The Characters Of Horizon Forbidden West
Aesthetically, Forbidden West really doesn’t disappoint. Aloy’s world looks just as amazing as it did in Zero Dawn, perhaps even more so if you’re playing it on the PS5. Trekking through the Forbidden West is like something straight out of a dream - passing through lush jungles, exploring vast canyons, and scouring the dilapidated ruins of cities from the time of the Old Ones.
But it’s not just the environments that are marvellous. The mechanical beasts that prowl Aloy’s world are in better shape than they’ve ever been, and the game’s flashy, impactful combat says as much. Whether it’s the first Bristleback you take on or your thousandth, the fight feels awfully good to look at (and of course, win), especially if you manage to hit the acid canisters on its back with your acid arrows.
Audio in Forbidden West is another huge part of the experience, and like Zero Dawn, the game’s background music blends modern and tribal-inspired tones to fit the post-apocalyptic fantasy setting. As for voice acting, Ashly Burch has done it again. Although I personally play a
lot more Japanese than English games, Horizon is still among my top ten for casting choices. There’s just so much life in all of the different characters that it’s hard to believe they’re merely in-game personas.
As I mentioned earlier, the combat arguably one of, if not the biggest part of Forbidden West’s gameplay - feels really, even absurdly, good. It’s like they took what they had in Zero Dawn and bumped it up a couple of notches in terms of impact, while also whittling away unnecessary bells and whistles such that it’s easy for anyone to pick up this game and enjoy it.
That goes especially for me. I’m quite clumsy when it comes to min-maxing in general since I don’t like to think too much about gear and skills, but thankfully I don’t seem to have that problem with Forbidden West. The mechanics are easy to understand and apply, from Valor to tripwires and elemental affinities.
Transitioning from one tool or weapon to another is as easy as flicking a switch (or in this case, L1 and the right thumbstick), and the developers aren’t shy about letting you feel absolutely overpowered once in a while. Now, as much as I appreciate a difficult boss battle from time to time like every other gamer out there, I’d also like to feel (at least occasionally) like my efforts are “paying off” in that sense, so seeing Aloy move and fight like a oneNora army when I’m just out killing bots for the sake of it is quite the
A FANTASTIC GAME WITH A JOURNEY NO LESS ENCHANTING WHETHER IT’S YOUR FIRST OR HUNDREDTH PLAYTHROUGH.
As for platforming, I found it quite manageable. It’s similar to what you might get from a Darksiders game. Of course, you’ll still have to scratch your heads here and there, but it wouldn’t be any fun if it was overly obvious or straightforward now, would it? Completionists and explorers will certainly want to check out the Relic Ruins scattered all across the Forbidden West. These areas don’t feature any combat scenarios and generally consist of a multi-step puzzle sequence that rewards Aloy with powerful Relics and other collectibles.
At the end of the day, there are truly very few things I dislike about Horizon Forbidden West, if at all. The only gripes I might have are relatively fixable too. First, there’s the lack of a respec function. Admittedly, it’s a small wrench in a bunch of gameplay cogs that would otherwise be flawless since beginners might not be aware of which skills to prioritise, or even the fact that they can’t re-spec, to begin with.
Second, it is worth highlighting that, unlike Horizon Zero Dawn, Forbidden West does NOT have a New Game Plus mode, meaning you’ll have to start over from ground zero if you want to replay the Campaign. Accordingly, you’ll do anything and everything within that one single game file, though you can keep your fingers crossed that Guerrilla might add this feature in a subsequent DLC.
With that said, if you put those tiny chinks in the armour aside, it’s a truly marvellous experience that’s easy to pick up, play, and more importantly, to love.