Horizon Call of the Mountain Review: what a show with PlayStation VR2

Horizon Call of the Mountain Review: what a show with PlayStation VR2
horizon call of the mountain review: what a show with

PlayStation VR2 launch game is ready to flex its VR muscles from Sony in a visually spectacular linear adventure.

Horizon Call of the Mountain
Review: PlayStation 5

To accompany the debut of the highly anticipated Playstation VR2 (here’s our PlayStation VR2 review) there is Horizon Call of the Mountain. The launch title of the Sony-branded virtual reality headset is a good spin-off of the Guerrilla Games franchise, but above all a game designed for flex the muscles of your new devicewhich will hit shelves worldwide starting February 22, 2023. An experience without a doubt a must-have for future VR2 ownersdespite some small conceptual limitations that still do not affect its ambitions and the show it is able to offer.

Past Aloy, before Forbidden West

While not presenting a particularly elaborate narrative component, it is important to frame the temporal and geographical location of Horizon: Call of the Mountain with respect to the two main titles, and above all in relation to the most recent episode of the saga (shoot the shot towards our review of Horizon Forbidden West to learn more).

The story of Call of the Mountain takes place between the events of Zero Dawn and the prologue of Forbidden Westbefore fearless Aloy begins her perilous journey into the unknown lands of the Forbidden West. In the work for PSVR 2 we take on the role of Ryas, a renegade warrior with a tragic past, who has joined the menacing Carja of the Shadows.

While on the trail of his brother Urid, missing for some time, the protagonist is captured by the forces of Meridiana and involved in a mission that – coincidentally! – will lead him right in the footsteps of the lost relative.

By interacting with the various characters, many of whom are familiar to connoisseurs of the saga, Ryas understands that his future actions could redeem him from the wickedness committed in his youth and that at the end of the journey he could really be reunited with his brother. The Horizon Campaign: Call of the Mountain has a fairly short duration, and can be completed in about 6 hours, a longevity which, obviously, risks undergoing some upward swings based on the selected difficulty. By setting the most challenging level, thus raising the challenge bar in terms of movements, equipment management and enemy behavior, it is possible that the game will keep you busy for a couple of additional hours. In addition, in addition to the story, the game offers two different modes: a call Safarimainly dedicated to a guided tour through the wonderful biomes of Call of the Mountain, and another focused on Challengeswhere you can put what you learned during the Campaign into practice in a series of timed tasks. Regardless of the amount of content, it must be admitted that the quality and breadth of this story does not shine through: the writing, albeit enriched by sufficiently charismatic and interesting characters is subordinated to the playful needs of the production.

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While leaving the player a fair amount of freedom of movement within its digital spaces, this VR incarnation of Horizon does not re-propose the open world formula that distinguishes the mother series, opting for a more linear structure, which nonetheless surprised us not a little From a technical point of view. In short, you shouldn’t expect the variety of stories and subplots that characterized Aloy’s adventures: Ryas’ mission mostly consists of exploring vast portions of the map, in a succession of paths in which to recover specific objects or knock down the Machines, repeating this cycle of activity for the duration of the experience.

Between climbing and fighting

Before analyzing in detail the mechanics of Horizon: Call of the Mountain it is appropriate to describe you how the game interfaces with the new PlayStation VR2 features. Each action takes into account first of all the detections of the device, which traces an area in which the player can move freely, compatibly with the obstacles present in the room and in the related playing area.

A large part of the interactions is dictated by the use of the VR Sense controllers, based on the simulation of gestures and on the pressure of special keys to interact with all the elements on the screen. Moving the avatar, for example, is managed by the alternating movement of the forearms while holding down two specific front controls.

Furthermore, each zone of the controllers corresponds to the gesture of the relative fingers and by pressing the two adaptive triggers it is possible to grab objects of any type.

