Review: Horizon Forbidden West explained to parents

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What parents need to know

Horizon Forbidden West takes place in a distant post-apocalyptic future. Human civilization has collapsed to make way for a society dominated by robotic creatures. We play the character of Aloy, who has just saved what remains of humanity. This game is the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn (see our post on this game).

Horizon Forbidden West Boxart Screen SharingRelease date: 18 February 2022

Developed by: Guerrilla Games
Published by: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Available on: Playstation 4, Playstation 5.

Type of game: Action, Adventure
Average time of one game: 2 hours

Estimate of the total duration of the game:
The estimated time for the main quest is 40 hours. With the side quests the game can go up to 200 hours.

Topics: Fights, Adventure, Post-Apocalyptic, Imaginary, Exploration

Business model: Just need to buy the game once.

Number of players:
1 player

Available in physical (Blu-ray) or digital (download) format.

The game was provided by the publisher for a review.
It does not influence our opinion.
Players3+ 7+ 12+16+18+
Neophytes
Intermediate
Experienced
Possibility to play in easy mode but it will be necessary to apprehend the manipulation of the camera in 3D. A lot of infiltration, requires tactics and strategy. Fights can be long if you don’t pay attention to how your enemies react. This can say a lot about their next actions.

Replayability
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Horizon Forbidden West has a lot of side quests, which can make you accumulate several hours of games. The world is huge and very immersive. The colorful landscapes are beautiful and varied. When you travel, it’s nice to walk around and be able to contemplate the world around you. You can also play the game with a higher level of difficulty once the game is complete.

Difficulty
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It will take perseverance to get to the end of the adventure, even if you can choose the level of difficulty. Some determination is an asset since exploration, puzzle solving and combat are a good challenge.

Violence, fear, nudity?
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Horizon Forbidden West is a game containing fights. Aloy uses arrows, spears and explosive traps to injure and kill machines, wild boars and human enemies. During the murders, blood stains are depicted.

Level of language used
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Dialogues may contain swearing as well as allusions to drugs, alcohol, and sex. Allusions to sex are more subtle, they are often made in the form of metaphors and innuendos.

Positive message
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The colors and graphics of the game are sublime. Nature has regained its rights and many landscapes are open to us. Aloy is a confident, charismatic woman who is a role model when it comes to perseverance.

Horizon Forbidden West, like the original game, leads us to ask questions about the future of our societies and civilizations, the development of technologies or the preservation of the environment.

However, it often happens that Aloy has to use violence in order to achieve his goals.

Minimum reading level required
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The game uses a level of familiar language. It requires several years of reading experience if you want to be able to read tutorials and menus. All dialogues are spoken, and available in several languages. Each dialogue is accompanied by subtitles.

Additional costs ?
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No extensions are available at this time. If an extension is announced, this page will be updated.

Minimum level of execution on the controller required
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The game gives us access to a panoply of weapons that are all different from each other. A good mastery of the controller is necessary in order to perform in the game. All buttons on the controller are used. Motion detection can be enabled in the game settings by pressing the Option button (located to the right of the touchpad). This option allows you to move the controller to control when Aloy uses her bow and observes her environment when her focus is activated.

Principle of the game

The game is an open world, it means that you have the opportunity to roam freely the virtual world in which you are. Nothing will stop you from going where you want to go whenever you want. Your main enemies are robots with the effigy of animals that are called “machines”. The world is built in such a way as to arouse curiosity. It is good at times to take a break in order to look at the attractive landscapes that this game offers.

You play as the character of Aloy, who after saving the world for the first time, tries to unravel the mystery of the scourge that has fallen on nature in recent months. During his quest, Aloy will be brought to fight against machines, but also to help other tribes. The more history progresses, the more it learns the cause of the appearance of the scourge and about humanity before the apocalypse.

Here are the main mechanics of the game:

Exploration:

Aloy, in order to save the planet from the scourge, will have to explore the Forbidden West region. Those who have already played the first game will be pleasantly surprised by this new explorable region. The developers of the game have put the package in terms of pushing the limits of the console. The world to explore is huge!

The world Aloy will have to explore is really alive. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has had hundreds of years at its disposal to regain life. The player will feel a real impression that nature has taken over technology, despite the threat of machines.

Aloy, being the great climber that she is, can climb the rocks and mountains that are around her. She will have to use her observation and climbing skills to find resources that will help her improve her equipment. She will find ruins of the Old World (what remains of humanity before the apocalypse), whether on the surface or underwater. She will meet characters that she will have to help or defeat. Some games are known to have open worlds that are empty. This is not at all the case for Horizon Forbidden West: there is always something to discover.

Aloy uses a device called the focus, which allows him to scan his environment in order to highlight enemies, resources to find, as well as walls on which it is possible to climb.

However, the world is dotted with machines that Aloy must destroy or bypass if she wants to achieve her goal, which brings us to the next mechanic.

Fight:

Aloy has to fight against machines and humans. The machines all have an appearance that resembles a beast. Some machines will look like snakes, horses, rams, etc. The combat is quite complex: it requires a good knowledge of the controller. Those who played the previous opus will be surprised, however: the controls remain relatively the same, there will be little adaptation to have. On the other hand, those who are new to the series will have to show perseverance and determination. It is common for Aloy to be defeated, especially at the beginning of the game when she has little equipment at her disposal.

Hand-to-hand combat, carried out with the help of a spear, is quite direct: hitting the enemy as much as possible in order to bring him down. Combat also requires the use of traps and other weapons, including his bow and arrow.

There are several weapons that are at Aloy’s disposal. Without going into details in order to avoid spoilers, each weapon has its advantage and disadvantage, and each weapon has its own type of ammunition that is appropriate. Although there are a lot of weapons, it is possible to stick to the few weapons that the player prefers. They are introduced as the story progresses.

