As a shy new comer to this Hyrule, I felt the warm welcome from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
This is a game where you accompany the hero Link to face a series of battle and puzzles to help Princess Zelda protect...who cares the plot of a Nintendo game. The battles and puzzles are scattered in two big half open-world maps. Some of them are in the open field and some are in dungeons which are located in the map.
Great puzzle games should do one of the two things: either making smart people feel stupid or making stupid people feel smart. A Link Between Worlds stands shoulder to shoulder with Portal in the second category. I feel that I am being taking care of by a gentle person all the way. Barricade are laid in critical locations to prevent you from storming into places without necessary equipment. Hints are carefully integrated into the environment so that you can notice them easily but doesn’t feel being helped. I did not find any dead end or no return points even in the most complicated dungeons, and there is a very clear map helping you tracking not only the landscape but places you have not explored while in a dungeon. Every dungeon is a very streamlined experience where I kept being surprised by how “smart” I am.
Half of the puzzles and secrets are associated with the core ability of the game: Link can merge into a wall and moving through it within a limited time. This is not just a way to travel but also the only chance you are able to shift your camera to discover things that originally turns back to you.
Another half can be summarized using different items to pass different barriers. Thanks to this, the map and gameplay is effectively expanded greatly. Obtaining new items is like a festival, where you dance your way to the locations you left behind to unlock new secrets. However, the fun lies mainly in discovering those places rather than those places themselves. Often what you find is just a healing room or a hundred rupees. Also there is no way to keep track of the locations you left behind temporarily because you either do not have the right item or just did not know how. The most tragic thing for me is that I discovered the Mother Maiamai only in the very late of the game, thus missing a very important part.
All these makes this game a very nice light puzzle game which reward you frequently. The price you pay is not deep thinking, but just walking to as many places as possible and sometimes revisiting and scanning the places you have already been to. This has the risk of being boring after all the tricks has been learned by the player.
I had expected a Nintendo game to have much more punishing and tedious action scene, and that is why I did not touch this franchise earlier. A Link Between Worlds surprises me in this. 90 percent of the places just need at most some clever use of items plus some light dodging. Enemies have very obvious behavior and the strategy can be figured out in seconds. Boss battle is just an active form of puzzle, with apparent hint on how to deal with boss, though some of them could still give me some challenge. The only exception is the first battle of final boss which is an authentic Dark Soul-style test of dodge and attack timing.
There are however some bad experience about battle. When using motion stick, it is difficult to adjust the direction of items like bows and boomerang. This often happens when you desperately need to stun enemy close to you. The screen is a little limited and some enemies is able to surprise attack you outside screen. The instant respawn of enemies as soon you left a scene can be annoying.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds did not turn me into a fan of the franchise, but it is definitely a precious trip.