‘Breath Of The Wild’ Changed How I See The World

zelda breath of the wild botw master sword
You can find the Master Sword in 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' Nintendo

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild accomplishes something truly amazing: It offers an open world game that truly feels like every inch was designed with purpose. Breath of the Wild teems with life and wonder and commands your attention. And it feels very different from, say, Skyrim or The Witcher 3. It feels like the kingdom of Faerie, the old English legends about the hidden world, come alive. And it can change the way you look at the real world.

Breath of the Wild and the Spirits of Hyrule

Koroks are everywhere, even here! Photo: Apolon

The three great recent-ish open world fantasy games, Breath of the Wild, Witcher 3 and Skyrim, have one thing in common: Lots of huge open spaces and endless wilderness in between towns. Skyrim felt like a land that was truly lived in, dotted with mills and farms and bandit camps. Witcher 3, by far the most beautiful and realistic looking, had a grimmer feel, and a lonely one. Geralt wandered alone through ruined and dangerous lands. It felt like a world at war, which it was.

In Breath of the Wild, alone of all the games, the world itself feels magical. There are just as many wide and empty open spaces to travel through, and it feels great doing it. But around every corner, under every rock or in every pool, there could be a secret—a lost treasure chest, a hidden shrine, but especially the Koroks. There isn’t much to the Korok seed puzzles, but that’s the point: They are rewards for exploring out of the way places, for paying attention to your surroundings. They lend an air of magic that infuses the whole game, bolstered by all the other secrets and even the warm, colorful art style itself.

Games have long influenced our brains. Play a puzzle game too long and you’ll start to see the blocks in the text you read. Play too much Mario Kart and you may think about drifting around every turn. It’s called the Tetris effect, and it’s very real. And in my experience of playing Breath of the Wild for… a lot of hours over not a lot of days… has definitively altered the way I perceive the world around me.

I see Korok puzzles in the real world. That is, I see those little unusual spots you never pay much attention to—a particularly tall and curved tree in the park, the light playing on rocks in the river—all around me. What once was a forest has become a forest filled with mystery and secrets, with who-knows-what on the horizon beyond.

The magic of Breath of the Wild may start to change the way you see the world. Embrace it. Feel the wonder of the game, and then the little wonders all around you. It’s a little connection to a hidden world. And for a moment you may forget that what’s beyond the forest and the high cliffs is just New Jersey, and dream of castles and adventures instead.

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