When I first reviewed Horizon Zero Dawn, I referenced the fact that Sony UK product manager, Jon Edwards, commented that he believed lead protagonist, Aloy, would become the “PlayStation icon of the future”. At the time, I remember thinking that these comments were made a little prematurely seeing as the game hadn’t even been released. However, after spending an unhealthy amount of hours in Aloy’s digital shoes, I can see that Edwards was simply excited for gamers to see what Guerrilla Games had created and I can see a lot of potential for this character to front what could become one of the biggest, modern day gaming franchises.
Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t a perfect game but it is the perfect springboard to launch a brand new gaming icon and it was truly Aloy’s origin story. Outcast since birth, we are first introduced to Aloy at just six months old before following her as a young girl trying to understand why she is different to the other villagers. Aloy’s origin is incredibly compelling and at times quite moving to see her transition from a Nora outsider to become the bow-wielding heroine we come to love. Being presented with a character we feel we really understand and care about is a step in the right direction to creating a long-term icon.
The Heart of the Story
Despite occasionally bordering on the cliche, Horizon’s story remains engaging throughout and it is Aloy’s emotional investment that is the real driving force. As the player, you feel urged to continue moving the story along and are really rooting for Aloy to succeed in her quest to find out the secrets behind her mysterious birth, who her mother is and what happened to the world that came before. Having a compelling story is one thing but without a captivating character at its heart, it can lead to somewhat of a hollow experience so having a character like Aloy to be the emotional anchor turned the story from good to great.
Whilst I do enjoy seeing a character transition from a seemingly average joe to an action hero, the premise can seem somewhat overplayed. Just a couple of months ago we had Ethan Winters go from an everyman looking for his missing wife to become a professional monster killer in Resident Evil 7. A great thing about playing as Aloy is that she feels capable of handling any situation thrown at her and, even though you’re not quite invincible, she doesn’t shy away from confrontation and you feel safe knowing that she will come out of a tough situation alive; albeit with some bruises and fewer arrows.
She’s Sassy AF
The only thing sharper than Aloy’s arrowheads is her tongue and sometimes she uses it to absolutely savage other characters. A smart-mouthed character is nothing new to the gaming world and those who are well-versed in the Uncharted series will know Nathan Drake’s wisecracking ways. However, this adds to the character’s confidence in her own ability. It is part of Aloy’s charm as these moments remind us that in between hunting machines, deep down she is just a 19-year old girl without access to social media and whilst she is capable of taking down gigantic beasts with her bow, she is able to take down royalty with her sass.
A Wider Lore to Explore
Horizon Zero Dawn has introduced us to a world that frankly, I can’t wait to continue exploring in either a full blown sequel or some story DLC (the latter seems the most likely). This incredible world building really gives Guerrilla Games the chance to play around and explore the mythology behind the story.
I admit that I was worried once the main story came to a close, there wouldn’t be much more to explore but I was wrong. As you make your way through the game there are implications that suggest there is more to Horizon Zero Dawn’s lore than Guerrilla Games are showing us and waiting for just the right moment for all to be revealed.
So what are your thoughts on Aloy’s potential to become a gaming icon? If you think I’ve missed any reasons, leave your thoughts in the comments below.