Hanging out in Hyrule on purpose
written by Michel Moster Op
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been available for over a week now and I’ve been scrolling through it at a snail’s pace. Not that I have to force myself to play the game. On the contrary: I do my best to make the experience last as long as possible. The relaxation I get while bouncing around Hyrule is exactly what I need right now.
Start this year I wrote a column About Marketing Kingdom Tears. This did not convince me. Looking back, I’m still partly behind it: at the time the marketing around the game was also poor and didn’t give a good picture of what to expect. But luckily that changed in April, so I’ve also been counting down the days until release. When the calendar finally came out on Friday, May 12th, the hype reached an all-time high: it was a frantic mix of nostalgic memories of Zelda games of yesteryear and a desire for a new adventure that would consume me entirely.
The first weekend with the game I was alone on Tutorial Island. Meanwhile, I’ve arrived – literally and figuratively – with both feet on the land of Hyrule, but I’m mainly exploring the center of the map where the adventure really begins. I haven’t even visited the neighboring areas of the game world at the time of writing where the narrative missions are trying to lead me. This is because I like to play as slowly as possible and explore every corner of the game world. Think of it as slowing down on purpose.
I walk back and forth along the walls of Hyrule Castle and across the grassy plains of Hyrule Field. Every now and then I’ll turn back time and launch a falling stone into the air to scout a small aerial island, other times I’ll stumble upon a hidden Korok or an enemy camp. After each short adventure, I return to Lookout Landing – on foot, because I’ve never used speed travel once – where I take a virtual nap or chat with the locals.
I gather the ingredients for a meal, fuse A rock or horn on a freshly found broomstick or actually cut the grass for five minutes to get some crickets in my stock. I spend entire stints on hold with the photo camera on the Sheikah Slate to capture the perfect deer shot and fill the Hyrule Compendium with it. Occasionally I visit a shrine close to the starting area, but I spend most of my playing time relaxing.
So I actually play Tears of the Kingdom as a real RPG. I am completely immersed in it and it feels like a second life that way. Partly because I hope to extend and cherish the experience as long as possible, but also because this gameplay brings me so much relaxation. I could really use that relaxation now.
In 2017, the year Zelda: Breath of the Wild came out, I had my first conversations with an oral surgeon and orthodontist. I have a slightly weak bite, which basically means that my teeth don’t fit together properly due to the position of my jaw – which is bad for my health. So something must be done. In a few weeks, after years of talking to experts, wearing braces, and performing initial surgeries, the time will finally come: A surgeon will break my jaw—and, I hope, a little more skilled than my version of Link in Tears of the Kingdom—put them right. together fuse.
This process requires a great deal of preparation, not only for capturing photos and impressions, but also on a psychological level. As the day in question approaches, you are more and more busy with it. Will everything be alright? What will my face look like after that? How long will my cheeks stay swollen? And how much pain will it hurt? A month or so ago, the psychological impact of the impending surgery hit me with a sudden change in lifestyle. Until recently, I could be found at the pub or at a party or festival every week, but now I’d rather sit at home in peace. This particular rest is very important to relax and prepare with high resistance for what is to come.
The release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom couldn’t have had better timing for me. The vast expanses of Hyrule and its simplistic soundtrack are almost a form of meditation. I get completely freaked out when I stay there and feel my blood pressure go down, like it was. When my laptop is shut down at the end of the afternoon after a day of writing, the switch is on and I don’t have to worry about anything other than which direction I’m headed in this imaginary game world. At the end of the evening, I turn off the switch satisfied and fall asleep satisfied. Kingdom Tears for me is clear minded.
Knowing that I will be locked at home for a few weeks in June while I recover will also put off the lion’s share of the Kingdom’s Tears adventure. Save a nice activity for a tough time. But I think it’s more than that. I like this very slow way of playing. Suddenly I’m observing every location in the game, entire forests, and mountains on the plains that I would normally pass in Breath of the Wild on my way to the next mission or shrine. I see the game’s world – despite its obvious similarities to its predecessor – with a new set of eyes. A relaxing trip through Hyrule: that’s not how it’s sold in travel agencies!
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