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Spoilers for late-game developments in Horizon Zero Dawn

Butch:

Well that was a whole lot of something, wasn’t it?

Well then.

Fair warning, I’m very tired. Didn’t sleep. But I’ll try to be smart.

That was a pretty amazing play session.

So first….I think I exploited because I didn’t fight the deathbringer or the sawteeth. I went all sneaky. I was swimming next to the deathbringer, which was pretty tense. I did kill the corruptors and dudes, and I absolutely panicked at the thunderjaw, but DAMN deathbringers help.

Then the whole thing, got the power cell, the whole inside thing.

That was delightfully creepy.

And the idea that Apollo was pretty much derailed by a door not opening was absolutely perfect. All this work. All this knowledge. It’s all right there ready to go! But for a door. One door.

I’m a little confused though: How long ago did these people get booted out of the vault? (I’m going with Vault.) A long time ago, must be.

And, ok, the whole HADES/GAIA thing in the cutscene was the derangement, yes? So what was she on about with the virus making the other functions independent as well? Sequels? Confused.

But so well done. All those data points that were just “It’s your first day of school!” over and over and over. Seeing the kids get old and still be treated as kids. So much to digest in this one.

And the scene where you come out! Her saying “I’m not anointed! There are other tribes as good as you are! Stand!” and having others (not just Teersa, but likeable folks like Varl and Teb) still believing in her…. great stuff. Great, great stuff.

Every so often, when bogged down in metal flowers, I need a reminder that this game is a really well written narrative triumph. That was last night.

Too tired to pick a place to start. You pick.

(But all that? Moved me from 72.8% done to 74.9%. THAT’S IT!)

Feminina:

Sneaking is totally legit. You know Aloy isn’t going out of her way to pick fights at this point. She’s got nothing to prove, she knows she’s awesome. Why waste time emphasizing it with random combat when there’s information to be gained?

So. Yeah. The broken Apollo/stuck door thing was kind of horrific. Just imagining those kids stuck in there, with the same recorded interactions from the ‘grown-ups’ forever, as they’re trying to figure out ANYTHING about who and where they are…shudder.

And yeah, I thought they must have been ‘let go’ a long time ago. The premature introduction of humans to a still-developing ecosystem? Maybe this was the beginning of whatever got Hades all worked up…humans weren’t supposed to be there yet, so the terraforming/etc. took a slightly different path, and that set off Hades’ alarms? This is where I’m thinking that MAYBE Hades is actually just doing its job correctly, as it was programmed to do…maybe humans are here too early and the system isn’t ready to handle them yet and that’s why things are breaking down.

Alternatively, the system might be handling the introduction of humans OK, and maybe they were released at the right time (it certainly seemed abrupt, and I got the sense that the ‘guardian’ programs were kicking them out because the bunker habitat wasn’t sustainable anymore rather than because they were ‘ready,’ but these programs obviously weren’t the ones that were designed to get them ready, and maybe the habitat wasn’t sustainable because it was designed to function only until they HAD been suitably prepared by Apollo, if Apollo had worked…the point being, humans might not be out of place, and Hades might be malfunctioning, as Gaia suggests.

Hades malfunctioning is certainly the more straightforward answer, and regardless of its reasons and the correctness or incorrectness of its decisions, we obviously don’t want it to succeed. I just think it’s interesting that rather than having some inherently malevolent intent (though, seriously, if you don’t want to come across that way, Hades, maybe lose the rasping-doom voice?), it might simply be doing its job as it was programmed to do, except that a series of problems resulted in a situation the programmers would never have intended, where Hades attempts to wipe out a functional ecosystem and some well developed human societies.

Sort of a ‘best-laid plans’ warning that you can’t anticipate every contingency, which they knew–doesn’t Dr. Sobeck say something like “we can’t plan everything, so we’ll build Gaia to make the decisions”?–but even your plans to train others, even your best-laid preparations to let someone else be prepared, can go wrong in completely unforeseeable ways.

To come back to the recurring parent/child theme, you can do everything you can think of to give your kids everything they’ll need to handle anything that could happen to them, but that will only go so far. Sooner or later they’re on their own in a world you’ll never see and can’t prepare them for, and they’ll have to figure out for themselves how to handle the robot dinosaurs. Or not.

I played a bit, but since I can’t really talk about what I’m doing, just tell Mrs. McP and Jr. that I had Magikarp as my buddy, and I finally got enough candy to raise it to Gyarados. They’ll understand. And appreciate.

Butch:

At least it was tense sneak. I was swimming all quiet, and it was JUST over there…. was kinda cool.

Though it did lead to some suspended disbelief when I came out of the mountain and everyone was gone except this merchant chilling by the campfire. Like the bad guys saw the thunderjaw go down and were all “Ok, we’re out. Merchy! Go do your thing!”

And the kids, they were staying kinda young! There they were, pretty grown up, and asking “can we come back if we get cold?” “What’s going to happen to you, mommy?” Etc. Weird.

And the failed door as metaphor on that! “They hated this door.” “It’s because it wouldn’t open.” The door to knowledge, the knowledge right over there…sealed, and they hated it for that. Neat.

I’m totally down with HADES working correctly. I’ve read it that way all along. Whether it was humans too soon, or just plain humans….

But don’t spoil.

(By the way, nice job not spoiling when my “Aloy is GAIA” thing was so obviously wrong. But more on that in a minute.)

It was explicitly said that they ran out of food, so they had to go. But yes, I got the impression that they were SUPPOSED to have enough food for the process, but the process got messed up. I mean, there they were, still in kindergarten. I figured they were supposed to be in school when they were, like, six, and ready WAY before the food ran out.

And Apollo did work. The door didn’t.