Improvements:

Aloy can upgrade his weapons with the help of resources. These are acquired by destroying machines, or by finding them in the environment.

As in many role-playing games (RPGs), Aloy has a level that increases as she completes quests and destroys machines. His level increases his strength, defense, etc.

By leveling up, Aloy has access to new skills, such as being more discreet when trying to trap her enemies, being stronger in hand-to-hand combat or with her arrows, etc.

Quests:

The world of Horizon Forbidden West is alive. Aloy will meet several characters during his adventure. Many of these characters need help, help that often only Aloy can offer, due to his experience with technology and machines.

It is common in some video games that mini quests are only an excuse for the main character to raise money or levels. In the case of this game, the characters who ask for Aloy’s help are actually in need of something. Indeed, since the world in which Aloy lives is immersive and alive, we really feel that the characters have their own lives outside of Aloy’s quest. In that sense, as a player, we really feel like we’re helping these characters when we help them.

Local game modes

The game doesn’t have a local game mode, just one mode where you go through the story. There is no mode where you share the screen. The game requires a certain skill in the field of video games in order to play it. Those who have played Horizon Zero Dawn (the first game in the series) will be happy to see that the controls are very similar.

No online game modes

Game Editions

You have to be careful to look at the editions of the game that are available.

First, the game includes 2 basic editions: PS4 Standard Edition and PS5 Standard Edition.

Here are the details of what each version includes

PS4 Standard Edition: $79.99 :

Horizon Forbidden West PS4 Standard Edition

Includes the game for the PS4 console (available in Blu-Ray and digital format), but also includes an upgrade for the PS5. For example, you own a Playstation 4, and you buy the game. 1 year later, you decide to buy a Playstation 5. You put the Playstation 4 game CD in your Playstation 5 console. The Playstation 5 will recognize the game as a Playstation 5 game. You will be able to enjoy the best graphics of the Playstation 5 version.

PS5 Standard Edition: $89.99:

Horizon Forbidden West PS5 Standard Edition

Includes the game for the PS5 console (both in Blu-Ray and digital format), but also for the PS4 version . This game is playable on the PS4. So you can understand that the version here and the previous version are both playable on PS4 or PS5 . Do not purchase the PS5 Standard Edition version.

Buy the PS4 Standard Edition version instead, no matter if you own a Playstation 4 or Playstation 5.

Then there are versions that exist that include bonuses that are optional to the base game. These editions are primarily aimed at the big fans of the series. Here they are.

Special Edition : $99.99

Horizon Forbidden West Special Edition

Playable on PS4 or PS5 in physical version (Blu-Ray) only.

The content of this edition: a metal case that includes a cover different from the special edition in which the Blu-Ray rests, an artbook (booklet containing drawings made by the developers) and a downloadable soundtrack.

Collector’s Edition : $249

Horizon Forbidden West Collector's Edition

Playable on PS4 or PS5 as a downloadable version only.

The content of this edition: a metal case that includes a cover different from the special edition in which you can put any CD, an artbook (booklet containing drawings made by the developers), a downloadable soundtrack, a downloadable comic, 1 statuette of Aloy and a statuette of a machine. This edition also gives bonus armor in the game.

The metal case is empty, it does not contain a physical version of the game inside.

Regalla Edition / Regalla Edition: $299.99

Horizon Forbidden West Regalla Edition

Playable on PS4 or PS5 as a downloadable version only.

The content of this edition: a metal case that includes a cover different from the special edition in which you can put any CD, an artbook (booklet containing drawings made by the developers), a downloadable soundtrack, a downloadable comic, several statuettes with the effigy of Aloy, a focus, and other. This edition also gives bonus weapons and armor in the game.

The metal case is empty, it does not contain a physical version of the game inside.

Digital Deluxe Edition: $99.99

Horizon Forbidden West Digital Deluxe Edition

Playable on PS4 or PS5 in digital version only. Buyable directly from Playstation Store (from your PS4, PS5 or Playstation Store website).

The content of this edition: a downloadable soundtrack, a downloadable comic, an artbook (booklet containing drawings made by the developers) as well as bonus resources, weapons and armor in the game.

But what should it edition I buy?

Want to have fun for hours? Buy the PS4 Standard Edition. Don’t buy the PS5 Standard Edition, it costs $10 more for no apparent reason. Buy only the other editions if you are more of the collector type and you want to have items to display in your living room.

I didn’t play the first installment in the series, can I play this one?

Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to the Horizon Zero Dawn game that was released in 2017. When you launch the game Horizon Forbidden West, you will be entitled to a summary of the events that took place in the first opus. Handy if your last game of Horizon Zero Dawn was from a few years ago!

Aloy, in his new adventure, reconnects with several characters from the first opus. As you meet these characters, they will appear in a section of the menu that gives a description of their place in the world of Aloy.

As mentioned earlier, the controls are very similar between the two games. It’s normal to master them better if you have already played the first opus.

You can play this game without having played Horizon Zero Dawn, but you will feel like some moments in the story are eluding you. If you usually have little interest in history when playing video games, Horizon Forbidden West remains a pleasant experience to live.

Conclusion

This game is a true masterpiece. Some elements of the game make it less accessible for younger children (see the table of ages above), especially due to the complexity of the controls and the language that can be vulgar at certain moments of the game. This game offers the experience of a living world, a captivating story, and an extraordinary heroine. The price is not given, however, it will certainly pay off by the many hours that can be invested in the game.

More information about the game:Official game page

About François Néron

Étudiant à la maitrise en orientation professionnelle, François a un intérêt pour tout ce qui concerne le développement de la carrière et l'emploi. Il a une passion marquée pour les jeux vidéo, mais aussi pour la psychologie qui les entoure.

View all posts by François Néron