Tobold's Blog
Saturday, August 22, 2020

From time to time it can be fun to use an element in a story that doesn't belong to the genre, time, and culture the story plays in. For example in my current D&D campaign of Dungeon of the Mad Mage I took up a suggestion from the DotMM Companion to describe the mad mage, Halaster, as the presenter of a game show. So for the characters, Halaster is the mad mage of the title, as a game show makes no sense to the people living in a world of heroic fantasy. But to the players, Halaster is a bit more believable than somebody whose only explanation for his behavior is "he is mad". The anachronism is a deliberate break of the 4th wall, leading to a better story.

I just finished Horizon Zero Dawn, which is a story that is fundamentally based around anachronisms. A science-fiction story in which the characters are mostly tribal warriors with bow and spear. And while I could get into that setting at the start, I really didn't find the story at the end very believable. Because it isn't just the player who is able to identify the science-fiction elements. Somehow we are meant to believe that the main character, who grew up in a world without technology except for a smart-phone like object she found as a kid, is suddenly able to understand complicated technology well enough to do things like copying files or understanding how an AI works. The hand-waved explanation that this is due to "genetics" isn't convincing to me.

Anyway, I don't regret having bought the game, as I have played it for 60 hours, and at least the first three quarters of that were fun enough. I do feel that to some extent I "played it wrong" by not concentrating on story and side quests from the start. I thought that, like in Breath of the Wild, there would be enough game in the open world mechanics to enjoy much of the game while ignoring the story; I was wrong. I constantly bumped against the limitations of the game, the limited climbing system, the limited weapon choice. If I had played the game "as intended", those limitations would have been a bit less obvious. As a hunting / shooting game, Horizon Zero Dawn was fun enough, but I didn't really enjoy the parcours gameplay or the science-fiction story, and so I don't think I'll play the recently announced sequel.

I guess it depends on the expectations going in and the the use of the plot device as THE goal rather than the tool to move the story along.

The best part of Horizon is battling multiple robots at the same time, and using each against the others. Just like Spider-Man's best parts are exploration and combat against multiple minions.

Q though. Have you tried Assassins Creed Odyssey? Its more in line with BotW in terms of open gameplay. Not nearly as flexible, but more than Horizon
Thank you for the advice. Odyssey is certainly on my to-do list. That is to say I bought it and Origins at some sale, started Origins, never really finished that, and then never started Odyssey. With your recommendation it just moved up in priority, although I think I'll play something else first.
Best game suggestion ever. Interactive single player game. No twitch feedback required. Decision making only. Want to play?

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