What I'm Playing - No. 65
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Spoiler warning: There are late game and final boss spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild this week. If you don’t want those things spoiled, skip that section! The rest is all spoiler free this week.
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
- Titan Souls (PC)
- Richard & Alice (PC)
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
Titan Souls (PC)
Another short game I started in my efforts to check more games off my Steam backlog. In Titan Souls you control a lone adventurer, armed with a bow and a single magical arrow that you can magically draw back to yourself after firing. With only these arms at your disposal, you must confront the Titans. These are the only enemies in the game, and each is like a boss battle where you die in a single hit. However, this applies to the bosses as well, or at least each of their phases. Some bosses have multiple phases, so those will take more than one hit to defeat, but for the most part each battle is a one-on-one fight to the death, where the key to victory is identifying your opponent’s weak spot, and letting your arrow fly true!
Unfortunately, shortly after getting past the introductory area I found the gameplay was just not up my alley. The concept of dying in 1 hit is a cool idea, it was just too intense for me, since I could only enjoy myself for so long when I kept dying against the bosses. The visuals are great, and the music sets the tone well, but the gameplay just wasn’t for me. So, I’m retiring this playthrough, and taking this one off my backlog.
Richard & Alice (PC)
After Titan Souls fell through, I picked up this point-and-click adventure game instead. Richard & Alice tells the story of the two eponymous characters in a ruined world buried by snow. The two meet in prison, as their cells are across from each other, giving them ample opportunity to talk. The reason for their imprisonment quickly becomes a conversation topic, and the story unfolds between the present and the past. In the present, you control Richard in short prison sections, and in the past you control Alice as she and her 5-year old son Barney face several hardships common to the brutal world in which they live.
Like most point-and-click games, at least the ones I’ve played, the gameplay consists of examining the world, finding items to add to your inventory, and combining those items with each other or using them on the environment. For the most part, the solutions were pretty easy to come by. There was one part later in the game though that was just long and required either extremely thorough searching, or a guide. I used the latter for that one part, but only after slowly circling around the area for several minutes and making no progress. It’s a short game, but tells a surprisingly complete and nuanced story. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a short point-and-click adventure!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)
The Stardew Museum has opened, and it’s really cool! I mean, I don’t have a ton of exhibits yet, but the design of the museum in this game is awesome. It feels really grand this time around, with large exhibit rooms and elaborate displays.
A full-fledged shop has opened on Stardew too. It starts as Nook’s Cranny, and as someone whose Animal Crossing journey began with the GameCube version, I love this! I’m sure it will go through the usual tiers of upgrades as time passes and I buy more things from it. I’m hoping to see Nook N’ Go, that was always my favorite version of the store in the GameCube version! One neat feature I haven’t taken advantage of yet is the shop’s drop box. Even after the shop is closed, you can dump things in the box to be sold, and my understanding is you’ll get paid for them the next day, but there is a handling fee for selling things this way. It’s nice for those who want to do some late night selling though!
I also paid off my initial home loan, but as is tradition in Animal Crossing I immediately took out another loan to rebuild my entire home and make it larger. Naturally, Tom Nook can have this job completed in a single night. Whatever construction company he works with is extremely impressive!
More villagers are moving in, before they can move though I needed to built a bridge with a newly learned DIY recipe from Tom Nook, pick out where their houses will be built, and supply several furniture items for each house. All the required furniture items required DIY crafting, many of which I was given new recipes to craft. It was a tall order, but I finished it all as quickly as I could the first day, because I was really excited to get more villagers! My diligence paid off, and Agent S moved in a day later, the same day the bridge construction was completed! The following day, Gladys joined our happy little island, followed by Punchy another day later. I’m especially excited to see Punchy, because I know I had him in a prior game too, possibly my New Leaf village. With these new villagers, things are really starting to feel less deserted!
I unlocked the ability to customize items, which opens up new color options for most of the DIY items you can create, as well as some of the items you can purchase from the store. Got my first wardrobe via DIY, which means I can use the new “change clothes” interface to quickly change outfits using what’s in storage instead of having to change clothes from items in my pockets. I love this feature, it’s definitely led me to change my character’s look way more often. Plus, the way the character poses is just too perfect!
The final big development on Stardew island was the completion of the new Resident Services building! At last ditching the tent, we now have a proper town hall sort of building. Isabelle has also moved in to work at the Resident Services building, and apparently she lives there or commutes to work because she doesn’t have a house on the island anywhere. Tom Nook also works out of the building, offering expanded construction options like the ability to construct inclines and more bridges. I love how much variety the characters have in all their actions in this game, it brings them to life like never before. For example, I walked in to Resident Services once and found Tom Nook and Isabelle doing some stretches behind the counter. Little things like that are so cute!
