Saturday, January 28, 2017

Showstopper Dungeons

Before Breath of the Wild gets released, I want to replay all 3D Zelda games again. But this isn't an easy task, because I have a 40 hour week, so this only leaves little time in the evening and on weekends to play the games. And in this scheme I noticed, how my motivation usually drops around the big dungeons. I really enjoy exploring and scavenging the overworld again, getting all the Heart Pieces and stuff, doing the sidequests and even playing mini dungeons like the Ice Cavern, the Bottom of the Well and the Skulltula Houses. However, as soon as I arrive at a temple or larger dungeon, I feel like keeping this for the next day, because these dungeons are something that require more time and that you want to play in one turn. And then I can find little motivation to even start the game, because playing the dungeon is a chore that I have to go through in order to go back to the real meat on the overworld.

I only feel this way right now with the 3D Zelda games, in the various 2D Zelda games the dungeons are for me the real meat, especially in Link's Awakening or A Link Between Worlds, but there they offer much faster paced gameplay and more variables, where you can take many different ways through them.

The dungeons in 3D Zelda games often tend to be slower paced and more linear, though there are certainly exceptions. Most of them are very well designed, but it doesn't feel like they offer the same kind of replay value. They can be sensational on the first time playing, but when I replay the 3D Zelda games, my focus is usually on the overworld stuff and the dungeons feel like a "show stopper", because they make you do a series of chores (like puzzles, where you already know the solution), before you can go back to the "actual game".

Why am I telling you all this? I'm beginning to think that Nintendo made an excellent decision with Breath of the Wild, where the focus is entirely on the overworld. Instead of having all these big dungeons that take you out of this world, they opted for over a hundred mini dungeons, where you get the typical dungeon gameplay, but only in small doses. If it can be done quickly, you can always do one more. That's the recipe of a good addicting game, small doses of gameplay, where you always want one more round. And in Breath of the Wild you might always want to do "one more Sheikah Shrine" before going to bed, instead of having one huge dungeon that completely takes you out of it. This game might offer amazing replay value.

1 comment:

Tobias Biller said...

Oh this post reminds me of Mark Brown's Boss Key series in which he play through every Zelda title and analyse the dungeon design of each game.

It's kinda interesting to watch how Zelda's dungeon design has evolved over the time.