Day 19 of Breath of the Wild (8/8/17)
To any one reading this and looking for a day one entry, you are not going to find it. This is the beginning of what will hopefully be a consistent running diary of my experience playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch. Over the last two and a half weeks since I began my current play through of Breath of the Wild, (BotW) on 7/22 I have sunk over fifty hours into this game, playing an average of three hours per day. I only use the rather pejorative verb sink because I have been away from gaining for a while (last big game was putting 80 or so hours into Skyrim when that came out) and I have to reacquainting myself with putting chunks of time into video games, which have no tangible payoff. In that previous sentence sink is not the right word, at least not for my play through of BotW. This game is too much fun to describe disparagingly and I have been enjoying it immensely.
I have not allowed it to ruin my sleep schedule too much until recently. A few nights ago I was finding and clearing shrine after shrine with ease in way that had not occurred since I started this play through, so I just stayed with it clearing shrines and climbing towers until after three in the morning. Because of the aggressively nonlinear nature of this game, the player has to decide what they want to achieve from a play through and what finished means for them. My earliest goal was to climb all the resurrection towers and fill in my map as soon as possible. During this late night session (this marathon session was in handheld mode which is my go to mode when I’m trying to really get something done) I wanted to climb the last three towers in the Northwest corner of the map. I’ve not been able to talk to anyone about the game yet, but I’ve been listen to a few video game podcast where the hosts have discussed their experience of playing this game and they keep going back to the joy of tiny moments of discovery. One that I experienced while working toward the remaining resurrection towers occurred in the middle of a fierce electrical storm. Soon after it started I died because I was still using my metal shield, so upon re-spawning I equipped all wooden weapons and then waited for the storm to pass, and then as it diminished I made my way towards the tower where I was killed by a lizalfo. I respawned again and instead of waiting for the storm to pass I made for the tower immediately trying unsuccessfully to avoid the lizalfo. It popped out of the water and immediately was struck by lightning. Now I would like to say that my plan was to draw it out of the water and exploit the physics of a wet object in an electrical storm, but I can’t.
Inadvertently or no, this moment was a wonderful crystallization of the “authenticity” of BotW’s physics. I may have been too underpowered to face this enemy directly, but the game was created to consider the intelligence of the player and allows you to use your knowledge of the world to advance in this game. I feel a bit silly writing at length about such a simple moment, but these really are wonderful moments. Thinking, “of course that would happen, that makes complete sense” is so exhilarating in a video game because it removes a layer between you and the game creating a different experience. My only other open world RPG experience is Skyrim where the formula for success is learned quickly and cannot be forgotten. There is no formula for beating BotW other than the one I and create myself each time I pick up my Switch, and that really feels like something different.