There are a few things that I need to have in a graphic novel: a compelling story, good artwork, and a good length. Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation has all three of these things and does them well. From cover to cover, there’s something to admire on every page
I am a big fan of the Horizon series of games. I was late to the party for Zero Dawn, only playing it for a few weeks, but was able to play Horizon Forbidden West in depth and am in love with it, as I was the first game. Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation is a bridge between the first and second games, where we follow Aloy and Erend on their search for a killer. I don’t wish to spoil anything about the story, so that’s all I’ll say there.
On their journey throughout the pages, Erend tells the story of how Meridian was liberated from the Mad Sun-King Jiran, and how his sister, Ersa, who was the Captain of the Carja Vanguard, was murdered. At just over 100 pages, it’s a long tale to tell, but if you are like me and need that backstory, then it’s the perfect length.
As I was reading, I could feel the pain of loss that Erend was experiencing, as he still blames himself for the death of his sister. Mixed in with the grief, is the anger for the person they are trying to find now. Aloy convinces him to talk about what he’s feeling a few times on their journey, and Erend, hesitant at first, opens up to express what he feels.
“Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation is a bridge between the first and second games, where we follow Aloy and Erend on their search for a killer.”
The artwork for Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation is on an equal scale to the story that is being told. That is to say that there are some really impressive scenes in the book, and the artwork manages to say what words cannot. Adrenaline, fear, anger, these are all told through the pictures on the pages and through the story itself.
Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation is not all seriousness and anger, there are some light-hearted and downright funny moments as well. One of my favourites being where Aloy and Erend come to a valley from a hilltop, but there are several machines on the valley floor that they’d like to skirt past. They use a nearby Tallneck to cross the valley and be on their way, but not before Erend has some comments about their manner of travel that I found funny. It’s not a laugh-out-loud kind of funny, but more of a dry, and ‘comment in-passing’ kind of humour and I love it.
The book was written by Anne Toole, the same writer who was behind Horizon Zero Dawn, and the scale is no different. There is a sense of something bigger going on, which Aloy alludes to at the beginning when she tells Erend that she can accompany him for a while but must be on her way to Maker’s End before long.
There is a lot to love about Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation. From the opening pages to the end, I was captivated and couldn’t put it down. I was very happy to get a deeper look into the character of Erend and what motivates him/keeps him going. I hope this series continues now that Forbidden West has been released, as I think there are a lot of stories to tell about the far future landscape.