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Spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn main story, late-ish in the game (Sunfall)

Butch:

I couldn’t be all “I got nothing” only to have you be all “I finished,” so I grabbed a banuk figure and got to Sunfall. Got slightly distracted by a side quest (dammit no more sidequests! I’m behind!) and ran to meet an asshole healer, then DIDN’T go kill the thunderjaw he wanted me to kill (fuck that), went back into sunfall, saw the king (didn’t see that coming, we’ll talk on kids and games later on), had the flirty woman compliment my hair and give me a side quest, which I ALMOST went to check out (as one does), but I stayed focused and got to the magic door thingy.

So I’m just inside.

That venting was a bad idea, wasn’t it? Besides attracting dudes, that stuff that got vented probably mattered, didn’t it?

Something I caught: She said, when trying to get it open, “This is Elizabet Sobeck.” Now, was she just saying that to get it to open? Or is she starting to think she IS Sobeck?

Kids. All of a sudden there are kids.

Feminina:

I did finish. I did. I will attempt to refrain from taunting.

I think you had to vent to move forward–it did alert the dudes, but I don’t think there was a way to do it without that.

I should have warned you about the sidequests. The healer one is enh, but the flirty lady one is actually pretty interesting (though long-ish), if you ever feel like taking the time. I did it before the Sunfall info-bit, but you can go back into Sunfall afterwards if you disguise yourself and feel so inclined. Disguising yourself actually sounds kind of fun, although I didn’t get around to it.

I THINK she’s just recognizing that this ancient technology needs to think she’s Elizabet Sobeck in order to let her proceed–I didn’t get the sense that she’s losing a sense of her own identity, although since she’s probably a clone, one could debate the extent to which it would be legitimate for her to claim that older identity. Who ARE we? What makes a person who they are? Etc.

And yeah, I too did not expect the Shadow King to be a little kid. Interesting. And his mom, that’s the lady who lay on the stone floor with the actual bad dude, right? So we need to keep an eye on her…what’s her deal? She doesn’t seem to be in control here, that appears to be all the priest, but who really knows?

Butch:

Oh man. See, whatchu gotta go do that for? You say “interesting,” which makes me want to do it, and then “long-ish” which is just upsetting. Seriously. I like this game. But game….please game….let me free.

I think she’s using the technology, too. But it was kinda interesting to see her saying it. And her ease of saying it.

As for “who knows?” well, likely you know, to answer your question.

Plus, interestingly, he seemed to be a polite kid. There’s a bit in Game of Thrones (spoilers!) where a king of a certain region is a kid, and he’s batshit psycho (it being Game of Thrones) and enjoys seeing people thrown to their death like other kids like cartoons. I didn’t get the sense that was true of this kid.

But as for kids…I don’t remember seeing any kids anywhere in this game, and now there’s crowds of them. A TON in the refugee camp outside, the king, etc. I’m curious to see if that imagery matters when we know a bit more about zero dawn.

By we I mean me, cuz you know it all. Stick with the pronouns. I reserve the right to use “we.”

Feminina:

I saw a few kids here and there earlier, but yeah, they seem to really kick in there in Sunfall. Interesting…the rebels, the Shadow, have stolen the younger generation? They’re using that generation for their own purposes, if so, since the older generation is clearly still in charge.

I did sort of immediately like the little king, though. Seemed like a nice kid, as you said. Polite, really just trying to please the grownups, wishing he could get away from the noise and go play, or hang out with his mother. Who, whether or not she’s secretly a monster controlling everything from behind the throne, seemed in that moment to just be trying to comfort her kid, so I had some sympathy for her too.

I’ll continue to say “we” because I’ve started MEA and I’ve already forgotten what happened at the end of HZD. You’ll have to remind me.

Just kidding! Almost entirely kidding.

Butch:

Not kidding.

And the shadow maybe stole the youth, except Avad didn’t seem that old.

Though now that I’m thinking on it, there is a lot of “kid” stuff in this. Aloy is a “kid” looking for her mother, Avad is always in the shadow of his father, the hunter’s lodge person is a hunter to “avenge” her father, the whole thing started in Mother’s whatever with the matriarchs… it’s like everyone in the game is a “kid.”

Now, yes, true, we’re all someone’s kid. And parent issues are a literary convention as old as literature. But there sure seems to be more of it than average here.

