What are we actually looking at here? A rock? An enemy? Does it even matter compared to the glory of running Horizon Zero Dawn at the eye-watering resolution of 128 pixels wide by 72 pixels tall? Yes, a YouTuber has managed to play Horizon Zero Dawn at 72p, and that’s not a typo.
The YouTuber in question is Kryzzp, who also goes by zWORMz Gaming, and he ran the game at this absurd resolution to test the performance of an Nvidia GT 710, an ultra-budget video card that barely cost $40 brand-new back in 2016. Incredibly, he manages to fend off one of the robotic enemies, though it’s impossible to tell how much ammo he had left after doing so.
Did you know the PC Version of Horizon: Zero Dawn lets you toggle the resolution to 72p? (256×144) pic.twitter.com/3nYccHPQDZ
— St1ka (@St1ka) February 6, 2021
To put that 128×72 resolution in context, it’s actually less than a modern color graphing calculator like the TI-84 Plus CE, whose 320×240 screen has far more pixels. You might imagine the game looking like this on a Game Boy Advance, but you’d still be missing the mark: that 2001 portable had a screen resolution of 240×160. The older TI-8E graphing calculators had a resolution of 96 x 64, though.
While watching someone struggle to play a game at a resolution that would’ve been considered bad 10 years ago may be funny, it’s also intriguing — what other games can you run like this? There’s probably some fun to be had posting ultra-low resolution screenshots to the internet and having people guess what what game they’re looking at. “Is it Grand Theft Auto or Forza? I can really only make out a car.”
I think it’s safe to say that this almost loops around to be aesthetically pleasing again. It’s like looking at a game from an alternate reality where Amiga-style graphics stayed in vogue forever, even after the switch to 3D. It’s beautiful in its own way.
If you want to try running it like this for yourself, you’ll need some low-powered hardware, as what resolutions are available seems to depend on which graphics card you have. My ThinkPad’s Intel HD 620 integrated graphics are technically more powerful than the Nvidia GT 710, so the lowest resolution I was able to run the game at was 160×100 (after adjusting the in-game resolution scaling to 50 percent). Not that I was able to actually run, like the mission asked me to — I couldn’t read the button prompt on the screen.