It’s been a long journey. I started playing Horizon last year after Nastya had finished it, dropped it after it got really annoying and some time ago decided to return to it. Now I saved the world, destroyed Hades and ready to drop a line how this all was happening.
The world of the game is amazing. I love the graphics. I love the layout design. I love how perfectly everything match. Forests are majestic, forgotten ruins are mysterious and mesmerize by technology unknown to that civilization, jungles are lush and you can almost smell all that greenery running away from another machine. Even a desert in this game doesn’t feel really… deserted (hello, Red Dead Redemption!)
Gameplay also deserves only good words. Destroying hostile robots and cleaning up bandit camps is fun and there are a few different ways of doing these heroic activities. You can do it as I prefer (and mostly was doing) — running around, yelling at everyone and crushing metal and bone sculls with the spear. You can be a sniper and use the bow (actually, that’s the main weapon in the game, with various arrows, etc) — and you’ll have to shoot sometimes, when Aloy is fighting against birds, for example. You can override machine and do stealth kills. As I said, it’s fun and doesn’t feel like a routine.
The third great part is notes, audio recordings and other remnants of the past, connecting the world of HZD with our world. Or at least, with the world we’re on the verge on entering. Considering that the “old” world was bound to extinct eventually — it was a solid move to add, for example, a diary of a guy, who knew that everyone, including himself, was going to die and describing the time they had nothing to do but wait.
Of course, Horizon isn’t just rainbows and unicorns, or I wouldn’t have dropped it last year. Despite being amazing from a technical perspective, the plot and the characters were a factor I struggled with a lot. First of all, Aloy. If this game had been released in 2002 — she would’ve become an exemplary main heroine. But in 2017… I had two main issues with her. First of all — during the course of the game she isn’t developing as a person. Aloy we see after the prologue is exactly the same Aloy, who destroys Hades in the end. It’s a journey game, a game where the main character is trying to find out the truth about her past — and she simply ignores everything on her way. The second reason is that we can’t even for a second forget that Aloy is the best thing that happened to this world in years. She is described as the “Lighting in darkness”, as an “incredibly gifted Nora”, all people in the game either look up on her in admiration or she destroys them with her immense intellect and incomparable strength. Argh. For 50-60 hours we’re watching how she’s being licked up by all more or less noticeable characters in the game. All her dialogues are about her.
“- I just lost my mother, can you… – Yes, of course I know that feeling, Rost was like a father to me when I was an outcast and no one cared about me but him. But I lost him when those bastards came to kill me“. Or “- Aloy, you’re so great and awesome. And great. I want to merry you because you’re so awesome. – Oh, I don’t know. I’m awesome but no one does anything useful out there except me, the world needs me”. Can you image Kratos, who’s being constantly told “You’re so strong. And smart. And caring”? Maybe not Kratos but… any other character?
I’m hyperbolizing, but it’s not far from what’s going on in the game. The world of the game is black and white. We have amazing Aloy. We have outstandingly smart Dr. Sobeck. We have a bad, bad guy Ted Faro.
And other characters aren’t any better. There are many different people — strong, weak, dumb (this category is especially popular), sarcastic. But unfortunately, among that huge selection it’s almost impossible to find an interesting one.
The same situation with quests. I mentioned that the notes from the past are awesome. They really are. But the main story, even though it’s tightly connected to the same past, is stereotypical and utterly forgettable. Sometimes all that was just awkward. “So, we have 16 months to fix the problem with machines we don’t want to nuke because reasons, which are impossible to turn off because… someone decided that it’s a good idea to use an omega-algorithm for encryption, and of course we can’t use the same algorithm for our communications and machines can easily take control over all our military devices. So, we’ll need time to decrypt everything and stop that madness and instead of building bunkers to save at least some people, instead of using space ships — we’re going to count on something that’s never been done before — invent terramophing, write a super AI, which consists of other super AIs, spend time on making up their names and visualization. We’re going to do everything — to just end up with the same shit, because our brand-new super AI is out of control. In addition, we’re going to destroy all the knowledge belonging to humanity, because for some reasons we’re still working with the same guy who started all the mess and didn’t wait long to prove that he was a Bad Guy. Yeah, that sounds like the best thing we can do, what could possibly go wrong”. The idea of the story was good. But devil is in details and it’s hard to miss all those mismatching details.
So, it was a long rant but don’t get me wrong — I look forward to the second game in this universe. I want more of these reflections, lighting, clouds — of this world. Hopefully, with a new character, hopefully without flying programs (anything goes for a cliffhanger!), hopefully with a plot that won’t make me press the “Mute” button.