I’m looking forward to building up Stardew even more in the coming weeks. At the end of this week, I had my first opportunity to buy into the Stalk Market, so of course I stocked up on 1,000 turnips. I’ll have to keep a close eye on turnip prices this week, and hope my investment pays off! I’ll end this section this week with a peek inside my house. The wallpaper is the Server Room Wall, I believe I got it from Saharah and I just ran with the idea. I need some counters for the kitchen, and maybe more computer stuff to decorate with, but when it’s completed I hope it will look like my character lives in a server room, always on-call to make sure everything is running smoothly.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
I finished my Breath of the Wild playthrough this week! There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get to it!
My exploration first took me to the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab. The immobile Guardian alongside the path up to the lab took me by surprise. I pushed my horse to gallop past it when it began targeting me but we still took a hit, and my horse caught on fire! Luckily we both made it out alive. The director of the lab is, uh…quite a character. At his request, I brought the blue flame back to his furnace to fuel his precious “Cherry,” and now I can give it rupees and ancient parts to craft ancient soldier gear. The armor I can create this way seems useful since it reduces damage taken from Guardian lasers, but I didn’t have enough ancient gears to create it at first. I came back later and got the ancient body armor though, and that’s what I wore at the end of the game.
Shortly thereafter, I met Kilton for the first time. I guess he’s a Hylian like Link, but I’m not sure why his skin is gray? Maybe he’s a cross between a bokoblin and a Hylian or something? I don’t know, I’ve just never seen a gray Hylian before. Anyway, the initial meeting unlocked his travelling shop, Fang & Bone. Later on, I encountered his shop outside of Kakariko Village, and perused his wares. You can only pay him in “Mon,” which he gives in exchange for monster parts. I really wanted the Dark Link armor he carries, but it’s really expensive!
Afterward, I wandered into a new area. Here, I saw some sort of fire dragon, like Volvagia, in the distance?! But apparently that has nothing to do with the Divine Beasts or anything, and I later learned it was one of the guardians of the land or something when I freed a similar dragon from Ganon’s malice atop Mount Lanayru. Rito Village is in this area too, and was my next discovery. I really like how the music calls back to the Dragon Roost Island music from Wind Waker. It’s so cool! I always thought the Rito in Wind Waker had evolved from the Zora over many years, so it’s a little strange to see both Zora and Rito in the same time period in Breath of the Wild, but both species are really cool so I don’t mind.
Upon entering Rito Village, a short cutscene introduced me to the final Divine Beast: Vah Medoh. Fittingly, the Divine Beast once piloted by the Rito Champion soars through the sky high above Rito Village. I realized at this point that I’d seen it in the distance many times over the course of my exploration, but I just thought it was some sort of floating city or something like the one in Twilight Princess. It was pretty cool to finally learn what it really was, I didn’t expect it to be a Divine Beast.
Like with the previous Divine Beasts, I first found the village elder, and got some information from him on who to talk to about boarding the Divine Beast. This lead me to Teba, who is basically the modern day Rito Champion but unlike the other present day Champions I don’t think he is actually a descendant of the Rito Champion from 100 years ago. Maybe he is, but I wasn’t given that impression. Just like with the other Divine Beasts, I first had to complete a task before we could team up and tackle the Divine Beast. This was by far my favorite of these tasks, because it was so easy! All I had to do was float around the Flight Range and shoot 5 targets in mid-air. This serves as a good tutorial on mid-air bow usage and its time-slowing mechanics, which the player might not have used much yet. I hadn’t really used this ability much, but it was still a piece of cake. It was refreshing not to have to run halfway across the region for this task, or escort some useless goron again.
With Teba impressed by my archery skills, we took to the sky. He gave me more bomb arrows that I had ever seen before, and told me to shoot down Vah Medoh’s cannons while he distracted its fire. This too was easy for me, and I really enjoyed floating around Vah Medoh with my paraglider. It definitely was my favorite of the Divine Beast boarding tasks.
The cannons were destroyed by my supply of bomb arrows, bringing the Divine Beast’s barrier down and allowing Link to land on it. Teba chickened out, with the excuse that his leg was injured during the fight by a laser blast. I didn’t really need his help anyway though, so we parted ways. The puzzles aboard Vah Medoh were fun, and angling Vah Medoh using the map controls, similarly to the Divine Beasts before it. The size of the Divine Beasts still blows me away a bit, especially how you can control huge parts of them from the map screen. Angling Vah Medoh meant tilting the entire dungeon, and that sort of blows my mind!
