Last Updated on July 20, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Hey loves! It’s been a hot second since I wrote a post related to video games. (And, my last post was about having sex with various video game characters, so this one might be a little more tame, in comparison. 😅) However, ironically, I still want to talk about romance in some fashion. Particularly, I want to discuss romance in Horizon Zero Dawn–or the lack thereof and my feelings about them. I have lot of them.
So, let’s get started!
First, a Disclaimer
So, I want to disclaim a few things quickly, before we dive in:
- This response was started while replaying Horizon Zero Dawn and BEFORE I started Horizon Forbidden West. While some of my opinions have changed with that new context from the second game, I won’t be discussing those here, for spoiler reasons. And, despite my opinion shifting, I did still want to discuss the aspect of romance in Horizon Zero Dawn.
- Secondly: I will do my best to avoid spoilers at all costs for this first game, but, there is a risk for some minor spoilers. Avoid this post if you don’t want to risk it.
- Finally: I have NOT YET BEATEN FORBIDDEN WEST. If you come in and spoil it, I will ban you. Period.
Now that’s out of the way, onward to a little bit of context about me, the game itself and then the romance in Horizon Zero Dawn.
As a gamer, I love open world RPGs. Always have, ever since my Baldur’s Gate and Kingdom Hearts days on the PS2. But it was BioWare and their Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises that introduced me to one of my (now) favorite potential elements in an RPG: romanceable companions. (I mean, there’s no Shepard without Vakarian, amiright?)
So, when I first learned about the absolutely epic (and, since playing it twice, one of my all time favorite games) Horizon Zero Dawn, I was really hoping we’d get to romance one of our companions or NPCs (non-playable characters).
Yet, in an interview with managing director for Guerrilla Games, Hermen Hulst tells us why Aloy, who we play as, is not interested in romance. He explained that “Aloy is a very driven character who had no time to waste,” so how could she stop for romance?
THAT is what I want to argue against, for a few key reasons.
Romance in Horizon Zero Dawn
There are a few main reasons why I think there should have been romance in Horizon Zero Dawn. Some things are objectively and others a little more subjective, so I split it into two sections.
- I love the chance to experience romance in a game. Before I met my partner, the romance in video games was the closest I’d ever experienced in real life. Call it sad or whatever you’d like to judge, but it actually meant something to me. And I’m not alone in that. Look at the fandom of BioWare games or fanfiction and you have your proof.
So, with characters that were so well crafted, I wanted the change to explore what a romance with them would be like. Most namely, Varl, a member of Aloy’s tribe, the Nora; or Talanah Khane Padish, a Carja of the Hunters Lodge.
- They’re hot. I mean, LOOK AT THEM.
Exhibit A: Varl
He is prime example number one of who I wish I could romance in Horizon Zero Dawn. Varl is hot, yes, but he’s also an incredible warrior, fiercely loyal and has a way with people that Aloy…lacks. Often.
Exhibit B: Talanah
I’ll be your thrush any day, Talanah. 🥵
Exhibit C: Vanasha
Vanasha’s spunk and sass, PLUS THOSE ABS? Please.
Less objectively, there is another main reason I think romance in Horizon Zero Dawn made sense. This is despite the fact that, for Aloy’s character, I do agree with the director: romance isn’t on her radar. And apparently, she’s the only one.
Everyone flirts with Aloy, even though she never asks for it. Like the director mentioned in his interview referenced above, she is a woman on a mission. She was raised in isolation. Romance isn’t on her mind and neither is kindness. Don’t get me wrong: I love this game and I have mad respect for Aloy, but her people skills aren’t always top-notch. Or existent at all.
So then, why is everyone flirting with her all the fucking time? Even after just meeting her? When she meets Erend during the Proving, he hopes she’ll stop by Meridian to “get a drink with him.” Later, after certain events in Meridian, he flirts again, though this one is a bit more awkward, as Aloy turns him down to continue her mission. High King Avad is the best example, but also the most spoilery, so I won’t speak too much about the specifics, but holy shit, dude. (Not even get me STARTED about you know what in HFW. That was so uncalled for.) Varl, during a pivotal moment during the end game, tells Aloy he’s just glad he “got to see her face one last time.” Hell, even Petra assumes that Aloy is hitting on her after Aloy is just being nice (for once).
It just begs the question: if you created a game where you didn’t want romance to be a distracting factor because it doesn’t fit into her character, then why does everything that breathes flirt with her? I swear, I was waiting for a Thunderjaw to saunter up to her by the end of the game.
Make it make sense.
All in all, do I wish that Horizon Zero Dawn had romance? Yes, emphatically so. Yet, that desire actually dampened after starting and playing a good chunk of Horizon Forbidden West. Again, not doing spoilers, so I can’t dive into why, but it’s both a) because of why you think, for those who’ve played it and b) for other reasons, too, that are a little more complex than jealousy. 😉
Who knows, maybe after I beat the game, I’ll write up a sequel post to this and expand. But, I’d love to hear from you (again, though: NO SPOILERS). Have you played the game? Did you find the lack of romance a bummer or preferable? What do you think of romances in general in games? If you could, who would you romance in Horizon Zero Dawn? I’d love to hear your thoughts!