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What’s in Your Box: Zero Dawn Sunshine

/ Jun 4th, 2017 No Comments

Horizon Zero Dawn

Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?

What’s in Greg’s Box

Hello again my fine boxi!

This week has seen me still trapped in the eternal hell that is Super Mario Sunshine. As always, what once began as a fun romp into a silly platformer quickly turned into endless frustration and tears, but don’t worry I solved the dilemma by enjoying a few friendly rounds of Mario Party!

As we all know, Mario Party is a delightful boardgame style video game in which friends come together for laughs and let their worries take flight and become free of the stress of modern life. Truly nothing is more uplifting and jovial than a rousing game of Mario Party.

Mr. Shifty

Let the record state not only is Mr. Shifty well-built in terms of gameplay but has one of the most smooth control schemes I’ve had the pleasure to interact with.

When not lying through my teeth I finally managed to beat Mr. Shifty on the Nintendo Switch and highly recommend it as a fast-paced top-down puzzle shooter. I know that’s far too many syllables and I should apologize. Let the record state not only is Mr. Shifty well-built in terms of gameplay but has one of the most smooth control schemes I’ve had the pleasure to interact with.

What’s in Kalvin’s Box

Motivation to play video games lately has been hard to muster. It is shocking, I know. No matter how much I wanted to get into something I just couldn’t do it recently. Sure, I am still playing some review games and am into them to varying degrees, but finding the desire to play a game outside of necessity has been difficult.

I don’t know what it is. It isn’t for a lack of games to play. Maybe watching Tiger Mask W and Lucha Underground has been too compelling and less intensive or perhaps reading American Gods again feels like a better use of my free time. Or maybe finishing Peraona 5 has left me empty without a clue as what to play.

Whatever the reason my box has been pretty dry this week. That isn’t to say it has been completely empty.

No, I have found some time to start Horizon Zero Dawn.


Perhaps what I have been searching for is a game that grabs you by the haunches from the jump and never let’s go. Horizon Zero Dawn sucks you into its world from the intro cinematic. In the short bit I have played, admittedly not a whole lot, I have been introduced to the state of the world, interpersonal conflicts, group dynamics and cultural touchstones and traditions. Oh and a ton of questions.

It is a testament to good storytelling and writing that the tutorial of the game both serves as a way to learn how to play the game, a way to introduce a character, and build the world around her. It is also the few times that I’ve played as an inexperienced character where I haven’t hated it.

Horizon Zero Dawn begins by introducing you to Rost, an outcast of the Nora Tribe, who has been entrusted to raise a motherless girl. Despite being an outcast, Rost still keeps with the tribe’s tradition to name a child. Surprisingly when he goes to perform the ceremony one of the tribe’s spiritual leaders is there to help him and bless the ceremony.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Rost knows what’s up. Respect the machines and hunting them will be just fine.

This doesn’t turn out well when other tribespeople burst in on the ritual. A simple scene of naming a child is filled with tons of important detail. It never spells out those details, but you are able to infer a whole lot based on what is happening. This introductory scene builds a world quickly and effectively while never betraying any story drama.

Following that we are introduced to a six year old Aloy. She wants nothing more than to play with children her own age, but she is shunned for attempting to be a part of a group of children picking berries. Like Rost she too is an outcast. The hurt prompts her to run off and she ends up falling into a cavern. What she discovers there will inform her journey going forward.

Below is a great metal ruin. Something Rost told her is forbidden and she should avoid. However, she is trapped and the only way out is forward. As she navigates through the caverns of the ruin, she comes across a mummified corpse. This corpse has a weird triangle on its ear. Like all children, Aloy is naturally curious so she plucks the triangular device and tries it on.

Horizon Zero Dawn

This is where Aloy gets a glimpse at what the world can be.

This will change her forever. The device allows her to scan technology and gain greater information about it. It helps her escape the ruins, but not before she learns of a great calamity that happened in the metal ruin long ago. What does this have to do with the state of the world as it is?

Rost eventually finds her and tells her she must learn to hunt the mechanical beasts that roam the land. It is during their hunting trip that they come across a young boy who falls off a cliff near a lack of striders. Rost is resigned to leave him for fear of both his and Aloy’s death.

Aloy is impetuous and runs off. Luckily her device allows her to see the paths the beasts take and gives her the ability to utilize the tall grass to avoid detection. She eventually save the boy, but not before other Nora tribesmen find him and tell him to get away from the outcasts. This stings Aloy after her heroic deed of saving him.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Being an outcast is a v. important part of the story.

In her hurt she runs off, and some of the kids she met early throw rocks at her cutting her face. This is where we first get to choose how Aloy deals with problems. Depending on how you want her to respond will determine how she expresses her personality.

Whatever your choice, Rost tells Aloy she is an outcast because of who her mother was. Reflexively she asks who her mother was and Rost tells her it isn’t for them to know. That’s not enough for Aloy and she wants to know how she can find out.

So Rost tells her of a rite of passage for the tribespeople to become hunters. While those who pass become hunters, the best of them also get a boon. Now Aloy knows what she must do. Cue training montage.

Even in my short play time, Horizon Zero Dawn has done more me to hook me than most games do over their entire play time. Obviously I haven’t even scratched the surface, but I can’t wait to dig in more to this gorgeous and gripping game.

I need answers!

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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