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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Analysing: I Did It My Way

Why WOULD anyone go into such detail instead of just sitting back and enjoying the ride?

How it should have ended. The sins of cinema. Why X Is Better Than Y (And The Reason Is MINDBLOWING!). Why Z Is A Disappointment. The Implications Of Everything I Just Said. Why You Shouldn’t Enjoy This Popular Series.

Once, reviews and thoughts on entertainment were the domain of Siskel and Ebert, of columns that newspapers actually paid for, of having a certain mindset and skillset that meant someone’s opinion should be taken seriously. Once, the voice of the public was measured by applause, by surveys, by aggregate numbers.

Now, any yahoo with a computer, an internet connection, and an opinion can get on a soapbox and start belching out ideas online.

These are critical analysts. And in the age of the internet (the second home of the nerd), in the renaissance of popular sci-fi/fantasy media (the bread and butter of the nerd), in the nature of mankind (the software of the nerd), their numbers will only increase.

And I’m here to explain both what they do and why I don’t see myself as one of them.

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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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Feedback Shades Of Grey

Heck, if trees could talk, pruning might be as horrific as amputation.

No, YOU’RE derivative and formulaic!

Whether it’s art, relationships, or just plain drudgery, one thing is certain: feedback comes, whether it’s wanted or not. Somewhere, out there, someone is telling someone else how to do their job. It is a fact as inescapable as living, dying, and paying taxes.

Some do it because they sincerely want to help improve something. Others do it because they have no brain-mouth filter and just blurt out whatever’s on their mind. And of course, some just do it because they wish to exert dominance over something. But all the recipient can control is how they react to it.

As life goes on and people enter phases where they have to deal with more people, it’s only natural that they’ll have to learn about dealing with it and growing from it. But aside from the usual platitudes, there’s actually more to feedback than one would expect.

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20th Century Failiterature

Probably for the best, I don’t want to see Gor’Mok The Savage spend three chapters having a debate with Durgamar The Feldrake about the ethics of using sentient beings as mounts.

Hark! Today, I shall be talking about 20th Century Literature and giving my thoughts on it. Not quite ALL literature written then, nor ONLY literature written then, but a particular genre which fixates on miserably moping about the 20th century.

There were plenty of other things written back then, but somehow, by the time I went on to study 20th Century Lit in university (among other more enjoyable subjects), the texts I studied almost entirely covered the miserable injustices of life. Racism, sexism, elitism, classism, this here appeared to be the primordial, eldritch ooze from which Social Justice Warriors evolved: all noise, no substance.

Obviously, I’m very much AGAINST it and I’ll explain why after I explain what it is. So watch out, netizens! Here there be opinions!

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It’s Only Logical To Be Illogical

Others are sick of this bandwagon and think “In that case, I’m gonna make my story EXTRA stupid to spite you!”

This is not a logical topic for a blog post. It isn’t even a logical thesis statement. With that stupid joke out of the way, let’s get into it!

As the internet grew larger and nerds had more platforms to proclaim/declare/scream their opinions and insights, a popular topic to arise was this: Pointing out idiotic moments in stories.

Whether you call them plot holes, poor writing, or a means to progress the plot, there has been something of a market for fans to play backseat driver and point out when characters are being stupid, or put themselves through unnecessary trouble. These days, we’re obsessed with telling people how things should have ended or what they got wrong. The spirit in which this is done can range from a loving jape to just the most salty vitriol.

We’ve got different responses to these, of course. Some of us think they’re the BEST responses and think “Man, I’m gonna make my story HYPER logical!” Others are sick of this bandwagon and think “In that case, I’m gonna make my story EXTRA stupid to spite you!” And some might feel fear. They might wonder “Do I dare write? What if I’M the one getting torn up?”

And I, in heretical fashion, am going to defy the trend by answering all these imagined concerns with: It’s OK to be illogical. It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to be inefficient.

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