Guerrilla Games latest outing serves as a lesson in story-driven sandbox gaming whilst settling the industry’s debt to the meaningful representation of female characters.
A tall order that is indeed, but the Amsterdam-based studio did manage to navigate through uncharted territory when it came to crafting a story about women, featuring powerful females along the way. Firstly, it is imperative we define our terminology — by ‘powerful’ I mean ‘realistic’ under its world’s rules. Something that makes me believe any person, regardless of their gender, would react the way writers mean them to in a real-life situation.
Aloy, Horizon’s lead character, flourishes in a world that has been precisely crafted for women, by women. The Nora, Aloy’s tribe in the game, are basically a matriarchal society in which folks sign up for an healthy dose of elderly government. Grandmothers rule the land, and they do so with an iron fist few choose to challenge. Sony’s blockbuster is much more than a pedestrian tale of strong leaders and warriors who happen to have vaginas – – it celebrates mankind’s resilience thro ugh an effervescent depiction of womanhood.
Ironically enough, Horizon Zero Dawn will probably go down in history as a showcase for Sony’s 4K technology, as the game does boast absolutely incredible visuals, both technical and artistic. But then again, videogames are what happens when people are too busy debating over resolution and frame-rates. This is change. Seeing the industry finally grasping female characters in a AAA offering leaves me excited for the future.
Alas, the last few years have been dominated by an agenda that does little to further diversity and fair representation of, well, frankly everyone in this media. It’s ok for Square-Enix to go ahead and serve a mainline Final Fantasy game starring an all male cast. Really, that’s fine. What Horizon does well in giving us such powerful women is just making their strength and relevance feel completely natural. And human. I felt the writers’ dedication to this lead warrior character that’s also a caring, if insecure mom.
It really works, Guerrilla. And we need more of it.