Like many modern games, Forbidden Horizon West involves a lot of climbing. However, this game stands out by bringing something new and exciting into a mechanic that, frankly, needs it. More choices when climbing, as well as game visuals, make climbing Forbidden Horizon West fun as opposed to a chore like many other similar games.
Forbidden Horizon West is a visually stunning game, although its map contains environments that bear similarities to its predecessor, Horizon Zero Dawn. The biggest difference between the maps of the two games is that west forbidden is much more vertical – the landscapes are littered with mountains to explore and towers to climb. It’s not a burden west forbidden as if it would have been Zero Dawn, or many other games. west forbidden elevates the climbing mechanic far beyond “finding the yellow object to climb”, which has been a trend seen time and time again.
Climbing mechanics in the modern game
When you think of modern rock climbing and exploration, the first games that come to mind are Unexplored, the grave robber reboots, and many more titles in the PS3 era of action-adventure games. Although visually impressive, even by today’s standards, this type of climbing boils down to the player running up a series of brightly colored ledges and mashing the jump button until they reach the top. . This type of gameplay feels almost scripted, as there’s little player interaction here. Other games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have their own unique climbing mechanics, but Forbidden Horizon West serves as an evolution of the typical climbing formula.
At the beginning of zero dawn, Aloy accesses a Focus; a device that gives him many abilities throughout the game, such as scanning enemy weak points and marking trails. In west forbidden, the focus also highlights walls that can be climbed. Since Aloy can climb just about any wall in specific spots, using west forbidden‘s Focus is encouraged. This turns the game into a series of familiar “follow the bright yellow lights to climb” sequences, but it’s completely optional. This gives the player the freedom to decide how to play. On top of that, tying the mechanic to the Focus makes perfect sense in the context of the game’s lore, as opposed to other games where it stands out.
How Horizon Forbidden West Climbing Stands Out
Even a few hours later, it is clear that Forbidden Horizon West offers more traversal options than its contemporaries, including a wall jump. Although it is not a mario-wall jump that allows players to jump over obstacles, it’s a nice extra option to grab a ledge that would otherwise be out of reach. Aloy can also jump backwards off a ledge instead of just going up or down. This allows paths to be branched, and again, it’s one more option to play with. While both of these options are straightforward, they refresh an otherwise monotonous game mechanic. There are also a few more complex movement options that Aloy can play with.
The biggest addition to Aloy’s arsenal is her new grappling hook. Its purpose is multiple: the hook can not only be used to knock down walls and reveal entrances, but it can also be used to pull and rotate platforms on which to climb. Aloy can tackle long vertical distances, choosing to either grab the ledge she’s approaching or use it as a launch point to go even higher. Aloy is also given a Shieldwing Glider after a major event early in the game, which allows for safe falls from heights that would otherwise prove fatal. These options all encourage exploration, which is therefore fun and satisfying.
Horizon Forbidden West is more than exploration
Forbidden Horizon West is a game acclaimed for its exploration, visuals, combat, enemy designs, and motion capture work. Exploration and climbing stand out as much as they do because they manage to innovate where few other games seem to want to. All movement options and items are only for the first part of the game, so fans must be wondering what other surprises we have in store. This goes to show that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might not be the best motto for video games. Pushing beyond established conventions can lead to greatness and hopefully even more innovations will be seen in the future.
Forbidden Horizon West is available now on PS4 and PS5.
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