Game Review Critique:

Horizon Zero Dawn, Philip Kollar

Philip Kollar begins his review with a short introduction of the developer of Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games. This creates a framework for how the review will go, not only judging the game solely on it’s own content, but celebrating a studio’s break from tradition (in this case escaping the rut of “churning out” Killzone games).

I find this lead works well in providing a strong narrative to give the review some pace. It’s worth considering whether we should take the developer’s name and/or history into account when reviewing their work, as for this review, part of Kollar’s praise is in the game’s “refreshing change of pace.” This claim leaves us wondering whether this game is still going to be good in 20 years or if it’s just fun to play because it’s different at the moment.

Kollar next describes the world of the game. Again, he praises the game’s uniqueness in developing a post-apocalyptic world that isn’t like the ones that saturate video game universes today(e.g., Fallout 4, The Last Of Us). From this, he begins to review the narrative elements of the game, starting with the characters. Kollar applauds the arcs of each character, though he only describes them, rather than explaining exactly what made each one successful. This is great in letting the reader know that the writing is something to look forward to, without revealing too much information about the story.

Especially in mentioning the potential for sequels, Kollar is confident in the story-telling within the game, referencing its “strong direction and sense of continuity.” Kollar focuses a lot on the story development, which I personally find surprising. For a game like this, I expected a more immediate addressing of gameplay and game feel, specifically when discussing games with “open worlds” as it’s more about navigating your character than navigating a narrative.

When Kollar does explain the gameplay, he does it from his perspective which I find helpful in showing how the game can give a variety of experiences. He concedes on some of the crafting gameplay as being “less deep” as the game is trying to appeal to a wider audience. But the experiences as a result of the beasts of the game alone are more than enough to make up for any loss in “crafting complexity.”

I think there’s definitely more room in this review to discuss the interactions within this open world, but there’s also something intriguing about not knowing what else can happen within the world of Horizon Zero Dawn.