In short, every movement of the arm implies an action: for example, by bringing the hand behind the shoulder the weapon is extracted, while simulating the nocking of an arrow one can fire against enemy beasts. The system, typical of other virtual reality productions, soon acquires naturalness and fluidity even for those who are not accustomed to the wonders of VR, maximizing the sense of immersion. As for the gameplay formula, as already mentioned, Horizon: Call of the Mountain proves to be a simple and immediate experience, in fact a more linear version of Zero Dawn and Forbidden West. Consistent with the characters of the adventure, which does not aim to reach the playful depth of the Aloy saga, the variety of weapons and the depth of progression are more contained. The combat is in fact limited to the interludes scattered between one exploration sequence and another, but it is an overall functional choice in relation to the features of the proposal.

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While not boasting the dynamism or complexity of the main chapters, the combat system still manages not to betray its spirit: during battles freedom of movement is only partial, and since we will only be able to dodge the attacks of the monsters by moving to the right or left, it is important to often alternate the various types of ammunition to take advantage of the elemental weaknesses of the Machines, as well as exploit the resources present in the environment to deal even higher damage to artificial beasts.

These will be the only danger of the game: Call of the Mountain does not allow you to face hordes of flesh and blood opponents, focusing only on the threat posed by mechanical creatures.

The beating heart of the work then beats in the recurring platform sections, mainly built on intense climbing phases that give back a sense of profound verticality. In this regard, in addition to the usual ranged weapons (bow and sling), the protagonist is equipped with a series of climbing objects, including ice axes, grappling hooks, ropes and throwing blades. Tools that are obtained for predominantly narrative reasons, one level after another, and which for this reason infuse the gameplay with a sense of progressive growth.

In any case, climbing is the funnest part of the adventure, as well as a cornerstone of the experience conceived by the development team. On the other hand it is evident how well Guerrilla and Firesprite have worked on the physicality of the movement: walking and climbing, but above all clinging to rocky holds, ropes and rusty scrap metal protrusions, require a considerable “athletic” effort, all managing to limit the motion sickness to a minimum.

Options and accessibilityAmong the options of Horizon: Call of the Mountain, plenty of space is dedicated to accessibility and personalization of the user experience. As for the former, players can modify elements such as vignetting and motion sensitivity. Secondly, it is possible to vary or expand the degree of immersion, from easy settings that make the experience more guided up to total freedom of movements, gestures and actions.

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During the most agitated sections, the game triggers a dynamic system that narrows the field of vision to create a real vignette, so as to prevent the pace of the action from causing feelings of discomfort. The aforementioned feature is also adjustable in the settings menu, to allow users to fully enjoy the sensory show offered by the title. Furthermore, we believe that the team has implemented good support for haptic functions, which represent one of the main flagships of the current generation PlayStation controllers. In Horizon: Call of the Mountain the haptic vibration also involves the headset, which transmits tactile stimuli at particular moments during the adventure. Whether it’s the already memorable prologue, or the heart-pounding sequences in the jaws of a Thunder Divorce, the inputs of the viewer help to greatly amplify the involvement between the gameplay meshes.

We are also very satisfied with the management of environmental interactions, although these do not deviate too much from the playful standards of this kind of experience: thanks to the technologies supplied with PSVR2, the elements that make up the digital sets convey a pleasant sense of “tangibility “, favoring immersion in the wild landscapes sculpted by the developers.

All this was possible, of course, thanks to the considerable computing power of PlayStation 5. The Sony flagship, at least in the context of an exclusive like Horizon: Call of the Mountain, also shows its muscles on a technical level: the overall quality of the scenarios is impressive, and the excellence of the Decima Engine allows the title to very close to the splendor of the views of Forbidden West. In short, despite its structural limitations, Call of the Mountain is the manifestation of a very specific purpose: to show the public what PlayStation VR2 is capable of. And if you want to know more here is our exclusive interview with the Horizon Call of the Mountain team.

Horizon Call of the Mountain
Horizon Call of the MountainPlayStation 5 Analyzed VersionHorizon: Call of the Mountain is a virtual reality game with an ordinary and “basic” gameplay formula when compared to the action adventures that make up the main saga. The difference, however, lies in the technology supporting the innovative features of PlayStation VR2, which enrich the sense of immersion thanks to excellent management of physics and movement sensors. All of this is enriched by a breathtaking visual frame that easily exploits the computing power of PlayStation 5 and that loudly thunders the gigantic production scope of an unmissable launch exclusive for PSVR2 owners.