Game Reviews

Horizon Forbidden West review

Forbidden but welcoming

₹ 4,999

Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the most interesting and spectacular games on the PS4. It was also very beautiful and had multiple storylines squashed into one tight game. Forbidden West is all of that with a massive map, and even better storytelling. 

Politics, world-saving missions, mecha-dinosaurs with guns, a massive map with varied terrain and regions, Aloy’s luscious hair, jaw-dropping visuals, and an ongoing civil war. Horizon Forbidden West has all of that crammed with the familiar gameplay with very little spoon-feeding.


Aloy’s struggles can easily be mistaken for an adventure. Although, for you the gamer, it’s an adventure like no other. There’s not a lot of tension and drama here. Even though Forbidden West tries to sell you that the world is ending, people are fighting and politics is omnipresent. It always surrounds you with the people that want your best interests, and you’re constantly fighting pre-established enemies, be it machines or humans.

Be that as it may, there’s a new threat that is destroying Earth. It is slowly chewing into the natural resources because some AI is being mischievous or maybe the AI that is supposed to fix everything is half-baked at best, we don’t know but Aloy must travel to the Forbidden West and grab the remaining AIs that are responsible for creating a balance and merge them with the central super intelligent and weirdly empathic AI known as Gaia.

The story also picks up a few months after the first game so you might want to finish Horizon Zero Dawn first before jumping into Forbidden West. The game also has old characters making a return along with many new ones. If you don’t want to play the older game, just look up a video on YouTube to catch up to the story before you play Forbidden West – it's not a deal-breaker.

The world

The world of Horizon drives its story forward. The Forbidden West region is massive. The trailers that show the dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge is to the far west, and you start off at the far east of the map! The in-between consists of three different tribes inhabiting three different regions of the map. From marshy lowlands to agricultural plains to hilly sides to mountainous regions and to the Las Vegas desert. Forbidden West has every possible natural habitat you would want to visit. 

It serves you a palette of colour that changes from one region to another so quickly that you instantly recognise the areas without opening your map. Understanding which tribe inhabits which region merely by understanding its geography is one of the finest ways of storytelling and the side-missions expand on this too.

The game also opens up slowly after a few hours. Once you arrive at the Forbidden West, the world is your oyster. You can simply tackle any mission or go as far as you want but in a world filled with robots that want to quickly send you back to the respawn point, it’s not a good option to travel far without leveling up. The bigger and meaner machines can kill you in an instant. They’re also like boss battles that often require lots of ammunition and preparations before taking down.



The gameplay is almost the same as last game with a few new tricks that make things interesting. Although for the most part, it felt very similar to the previous game. The best way to take down machines is to strip them of their parts with well-placed arrows and also attack with elemental shots to inflict additional damage after scanning for weaknesses. That is the core of Horizon’s combat mechanics. This, along with stealth, override (hacking machines to work for you), bombs and traps make up a proper arsenal to take down the strongest foe.

Remember we mentioned a civil war? Yes, the bad folks can now override the big machines for good, often using them to hold outposts along the three tribes' locations. So at some point, you’ll be fighting machines and humans at the same time. It can get extremely overwhelming if you’re not prepared or don’t use stealth. Even with higher level gear, taking on tougher foes never gets easy and that is why Horizon’s combat remains challenging and fresh for a long time. Even after 20-odd hours


You can find Cauldrons that are hidden (mostly under mountains) that grant you the ability to hack new machines. Cauldrons are spooky metal caves that sometimes remind you of the scene from the first Matrix movie when Neo wakes up from the sleeping pod. It’s almost like that and creepy too.

You can’t really climb anywhere. It’s got Assassin’s Creed-like climbing but weirdly you can only climb where the game allows you. A scan of the environment will give you yellow lines that indicate ledges to climb. Areas that don’t have yellow lines mean you can’t climb there. It really makes you think about scanning a place before deciding to climb. 

Much like before, collecting resources is also a big part of Horizon’s gameplay. Resources from nature restore health. Meanwhile, a combination of resources from machines and nature let you craft ammunition, and allow for weapon, pouch and outfit upgrades. There are also timid wild animals that are always fleeing at the sight of you. You will have to go hunting for these wild animals to upgrade your pouch inventory or craft potions that help you in battle.

Graphics and audio

These tiny animals may not dazzle you or look stunning on your fancy new OLED, but the world and the machines and humans that inhabit them will blow your socks away. The game looks gorgeous. Our thoughts after playing the game for an hour were ‘Is this what the PS5 is capable of?’ We played the game on Resolution mode on the PS5 and here’s a public service announcement — if you can, try and play the game on the PS5. It’s absolutely brilliant. 

Facial animations and hand gestures during conversations are so real and life-like that it’s hard not to praise Horizon as a technical marvel. Even Aloy’s hair has a life of its own. Realistically, it moves way too much but it’s alright as long as it looks phenomenal, right? There are a few glitches to the animation where Aloy and other characters can sometimes be staring weirdly during a conversation but it's not half-baked and can be fixed with a few updates.

The environment is also brimming with character and detail. Each section of the map, every nook and cranny of Forbidden West has character and detail. It’s a vast open-world game but there’s a lot of care and attention to detail here. 

The game also supports all of PS5’s exclusive features like rapid load times, haptic feedback and Tempest audio. Riding machines across the Forbidden West feels nuanced thanks to the haptic feedback from the PS5 DualSense controller. Even the bowstrings have resistance and haptic touch to them. 

We wouldn’t recommend using headphones for this game because the Tempest audio can be a bit sharp at times. Especially when using your Focus to scan the environment the machine sounds are loud and sharp as if Aloy is trying to actually focus. It’s great in theory but the execution is better left to a soundbar.



Horizon Forbidden West takes its time to get the gears going. The story starts off with a world-saving motive but is often roadblocked by politics, civil war and of course machines. All these things eventually line up but Horizon shines the best at not deciding how you want to do your missions. You can start exploring the world once it opens up and exclusively engage in side missions and still be having the same amount of fun as the main quest.

Characters are fleshed out with personalities and emotions. Machines are bigger, meaner and always want to kill you. Even the side mission characters have a detailed script, personality and proper facial animations to add that spark of life in the Forbidden West. 

Horizon Forbidden West also has an equal representation of women in video games. From important main characters to interesting side characters, it’s a video game you can be proud of.

Stuff Says

The PlayStation has another masterpiece. Horizon Forbidden West is for adventurous gamers. One that wants to explore an interesting world filled with dangerous machines with a dollop of challenging combat and a fulfilling story.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Jaw-dropping visuals

  1. Challenging combat

  1. Intimidating machines

  1. Excellent side characters and missions

  1. Fantastic facial animations

  1. Climbing mechanic is not uniform

  1. Can be very challenging for some