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Surprisingly, you win this time, erudite discussion. Spoilers for the early parts of Horizon Zero Dawn.

Butch:

I got nothing. Mom came over, kids were nuts, Mrs McP messed up bedtime, she wanted food, etc.

But we likely have some unresolved brilliance from yesterday.

Or we could just go straight to derailment if you’d rather. Your call.

Feminina:

MALE NUDITY FOREVER.

OR, we could try to resolve some brilliance. If we could remember what we were talking about.

The nice juxtaposition of ‘caveman’ with technology, that came up. I mean, it’s been there all along, it’s right on the damn cover with the bow and the ROBOT DINOSAUR, so I don’t really know why I was so startled to see a guy show up with a big gun. I think the game just did a really nice job of setting us up initially with a “this is how the world is” that, like Aloy, we kind of just accept it.

There’s technology, obviously, but it’s not OUR technology. It’s some kind of wild technology that someone else made a long time ago: HUMAN technology is bows and spears, and we’re OK with that.

Then, as we’re all comfortable with that, all settled into the world after that lengthy (but not too lengthy) introduction, it turns everything upside down on us. I liked it.

Of course it started when we went to Mother’s Heart for the proving, when we met people from other tribes and started to get the sense that not every group does things the way the Nora do. (Incidentally, we must admit that we were wrong when we said it seemed as if they consider the ruins to be dangerous but not evil, more like a rusted out old car than a cursed location. Nope: the ruins are definitely evil and cursed for them. Our bad.)

We saw the other guy with the focus (also, yay!–we know what to call it!), we talked to what’s his name about Meridian and the war: we got that sense of a larger world. But we didn’t know it had giant guns in it!

Speaking of that…does it seem implausible to you that Aloy had never heard there was a war with the Carja, when it only ended two years ago and apparently is remembered vividly by everyone else?

I mean, yeah, she and Rost were outcasts and no one would talk to them, but don’t you think you’d overhear SOMETHING if members of the tribe were being kidnapped and taken away for human sacrifices? I’ll let it slide because she was obsessed with her training and all that, but seriously…they only lived about 50 feet from the nearest village and they were always out roaming around for training purposes. They would have seen and/or heard something about the entire tribe being at war.

Overall, though, I like it. The fantasy/science fiction elements are mixed together in an interesting way.

Butch:

Yup. We didn’t think it WAS a caveman game, but one certainly got the idea that, as you say, HUMANS be HUMANS etc.

Which is ALSO playing on a game/RPG trope: in games, like things are like. Dwarves all are inexplicably Scottish and live underground. Elves are all good hunters and archers. There’s no “really good hunter elves” and “really good smithing elves.” Elves don’t smith! Everyone KNOWS that! (And before you bring up the Dalish/City elves in DA, remember, that break was artificial and political).

So we are lulled into this “Human is X” idea because we play games. Same reason we were shocked when named characters who we had scenes with got killed so abruptly.

But it was also jarring to see a piece of technology that was so mundane. The dinosaurs, even though they are robots, don’t FEEL like robots. They feel alive. They’re not robot dinosaur trucks that people are driving. They’re fucking DINOSAURS.

So when a dude shows up with this heavy, thrown together, clumsy, loud, smoking gun thing that is the very opposite of looking alive and seamless and slick and modern, it was a nice shock. It was out of place, in a good way.

Our bad about the cursed ruins. And I must admit: I am excited to get to go see some other human stuff. Variety, man! I hope we get some!

Though if dudes turn out to be inexplicably Scottish or French, I’m gonna go nuts.

Hmm. Not knowing about the war is tad implausible, I grant you that. I’ll chock it up to her being so conditioned that the only social dynamic that mattered was outcast/not. She might have been all “Well, there’s stuff going on between all those not outcasts, but that’s matters for not outcasts, and therefore I pay it no mind.” I mean, maybe she didn’t even get the idea that there were tribes, plural. Like, all those dudes are all not outcasts, so they’re all the same to me. Odd that they keep fighting, but whatever.

I’ll go with that.

