Skyward Sword HD Proves That Future Zelda Games Need Traditional Dungeons

Slightly than run to the closest seaside in quest of some solar, I spent nearly all of this previous weekend enjoying The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD on Nintendo Change. I merely couldn’t resist the chance to revisit a basic (if divisive) Zelda recreation.

“Traditional” is actually the key phrase right here. In contrast to Breath of the Wild’s free and open ambiance, Skyward Sword emphasizes a considerably telegraphed fantasy journey made within the mould of Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and different, more traditional, 3D Zelda entries. Are there drawbacks to that template? Positive, however completely wonderful dungeon design isn’t one in all them.

Strolling into Skyview Temple, the sport’s first dungeon, I used to be immediately reminded of simply how mesmerizing these large-scale puzzle packing containers may be. It particularly hits house at that second since, up till that time, the sport inundates you with character conversations, petty fetch quests, and fight tutorials, barely permitting you to find issues naturally. Now, although, amongst the ominous stone constructions and luminous fauna, I’m lastly let off the leash and am greater than able to rescue Zelda by doing the issues Hyperlink does greatest: discover and search out artistic options.

There’s one thing magical about getting into an unknown house with quite a few challenges forward whereas nonetheless feeling safe within the information that you just already possess all of the instruments you want to progress. From there, the onus is on you to make use of every one appropriately till you may satisfyingly decide away on the thriller situated on the dungeon’s heart. Openness and intrigue are what make good Zelda dungeons so memorable, and that’s the reason these dungeons have been a staple of the collection up till 2017.

For all its brilliance and genre-defying conventions, Breath of the Wild’s model of Hyrule sorely lacked a lot of the awe and surprise provided by these classic-style dungeons. As a substitute, they have been changed by the way more insular and streamlined shrines, which have been a pleasant reward for venturing into the farthest reaches of the map, however have been extraordinarily hit and miss by way of how fulfilling they have been to finish. The very best shrines would problem you to make use of all six of Hyperlink’s Shiekah Slate skills in methods you by no means beforehand thought potential. The worst would current you with yet one more Guardian Scout to defeat. The place’s the surprise in that?

No such irregularity exists in Skyward Sword’s dungeons, and that’s primarily as a result of these large set piece areas have been rigorously designed with tempo, construction, and stream in thoughts. The Historic Cistern, as an example, units a brand new commonplace for water dungeons in a Zelda recreation by gifting Hyperlink with a whip that modifications the way you view and navigate the sport’s world. Earlier than buying that nifty gizmo, hopping round on lily pads or clambering up grass partitions was an usually cumbersome (however crucial) course of. With that merchandise in hand, although, you’re all of a sudden lashing up and down the titular cistern with grace. It’s a masterclass in showcasing progress in a small house of time.

Whereas Ocarina’s water temple infamously pressured gamers to consistently take their iron boots on and off to get round, the Historic Cistern learns from previous errors by making traversal be a breeze. The Whip is even used as a key a part of fight eventualities in addition to puzzle-solving (as all the sport’s greatest objects are). No Shrine in Breath of the Wild benefited from build up an merchandise or energy fairly like that, as Hyperlink’s toolset in that recreation is basically full from the beginning. You may discover these shrines in any order at any time, which works nicely for spontaneity, however the absence of Nintendo’s strict authorship does imply that the complexity of these puzzles considerably ranges out.

One other nice instance of Skyward Sword’s sense of momentum occurs early on in Skyview Temple while you come throughout a locked door with a wandering eye situated above it. Most Zelda video games would ask you to shoot the attention with the intention to unlock a passage, however in Skyward Sword, transferring to the following room requires Hyperlink to wave his mighty sword round and round, complicated the attention till it’s pressured to surrender. Voila! Such a puzzle can be the centerpiece of one in all Breath of the Wild‘s shrines, however right here, it’s merely a possibility to be taught this mechanic after which carry that information ahead with you to make use of elsewhere.

Along with their good mechanical design, Skyward Sword‘s dungeons really feel thematically distinctive from one another. One minute you’re dodging the hazard of liquid-hot magma by rolling together with an enormous ball within the Earth temple, and the following, you’re hopping throughout lots of of years of Hyrule historical past whereas attempting to get the Lanayru Mining Facility up and operating. Visually, the basic Zelda dungeon format at all times presents one thing recent to sit up for. By comparability, shrines and Divine Beasts really feel like they’re lower from the identical fabric.

There are, after all, advantages to each approaches, however there’s no cause why future Zelda video games can’t profit from a combination of shrines, divine beasts, and dungeons. I hope that Nintendo embraces such a format for Breath of the Wild 2 or no matter comes after. It will make the shortage of creativity in shrines much less of a problem since the true meat of Zelda’s puzzle design ethos may very well be conceived, constructed up, after which delivered inside a extra standard dungeon format. Such an strategy may very well be one of many few cases the place high quality and amount are allowed to exist in concord.

Breath of the Wild was a transparent (and clearly profitable) response to the backlash over the overt linearity of sure Zelda video games. Whereas Skyward Sword really does symbolize one of many worst examples of that linear design philosophy (exterior of its dungeons), I can’t assist however really feel like puzzles on this collection will at all times be extra significant once they’re handled as correct spectacles quite than one thing to be completed after which thrown away. There’s a cause Skyward Sword’s dungeons are sometimes remembered extra fondly than any puzzle in Breath of the Wild, and the sport’s HD remaster reminds us that Zelda‘s dungeon designers have been on the prime of their recreation when this collection all of a sudden went in a distinct path.

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