For many academics, religions are one of the foundations of civilization. This is why a story like Aloy’s in Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West -in which humanity resurfaces in the form of tribal societies- could not leave religion aside.
Among the tribes in the game world we have the Nora, believers in the “mother goddess” from which humanity originated. The Carja who worship the sun god and the Banuk and Utaru who worship machines. Other tribes have cultures formed around admiration for the ancients or the concept of “the universal forge.” But not our protagonist. Aloy does not believe in any of the gods or divine figures of the other tribes of Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West, she is an atheist.
Losing my religion
When she was a child, Aloy found a Focus that gave her a completely different view of the world than she had been taught. She learns how the machines work and what is the scientific explanation of the voices and phenomena that others see as divine interventions.
Because of this, it is understandable that Aloy dislikes the idea of religion, but it is not the only reason. She was rejected from the time she was a baby and made an outcast because the conditions of her birth did not fit with the precepts of her tribe’s religion. This made the first years of her life very difficult.
But wait! There is more! Although Aloy did not directly experience his horror, most of the tribes in his world were affected by the ‘Red Assaults’. These were a series of invasions carried out by the army of the previous king Carja to kidnap ‘heretics’ and sacrifice them to the sun god. Although the current king is trying to make amends for all the pain caused by these heinous acts, he made many mistrust the Carja and the religion that led to so many deaths.
when i played Zero Dawn Years ago, it wasn’t just Aloy’s inherent kindness and good heart that made me fall in love with her, but also her cunning and mischievousness. In the first hours of the game we see her taunt a Carja priest who fails to explain why her solar deity is male (“he’s a ball of light in the sky, I’ve never seen anything hanging from him”). She is a rebel who contradicts monks, soldiers and kings, making it clear how ignorant they are about what they preach.
The game has a clear message that criticizes the idea of the divine. It is no coincidence that the Artificial Intelligences of this world have names of gods like Hades and Hephaestus.
At no time of Horizon Zero Dawn O Forbidden West They say that Aloy is an atheist or that she hates religion, but clearly she is. In fact, early in the second game, the protagonist has a characteristic that sadly tends to represent many militant atheists in the real world: she is an absolute nuisance.
As I said in my review of this game, Aloy can be annoying and unpleasant. Not only because of her tendency to narrate out loud everything she does or should do, but because of her attitude towards others. Due to the self-imposed pressure of her as the savior of the world, she has become irritable. In one of the first moments of the game, she gets angry with her friend Varl because he described a hologram as “the goddess”. Later, when she finds out that the Utaru tribe worships machines they call “wild gods”, she finds it hard to hide that she finds this ridiculous.
These are defects that many people have and that give atheism a very bad name. They may be smart and even kind-hearted, but—like Aloy—they have an ugly tendency to look down on anyone who doesn’t share their lack of beliefs. They think they are superior because of it. It should be clarified that, obviously, not all atheists are like that. But this class of characters have become his representative image, especially on the internet.
Aloy “knows more than the others” and lives frustrated because there are no others as intelligent as her. She never says that nor will she accept that she thinks it, but it is clear due to the tone of the dialogue and her body expression. Fortunately, these attitudes of Aloy are but a phase in her character development.
healing the gods
By the end of the game, Aloy is a completely different person who has learned not only to tolerate, but to respect, understand and accept the beliefs of the other inhabitants of the world. Zo, a new character who becomes her friend, is instrumental in this transformation.
Zo is a member of the Utaru and also worships the wilderness gods: non-violent machines that helped prepare the land for the tribe’s harvests. Due to their importance to their survival, many of the Utaru’s traditions and culture were formed around the routines of these ‘deities’…until they began to fail.
When Aloy realizes she can’t put the full weight of saving the world on her shoulders, she enlists friends old and new on her mission. He also gives them access to all the information he has about the past, the ancients, and the machines. Zo is part of this team and, after finding out what the machines really are, she says that she needs time to process everything that has happened.
It is likely that Aloy expected to see Zo rejecting the Utaru religion after being “enlightened”, but the opposite happened. He became more strongly convinced of how important the gods are to the people than him. In the optional mission the second verse
Aloy’s atheism and her distaste for religion in Horizon Forbidden West it is especially interesting in a narrative genre in which the gods, even if they are not directly present in the story, are undeniably real. His criticisms of religion are well founded and have a reflection in the real world. Like the Red Assaults, religious beliefs have served as an excuse for countless atrocities.
There is also a mission where Aloy discovers that a priest is putting an entire community in mortal danger just because he is waiting for a divine sign to act. In his article for FanbyteKenneth Shepard sees the game’s initial rejection of religion as a reaction to how it is used in the real world to oppress.
But despite its undeniable downsides, belief in a god or gods is important to many. As Aloy sees it at the beginning, religion can be a blindfold that covers people’s eyes. But in this tribal world that needs all the help it can get to get by, religion has the potential to be a positive force.