To succeed, Netflix’s upcoming Horizon Zero Dawn show will have to break the video-game adaptation curse, but the show’s toughest obstacle will be to embrace one of the open-world games’ most important elements. The Horizon series on Netflix is only one of a slew of popular Playstation games that have been announced to be transformed into various media. “The Last of Us” adaptation is wrapping up filming, John Wick director Chad Stahelski has signed on to direct the Ghost of Tsushima film, and Sony’s investor’s briefing in May disclosed that a Grand Turismo program is in the works, as well as Amazon’s long-rumored God of War series. Despite the fact that this is an exciting period for gamers, the Uncharted film shows that the code to excellent video-game adaptations has yet to be cracked.
Horizon has a lot of potential as a series, and in Netflix’s hands, it might be realized. Netflix’s purchase of Horizon Zero Dawn is a continuation of the streaming giant’s interest in video game IP, which began with the critically praised programs Arcane and Castlevania (although both of these were animated shows). Horizon’s chances of doing justice to Aloy’s story and the unique image of post-apocalyptic America she inhabits are boosted by the success of the video game adaptations Arcane and Castlevania. The show’s success may be determined by how well these two parts are balanced.
Horizon Zero Dawn’s stunning open environment, which is both enormous in scope and filled with side quests and lore, is one of the game’s best features. Because the setting is one of the key reasons that gamers enjoy Horizon, the show must make sure that it portrays it correctly, or else it will lose a lot of what makes the games so amazing. Nonetheless, depicting such a vast globe in a television show is no easy task. Only a few shows, such as Game of Thrones, have achieved this, and it often takes several seasons to build the narrative and culture block by block. The world must not detract from Aloy’s story, and Netflix must find a method to allow both to shine at the same time.
This difficulty appears to be made easier by the major plot of the original Horizon game, Zero Dawn. Aloy has been anointed as a Seeker, and she has been given the duty of leaving the Sacred Lands in order to learn the truth about her heritage and track down the cultists who attacked her at the Proving. As a result, during her travels, Aloy sees a lot of the open world for the first time. If Netflix’s plot is similar, Aloy will act as the audience’s surrogate; because Aloy’s journey in Horizon Zero Dawn is about discovery, so will the audience. However, the amount to which the world will be explored is uncertain, and it would be a shame if Netflix’s series didn’t contain some of the game’s side objectives. This extra content is necessary for the series’ worldbuilding, which must be included for it to be a great adaptation.
This problem is practically the polar opposite of those faced by other Playstation games like God of War and The Last of Us. In a more recognizable post-apocalyptic America, HBO’s The Last of Us must adapt a fairly linear game. The Last Of Us’ main issue is nearly entirely in the portrayal of its characters, particularly Joel and Ellie. Horizon’s brilliance is not dependent on such a connection. In comparison to the Ghost of Tsushima film, which is based on another game with a beautiful open environment, Netflix’s Horizon Zero Dawn series has one advantage: time. As a film, Ghost of Tsushima will have to favor story above worldbuilding, but Horizon should not, especially if it is renewed for numerous seasons, sacrifice one for the other. With the adaptation of some of Playstation’s most popular titles in the works, it appears that video game adaptations are on the verge of making it big. The trump card has been dealt, and if the Horizon Zero Dawn franchise can nail Aloy and the robot apocalypse, it may be a great ace.