A reader is disappointed by Horizon Forbidden West and wishes that the characters and storytelling were as fun as the action.
I’ve seen a lot of people saying that they feel ‘sorry’ for Horizon Forbidden West, for coming out at the same time as the obviously far superior Elden Ring. The irony being that predecessor Horizon Zero Dawn came out within days of the universally acclaimed Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. I mean, for a start, that’s Sony’s fault. They picked the date and thought, with typical hubris, that they’d be fine going up against some super hard game that only nerds play. Just like Zelda was just another sequel for that baby console that Nintendo make.
I might have sympathy for developer Guerrilla Games if, by having their game compared to Zelda last time, they had taken stock of the original game and in anyway changed their approach. But they didn’t learn a damn thing from Breath Of The Wild. The only major change they made was trying to make the side quests more like The Witcher 3 and adding a few more robot animals. Because if there was one fault with Zero Dawn that everyone can agree on it’s the lack of robot kangaroos.
Comparing the Horizon games to top draw open world games like this is actually interesting though, because it’s a very good illustration of the difference between a classic game and a wannabe. If I’m sounding a little harsh that’s because I’m actually angry at buying the game, since I knew in my heart it wouldn’t have changed much, but I wanted to see the graphics and, well… those robot dinosaurs look really cool.
There’s one robot that definitely isn’t cool though and that’s the main character… Aloy. Now, I don’t want to imply that anyone else in the game is interesting, because they’re not, but since Aloy is the lead she naturally gets the most attention, especially as Guerrilla has been pushing her as some kind of next gen hero to stand alongside the likes of Lara Croft and Nathan Drake. Needless to say, she doesn’t come close.
As GC pointed out in their review of Forbidden West, everyone in the game is written in this sort of drab, matter of fact style that makes them sound bored about what’s going on even before we get a chance to be. And just to remind you, what’s going on is fights with robot dinosaurs and the end of the world.
Forbidden West isn’t a bad game in terms of the action, and while the open world is pretty lifeless it looks nice and I was invested enough to explore it on those grounds at least. Even the plot is actually pretty cool, in theory, but the storytelling and characters? Why is it all so boring? So very purposefully boring?
Aloy seems irritated by almost everyone she meets, constantly grumbling under her breath but never bothering to really talk things through with anyone. The fact that she knows the world around her is ruled by science not religion is barely ever touched upon, as she sits through hours of various tribes talking mumbo jumbo she knows is complete nonsense.
That’s a pretty wild set-up for a game but it’s obvious Guerrilla don’t want to risk offending anyone so it’s never really used properly. But that just sums up the whole game. The reason everyone is so boring and ‘grounded’ is that despite making a game about robot dinosaurs Guerilla want it to be taken seriously and not seen as silly, so they make everything to do with the humans as dull as possible. Because dull is adult and serious, don’t cha know?
I’m sick of this in video games. It got too much in The Last Of Us, a game about fungus zombies, and it gets more and more tiresome the sillier the premise gets. I’m not asking for Forbidden West to be high camp or anything but if the concept is inherently silly then the characters need to be something other than robotic mannequins with zero (dawn) personality.
By reader Kimble
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