🙏 The Legend of Zen

Breathe in, breathe out.

The one thing that I noticed after about an hour of play was "well, the weapon degradation isn't that bad." Not that it was the main focus point, but I do remember playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at a friend's and being thoroughly annoyed that my weapons kept breaking.

Turns out that there is a wrong way to play this game.

If anything Breath of the Wild so far is a game about letting go. Forget about weapons breaking down, there are more around the corner. Forget about being the hero, you've failed already. Forget about dungeons, they only serve as giant thresholds anyway. Relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy what's there.

Which - for all intents and purposes - is very weird for a Zelda-game. Most of the instalments have been about purpose and being guided from one point to the other. While Breath of the Wild still guides you, it's also very lenient about it. Even the tutorial area throws you out into the open in a way that reminded me more of Super Mario 64's opening than anything else. Once this mini-cosmos is experienced in full, you get to play outside. Where everything is pretty much the same.

Transient world

That's not to its detriment. On the contrary. The laissez-faire attitude of the game suits it to a tee. Enemy encounters aren't as frequent as previous games, marking a change from game environment into a world. Enemies either ambush you or can be ambushed. And while the former gets you scraping by, the latter allows for a more methodical approach making the aforementioned weapon degradation not a problem, but a fun mechanic helping you to decide to spend resources in order to maybe gain the ones you need.

In that respect, Breath of the Wild has some elements in common with Minecraft. There's little to be found in terms of building and shaping your environment, but more into resource management and being able to invest progress to go even further. Combine items to create food and upgrade gear, or find the right trader to get the weaponry you want. A strong sword can be saved for a rainy day where you are ambushed, but holding onto things is severely frowned upon.

This world is transient. Resources are to be used. Life is to be spent. Or to call upon Sanderson's approaching-legendary-status adage: "journey before destination."1

Meditative

Once you settle into this way of letting the world pour through you, Breath of the Wild becomes a grand experience. Even though it's not perfect. Combat is a few steps back after months of playing Bloodborne. It's also a bit too obsessed with meters, gauges, and other intrusive UI elements. Trying to go minimalist deprives you of vital information, while the other option is simply overkill. If Horizon Zero Dawn has something to teach Breath of the Wild, it's on how to do an adaptive interface. Well, that and how to make combat feel real good, admittedly.

Still, everything else is much more geared towards the transient mindset. Explore, discover, enjoy. The temples may seem like isolated puzzles from the dungeons and that's because they are. There's no shame in that. They just seem to fit into the mindset; here's a small piece to chew on. Taste, reflect, move on.

Once you start minding that rhythm within Breath of the Wild, it becomes an almost meditative experience. And I am kind of hoping that by the end of it, I've learned how to play it properly.


  1. Feel free to check out The Stormlight Archive for more. 


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