Horizon Dawn – My Favorite Game of 2017

I started this post as my favorite game of all time.  I couldn’t narrow it down.  So, instead, I decided to instead do my favorite game of 2017.

I actually wanted to title it My Favorite Game of 2017 That Wasn’t A Game I Made – (See Super Lucky’s Tale), but it seemed a little wordy… and my grammar checker yelled at me.

Even still, honestly, it was kind of hard.  Being in the industry, I play a lot of games… Like a lot a lot.  I don’t actually finish many, being a parent – that’s pretty hard – but I play a lot, and across a lot of platforms/devices.  

So, narrowing it down to my favorite game of just this year proved a bit of a challenge, but thinking through it (and checking various sites to see if the games I was thinking about were actually released this year) it came down to one.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Logo

I not only played Horizon Zero Dawn.  I finished it.  And I not only finished it, I utterly crushed it. I finished/unlocked/completed almost everything you could do in that game.  I don’t doubt I put in more hours in other titles, but nothing really gripped me as much as this game.

It’s interesting too.  In many ways, the game is very similar to the outstanding, and frankly more kiddo friendly Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – except that in Horizon Zero Dawn my weapon doesn’t break every time I look at it wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game – particularly for kids. Horizon Zero Dawn skews decidedly more adult in both theme and content.  All that said about the latest Zelda game, Horizon Zero Dawn does most everything better.  

So, What Is It?

Horizon Zero Dawn is an open world adventure game.  For the most part, you’re free to explore the world and take on the content as you wish.  Because there’s a narrative (and a pretty good one) there is a through-line, and some areas can be locked off at different times, but generally, you’re free to explore as you wish.

And there’s robot dinosaurs.

Robot Dinosaurs
Horizon Zero Dawn | Guerrilla Games

I mean, credit where credit it is due.  The game plays great, the story’s good, the voice acting is on point… but, really, you had me at: Robot Dinosaurs.

Should My Kid Play Horizon Zero Dawn?

As much as I love this game, I, personally, wouldn’t recommend it for younger kiddos.  There’s some adult themes going on in this story.  It’s rated T for Teens, and that seems about right to me.  About on par with a just slightly edgy PG-13 movie.

Now, I have to confess, I haven’t actually played the DLC for the game.  I’m kind of saving that for my holiday break, but even without that extra content, the game is pretty expansive.  I sank quite a bit of time into it and enjoyed every minute.

Well, mostly every minute, the game has a quirk.  In game design terms, it establishes a visual language that the color yellow means “climbable”.  In an of itself, that’s awesome.  The problem I ran into is that visual language only applies to objects in the world that would be man-made.  So buildings, vehicles, etc…  For natural objects, like say, mountains, the visual language is the color white.  Again, that in and of itself is fine and great — EXCEPT THAT MOST OF THE GAME TAKES PLACE ON A SNOW COVERED LANDSCAPE.

All in all, it’s actually a pretty minor issue.  You can find your way around without too much issue.

No Snow
Not Snow Covered Area – Horizon Zero Dawn | Guerrilla Games

Besides, if they extended the man-made object visual language to the natural world, it would probably have the opposite effect, as the last place I want to go, is the area covered in yellow snow.

Do you have a favorite game this year?  Do your kiddos?  Add a comment below.  I’d love to see what everyone’s been playing.


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