Not the man you think he is.
First, if you are worried about spoilers for Horizon: Zero Dawn, you probably don’t want to read this (or this). Also, what is wrong with you? Jen: Or you can be like me and get distracted by The Witcher 3 again. You should play and finish it already! It’s a great game, and easily my favorite of 2017 so far. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
At the request of ArchaicVoid following my character alignment profile for Geralt of Rivia, I started looking a little more closely at two of Lance Reddick’s recent performances as a voice actor in Quantum Break and Horizon: Zero Dawn. I started another playthrough of Quantum Break with the intention of speaking about Mr. Reddick’s character, Martin Hatch, but shelved that for a while because… Well… Martin Hatch is a complicated character that I can’t decide on. I will definitely finish my review of him in the future, but perhaps after I ponder his actions a little more.
However, while Sylens is a man that takes a while to understand, his behavior is a little easier to explain.
Sylens’ one true desire is the pursuit of knowledge, though it’s never made completely clear why that’s the case. I’d imagine that Sylens subscribes to the notion that knowledge is power, and that’s why he chases it with such fervor. However, in an era when the human race is explaining the natural world through superstitions (thanks Mr. Faro), Sylens has to resort to clever deceptions and social engineering to get what he wants.
Bargaining With The Devil
I don’t want to get too bogged down in the details of his past, but Sylens eventually finds himself digging through the wreckage of the old world. During his study of the past, he stumbles across a Focus similar to one that Aloy finds during the course of the game.
After tracking down a signal to a long-dead “Metal Devil” (a Horus-class Faro machine), Sylens began working to repair it. Of course, inside the Metal Devil was the unshackled AI codenamed HADES.
So Sylens picked HADES’ brain for a while. In exchange for knowledge from the old world, HADES requested that Sylens carry out actions that would later free it from its shell, but being an untrusting type, Sylens made sure he could monitor the Focus network that HADES had him re-establish.
As with most deals with the devil, it went south for Sylens. When HADES ordered the Shadow Carja leader Helis to kill Sylens, Sylens cut loose and ran.
Knowledge, Above All Else
Sylens values only knowledge, and it shows with many of his actions during the course of Horizon: Zero Dawn. He abandoned his Banuk tribe to unlock the secrets of the society that preceded his, and made a deal with forces he didn’t understand or trust to learn, and shows no remorse for being responsible for unleashing hell on the world again.
He used Aloy to clean up his mess, and despite knowing that he was betrayed by HADES, he still keeps HADES alive in order to continue his search for more old world information. It’s clear that little matters to Sylens, and he’ll do anything to reach the goals that he sets for himself. This quality is probably what makes him such a brilliant man, but also gives him the potential to be a formidable enemy.
Sylens, The Neutral-Evil Exile
Sylens fits the mold of a Neutral-Evil character quite well. He works well with others, up to a point, and doesn’t cause needless havoc. His one true motivation is the collection of all information he can find on the world that came before, much to the detriment of life on Earth following the Faro Plague. His reckless ambition empowered the Shadow Carja and HADES to nearly exterminate life on Earth a second time, and his unwillingness to let go of his link to the past is likely going to result in more hardships for those around him.
He’s a selfish, yet brilliant man. A dangerous combination.
What do you think of Sylens? Let me know in the comments.
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