Spoilers! Many spoilers for story in Horizon Zero Dawn!
Well, did some. Found Ersa “You’re alive!…..and you’re dead.” What do you know, ANOTHER evil plot! Nice fighty stuff. Overriding a longleg and sending it into a bandit camp was fun.
Found some sawtooth goop for Brin. He is an oddball, isn’t he? Rising on metal shoulders…hmm…
And then tracked down another criminal for Sunstone Rock. This one was the trap maker with the ravine of death. A nice little change, though I did get lost once and got frustrated so I stopped as soon as I got him.
There we go again with families. Either we have a happy ending no one wants, or we have a sad ending. Poor Erand.
So Olin (who was up to us) is still the standout.
I have to admit, I was expecting her to be more alive. Either to ride back and take revenge, or for there to be a twist and have her be the baddie, in with the Oseram all along. This was a bit trite. Stay alive until the hero shows up, die dramatically. Kinda cheap. But consistent with theme!
What’s funny is the most upsetting story about family, and the complexities of it, is the vantages. I found all but one, and the last one, the one where he basically says he’s a failure, that humanity is a failure, was upsetting. But themey! Basically, he says everything humanity does doesn’t matter for shit, and nothing matters except the fact that here, there was a boy who loved his mother very, very much.
The way they told that story was really effective.
And that story HAS to be overarching theme. That family love is all that matters even when it ends sadly? It WILL end sadly no matter what but still try?
Yeah, that whole thing felt a bit cheap, though theme-y. She’s alive!–just long enough to die in her brother’s arms.
And poor Erend is going to be in therapy for years over this.
“Your sister is dead. No wait, she might be alive. Yes, she’s alive! No wait, she’s dead. For real this time.”
But as you say, themey. Things just don’t tend to work out for family groups, do they? One could read this negatively as saying that everything sucks, everyone dies, and you’re better off being a misanthropic loner so you don’t mind so much.
More positively, I think we could take it as saying that we’re meant to take comfort in the time that we do have before everything falls apart, and the small gestures we can make, even in the face of the ultimate failure of family (or anything?) to protect us from the impeding machine apocalypse, or the villain’s evil plot, or–to get deep and profound, man–the fact that we all die in the end.
Erend was slightly comforted that at least he got to say goodbye, and be reminded that his sister loved him. The Vantage Point guy was comforted by the fact that his love for his mother had existed and enriched his life. The girl whose brother summoned machines to his family estate, back a while ago, can take comfort in the fact that even if her brother didn’t, her father loved her, and did what he could to protect her. All those mourners we helped found meaning in remembering the people they loved. It’s not about the idea that a good thing will last forever, maybe, because we know it won’t: it’s about recognizing and appreciating the good thing for as long as you can. Realizing that even after it’s gone, the memory remains a good thing for the person who remembers. That’s where the meaning is in human life.
This would tie in logically with the game’s implied view that religion is nonsense (or, more politely, a useful myth-based social system that helps people cope with the material difficulties and troubling existential questions of life).
You can’t count on finding meaning after death by resting forever in Mother’s Memory, or whatever the Nora believe. You’d better find it while you’re alive instead, by valuing the connections you make with other people, even though those connections will almost inevitably bring you pain as well as joy.
That’s the best I’ve got, first thing in the morning.
Poor guy already drank too much.
But cheap for sure. A trope that’s over done. “I’ll wait to die for plot!” This game is usually above that sort of thing.
And, Well, that was the point of the vantage story, at some level. The guy ends thinking everything sucks, everyone dies, and he should’ve just stayed on drugs. Which isn’t great advice, but that story, which you spend so much time chasing, ends like that. It’s all for nothing (we could note it’s interesting that a story told in collectibles is one about futility).
“That on earth, once, there was a boy who loved his mother very, very much.” And then he signs it “so and so, son of…step son of…” That’s how he wants to be remembered. And he takes the time to memorialize all those small things: the concerts, the sports games, the first launch (which wasn’t that impressive a launch).
An overarching theme in collectibles!
Hmm. Yes about the meaning of short life message, but, and you know more than me on this, we may well be playing a character who HAS lasted forever, or at least for 1000 years. But then, we’re also playing a character who is so caught up in her personal mission that she ISN’T appreciating all the good things for as long as she can. She rejects love and romance. She rejects friendship. She rolls her eyes at the people in the mourners quest. Maybe that’s what makes her an outcast. Or immortal.
