I never had any graphical hiccups or technical hiccups throughout my time with Horizon. It’s a technical marvel, and Guerilla should be applauded for the detail and intricacy put into this world.

These are the colossal Tallnecks.

Verdict: 9/10

Horizon Zero Dawn marks a new start for Guerilla Games. They’ve made an incredible game, that anyone who owns a Playstation 4 absolutely must experience. Whether it’s for its excellent narrative, intuitive, unique combat, or incredible visuals, Horizon Zero Dawn is well worth your time.


-2nd half of the narrative is excellent

-Aloy as a character

-Combat is unique, new, fresh and intuitive

-Refreshes the use of open-world tropes

-Incredibly visuals and draw distances

-Strong technical performance


-Human combat is dull

-Narrative has a slow start

Up next will either be The Ringed City or Episode 3 of The Walking Dead. Thanks for reading, Harry.



NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata

A Platinum Quality Game

When it comes to hyper-stylised action games, Platinum Games seems to be the company that reigns over all, and that’s for good reason. Over the past few years, they’ve quickly grown within the gaming industry, and play a huge part in delivering unique, fast paced action games that are almost unrivalled by anything else. They’re hands down one of my favourite developers, and while they’ve had some stumbles with their recent releases, I’m still at the point where I’ll buy a game simply because it has the Platinum logo slapped on the cover. NieR: Automata was one of those games. Having never played the original, I had no idea what to expect in regards to anything excluding gameplay, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t get it. After an excellent pre-release demo, NieR: Automata instantly had me hooked and wanting more. Platinum once again willingly display their skills in an effort to show their finesse in this particular genre, and what an effort it is.

The first NieR originally came out in 2010.

Glory to Mankind

NieR: Automata takes place in the future, where humanity has been driven from Earth by aliens, only to take refuge on the moon. Machines now roam the desolate dystopia that Earth became without its human inhabitants, and humanity seeks to fight back through the use of androids. You play as one of these androids, 2B who is a combat unit from YoRHA, the force trying to take back Earth from the machines. It’s hard to talk about anything else without spoiling anything, but it’s worth mentioning that I have not played the original NieR, so my opinion will not be influenced by the events or lore of the first game. I absolutely loved NieR: Automata’s narrative, and it’s simply one of the most emotional, thought-provoking, and interesting narratives i’ve ever experienced. 2B is incredibly well-developed over the course of the campaign, and her characterisation changes dramatically due to the events that take place throughout the story. The same goes for the supporting cast in the form of 9S, A2, Pascal and numerous other characters, who are all extremely likeable. It consistently surprised me with its dark tones and themes, and the story is told excellently with some stellar voice acting and cut scenes throughout the narrative. The world is beautifully crafted through the story, and I genuinely cared about the people and their problems that came in the form of side quests. And while a lot of NieR is quite dark, there were often moments of comedic flourish and oddity to be found. Some of the themes and ideas NieR tackles are extremely interesting, and the multiple story revelations across the different endings always had me on the edge of my seat. NieR: Automata took me about 12 hours to finish fully on my first play through, but I was pleased to find out that the game boasts multiple endings, 26 different ones in fact, making for a lot of replay value if the gameplay isn’t a good enough reason already, but trust me, that shouldn’t be the case.

The demo for NieR: Automata was actually the start of the game. 

Machine VS Machine

On paper, NieR: Automata’s primary gameplay loop sounds like an absolute mess, but surprisingly it’s not, so bear with me while I try to explain it. NieR: Automata is an open world hack n’ slash action RPG with bullet hell like sequences found often throughout it’s combat encounters. If that seems like a mouthful to say, that’s because it is, simply due to how often NieR bends genre and changes gameplay styles, but it works. I don’t know how it works but it just does. Platinum have somehow found a way to seamlessly blend third person hack n’ slash with bullet hell sections with incredible pace and fluidity. You have to play it to understand how well it’s executed, but I feel like it’s something that only Platinum could have pulled off. Third person combat plays how you would expect it to, you have heavy and light attacks, which can be used to create combos, a dodge, a pod that shoots at enemies, and an ability that said pod can utilise. 2B can have any two weapons equipped at one time, and these range from short swords and long swords, to gauntlets and spears. All feel unique, distinguished and properly developed, and swapping between them on the fly can make for some truly lengthy and flashy combos. Chip sets act as power ups for 2B when battling enemies. As 2B levels up (more on that later) she unlocks more space for her chips which give her boosts to attack, defence, health and other things of the sort. It creates for a variety of gameplay options in combat, and being able to change them when and where you want is certainly efficient and easy to use. If that wasn’t enough as it is, NieR also takes a page from how Dark Souls handles death. Due to narrative circumstances, when 2B dies, she can recover the chip-set and a few levels of EXP that she dropped upon death. This adds an element of suspense to recovering your dead body that is likely scattered somewhere among the flock of deadly machines that just took your life 5 minutes prior. Killing machines and completing quests awards 2B with EXP, which goes towards her levelling up and increasing her own stats. Enemies are level based too, so you can generally tell when you can take on an enemy. The game is difficult as is, so try not to punch above your weight unless you’re playing on easy. NieR’s set pieces and boss battles are nothing short of spectacular, and they certainly hold up to Platinum’s previous work. They’re frenetic, fast paced, stylish, and more often than not colossal, making for some truly epic moments. It screams Platinum inside and out, and are easily one of the strongest parts of the game. It’s bullet hell sections are also very well designed, and it felt like there were just the right amount. When you aren’t decimating machines, you’ll be exploring the open world and doing side quests, most of which felt meaningful, and more than just simple fetch quests. When exploring the world, items can be found scattered around the environment, and platforming is plentiful, which is incredibly fluent and precise. All in all, NieR: Automata’s gameplay is in my opinion is its strongest asset, and it makes for a lot of replayability, much like the story does.

