ZELDA: A Brave New World For One Brave New Gamer
As a video game novice, playing Breath of the Wild is my first immersive experience into the world of Zelda, and boy, what an experience it has been. Before the release of this game on the new Nintendo Switch (aka “Zelda machine”), my partner has been talking his head off about this game. And it wasn’t just him, the whole gaming world was raving with excited anticipation. So, naturally, I became curious.
For me, it felt like a double-edged traveler’s sword. On the one hand, playing this game would be a clean slate, with no expectations and points of comparison. On the other, I also do not have the history and intimacy with the story that Zelda fans have collected over the years. As I began my own Zelda journey, there were many times where the story took me in the game that I didn’t completely understand. Who is Princess Zelda and what is my Link to her? In order to become more enlightened of my objectives and actions in the game, I had to research and read up on the history of Zelda, simply because I’m obsessive about these sorts of things. But honestly, for anyone who has never touched a Zelda game before, all you need to know is that this is an open-world role-playing game that will leave you breathless of its stunning visual landscapes, bewildered at the enormity and interactiveness of the world, and realising just what a sense of true adventure really means.
There isn’t a lot of hand-holding throughout this game. That really scared me at first. How would I know what to do? Where to go? When I first wake up as Link after being asleep for 100 years, my possessions are no more than my ragged garb and hair tie. I nourish myself with apples like Adam and whack away monsters with tree branches. But a few hours in and you really become your own hero. Collecting weapons and foods through outwitting enemies and foraging in unlikely places will soon reward you. As will your smarts in solving puzzles in dedicated Shrines all over the map. Once equipped with the essential powers and apparatus, there really isn’t anything you can’t do or anywhere you can’t go. This world becomes your oyster.
Since I am a video game novice, there are still certain things that I simply cannot achieve, even though I might know how to achieve it. The game pushes all the buttons on the Switch controller, literally. I still have trouble trying to shield myself and attack Bokoblins by blowing them up with magic powers. After dying 10 times in succession despite different tactics, it can take a toll on my confidence as a player. This is by no means a flaw of the game. It is something that I personally have to tackle in order to advance through the quests.
What I do love about Breath of the Wild is how often the game surprises me. Thinking outside the box is sometimes the key to solving a problem and if you can use your wonderfully wicked imagination, chances are the Zelda world will make that come to fruition because the game-makers have already thought of it themselves. After playing it for the last week, I still have barely stamped much of the open world map but I glee with anticipation what I will experience along the way, if that day ever comes where I defeat Calamity Ganon.
Afterthoughts from Jase
My fiancee, Jen, is not a traditional gamer. Jen will happily play couch co-op titles like Overcooked but something special happened when she got a chance to experience Zelda. There is truly something magical happening here with Breath of the Wild and there are reports of it happening all over the Internet. Jen published this site on her lifestyle blog Jin & Jase awhile ago but for further reading on the Zelda Phenomenon check out Jason Shreier’s article on Kotaku.