I really think it’s working. GAIA is biased, remember. She’s supposed to try to keep everything alive no matter what, even if it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

But yes, the whole raspy/black and red motif is not helping his image. He needs to rebrand. Lavender. People would be cool with that.

And here’s my “more on that in a minute.”

There’s certainly a revolving door here as to who is the God figure. Sobeck made GAIA to, essentially, be God. To know all there is to know, to be able to figure out how to create life, for crissakes. But now we have GAIA sounding like she’s praying to Sobeck: “In you, all things are possible.” Or is it a trinity type thing? GAIA sending her “son/daughter/Christ figure?”

Which also plays into the man/machine stuff that we’ve talked on. We make machines to serve us, then they take over, blah blah sci fi blah. Here, we (again!) have that trope messed up. We made them to serve us, they took over, we GAVE them control (in terms of thinking of how to fix it) and then (wait for it) they, or at least GAIA, has given it BACK. A machine making a human to serve/help/save it. The narrative has closed the circle. And while we have been asked (and told) ideas about whether making machines to serve us is a good idea, this is the first time we’ve really been asked by a game if taking control BACK, going BACK to the caves and spears and stuff really IS a good idea. Games have preached for years: Don’t give the machines too much power! Well, let’s see if games were right, now that things have come full circle.

Or your best laid plans: you can think of everything to give to them, and one damn malfunctioning door can fuck it up.

But, Pokemon? Femmy…..Save yourself.

Feminina:

I can’t! I gotta catch ’em aaaaallllll!!!!!! Ahem.

Yeah, the hatred of the door is very interesting. We hate the thing that keeps us from knowledge. To continue your religious motif, they were stuck in this little Eden where their basic needs were met (until the food ran out–I forgot that bit) and they were preserved as innocents (did you get that the guardian program broke it up when a couple of them were trying to make out? that wasn’t just me reading into it, right?), and they HATED the thing that kept them from knowledge.

We would never have been happy in Eden, it’s saying, because as humans, we want to know. We want to know sex, murder, good and evil, science, art, everything. We see all that stuff over there on the other side of the wall and we WANT it. We NEED to know what it is. We’re instinctively horrified at the idea of these kids’ lives, trapped in that tiny space with all that stuff right over there that they couldn’t get to.

And good point about the rotating role of the Creator. Sobeck created Gaia to save the world (from the danger humans also created) by re-creating life and Gaia created Aloy to save life again. Humans and our technology save each other? Parents and children save each other?

We create our gods to save us, and they turn back to us because at some point we have to save ourselves.

And yeah, Hades, man. Listen to us about the soothing lilac hordes! People would be so much more chill about the whole wiping-out-life-on-earth thing if you just explained it in a gentle and reasonable voice and made the corruption tentacles look like clouds of sparkles in calming pastel shades. No one fears the Sparkly Butterflies of Doom! Until it’s too late.

Butch:

They sure did hate that door.

But it wasn’t ENTIRELY Eden. Yes, the thing broke them up from making out (I think…it is T for teen) but it also beat them up when they tried to rebel. “Physical aggression detected” static “You have minor bruising…shall I call the medic?” They were, in some degree, prisoners in a false paradise (did you catch one of them saying “I want to see the real sun?”)

And we need that REAL source of knowledge: Human contact. The real horrifying thing is the crib room, all those cribs and nothing but robots. Or even the mother figure being a robot. If anything, getting out there and knowing each other is more important than all that stuff in Apollo.

Or is it? Is that sex, murder, evil, science the very stuff that dooms us? That makes HADES say “Ah, fuck this. They’re just going to much it up again?”

As for gods not saving us, worse: They want us to save THEM. GAIA isn’t saying “Hey, you’re on your own.” She’s saying “Get up there and reboot me!”

“No one fears the Sparkly Butterflies of Doom! Until it’s too late.”

T SHIRT!!!!

Though, as we’re on HADES and talking, I’m still bothered by HADES calling Aloy “The entitiy.” Not “Sobeck,” not “threat,” not even “AN entity,” THE entity. Specific entity.

Hmm.

Feminina:

It’s true, that “the entity” bit is interesting. And clearly meaningful, as it is repeated a lot–pretty much every time Hades encounters Aloy.

As if it’s expected her, or something like her. Something that serves the purpose it expects her to serve, of trying to thwart it.

Maybe it’s an expression of how Hades sees its own purpose in contrast to this other purpose, and considers the other purpose the only ‘entity’ worth ascribing importance or identity to? Maybe everyone else in the world isn’t even deserving of the consideration due an entity, they’re just static, but Aloy, as the agent of opposition, is “the (only) entity”?

“There’s ME, and there’s THE ENTITY that opposes me”?

Butch:

It is a very interesting choice of words.

Especially as we know that Hades wasn’t made by someone that formal. Do you see that metalhead being all “Entity?”

Though it does explain the raspy voice. I can see that red/black/rasp being picked by someone who listened to too much death metal. He wasn’t a lavender kind of guy.

Feminina:

Ha! Good point, that voice and color scheme is TOTALLY Travis Tate. Way to make your mark on the future, dude!

Also, on reflection, maybe a little on-the-nose there, game, having the skeezy death metal fan be the guy in charge of the destruct program. It would have been a nice twist if it was the mild-mannered art lover instead, while Travis turned out to be really into Apollo. Nevertheless, we’ll go with it: no doubt Travis WOULD enjoy programming the destruct sequences.

As for Entity, maybe that was a not-hardcore-enough band he hated, and he made it Hades’ term for its opposition as a private joke! (This question is not addressed at any point in the end of the game, so this is pure and probably unfounded speculation–although it’s also entirely possible that there’s a data point out there referencing the wildly popular “death-lite” group Entity, so for all I know it’s true. I missed a lot of data points.)

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