If you aren’t sold on the gameplay already, you can also sand surf.

Reclaimed by Nature

I played NieR: Automata on the PS4 Pro, and it’s everything I expect from a Platinum game in terms of graphics and performance. The game ran at 1080p and a consistent 60 FPS, which is crucial considering the timing and precision that the game requires of you. It looks excellent, and runs even better. Some environments look absolutely amazing, such as the amusement park, but I couldn’t help but feel that some of the open world areas were a bit lacklustre.

The PS4 Pro version also has motion blur.

Verdict: 9.5/10

NieR: Automata is a shining example of what Platinum Games are capable of when they’re at their best. It’s another excellent entry into the NieR series, and Platinum has truly outdone themselves yet again, with an excellent story, strong gameplay, beautiful visuals and perfect performance. NieR: Automata delivers on all fronts that a Platinum game should, even if some of its environments are a bit dull.


-Incredible story

-Likeable characters

-Interesting themes and ideas

-Fluent, fast, frenetic gameplay

-Excellent boss fights

-Meaningful side quests

-Beautiful graphics

-Strong performance


-Some dull environments

Thanks for reading guys, next is Horizon Zero Dawn.

Thanks, Harry.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

A Breath of Fresh Air

The Legend of Zelda is undoubtedly one of the biggest names within the gaming industry, and for extremely good reason. It pioneered the adventure genre, and with each release of a new Zelda game, the bar is seemingly set higher and higher. Zelda is a franchise I’ve grown up with over the years so it’d be unfair to say there isn’t a small degree of bias behind this review, but I’m going to try to be as honest as possible while reviewing the latest entry into the series. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Breath of the Wild seeks to break the standard conventions of the Zelda formula, creating a brand new experience within the same universe. I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but I was incredibly excited regardless of my concerns for a few of the systems that were supposedly in the game. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that all my worries were swept aside, because The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an incredible experience that will be remembered as a classic for years to come.

Breath of the Wild has a ton of Amiibo support, and most of them are unique in terms of what they do.

100 Years Ago

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s narrative is definitely one of its strong points if you’re willing to invest the time and effort into uncovering it. It’s told in a way that’s never forced upon the player apart from a few expositional cut-scenes. I found it was a refreshing way to tell a story in an open world setting, and for the people who don’t want to invest in it, they don’t have to (but you should because it’s just that good if you do). It never reaches the narrative complexity of Twilight Princess or Majora’s mask, but the characters, voice acting, and premise of Breath of the Wild is unrivalled by any other Zelda game. It makes for a truly incredible experience as you play through the game. Breath of the Wild follows a Link that has been awakened from a 100 year slumber in order to destroy Calamity Ganon, and save Hyrule. It’s a fairly simple plot, but its characters and ideas are further fleshed out through optional cut-scenes. I was constantly intrigued in what had happened to Hyrule that some 100 years ago, and that drove me to uncover everything I could about the game’s narrative, and I was rewarded with some truly emotional and well executed story moments and set pieces. It’s a simple plot, but the characters are incredibly likeable, and Zelda is so well done that I feel as if Breath of the Wild was more worried about its characters than actual plot, which definitely isn’t a bad thing because the plot is still decent.

The Temple of Time is one of the first areas you visit upon awakening at the start of the game.

