Narratively, this lets us learn more about the world that we’ve already learned about, through fresh eyes. Sure, we understand how machines and factories and AI work, but characters from the various groups in the world get to offer new perspectives on what we already know, and progress is made not by unraveling the mystery (or at least, not the old mysteries), but by sharing that knowledge.
I still wish the game had more directly challenged Aloy’s assumption that it’s not worth explaining things to people who won’t “get it” —which at times was only slightly less frustrating than watching two partners in a romance movie refuse to talk out their problems . But this approach at least erodes the notion that there are countless people who have “simple” beliefs and don’t understand, and one singular white hero who does.
The Growing Cast of Characters
Speaking of the other characters in this world, they were a welcome addition to a story that, in the previous game, felt isolated and lonely. It’s perhaps understandable why a story about Aloy, an outcast and a clone of a long-dead scientist from the old world, would treat its protagonist as a singular figure. But it’s a difficult act to maintain.
The story of Forbidden West is about as subtle with its themes on the value of community and friendship as a very special episode. And yet, perhaps it’s the sentimental sucker in me, but I found myself eating it up. After two years of a pandemic that’s fractured social structures, resulted in prolonged periods of isolation, and sown deep relational rifts, yeah. I think I’m down for a story about how you can’t do everything on your own, and letting people support you is Good, Actually.
Sometimes, the game pulled this off in obvious ways, such as the case with Varl, Aloy’s friend from the previous game. In several early scenes, Aloy tries to ditch Varl in the middle of the night — a thing she does so often that he treats it as a routine part of their friendship. And yet, in a relatively early quest, Varl is able to pull off a political maneuver that Aloy, with her gruff, confrontational approach, could never do. It’s a little trite, but it works.