Horizon Call of the Mountain | Review – A visual spectacle

Horizon Call of the Mountain | Review – A visual spectacle

Announced a year ago, Horizon Call of the Mountain certainly has an important task: to convince VR enthusiasts of the quality of PlayStation VR2 and above all of the quality of the exclusive titles coming from PlayStation Studios. Unlike in the past, this time Sony Interactive has aimed high, taking advantage of one of the most successful IPs of recent years, precisely, Horizon.

Guerrilla and Firesprite have worked on an experience that could be first of all visually consistent with the beauties seen on the two classic titles, providing an adventure with incomparable artistic value, but leaving innovation behind and not pushing so much on the real potential of the new viewer. As a first test, however, we are faced with an excellent starting point, and Horizon proves to be a versatile franchise, maintaining a high quality also on other types of genres.

Horizon Call of the Mountain , an unpublished story

The story of Horizon Call of the Mountain is set between Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden and features Ryas, a former member of the Carja of the Shadows forced to serve a sentence of probation for the Sundom.

The story does not offer particular new ideas regarding the narrative universe of Horizon, but it puts the same world created by Guerrilla under a new perspective, interacting with new characters and above all impersonating someone different from Aloy... and it is precisely here that perhaps the Firesprite game stumbles. Don't get me wrong, Ryas is a decent character, but the lack of Aloy — who I still think is one of the best characterized protagonists in recent gaming history — is felt.

I will leave it to you to evaluate the story as a whole in detail to avoid making too many spoilers (some references are still interesting), but it is good that you know that the title not only offers the single player adventure, but also a challenge mode that allows you to face different situations to test our skills, useful for obtaining additional upgrades and always staying fit for our main raids. A great addition that extends the longevity of the game by at least a good hour, which will keep you busy for at least 6-7 hours for the main journey alone, a time absolutely in line with similar VR productions.

A classic experience

From a gameplay point of view, Horizon Call of the Mountain doesn't offer anything really innovative. It aims to be a classic and linear experience, where we are asked to reach a point by scaling mountain walls and climbing ropes, solve simple environmental puzzles and fight against some popular machines from the Horizon series including Sentinels, Feeders, Scavengers and many others .

Guerrilla and Firesprite have certainly put a lot of effort into making it as varied as possible, inserting lots of objects to interact with to adequately test the viewer and related technologies; in fact, it is possible to play different musical instruments, paint on the walls, create objects and much more. All thoroughly enjoyable activities, but nothing you haven't already seen or experienced in several other VR adventure games.

Even the fights themselves, even if characterized by the same dynamics of any Horizon game, don't offer particular innovations, resulting also often not very stimulating in overcoming them; there are some mechanics already seen in the series starring Aloy, such as a simplified arrow crafting system and the ability to dialogue with some characters in the story. Let me be clear, in general we are dealing with a very enjoyable game that can be played very well, also because the general setting is something that other titles fail to offer. However, I would have expected some new elements, some particular mechanics that really made me realize that I was playing something that I couldn't actually try elsewhere, but this was not the case.

With Horizon Call of the Mountain we were able to appreciate the haptic feedback of the viewer for the first time, which proved to be anything but invasive, also because I found its presence not very evident, perhaps also so as not to annoy the player too much. An enjoyable option, but which will have to be re-evaluated with other types of products.

Important, however, is that I have not suffered from any kind of motion sickness problem, but to be honest, I have serious doubts that with this viewer there may still be critical issues of this kind. There will certainly be some who will be able to play it less time than another person, but the accessibility settings are so vast that it is possible to customize the experience appropriately for anyone. To give you an example, it is possible to set the movement by holding down two buttons and bringing your hands as if you were really running, in this way the motion sickness is practically cancelled. You still feel a bit of effort on the slopes, but much less than what we have seen in other games.

The world of Horizon seen up close

How many times playing Horizon Zero Dawn or Forbidden West have you asked yourself “wow, how much I would like to see this up close”? I am certainly one of those, and as soon as I put on the viewer and catapulted myself into the world of the franchise created by Guerrilla, I was seriously moved.

I had the opportunity to play several very beautiful titles on VR, Half-Alyx above all, but also trivially Lone Echo, Stormland, Asgard's Wrath, and I must admit that no one had impressed me visually like this Horizon Call of the Mountain . The credit certainly goes in part to the viewer, thanks to the new OLED HDR display and the resolution of 2000×2048 pixels per eye, where everything looks much better already in principle. But what gives that extra touch are above all the artistic and graphic components, by far among the best seen in a virtual reality video game.

There is so much variety in the environments, from barren canyons to verdant forests and snowy plains; wherever I looked, I found myself in well-characterized and truly detailed locations. Even without playing, the best thing to do to see this wonder is to start the "Gran Safari" mode which acts a bit as a technical benchmark for the viewer and gives you the opportunity to watch a showcase of the game without necessarily having to move.

Sony wanted to put in Horizon Call of the Mountain all those characteristics of a great game, not only in terms of aesthetics, but also for audio (with an excellent soundtrack) and technical solidity than any triple A PlayStation production, clear testimony of how much the Japanese company's studies focus so much on virtual reality.

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