I have a feeling that I’ll have more to say about this when I learn more about zero dawn. After all, all of humankind is pretty much a child in this. They talk of the “Old ones,” and this project seems to be about “rebirth” and stuff.

Hmm.

The kid king was rather sympathetic. And, as all he said was “I give so and so (so bad with names) permission to speak on my behalf,” I got the sense he was a figurehead. He’s not calling any shots here. Game of Thrones kid was calling shots.

Feminina:

Yeah, no way this kid king was calling any shots. He seemed kind of scared of the priest, if anything. And true, Avad doesn’t seem that old, maybe around Aloy’s age, but he’s at least legally and functionally an adult, like she is, rather than a literal child.

Also, I completely concur with your sense of the game’s themes as heavily kid/parent focused. Having/not having a mother, looking for your mother, having your father killed/become a murderous tyrant, parents losing track of their kids’ love lives…lots of very parent-child-related storylines.

Wait, who are Avad’s parents? Is he the little king’s brother? I lost track of the relationships among the Carja. Civil war is complicated.

Butch:

I was wondering that, too. I think the kid is either half brother or nephew. We know that the Shadow Carja thinks he’s legit, which means he must be a descendant of the mad king, but no way that woman holding him is Avad’s mother.

But you never know. Women who aren’t matriarchs seem to age well. War chief Soma didn’t look old enough to be Varl’s mother. Apparently, in addition to chest wax and brow tweezers, wrinkle cream is also readily available.

I must admit, I was surprised by Avad, too. Usually big powerful king types in games look like, say, the Emperor of Nilfgaard: grey, old, deep voiced, stern and wise and/or stern and evil. I can’t recall another young, flirty shaven chested king. (Again, grooming after the end of days. Aloy’s brows, Avad’s manscaping…how do they do it? I certainly thought that that veiled side quest giver leading with “Nice hair” was another wonderfully self aware treat.)

Which again…parent/child stuff is all over everything from Beowulf to Star Wars. It’s nothing new. But this game really is ABOUT that stuff. I think, more specifically, it’s about how your parentage defines you as a person. Is Aloy Sobeck? Is Avad his father? Etc. Was Rost’s apology in that first dream bit after he blew up an apology that he couldn’t define her more? Are we our own people, or do apples fall right next to trees?

Because that sort of thing applies to the ROBOT DINOSAURS. Are they defined by their creator/parents (us)? Or are they their own masters, guided by cauldrons? We know they made the thunderjaw, if Brin can be believed.

Who makes who? That, I think, is the most overarching theme, and bravo for making ROBOT DINOSAURS a metaphor.

Feminina:

It’s true, there are lots of semi-subtle parent/child themes in a lot of games, but as you say, these are very explicit. Like, we are ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT ACTUAL PARENTS. And then, there are the subtler ones as well, like the machines, which as you say are kind of the children of humanity, and in some ways specifically of Dr. Sobeck with her green robot technology (so the machines are sort of Aloy’s siblings…), but they’re also kind of ’emancipated’ children who turned on their parents, destroyed the world, and now have taken over creating themselves.

As children do, in the end…gotta impale the parent figure on a spike and strike out on your own sometime, after all! It’s an extended coming of age metaphor! And then a civil war tale, with two sibling tribes descended from the Old Ones fighting for control of the new world.

Butch:

I must admit, I did not expect the ROBOT DINOSAURS to be metaphor. I expected them to be, well, ROBOT DINOSAURS. But I think we can safely say they are metaphors.

It’s a very extended coming of age metaphor. One likely to span multiple games.

Bravo on the extreme callback.

Feminina:

I look forward to multiple games on these themes. Or, alternatively, multiple games focusing on different themes! Like maybe as she grows up we get a bunch of romance/friendship/colleague themes, basically all about different relationships! And maybe a career/life’s work themes game! And a function/dysfunction of society game! Maybe even a now-YOU’RE-the-parent game!

I’m so playing whatever the next one is. And they so plan to make a next one. It wasn’t even a subtle tease at the end, it was a “tune in next time for more on x!” tease. We’ll play it.

Butch:

We will.

Dude, a romance game then a ‘you have a kid’ game would be awesome. Think of the bloggage!

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