KDM Local - Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition

KDM Local - Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition
March 23rd, 2020, Kev Martin, 0 Comments

KDM Local - Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition
game review and my thoughts on the place of "Heroes & Heroines" in video games

Available in store now

The heroes and heroines of video games reside in the pantheons of gaming hierarchy, as the greatest incarnations of the best novels do in literature, or film-stars do within Hollywood. They pull us in, make us love them, feel their pain and joy equally. Be it Sonic and Mario of the Sega and Nintendo dominated era of the late 80s and early 90s, to Crash Bandicoot, or maybe Lara Croft or sisters Anna and Nina Williams from Tekken franchise that came forth when Playstation came to the fore in the mid 90s, bringing with it its 3D polygon graphics and as such a groundbreaking and game-changing period in gaming followed. Especially for the heroes and heroines, and their looks within a game.

Whereas it was the norm for the majority of heroes and heroines to rely on love-ability and cuteness, with the odd exception, now it could be portrayed more enticingly and visually. Some of the overally sexualised perfection that humanity apparently strives for in gaming started to dominate, which is why the heroine of Horizon: Zero Dawn felt like such a breath of fresh-air to me. She broke free from that growing trend in a lot of ways. Don't get me wrong, I can extrapolate reality outside of any game, and understand that the character creation of, let's say, Lara Croft had an appeal (especially to a post-pubescent teenager of the 90s!) but I believe it's sometimes used as a short-cut in character creation, especially female, as it's an “expected” look in some ways, and easy win button in games creation.

Sure, Aloy, the star of Horizon: Zero Dawn has the kind of natural and endearing charm and beauty of that “girl-next door” stereotype, and is portrayed thusly visually, with a natural and grounded type of appeal. It's refreshing to see an everyday kind of heroine with looks not being the only way to overly sell her roll in the game, visually her beauty is in the 4k Playstation Pro landscape setting of which she's depicted within, her personality and charm are captivating, too. Photo-mode being one of the stars of this game. Often heroines appear scantily clad, but Aloy relies on a variety of woollen garments, skins and outfits to realistically survive in her environment, rather than crop-top and hot-pants to titillate as you play as can be the worrying norm with female portrayal in video games. And what this has done is help to draw me into a far more grounded, believable, engrossing and quite spectacular story.

It wasn't like playing as a character from a Hollywood blockbuster, where you almost know the epic hero will always come good (which has its very valid and just place in gaming, but this isn't that game). From the earliest endeavours as you traverse your way through Aloy's youth, you feel a part of her story and are troubled, worried and scarred by its depiction. The land and narrative are shaped and moulded as you play, with the brilliant “multiple-choice” options Aloy is forced to make having great come-back or repercussions later in the game as the story unravels, which it does at a well-paced rate, giving you ample chance to explore and devour the beauty of this game. Or get devoured yourself, by the epic post-post apocalyptic metal horrors within the setting of Horizon: Zero Dawn that have taken over the planet. For what this game does better than any I've ever played is dip into a personal story whilst offering a wider-cataclysmic narrative with a troubling, but believable, outlook to humanities fate on earth. The interaction between the two tears you from one emotionally traumatic experience to the next whilst you battle to survive the metal onslaught and find-out just who you are, what happened to the planet and what threats remain.

It's my favourite game of the PS4 era, and I can't wait to jump head-first into the Complete Edition (available now from KDM Local / KDM Collectables) which comes complete with base game and Frozen Wilds Expansion. This video game has a heroine that'll outlive this generation of console, live long in our memories, have cameos and starring roles in spin-off series (she is a PS4 Exclusive Character in the upcoming Monster Hunters: World cross-platform game). She's refreshing, endearing, loveable and whilst her beauty is underplayed, it's great to see that video gaming is starting to realise that it's not the way a character is dressed, or how much cleavage is on show, that sells. It's the complete package and Aloy is the amalgamation of everything you want in a video game hero or heroine.

She'll sit in the pantheons of the gaming hierarchy for years to come and in the setting of Horizon: Zero Dawn you have, in my opinion (debated alongside The Witcher 3), the best open-world game of a generation. With the above factored in it's 100% the best new exclusive of 2017, and a flag-bearer for Sony's 4k gaming and a heroine to last a life-time. Guerrilla Games have created a masterpiece – and Sony are reaping the rewards of a new, loveable, believable and entirely beautiful heroine called Aloy.

My thoughts - Kev of KDM