Last night I finished my first playthrough of Horizon Zero Dawn.
It’s hard to know how to follow that statement. I have mixed emotions about completing it. With many games there’s a sense of accomplishment when you hit that ending. You watch the credits roll and wait to see what comes after. I most certainly did that last night. As the final scenes played out I felt a tug.
From the moment you start the game the story pulls you in. A seemingly orphaned girl raised by a man in the wilds. Both outcast by their tribe. Terrible mechanical beasts threaten the villages. Tribal warfare and political strife push humans to the brink. And all of this is revealed to you as your character, Aloy, is only a child. And then it gets really intense.
The game touches on so many ideas. Sense of self, the environment, reliance on technology, ideology and it does so discretely. In the midst of sneaking through plains and forests to get past a myriad of different robotic beasts, you forget that there is something more going on. As you delve caves of ancient secrets and search for snippets of the past you get lost in the idea that this is a woman just trying to understand her World and what happened to it.
To be honest, playing a game based in Colorado and Utah really made this even more poignant for me. Living in Colorado Springs and realizing that is the starting area of the game brough this home. Literally.
At the end, as those final images flickered and the promise of Horizon Zero Dawn 2 was delivered, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss. I’ll be playing this game again. Digging through every last ruin, climbing as high into the mountains as possible, seeking out all of the data caches. But I will not forget the depths this game plumbed and I will impatiently await the next installment.