When it comes to genres and influences, Guerrilla Games’ Forbidden Horizon West is a kind of crucible. Everything from high-fantasy themes and visuals to near-future robots and sci-fi tropes are all seamlessly blended into the action-RPG. Even aspects of ancient real-world mythologies and religions crop up from time to time during Aloy’s quest to save the biosphere.
While references to stories from ancient Greece often take center stage in Forbidden Horizon West, it’s far from the only mythology to have a big impact on the game. Its imprints tend to be slightly more subtle, but ancient Egyptian mythology also clearly had a big influence on Guerrilla Games’ vision. So much so that fans of the PS4 and PS5 titles might be surprised to learn just how deep the connection runs.
Dr Elisabet Sobeck
Of all the references to world mythologies that Guerrilla Games has managed to squeeze into the Forbidden Horizon West, those related to Dr. Elisabet Sobeck are arguably the most important. Almost every aspect of Aloy and Beta’s genetic ancestor characterization is tied in some way to Earth’s ancient past. Most notably though, his surname is a direct reference to ancient Egypt. Although the spelling has been slightly modernized, Sobeck is said to invoke the Egyptian god Sobek.
Guerrilla’s attempts to tie the character to the past, however, go even further than her name. Although Sobek is often depicted in ancient Egyptian mythology as a male crocodile, key aspects of the character still translate remarkably well to Elisabet. Besides often being given the title of god of war, the ancient reptile is also depicted as having dominion over power and fertility. Considering Elisabet’s role in creating Project Zero Dawn, a fail-safe designed in part to repopulate Earth, the connections are remarkably fitting.
The fact that Elisabet is also a reference to the Hebrew word Elisheva reinforces the connection between the character, the ancient world and the concept of fertility. In the Old Testament for example, Elisheva was an important figure with family ties to Moses. Besides being linked to a character embedded in the ancient stories of Egypt, Elisheva was also said to have been buried in the Tomb of the Matriarchs. Conceptually at least, this moniker could be applied to the Zero Dawn facility where the world is reborn.
It can also be argued that Elisabet’s coronation is more directly related to ancient Egypt than that. While the likes of GAIA and its subordinate functions are obviously references to Greek and Roman mythology, the concept behind Zero Dawn is actually much more Egyptian in origin. Although only briefly mentioned in restored stories from ancient Egyptian mythology, the idea of life reviving after the apocalypse is said to have been a concept cherished by many followers of the religion.
Forbidden Horizon WestAncient Egypt’s ties to ancient Egyptian history don’t stop at Elisabet or the Zero Dawn Project, as one of the game’s villains has arguably been even more overtly influenced by the past. Ted Faro, the man who is partly responsible for the current state of Horizon universe, has been molded around Egypt on multiple fronts by Guerrilla Games. It might be more obvious when said out loud, but Faro is a homophone of Pharaoh. The word used to describe the ruling classes of the region by the ancient Greeks towards the end of the importance of religion.
Perhaps inspired by his own family name, Ted Faro has incorporated his connection to ancient Egypt into his work. Each of the three Chariot-class machines that eventually raged during the Faro Plague’s annihilation of all life on Earth, were named after figures and concepts from Egyptian mythology. The Corruptors Aloy fights all the way Horizon Zero Dawn and occasionally in west forbidden for example, were actually called Scarabs in Ted’s heyday. Even further back in ancient Egypt, scarabs were beetle-shaped jewelry.
Likewise, the greatest Deathbringers that featured in Horizon Zero DawnThe story of has been referred to as Khopesh by Faro Automated Solutions in the 21st Century. In ancient Egypt, however, Khopeshes were sickle-shaped swords used in battle and by the ruling classes until 1300 BC. The machines that people today Horizon Universes called Metal Devils were also designated as Horus-class machines when they first went on their breeding rampages. Fittingly, in Egyptian mythology, Horus was a deity famed for his ability to heal himself and unify his followers alike.
Horizon Egyptian Locations
Beyond the occasional character-based reference to ancient Egyptian mythology, the world of Forbidden Horizon West was also shaped by religion. Even though they share only a few characteristics in common from a geographical point of view, the Forbidden West itself can be considered as a reference to Egypt. Back when Egyptian mythology was most prevalent, many of its stories were set in the Western Highlands – a terrifying land where the sun set every night and the dead roamed. In addition to having comparable names, the Carja fear the forbidden Western Tenakth on a similar level. This suggests that the parallels are subtle, but deliberate.
On a more tangible level, Ted Faro’s Thebes Bunker also incorporates elements of Egyptian mythology. For starters, in real Egypt and its ancient stories, Thebes was a thriving mining town. Considering how the titular plague of Faro effectively stripped the planet of all its resources, comparisons from Guerrilla Games are apt. From a design perspective, Forbidden Horizon WestThebes took more direct cues from the ancient. As well as having the conceptual shape of a pyramid, the bunker is also full of Egyptian iconography as well as artifacts straight from the past.
Forbidden Horizon West is available now on PS4 and PS5.
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