Yup. “I’m in bad shape, but not so bad that I can’t hang on just long enough to say whatever meaningful thing the story calls for, although definitely bad enough that nothing anyone could do would save me, so we don’t have to have any fretting about how if someone had only followed up on this story sooner and not spent all that time collecting mugs, maybe I would still be alive.”
I think it may well be intentional that Aloy herself is failing to absorb the positive lessons about the value of human connection. We’ve already been told that a series of games is planned for her, and I think it’s possible (and, if so, admirable!) that it’s planned to have her learn and grow as a character through the course of several installments, and maybe she’s specifically being presented here as in a stage of being young and thinking she doesn’t need anyone, but with time things will get more complicated, or whatever.
It must also be symbolically significant that she shares a lot of DNA with a person from a thousand years ago and therefore kind of represents the persistence of the past, as you say, but I don’t know…it feels like a stretch to say that she “is” that person in any meaningful way.
I still think it’s likely she’s Dr. Sobeck’s clone (I don’t know anything more than you do about this–I’ve been chasing stormbirds and not following the main story–but that whole 99.999-whatever DNA match is pretty suggestive), but that doesn’t make her “Elizabet Sobeck” as a person, and I think “Elizabet Sobeck” as a person, with the specific experiences and skills of her specific life, has not in any meaningful way survived for 1,000 years unless it turns out there’s some way of doing a memory transfer (and even that would be questionable).
Which seems implausible because that would be odd for Aloy’s character going forward in other games, but who knows? Maybe memories of the past become part of her ‘super powers,’ although it’s not clear what actual use they would be to someone living 1,000 years later in a much different world.
But obviously there’s a reason, narratively speaking, for Aloy to be the clone or whatever of an ancient woman, and so there’s definitely something here about how the past can reach into the present or something. Perhaps, as you say, it’s about how even if ‘you’ symbolically survive a thousand years, you won’t have figured out how to save yourself the pain of human relationships? Or you’ll still have to work through adolescence to do it?
And in Aloy’s own mind, and sort of philosophically even if not technically, Sobeck is her mother, which brings back the themes of family: parents, children, what family can and cannot do for you, and, with the role of Rost in her life, how family is defined more broadly than simply through genetic relationships.
There’s a lot going on here.
I would love it if someone finally said “WHY DO YOU HAVE ALL THOSE MUGS? I COULD HAVE LIVED….GAK!”
That long series would be awesome, and I’d play it. Of course, I am very likely to play Horizon: Mid Day when it comes out anyway. This game has sold me on a sequel.
True, her actually being Sobeck seems implausible. And Aloy doesn’t think she IS Sobeck, either. Nor does Sylens, who must’ve thought “Wow…they do look similar.” It is interesting, and slightly odd, that Aloy still seems to be thinking of Sobeck as a mother figure, at least at some level. Not an ancestor, a mother. “Could my mother still be alive?” I guess when you find out you have 99.9% of your DNA matching a thousand year old woman, that’s just so weird that saying “And she’s my mom” isn’t that much of a leap.
Especially cuz ROBOT DINOSAURS!
There is a lot going on here. Far more than we thought there would be in a game about ROBOT DINOSAURS! I am pleasantly surprised.
That would be awesome. Horrible, because then I’d feel guilty forever, but awesome.
The closest I’ve seen games come to that is Bethesda, which has applied pieces of it with the timed missions in FO4, and in–I think it was Oblivion, though maybe Skyrim–where I had one quest where I failed to keep some allies alive and then for weeks afterward would hear people talking on the streets about how “I heard that mission in [wherever] went bad…some good people were killed.”
So in FO4 you failed if you didn’t do it in time, but no one really chastised you, and in Oblivion/Skyrim, you failed for other reasons but people kept bringing up the failure. I’m sure the next Bethesda game will successfully put those two aspects together, and you’ll be haunted by the judgmental comments of NPCs on the street discussing how you spent so much time collecting boxes of BlamCo Mac and Cheese that a village of sick children perished, or something.
I will both love and hate this.
It would be cool to think that the world actually exists around us instead of just waiting for us to act, but it would also create a lot of pressure. What if I don’t WANT to follow up on this right now? What if I do, but don’t realize until later that timing matters? What if I have two urgent quests and can only do one of them? It would undoubtedly become another aspect of things you have to manage, as well as a means of inserting potentially frustrating moral choices, and sometimes we would really hate it.
