When I ask people why they don’t like to read, many say that they simply don’t enjoy sitting around for hours staring at lines on a page – it is impossible to concentrate, and they get bored easily. So, naturally, my next response is something along the lines of ‘well, do you play video-games then?’
Video-games can often be overlooked as a source of brilliant storytelling, which is truly a shame because some of the best stories I’ve heard this year have come straight from CGI lips. I’ll only mention one game here (despite wanting to talk about many more) and I won’t spoil it in case you want to play it for yourself – the newest installment from Guerrilla Games, ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’. This particular game is a PlayStation exclusive, but there are many other games for all varieties of consoles which tell extensive stories – the ‘Final Fantasy’ series, for example.
But first, I’ll give you a basic summary of the game. Horizon’s game-play is brilliant; it is set in a post-post-apocalyptic world, 1000 years after the machines took over earth. The game itself is a huge open-world RPG, with gathering and crafting mechanics linked to hunting the machines with a variety of weapons (including a bow with a variety of arrows, a rope-caster, and a sling-shot which fires explosives – just to name a few) for resources. This game brings together some of the best game mechanics from a variety of sources – games such as ‘Far Cry Primal’, ‘Assassin’s Creed’, and ‘The Witcher 3’.
However, what makes this beautiful game stand out the most is not the crazy visuals, or even the robotic creatures you have to fight your way past in order to progress; it’s the story.
The game opens with you playing as a young version of the later protagonist, Aloy; a red-haired girl with curiosity to spare, and a distinct lack of a mother. Due to this last point, she has been outcast from her matriarchal tribe and has been put into the care of Rost – another outcast. Rost teaches her how to hunt in a nicely-played, relatively short tutorial section, before the game throws you straight into the action. Aloy goes on a journey of literal self-discovery as she seeks for her mother. However, along the way she learns of greater mysteries, and the curiosity from her childhood comes back in full force – why did the machines take over the Earth, and what stopped them from doing so completely? Throughout the game, Aloy finds more and more questions, but perhaps the answers she is looking for aren’t as numerous as she thinks.
Horizon’s story is wonderfully crafted, and I was absorbed from beginning to end. As someone who loves a good story – I would suggest to anyone else who feels the same but doesn’t enjoy the process of sitting silently still and reading for hours on end to try video-games, especially Horizon if you have access to a PlayStation, but also the four others I mentioned briefly in this article which can all be played on X Box. Happy hunting!