The Best Audio Logs In Horizon Zero Dawn

You’ll spend many of your time in Horizon Zero Dawn fighting hulk automatic dinosaurs. It’s a game’s many apparent strength, and it’s a fun, sparkling thing to do. But we wish to regard one of a game’s subtler successes: a conspicuous set of audio logs that mount as some of a best credentials storytelling of a year.

As a protagonist Aloy creates her approach by a deserted labs and troops installations of a universe long-since destroyed, she discovers recordings finished by a people who used to live there. It’s a shopworn approach to fill in a video game’s backstory, though Horizon Zero Dawn’s audio logs are good adequate that they still work. My favorite set of logs tells a micro-story involving a long-dead soldier, his mother and a actions of a people in assign of a losing war. The recordings also denote a potential of audio storytelling in games and, some-more impressively, feat a approach those of us who play games keep in a memory of what we trust though realizing it.

The First Two: A Soldier’s Lament

Aloy comes opposite a set of 6 tapes in a damaged down troops bottom nearby a tip of The Grave-Hoard. It’s an area players deplane into during a extensive goal called “To Curse The Darkness.” The initial dual logs lay watchful to be activated in a buliding of one Sgt. Guliyev. We don’t know Guliyev. We don’t accommodate him. When a actor reaches this area, several hours into a extensive game, he or she might not even nonetheless know because a Sgt. Guliyev would exist. The actor is usually commencement to know a prolonged story of a universe Aloy is exploring. Despite her obsolete surroundings, she and a tribes around her are distant from of one of humanity’s initial societies. Instead, she seems to be a member of one of a last. Our bargain of what came before is usually entrance into focus. We know there was a drudge uprising. Humans like Sgt. Guliyev were enlisted to quarrel it. The quarrel went badly.

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In a initial dual logs Aloy finds, a sergeant explains what is function to his mother behind home.

He is primarily optimistic. In a second recording, however, he despairs.

Listen:

Here’s a twin (transcripts in this essay are around a Horizon Zero Dawn Wikia):

Sgt. Guliyev: Thanks for a mails, you. Time goes quick on active duty—four months with a Wreckin’ Recalls, we don’t know, 20 drops? In and out of a West Coast, fighting with these municipal enlistees, scrappy guys and gals—their training is fundamentally “Here’s a DEW, when we see a bot, strike it,”—but somehow it’s all entrance together. Between us and a 6th MRB we took down a Horus during Lithium Beach. Pulled out before a buddies arrived, though to see a large one go down…I wish it finished a news, honey, showed everybody we’re gonna have a shot during branch this around. We usually need to give Project Zero Dawn a time it needs, afterwards all will be a approach it used to be.

Sgt. Guliyev: we know it’s been days, honey, I’m so sorry. Deployments are—getting genuine long, and worse any time… a swarm’s removing improved during presaging us. Less of us now, and we have to put in 10 times a work for any one gone. Like a family business on tough times, only… this isn’t my family. It’s not with you. we still try to see you, a life we had, in a eyes of a people out there. we remember when they were blissful to see us, when they still had hope. It all seems to be slipping away. we don’t even commend a places we’re defending… The usually thing we know I’m still fighting for is… you. For Zero Dawn to spin this around, whatever a ruin that is.

The span of logs seems to tell a story we consider Horizon’s designers wish we to hear: a soldier’s wish is crushed into hopelessness.

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The subsequent 4 logs we find aren’t tighten by. There’s some exploring and fighting between them, that would advise to many players that Guliyev’s story is finished with.

The thing is, a good diversion engineer can assume that things like those initial dual audio logs will hang with players, during slightest for a while. What we see and hear is burnt into a short-term memory, even if we aren’t unwavering of it happening. You can commend this in games in a Metroid series, where a find of new weapons and apparatus that capacitate we to pound by walls or burst unequivocally high unexpected hint flashes of memory of areas we formerly ran by that, hey, were indeed full of walls watchful to be crushed and things that maybe we can now burst over. Last year, I wrote about a identical trick from a 1998 Nintendo 64 diversion Banjo-Kazooie. It springs a ask on players late in a game, seeking them to brand signature sounds and visuals that they’ve listened or seen as they’ve played. You don’t have to have been profitable all that most courtesy to ace a quiz. The trust burrowed into we though we noticing.

In Horizon, it’s Sgt. Guliyev’s audio logs that you’ve been subconsciously gripping in your mind’s ear. You hear those initial dual and afterwards pierce on to do other things like elucidate a puzzle….

