Players of Horizon: Zero Dawn will connect with protagonist Aloy in a very human way throughout the game’s enigmatic narrative, according to John Gonzales, a writer for the title.
In a recent interview with RedBull Games, Gonzales emphasised that Aloy’s status as an outcast will endear her to players and act as an anchor point for engagement with the game’s overarching narrative threads:
“[Aloy] wants to know where she came from and that’s something that makes it more satisfying to play as her because she has a personal reason for going out on this quest. She is after something that means a lot to her and I think the way that is set up in the game means that it matters to players, too,” Gonzales said.
Connection to character is rarely as simple as direct narration, however, and, to that end, Aloy’s humanity will be at the forefront of the gameplay. Unlike many games, Horizon: Zero Dawn will not be an outright power fantasy, according to Gonzales. Although players will have many different options at their fingertips, Aloy will not have the ability to “lay waste to everything in front of [her]”. Players will instead have to engage in tactical play to overcome obstacles, a dynamic that Gonzales likened to the biblical tale of David and Goliath.
The design of Horizon: Zero Dawn, then, is holistic, with narrative and gameplay coming together to highlight the dangers of Aloy’s world, but this is not its only purpose. The game’s unique setting of an almost prehistoric future where robotic animals roam the land and humanity has reverted to tribal societies is one of the more tantalising aspects. Gonzales promises that players will come to an organic understanding of the history that has led to this point through the combination of level design and narrative, rather than having the game’s lore forced upon them.
Set for release on PS4 on March 3, Horizon: Zero Dawn is shaping up as one of the most interesting games of 2017, and OnlySP will be sure to keep an eye on it in the coming months.