Ret’s Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

Like the majority of Japanese anime openings, the title makes absolutely no sense.

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Yes! I actually review things! It wasn’t just a one time thing, I just happen to take my own sweet time getting around to things that are supposedly new! And yes, I enjoy videogames as well!

So, as one might surmise from the title, I’ll be giving my review of Horizon Zero Dawn, hopefully keeping it as spoiler-free as possible. Of course, I’m sure there’s no shortage of videogame journalism sites or random people on the internet proclaiming it’s a masterpiece, so what would I have to say about it?

That’s a really simple one: A review. I intend to tell what the game was, add my own impressions, and help you make an informed decision if you’re thinking of getting it.

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Hope: An Audience’s Odyssey

After all, Charming Orphan Annie singing her way to a family is more optimistic than Malnourished Orphan Annie decrying the wealth gap created by the capitalist system.

Last week, I expressed the heretical opinion that Logan is excellent but miserable, a one-view-only masterpiece that is bereft of hope. This week, I thought I’d elaborate a bit more on just what hope means.

That’s a tall order, of course, just like it’s hard to express something that’s so subjective, as well as being a fundamental word, like trying to describe “hot” or “soft” without using those words. But perhaps there’s a way to narrow it down. Perhaps by grasping to explain, I can clear up the picture and feelings behind it for others. Just what IS hope in stories?

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Logan: Les Miserables Masterpiece

I don’t feel hopeful that they’ll beat the odds and succeed; I feel resigned to their deaths, and think it’d be nice if they met it with dignity.

Logan does a lot right. Well-paced, good balance of action and emotion, very elegant conservation of information that is transmitted smoothly in a plot-relevant way, all of which are difficult to achieve in any film, let alone an action-fantasy. Does a lot for the comic book movie genre to bring more mature storylines to light, along with all the other ‘serious fan’ pontifications. Proves that good writing can transcend genres and categories, surpassing supposed restrictions with creative execution.

In fact, there’s only one thing it fails to do: Make me happy.

…WHAT? How can I be UNHAPPY with Logan? That’s like saying I enjoyed the Star Wars prequels! …Except wait, I DID enjoy the Star Wars prequels…

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Fabletop: By Special Re-Quest

The call goes out. The adventurers answer. And so begins an epic tale of…killing 10 slimes and collecting 50GP.

The call goes out. The adventurers answer. And so begins an epic tale of…killing 10 slimes and collecting 50GP.

Whether it’s saving the princess or getting the plot device, one thing is certain: Every character’s on a quest of some kind.

In any story, there needs to be a conflict. For that, there needs to be a problem that needs solving. And naturally, the problem must be special enough that one does not simply use a mundane solution any rational person can easily think of.

But in the midst of the most gripping sagas and interactive games, it can be easy to overlook that the proud tradition of a storied tale has its origins in the mists of time…and can seep into even the most mundane contexts.

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The Silence Of The Self-Inserts

We might wax philosophical and try and paint it as a purely artistic decision, but this is the cold, hard reality of game design, folks: You need CASH MONEY.

And there you have inspirational quotes from some of the most iconic videogame characters! Can YOU guess who said each one?

So yes, today I’ll be talking about SILENT PROTAGONISTS! No, I don’t mean characters who are unusually quiet. I mean it’s you, the player character, but there is just about no dialogue coming from them.

Now, this might seem a tad antiquated. What’s the deal with them? Do people still DO them? Do we only know this because our childhood icons were mute?

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Hogwarts’ Superschool Of Settings

What can we learn from barely competent teaching staff and poor hiring standards?

Class is once again in session! Yes, that idiom was to be expected. Yes,  you are fully allowed to cringe at me. Just as planned!

Today, I’ll be talking about a staple of fantastic settings and what we can learn from it: The SUPERSCHOOL! One highly popular example of a very involved setting.

Whether it’s an academy, the school, a magical order, or an alien police force, these are institutions built around the idea of collecting what we’d consider “special” and training it to perfection. From Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters to the Hogwarts School For Witchcraft And Wizardry, these have been a rich source for potential stories.

The main purpose of these, of course, is to teach superpowered individuals how to responsibly control and use their powers. Otherwise you’ll end up with all sorts of tragedy and collateral damage. Though the mission statement and end goals can vary, ultimately they’re about getting all that power in one place and getting it under control or awarded after rigorous training.

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Ah, yes. That old nugget.

But what’s the deal with these schools? When’s something normal or not, and what’s the nuts and bolts behind it? What can we learn from barely competent teaching staff and poor hiring standards?

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Love-to-Hate Relationships

We’re talking Scooby-Doo, villain-of-the-week, “tear down the orphanage and build a toxic pollution factory because I love the tears of children” levels of motivation.

Today I’ll be talking about characters you love to hate! Or is that characters you should hate but love? The answer, my readers, is: Yes.

So, everyone knows their own reasons for liking a characters. Could be personality, abilities, design. Could be a snappy one-liner or an achievement you really loved. There are characters we love wholeheartedly, and ones we despise and want to see dead.

But somewhere out there, some characters occupy a sweet spot, a mix of antagonism and admiration. Whatever it is, they share one thing with the characters that matter to you: You enjoy watching them.

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