Friday, March 17, 2017

Getting close

It was with some trepidation that I stepped into Hyrule Castle last night. I am most assuredly light on hearts and armor: armor because I can't be assed to wander around looking for more fairy fountains and then farm the bits of junk they want to upgrade my equipment and light on hearts because there are large portions of the map that I have not had a reason to go to. 'Because it's there' does not work as motivation for me to explore when I have no guarantee that there will be anything interesting to do when I get wherever there is.

Breath of the Wild relies too heavily on the journey or the wandering being its own reward. Yes, it is a good feeling when you crest a hill and there is shrine there. That good feeling dissipates when you explore the shrine and it is only slightly different than the dozens before it. I need a reason to wander out into the wild. The Witcher 3 did it with interesting characters and compelling side quests. Final Fantasy XV at least attempted to make it interesting with hunting missions and witty boy band banter, Breath of the Wild throws it all out there without paying attention to how it lands.

'There is stuff to do out there, I promise,' it says. When pressed for details it shrugs, offers no hints, and then pats itself on the back for being mysterious and old school. Maybe a two line quest will point in the general direction of an unexplored area but the payoff is just more rupies or a weapon that will end up breaking later. Narrative rewards would be welcome and are entirely absent.

I will say that Hyrule Castle is an honest dungeon. It is a place unto itself, with its own music and mood, a sense of desperation of despair. The surrounding area resembles the no man's land between World War I trenches, littered with guardian parts and the craters left by their attacks. Link approaches a giant gate, there is a short cut scene, after which I expected the gate to open.

It did not. I was forced to find my way around it. This worked because, almost for the first time, it was not what I expected. So far this last section of the game is easily the highlight. Tonight it will be finished and I will move on to other things.

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