Hey, games make it hard to get background in. If she already knows everything, then it’s off to reading the codex. Do YOU want to read the codex?

I am very much liking it, though.

Eventually, we are going to have to get very deeply into mother imagery, you know. The quest I just got (find the focus!) has the word “womb” in it for crissakes. They’re not being subtle with the mother stuff. And you are better suited to discuss the nuance of that than I am.

But give me some time to get more into it.

Feminina:

It’s true: the dinosaurs are sleek and cool and kind of beautiful. Machines, but without the aesthetically unappealing aspects of machines, like engine grease and smelly exhaust, that would make them a blight on the landscape.

High tech, cool stuff we haven’t seen before.

We’re really looking at a version of Eden, there at the beginning of the game, where animals and machines live in harmony. We’d expect a lovely pastoral landscape that got filled up with machines to be full of ruts and muddy roads and pools of spilled fuel, with hazy clouds of fumes all around the areas where they congregate, but on the contrary, the machines seem to be a clean, perfectly integrated part of the system. The wandering wildlife doesn’t bother the machines and is not bothered by them, the lush vegetation grows lushly, the air is clear and fresh…maybe these are the machines the ancients designed to clean up the environmental messes they made?

Anyway, we had this lovely land full of high-tech machines with a high level of sophisticated and sensitive programming, and then a guy staggers in with an ugly, low-tech, totally stupid machine, as if to say “yeah, humans have tech too, but it’s really bad.”

It’s true, I do not want to read the codex. I can barely be bothered to look at my inventory.

Butch:

Oh INVENTORY! You aren’t missing much.

It’s….rather confusing, the inventory screen. Mostly because each thing has a rather stylized icon instead of a picture of what it actually is. And when you connect that with vague names like “Blaze,” there’s a lot of “What?” involved.

This matters all the more when you get a thing, like I just did, that’s important but….

See I was supposed to loot the boss. Ok, I did, and I saw (something something added) and CUTSCENE before I read what the something something WAS. So now I have to go searching, all the while wondering “Is THIS the something something that might be important?”

I hate that.

Feminina:

I’ve crafted a few pouches to increase my carrying capacity so I can spend less time looking at my inventory before running out of room and trying to decide what to get rid of. (A strong candidate: ridge-wood. I always have SO MUCH ridge-wood.) The inventory is a little bland looking. I don’t mind that so much…keeps me from worrying about spending a ton of time looking at it.

Butch:

Dude I have enough ridge wood to last until the sequel.

Oh, and I watched the MEA trailer from last week, despite not wanting to get too worked up about it in the middle of this game. It was a good trailer. There was romance.

Though I never like the use of current hit songs in trailers for games that don’t take place now. Small thing, but annoying.

Don’t rush Horizon.

Feminina:

I’m rushing! I’m rushing!

Not really. I plan to scour every corner and complete every side quest, as usual.

Although I guess I am kind of rushing in that every time I remember I was going to turn up the difficulty (which would likely slow me down a bit), I run into a fight that kills me repeatedly and makes me think “enh, I guess ‘normal’ is fine.”

So in the sense that I’m kind of breezing through all the fights that aren’t those, I’m rushing a little? But I’m kind of liking the momentum, which feels appropriate to the character’s sense of urgency and eagerness to accomplish things. She feels very young and eager to prove herself, and going forward without (usually) having to fight like hell at every machine stomping ground seems kind of right. I DO tear through a lot of things, and then when something is actually hard enough to give me pause I have to stop and think about it.

Plus, I mean, it’s not as if I’m going to get a trophy for completing it on difficult since I’ve come this far on normal, so hell with it. It’s all about the trophies for me, man.

Ha.

Butch:

And you don’t seem to be console sharing. That always speeds you up.

We’ll see how long I stay on hard once I get to the real bits. Though I did prove on hard.

Feminina:

Yeah, Mr. O’ finished Tomb Raider and is now engrossed in some work something or other. He said HZD looks good and he’ll probably play it at some point (although at this rate, he’ll just pick up MEA instead), but he’s not super excited about it. So I get the console pretty much every night, which helps a lot with the progress.

