Set in the fantasy land of Hyrule, the plot centers on a boy named Link, the playable protagonist, who aims to collect the eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom in order to rescue Princess Zelda from the antagonist, Ganon. During the course of the game, the player sees Link from a top-down perspective and must navigate him through the overworld and several dungeons, defeating enemies and finding secrets along the way.
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It was definitely a very ambitious and liberating game for its time. However, the way its designed no longer holds up nowadays. The first Zelda game did a lot to offer a unique experience in the time it came out it, but nowadays, its cryptic nature leads to an experience that's tedious, frustrating and time consuming without a guide to accompany it.
Breath of the Wild’s attempt to bring Zelda back to its roots revitalized the discourse surrounding the original entry. Since Breath of the Wild was advertised as a return to the classic ideals, the positive reception has spilled over to the first Zelda, and their shared tutorial-free open design has received a ton of praise. The only downside for modern audiences who want to check out the original is that it’s known for being extremely confusing, and a game that you can't complete without a guide. I decided to put these ideas to the test, and I was surprised at how wrong they were. The game is certainly as open as people have been saying, but the caveat is that going outside recommended areas will lead to getting your ass kicked incredibly quickly. The idea that you’re left with no direction in a gigantic open world really isn’t true, it’s just that the direction is given implicitly through difficulty and item limitations rather than explicit dialog. With this perspective, the genius of Zelda’s world design became a lot easier to appreciate. The way you’re always close to the next bit of progression while still being allowed to figure things out on your own gives the advantage of a linear difficulty pacing while still feeling completely open. The truth about this game lies in between the new and old conceptions about it, in how it forms the perfect illusion of openness and mystery even when your journey has actually been planned from the start.