The game has players traversing a post-post-apocalyptic world – that's not a typo, it takes place one-thousand years after a cataclysmic disaster – in which humans are living in tribes at the bottom of the food chain. Oh, and the world's been taken over by vicious animal-like machines.
What's more, it's Sony's biggest PlayStation 4 franchise debut – ever. Horizon really is one of the most important Dutch media releases of the past decade: it's helped put Dutch game development on the map, and it deserves every scrap of the praise it's been getting. Naturally, there are some not-so-coincidental similarities between Amsterdam and the game. Here are a few.
The main character's a girl
One thing that initially strikes people about Horizon is that Aloy, the game's playable character, is a fierce redhead girl. That's right, a female lead protagonist in a blockbuster video game. It's incredibly refreshing, giving the games industry a much-needed change from the generic marine or quipping everyman we typically get.
This decision undeniably has something to do with Amsterdam's progressive and forward-looking values. The studio has even remarked that they didn't actively realise it was such a big deal to include a female lead; it just sort of unconsciously happened. If only other developers could be so open-minded. Good on you, Guerrilla.
The weather's nuts
The weather in Amsterdam is ... unpredictable. One minute you could be cycling across the city's cobbled streets and narrow alleys in sunshine and blue skies, and the next you'll find yourself in the middle of a sunshower. Horizon mirrors Amsterdam's meteorology with its dynamic weather system, with a few exaggerations of course: expect beautiful vistas illuminated by blazing sunshine, torrential downpour unsettling the game's canal-like streams and even the odd vision-disrupting dust storm (OK, we don't get those in Amsterdam!)
“The weather system is more impairing of vision for example,” says the game's director, Mathijs de Jonge. “At night, robots can be harder to see but also can have lots of light and sparks when you shoot at them, so there’s a bit of a balance there.”
There's a lot going on
There's so much to do in the Amsterdam, there's no doubt about that. From mind-blowing exhibitions and kick-ass music gigs to the city's world-renowned festivals, you're never going to run out of cool stuff to do. Horizon is the same. Obviously, you're not going to be heading to a post-post-apocalyptic indie gig or art exhibition, but there's still a heck of a lot to do.
Along with Horizon's huge main story, the game's stunning world is peppered with collectables, packs of hostile robotic beasts, hunting challenges and fully fleshed-out side quests – side quests that put most games' main campaigns to shame. Needless to say, if you live in Amsterdam and own a PS4 with a copy of Horizon: Zero Dawn, you're going to be a very busy bionic bee in these coming months. I know I will be.