I did wonder why neither Aloy nor Sylens (tangential eyeroll at this name that is pronounced “silence,” right?) seem to comment on the fact that Sobeck in these recordings looks and sounds exactly like Aloy. Of course, Lt. Daniels keeps his own counsel about a lot of things, so he may well have noticed and be keeping it to himself for his own reasons, and it’s plausible that Aloy doesn’t even know exactly what she looks and sounds like since it’s not as if they have a lot of mirrors and recording devices. So I’ll allow it.
Yeah, but, see, in Bethesda games, it’s not that urgent. You’re only out there gathering mugs to give them to your ungrateful settlers and shit. In Bethesda games, you’re actually working towards saving the world, and you get a message like “HEEEELP! They’re going to break our mugs!” and if you don’t drop the very important task of saving the world, you get chastised.
I wouldn’t like the “drop everything you’re doing” bullshit. That would (and did in Bethesda games) break narrative momentum. “We’re 3/4 of the way towards real themes and HOLY SHIT SETTLEMENT UNDER ATTACK! Ok, saved the settlement? Good. Now back to themes and….what do you mean you don’t remember what was happening cuz you did this five days ago?”
But two urgent quests happening and you could only do one WOULD be cool.
Right. Eyeroll at “Sylens.”
He does keep counsel. I’ve only seen him that one time, and he hasn’t said boo since, but for chiding me for getting too close to…something important looking. I went magpieing towards a vantage, and found it, and he was all “What are you doing there? You’re going to get killed. Go to grave hoard.” I was all “Dude, this was a) on my map and b) closer.”
I think that wasn’t so much plot as “Dude, endgame. Too soon.”
If only he had been around when I wasted all that time at that spire.
It’s true, the random settlement attacks WERE often annoying. But they were annoying because, as you said, they would interrupt other things you might be in the middle of.
I think it would be different if it was the thing you were in the middle of that had a time limit. Say, there was that one quest in Vault Whatever where the kid was dying of molerat fever, and you had to find the antidote. It would have been perfectly logical for the game to say that if you left the vault and went wandering off to fight randits and loot old houses for too long, the kid would be dead when you came back, but I highly doubt that he would have been. I don’t know for sure because I went straight through it, but probably you could have just abandoned the whole thing for a month and then gone back and finished it with no harm done.
And there are of course quests that this makes sense for. If I go wandering off to look for some guy’s lost sword that was carried off by goblins, who knows where they took it or how long it takes me to find it? As long as he has a backup, he’ll be fine without it, and he’ll still want it back when I show up with it even if it took me 6 months, because it’s a family heirloom.
Not everything would have to be time sensitive, but if some things were, it would certainly add to the sense that the world was real. We’d still hate it sometimes, though. We just like to hate stuff sometimes.
Ha! He did that to me too! Twice! I was heading over towards that settlement, whatever it’s called, and he came on all somber, urging me not to go in there yet because it was full of Eclipse people who would kill me on sight.
So I veered off, and then later I was wandering by there again and he came back saying it still wasn’t time. So yeah, I think that’s a clear “this is the endgame, don’t go there yet” message. He IS Lt. Daniels, so I obviously heeded his advice once more, but probably next thing he says is going to be “so why haven’t you gone to [wherever] yet?”
The settlement attacks were the worst. I just abandoned them.
Go to Sanctuary or you’re fucked, essentially.
But I see what you mean, and yeah, that would be cool.
We do like to hate stuff. But that would be cool. I’d take that.
HA! Sylens also made me a little paranoid. I don’t really remember where it was he told me not to go, so whenever I get close to something that is new I find myself checking the map. “Is this the thing I’m not supposed to see? No? Good. I mean, it IS a thing crawling with dudes trying to kill me, sure. But not THOSE dudes trying to kill me. So it’s cool.”
“That place is really dangerous. You shouldn’t go there because your enemies will try to kill you. I mean, they do that everywhere, but here they really mean it.”
Oh, OK, that does sound terrifying! I’m used to people CASUALLY trying to kill me, but if they’re actually dedicated to the cause, that’s much worse.
Wandered up to two corrupted rockcrushers. Didn’t say shit.
Rockbreakers are very casual in their largely successful attempts to kill you.
But yes, his helpfulness IS extremely limited.
It basically boils down to “don’t go to the endgame yet.”
Which, sure, that’s helpful. But not THAT helpful.
Just saying, Sylens.