A Wild Hyrule

Breath of the Wild’s biggest departure comes in the form of its gameplay, changing and revolutionising the formula that has long since been the staple for Zelda games. Gone is the hand holding of past games, Breath of the Wild throws you into the world, gives you an objective and leaves you to your own devices. It’s a refreshing change of pace for a Zelda game, and it didn’t take me long to get lost in the countless things there are to do in the world. Once you clear the Great Plateau which acts as a tutorial area, the game opens up incredibly, and you can go and do whatever you want. I made it a priority to go and do one of the dungeons first, but I consistently ventured off the beaten track to inspect something that caught my eye, whether it be one of the many puzzle shrines, an enemy fort, a lookout tower, or a batch of collectables, Breath of the Wild never ceased to grab my attention. This world is begging to be explored, and 35 hours in I’m still finding new things, which is a massive achievement in its own right. Breath of the Wild is all about survival and nothing screams this more than its systems. Link can only restore health by eating food, which can be gathered and cooked in order to create meals through recipes. Different items lead to different traits and stat-boosts from food, and experimenting with all kinds of weird and wonderful goods never got old, and I often lost myself doing it now and again. The environment is also integral to Link’s survival, as temperatures rise and fall you’ll have to equip different armour accordingly, or eat specific foods that increase temperature resistances. Weather hazards such as rain and thunder also pose a threat too, because if you have any metal equipment on you at the time, thunder can strike at a moments notice, killing Link very quickly, but the same applies to enemies. Rain makes it harder to climb surfaces, which by the way, almost every single surface in-game is climbable, making for a refreshing sense of player freedom and exploration. Once you use Link’s superb climbing capabilities with your limited amount of stamina (which can be upgraded by completing shrines, along with heart containers) you can take in the sights of the breath-taking open world (no pun intended). One of Link’s new tools is the glider, so once you reach a high point in the world, one of the funnest things to do is jump off and glide over the landscape. It’s truly magical stuff, and this along with shield surfing makes for incredibly enjoyable modes of transport. Speaking of which, horses are very prominent in Breath of the Wild, and they must be mounted, calmed down, registered, and named before you can use them, and much like other things in the game, they can die. Great fairies are also scattered around the world and are used to upgrade your armour, if you’re willing to give up the materials. The Sheikah Slate is Link’s new navigating buddy, just less annoying this time around. It provides you with objectives, the world map, and a number of tools such as bombs, magnesis, cryo powers and more. It’s a unique little idea that really works within Breath of the Wild’s gameplay loop. Lastly comes combat, which is in my opinion, is the best the franchise has ever seen. It’s robust, but has so many little things to it that need to be taken into consideration. Almost every single weapon in the game eventually breaks after a certain amount of use, making combat encounters tense and strategic. Some people may hate this feature, which is fair enough, but I think it contributes to Breath of the Wild’s gameplay tremendously once you get used to it. It teaches you to become comfortable with other weapons you wouldn’t normally use, and that good weapons are scarce within the world. It doesn’t help that some enemies hit really hard, but that’s where parrying and dodging comes into play. Last minute dodges are awarded with flurry strikes, where time is slowed down and Link gets repeated attacks in, it’s not necessary, but there for those who are willing to risk it, it creates a unique little risk-reward system. Some weapons have elemental effects, some can catch fire, they all have different stats, and most can be thrown at enemies for a critical hit,. it creates so many options in combat and that’s without the use of sheikah slate runes and a bow. Archery in Breath of the Wild is the most refined it’s ever been, which can be controlled by gyro or control stick. Arrows are fairly scarce to begin with, and using them sparingly is probably for the best. Eventually you’ll develop a surplus, and come across elemental arrows which also need to be carefully maintained. Mid-air shooting or jumping off of a horse creates a slow motion mode where Link can get a precise shot in. The last thing I want to talk about is dungeons. Without spoiling anything, they’re innovative, unique, refreshing, and brand new concepts for Zelda. They’re some of the most fun I’ve had in a Zelda game, and I truly hope to see them return in some form in the future. Each dungeon caps off with a boss fight, which are fairly challenging in their own right, with weaknesses and weak points. Bosses can also be found in the over world, which was a weird change, but one that I got used to and one that I have come to appreciate.

The Stone Talus are stone giants that can be found and fought against in the over world.

A Beautiful Wilderness

I played Breath of the Wild on the brand new Nintendo Switch, and it was a graphical marvel. The game looks absolutely stunning with detailed character models, beautiful textures, incredible animations and level design. It is easily one of the prettiest games I have ever played, and the Nintendo Switch was an awesome console to play it on. The game runs at 900P in console mode and 720P in handheld mode, while running at 30fps with occasional frame drops, but they were never enough to hurt my experience with the game. The soundtrack is also absolutely amazing, with some incredible themes for different characters, situations, and environments. It also has the level of polish we come to expect from a Nintendo game.

There’s 120 of the unique puzzle shrines scattered across the open world.

Verdict: 10/10

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is everything I want and more from a Zelda game. It has an incredible open world that’s just begging to be explored, and experimented with. It’s plot is simple, but effective, with extremely lovable, mostly well voice acted characters. It’s gameplay systems fall nothing short of fantastic and create for an incredible survival experience where even the smallest details come into effect. This is all while the game looks and runs for the most part perfectly. The Legend of Zelda has once again set the standard for not only adventure games, but survival games too. Nintendo have really outdone themselves, and if it only gets better from here, we have one hell of a console generation on our hands.


-Strong plot with even stronger characters, and a Princess Zelda that has been extremely well done

-Robust, unique combat systems that keep you on your toes at all times

-Detailed, beautiful open world that’s begging to be explored

-Cooking and gathering of items

-Dungeons are well crafted and innovative

-Strong survival elements

-Incredible visuals and mostly strong performance

-Intricate character models and animations

Thanks for reading guys, sorry this one took so long. Up next is NieR: Automata, then I’ll do my Horizon review. I got caught up in Zelda and still haven’t finished Horizon.

Thanks again, Harry.