Game of the Month: Horizon Zero Dawn

When most of my friends (in the social network sense) on the PlayStation Network play the same new game it is usually worthwhile a look. The latest game is category is Horizon Zero Dawn. After reading a few reviews I immediately ordered it.

Horizon Zero Dawn tells the story of a post apocalyptic world. The human civilisation has perished and the relatively few survivors live in primitive tribes or medieval societies. Giant machines resembling animals like horses, tigers or even dinosaurs roam the lands and often pose a danger to the human population. The main character of the game is a young woman, named Aloy. For reasons unknown to her she was outcast from the tribe of the Nora at birth and given to another outcast, named Rost, who raised her like his own daughter. To find out who her parents were and why she was banished from the tribe Aloy trained very hard for years to take part in the Proving, the yearly hunter trials. A victory would not only make her a member of the tribe but also grant her a boon which she intends to use to find out about her heritage. Although Aloy actually wins most of her questions remain unanswered. Instead she must embark on a dangerous journey to find out who she really is and why the members of a dangerous cult called the Eclipse are trying to kill her at any cost.

Horizon Zero Dawn is an open world action role playing game. Its extensive story is told through dialogs, cutscenes and artefacts that can be found in the vast world. Besides the main campaign there are a lot of side missions, errands and discoverable areas like bandit camps or dungeons. Over the course of the game Aloy acquires new skills which e.g. improve her combat abilities. Collecting plants, hunting animals and looting defeated enemies provides resources that can be used to trade with merchants for better armour and new weapons.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a very enjoyable action role playing game. But what sets it apart is its excellent story full of mystery. The huge number of characters with excellent dialog and voice actors make the world feel alive and transform the game into an interactive movie. The game is similar to the award-winning The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt without ever appearing to be a mere copy.

I’m a big fan of games with a strong narrative. And Horizon Zero Dawn has that in spades. I enjoyed every moment of adventure and discovery that the game had to offer, all the way to the beautiful cut scene at the end. I can highly recommend this game to all players who enjoy games with a good story and a lot of action.

Movie of the Week: Wonder Woman

While Marvel had a spectacular streak of success with their comic adaptations for the big screen in the past nine years DC Comics failed to replicate this success so far. Silke and I only watched Man of Steel and weren’t particularly impressed. However based on the promising trailer and positive reviews we decided to see DC’s latest movie, Wonder Woman.

On a mystic island hidden from the world by powerful magic the Amazons are training for the return of Ares, the god of war. Ares wants to bring about the final war that will destroy humanity and it is the Amazons’ duty to stop him. Their most formidable warrior is Diana, the daughter of the queen . When a British pilot is stranded on the Island by chance and tells the Amazon about the horrors of World War I, Diana believes that this signals the return of Ares. She disobeys her mother’s orders and leaves the island with the pilot to find Ares and end the war. But Diana’s quest doesn’t turn out the way she expected.

Wonder Woman has all the ingredients of a good Superhero movie: a likeable protagonist, cruel villains, awesome special effects and amazing fighting scenes. But there is more to it: Diana’s journey. At the beginning she’s innocent and almost naive. She is ill prepared for the horrors of World War I with trenches, weapons of mass destruction and a greatly suffering civil population. Her attempts to help are initially rebuffed by the chauvinistic men of the time. But Diana rises to the occasion and during the course of the movie becomes the iconic heroine Wonder Woman.

I always had a soft spot for heroines: Leia, Ripley, Xena and Hermione to name a few. So I was very happy that a movie production company finally had the courage and decency to make a blockbuster superhero movie with a female lead. The result is well worth seeing and surpasses all the other recent DC movies. I’m definitely looking forward to future movies featuring Wonder Woman.

Movie of the Week: Rogue One

The opening crawl at the beginning of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope mentions the first victory of the Rebel Alliance against the Galactic Empire. Almost forty years later the latest Star Wars film Rogue One finally tells the story of what happened.

The movie tells the story of Jyn Erso. At a young age she lost her parents when her father, a brilliant scientist, was abducted by the Empire and her mother got killed in the process. Now the Rebel Alliance desperately needs Jyn’s help to search for her lost father. Over the past decades he has been forced to work on the Empire’s new super weapon, the Death Star. And finding him might help to somehow stop the Death Star before it can bring about the end of the rebellion

Rogue One is quite different from other Star Wars films. It is not a fairy tail, but rather a war movie. The lines between good and evil are more blurred than usual. After a slow start the film turns into a fulminant action spectacle with an all-out battle between the Empire and the Rebellion.

Rogue One is a movie for existing Star Wars fans. It makes much more sense watching it when you already know Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope although the latter is strictly speaking the sequel. I definitely enjoyed watching this latest Star Wars film, in particular due to the well placed references to the earlier movies.

Taking comfort in the Unfairness of the Universe