I completed the first quest in the new Zelda game yesterday.
An old guy in a cowl gave me a hang glider, pointed at a castle, and told me to go defeat the monster to save the princess.
I could have gone then. This princess was probably having a hard time dealing with the giant black and purple pig monster that was swirling around the castle. From the hill I was standing, it looked like an easy jog over. What I didn’t know was that the path was littered with giant robotic lazer shooting spiders, humanoid camouflaged lizard people with swords, and lion-like centaurs that breathe fire. If I decided to make a b-line I would have died, but I decided to go do this other thing.
I ended up going towards an unexplored area in search of a village to get more information about my quest. I glided down from the hill I was on and headed towards a bridge in the distance. I found a traveler on the bridge and asked for directions. He pointed towards a mountain that look like It had been sliced in half and told me the village path was behind that mountain. He also pointed back at a small shrine that I had missed on the way here. I back tracked to solve the puzzle of the shrine and moved on towards the mountain.
Between the bridge and getting to the village I climbed a tower with a map on top, defeated some goblin like enemies, found a stable and tamed a wild horse, and found a secret treasure that two adventures were gossiping about near my rented bunk. I even ended trying to find 12 chickens for a local farmer before trying to go talk to the woman I had originally heard about before getting to the bridge.
This game drives home the point that experiencing the journey is a key part to appreciating the destination. I spent most of the game getting sidetracked with people’s requests and puzzles all while trying to find new clothes and armor to suit the different climates I came across. The game even hides a main story quest behind some context you’d need to read into in the dialogue. Most games try to teach you some mechanic or method to completing their game, but this game takes the training wheels off and encourages you to explore and wonder. I spent good amount of time wondering what was over that mountain in front of me or looking at my map and trying to find something out of the ordinary.
I’ve spent over 50 hours playing this game in the past month and this weekend I decided to suit up, grab some weapons, cook some food, and go fight that monster that the old man told me to fight a month ago. I was bouncing lazers off of shields and leaping between giant swinging swords making short work of what was considered the hardest part of the game. I was prepared and well equipped and that made it easy to finish the final boss. It wasn’t necessarily the most dramatic ending to a game, but it didn’t need to be. The journey there was the real story that took place.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best game I’ve played in years. It’s mixture of adventure with Studio Ghibli like character design makes it one of the most fantastic digital experiences since the movie Avatar. It makes you appreciate and seek out the little things which is a great parallel to life.