Butch:

Oh Mr. O you so silly. He’d LOVE this game! Maybe he’s just pissed the redhead is dressed so sensibly.

I do, once again, have many demands on my time. Though M is out tonight for dinner, so I’m at least gonna get to find my focus.

Feminina:

Yes! Get the focus!

“I will miss you terribly, dear, but I understand you must be away in furtherance of your career/education for the good of us all. Please, take all the time you need. Our children’s future may depend upon it, so seriously, ALL THE TIME YOU NEED.”

There’s some interesting material in this bit. We can discuss.

Butch:

There has been much interesting stuff.

And bangin’ eyebrows.

But don’t take my word for it.

Kotaku, Bangin’ Eyebrows

Feminina:

Hey, just ’cause you’re an outcast neo-cavewoman doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your skin and eyebrows. Rost had extensive lessons in that, in between the robot-dinosaur-hunting tutorials.

Speaking of Rost, did you light your lantern in his honor before the Proving? I totally did.

Butch:

A difference!

I thought long and hard about it, which was kinda cool that the game made me think about it (cuz Aloy totally would). But I picked my mother. I figured, everyone else was. And she was all “For my mother….[sarcastically, a la Chloe]: who’s name I would have known if she hadn’t abandoned me….”

She abandoned her!

But you knew that, didn’t you?

Feminina:

Different!

I thought hard about it too, but decided that Rost had raised me, and if we were honoring someone in that moment, he deserved the honor: if anyone did, he stood in for my absent mother.

As for being abandoned, well, you go look for that focus. We’ll talk. Later.

Butch:

Yeah, sorta figured. When they were all “She shouldn’t be so close to her mother” and all that. There’s some funky shit, isn’t there? They were saying that and there was that creepy image of the kid and the roboty thing rising out of the water…..

Mother imagery.

Though one of these days we should take a stand for parents in games. Parents in games usually fit into one of three categories: 1) terrible, neglectful, abandoning asshats or 2) dead or 3) both. No one in games seems to have a good parent that lives through act 1. Where’s the good parents? As I believe the both of us are good parents, we should stand up for good parents.

I suppose Cassie Drake has good parents. But watch: something awful will happen in UC5.

Feminina:

There is indeed some strange and mysterious stuff going on here. It will make one ponder…things.

We’ll talk.

But yeah, true, decent and alive parents are few and far between in games. However, this is probably in part explained by the fact that we usually play adults who–in the action-packed course of whatever we’re doing in the game–don’t pay a visit to their parents, so we don’t know them. I mean, if you followed me around for a randomly chosen action-packed week, odds are you’d never see my parents, even though they are alive and relatively normal, decent folk.

Even with younger characters, though, it’s true that the parents often aren’t around. We never met them (or, to be fair, anyone else) in Gone Home, and never met Max’s parents in Life is Strange. Chloe’s parents, whom we did meet, were pretty cool, but her dad was (most of the time) dead, and her stepdad was (mostly) a jerk.

Joel stood in for Ellie’s parent, and he was…problematic, in terms of taking parenting lessons from him, although he was certainly devoted.

I SO do not want to see something awful happen to Nathan and Elena in UC5, leaving Cassie a troubled and vengeance-minded orphan. That story has been DONE. Let her go off on adventures knowing that mom and dad are also adventuring, or else chilling on a beach or something. I’d like to see them accidentally meet up on some deserted island somewhere, not having realized they were both hunting the same treasure.

Butch:

See? Jerk or dead. And Sam’s parents were jerks! They tried to make her not gay and stuff and cheated on each other! Max’s parents were ok, I suppose. An exception.

And Joel was devoted: Overly so! Shit, the ending of that game was so awful because he turned out to be such a selfish, awful parent. He was the worst!

HA! That would be awesome: Cassie gets past some complex thing, hears a noise, assumes it’s Kevins, and it’s Nathan and Elena all “Dude, we always wondered how Kevin did that, and now we know! SO FUCKING COOL! And no, honey, we’ll never tell.”

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