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The power of spring in Horizon Zero Dawn, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and The Last of Us

After the darkness and dormancy of winter life restarts, almost as if the punishing frosts, snows and winds had never happened. The season of spring starts to take hold, colours reappear, foliage regrows and landscapes transform to offer different looks, feels and opportunities for interaction. This can be truly impactful when it manifests in video games. Where winter revealed the bones of landscapes and their design, spring brings a softer touch, its re-birth and revitalisation draping life and colour back over lands. Spring can empower a landscape to represent and symbolise in its own way. By adding these into games’ story arcs and narratives, a whole new side of the landscape can be seen and experienced – one where the land tells stories of recovery, shows an ability to cleanse and has an ability to enhance peace and quiet, all while under the drape of a colourful, full of life landscape, giving the land an entirely new look and atmosphere.

Within Horizon: Zero Dawn’s expansive, detailed and believable landscapes are fine spring elements and characteristics. Used through both massive and minute brush strokes, plants show spring’s power on the land and establish an environmental connection between Aloy and the narrative. As a result, Horizon is a great example of how spring can shape and transform an environment and its landscapes, elevating it to something beyond a plant-filled, softer, greener playground.

Small plants lead the way across Horizon’s landscapes. The vibrancy and regrowth of grasses plants show the revitalisation of the land is in full swing. Swathes of meadow grass ripple across the landscape, but even grassy plants in forests and on hillsides dominate their locales. The blocks of red grasses, interacted with heavily throughout by Aloy, show the importance that one particular plant group – one that is always early to make a reappearance in spring – has in demonstrating spring’s impact. The coverage of grasses is widespread and immediately shows spring’s softening of the land – particularly in juxtaposition to the nearby, still-snowy areas.

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