Horizon Zero Dawn presents gamers with a classic hero’s journey, albeit with a lot more robot dinosaurs. Young protagonist Aloy is consumed with unraveling the mysteries surrounding her birth, which led to her being an outcast of the matriarchal Nora tribe. This quest for knowledge intertwines with figuring out the state of their post-apocalyptic world, and the increasingly violent machines that inhabit it. Where did these beasts come from, and what happened to the ruined civilization that created them? Discovering the answers takes Aloy to every corner of the harsh and primitive world.

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Just when you’ve mastered the basics, the game’s massive world opens up. Aloy’s first journey out west provides a remarkable sense of discovery; the new desert landscape is teeming with different, deadlier machines, along with new settlements to explore and beautiful vistas to behold. Horizon isn’t afraid to delve deep into heady sci-fi topics, and the many complex mysteries it sets up are all answered in a marathon of revelations and explanations toward the end of the game.

The story-based missions are spread across three tiers of importance: main quests that reveal more secrets from Aloy’s past and the precursor civilization, side quests that follow up on narrative events and flesh out Horizon’s secondary characters, and errands that Aloy can complete for other acquaintances. The main and secondary missions especially do a great job of detailing the world and providing variety to the gameplay, whether you’re sneaking through herds of patrolling enemies or making a mad dash through massive man-versus-machine battles. The mundane hunt for collectibles is also spiced up by the game’s engaging combat.

Horizon may not be a revolution for the open-world genre, but overall it is a highly polished and compelling adventure.