… afterwards fighting a slew of bad guys…

… and exploring caves…

The Next Two: A Government’s Redaction

At slightest 10 mins will pass from when we might have listened Sgt. Guliyev’s words. But in my experience, during least, they stranded with me. Deeper into a Grave-Hoard, players will find a room filled with terminals. On those terminals are some-more audio logs. Some are evidently from Sgt. Guliyev to his wife, though they sound different. The difference are similar. It sounds like his voice. But it’s different. The despondency is gone. His messages to his mother have been spotless adult and sound some-more optimistic. He’s been censored.

These logs are patrician “Edited and Approved.” Listen to them after listening to a initial dual and you’ll know why:

Here’s a transcript, display how a sergeant’s difference were manipulated to pass promotion to his wife:

Sgt. Guliyev: Thanks for a mails, you. Time goes quick on active duty- 4 months with a Wreckin’ Recalls… fighting with these new enlistees, scrappy guys and gals… it’s all entrance together. Between us and a 6th MRB we took down a Horus… we wish it finished a news, honey, showed everybody we’re… branch this around. We usually need to give Project Zero Dawn a time it needs…

Sgt. Guliyev: we know it’s been days, honey, I’m so sorry. Deployments are- removing genuine long… and we have to put in… a work for everyone. Like a family business… I… see you… in a eyes of a people out there. …they were blissful to see us, they still had hope… I’m still fighting for you.

As a indicate of comparison, here’s a initial of those dual logs from a sergeant again, with a tools that were defended in a redacted summary bolded:

Sgt. Guliyev: Thanks for a mails, you. Time goes quick on active duty—four months with a Wreckin’ Recalls, we don’t know, 20 drops? In and out of a West Coast, fighting with these municipal enlistees, scrappy guys and gals—their training is fundamentally “Here’s a DEW, when we see a bot, strike it,”—but somehow it’s all entrance together. Between us and a 6th MRB we took down a Horus during Lithium Beach. Pulled out before a buddies arrived, though to see a large one go down…I wish it finished a news, honey, showed everybody we’re gonna have a shot at branch this around. We usually need to give Project Zero Dawn a time it needs, afterwards all will be a approach it used to be.

And here’s a second, in a strange form, with what was defended and manipulated bolded:

Sgt. Guliyev: I know it’s been days, honey, I’m so sorry. Deployments are- removing genuine long, and worse any time… a swarm’s removing improved during presaging us. Less of us now, and we have to put in 10 times a work for everyone gone. Like a family business on tough times, only… this isn’t my family. It’s not with you. I still try to see you, a life we had, in a eyes of a people out there. we remember when they were blissful to see us, when they still had hope. It all seems to be slipping away. we don’t even commend a places we’re defending… The usually thing we know I’m still fighting for is… you. For Zero Dawn to spin this around, whatever a ruin that is.

Taken together, a edited and unedited logs tell a story of their own. Human fighters were removing degraded so badly that their troops commanders suppressed a law of their suffering. Listening to a redacted and edited logs, it’s easy to feel indignant about what happened.. But it’s not adequate for a game’s writersto usually tell a story of a government’s fatuous attempts to spit-shine a catastrophe. They give us a final span of messages from Guliyev’s wife.

The Last Two: A Resilient Truth

Near a sergeant’s censored audio logs are dual from her. Her initial summary is noted “rejected,” her second “approved.”

Mrs. Guliyev: Ames… we don’t even know if you’re alive anymore. The mails we get from you, they contend they’re from you, though they don’t sound… They sound… recycled. Phrases put together. And we don’t contend anything about a news we pass on! The containment zone, a re-breathers, a rioting, 1Earth—what happened in a Dallas Bubble, Ames, that wasn’t a robots! They won’t even give me a true answer when we direct to know if you’re still alive! They usually contend if your messages keep coming, then… you’re still… “operational.” It’s not fair, Ames. It’s not satisfactory that we won’t be with me when a lights go out. we adore you.

Mrs. Guliyev: Ames, we know we mail we too much—I’m usually unapproachable of what you’re doing—everyone behind home is. We got changed internal 10 kilometers, usually as a precaution, they say… School’s still in session, so we get to keep my eye on Andras and Reggie. We never know where or when you’re fighting, though when a VTOLs go over, all a kids run out and wave… we trust in you. we know nothing’s ever going to be a same, though we trust in you. we trust in us.

“That’s so sad,” Aloy remarks as a wife’s deserted summary concludes.

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It is sad, though there’s also a spark of something optimistic. Games like Horizon elicit pathos from a pang they depict. They uncover disadvantage and detriment of life to enthuse or clear a hero’s moral violence. They sound out pang to motivate action. As this mini-drama concludes, it strikes a touching note about how good people know any other. Guliyev’s mother knows she’s not conference her husband’s genuine words. She can tell. That’s a little delight of love, if eventually a fatuous one. Amid lies, a law did moment through. It’s a tiny feat in a destroyed fight, subtly conveyed in a immeasurable and considerable game.

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