After the terminals were all reactivated, it was time for the dungeon boss. Windblight Ganon was remarkably one note. It sort of had two phases, but it didn’t seem to require any special strategy for each phase. I just shot it full of leftover bomb arrows, which did decent damage. Most of the time it floated off the ground, but I think twice during the battle my arrows knocked it out of the sky, and I hacked away at it with the Master Sword. Soon, it was defeated, and the spirit of Rito Champion Revali was free to control Vah Medoh once more.
I want to hate Revali for his condescending nature and arrogance. But I don’t hate him, I just dislike him. The power he gives you, Revali’s Gale, is pretty awesome though. It lets you create a powerful updraft anywhere, which really helps speed up exploration. Before moving on, I just want to mention how cool it is that the liberated Vah Medoh perches atop the pillar of stone that Rito Village is built around.
With all 4 Divine Beasts liberated, and the Master Sword in hand, there was only one thing left to do: destroy Ganon. Well, in truth that’s not true at all. There was a ton left to do in the game. Plenty of side quests I hadn’t discovered or completed, Shrines, and don’t even get me started on how many Korok Seeds I was missing. I never even found where to trade those in, but I’m pretty sure there’s a place you can use them. Anyway, point is, there’s plenty in Breath of the Wild I didn’t see, but I was excited to begin the final battle with Ganon, so after preparing my equipment, I made my way to Hyrule Castle.
There were so many Guardians on the path to the Castle, and strewn about the grounds as well. Luckily I brought along about a dozen Ancient Arrows, but mostly I tried to avoid the Guardians and their laser blasts. I was pretty successful overall. My initial plan was to enter the Castle from the west, based on a tip I’d received from a child at one of the stables. I didn’t end up going with this though, as I was unable to cross the moat from the west and climb up the cliff side due to the rain. Instead, I approached the Castle via the main gates. I cannot emphasize enough how impressive the size and atmosphere of Hyrule Castle is. Seeing a landmark like this completely overtaken by Ganon’s evil power is chilling, and a bit infuriating. It definitely fueled my desire to strike Calamity Ganon down once and for all! Thanks to Revali’s Gale, I feel like I skipped past most of the winding gatehouse-filled path up to the Castle’s sanctum. I’m not sure what the point of the gatehouses was honestly, but I’m guessing I would have had a very different experience had I tried to storm the Castle earlier in my playthrough.
When I reached the sanctum, Zelda’s hold on Calamity Ganon finally gave out, or may she sensed Link had arrived and let go. Either way, Calamity Ganon emerged from this weird cocoon thing, and he was not at all what I had imagined. I had thought I’d be fighting some sort of floating boar-head spirit, like the thing that was shown flying around Hyrule Castle in several cutscenes. Instead, Calamity Ganon is this gross amalgamation of Sheikah technology and Malice-ooze. The design is pretty fitting though, definitely in line with the bosses I’d fought on the Divine Beasts before. Before the battle began, the Divine Beasts sprang into action, letting loose their laser blasts and taking Ganon down to half health before I even touched him. Without their help, this probably would have been a tough fight, but with Ganon starting at half health he never stood a chance.
Destroying Calamity Ganon wasn’t the end though. His spirit floated away from Hyrule Castle, and Link was turned into a ball of light and teleported away too. On Hyrule Field, the true final battle began. Here, Ganon took his true beast shape. Princess Zelda spoke to Link telepathically, as she’d done several times over the course of the game, and gifted him the Bow of Light to truly finish off Ganon. This was an easy but cool fight. I had my horse, Epona, with me. This made dodging Ganon’s attacks a breeze, and also made it easy to hit his weak points with the Bow of Light when they appeared as I could leap from my horse and enter slow-motion aiming easily. After shooting several weak points, I was able to deliver the final blow and at last end the Calamity.
Only when Ganon was defeated did Princess Zelda materialize. Seeing Link and Zelda together in the present for the first time pretty much gave me chills. I mean, Link’s fighting from the very beginning of the game to help her defeat Calamity Ganon, and now it’s finally said and done, and they’re together again, it was a powerful moment for me. In the final scene, they’re looking on at the ruins of Hyrule Castle, and simple turn and leave without saying anything. Meanwhile, high above the ruins, the spirits of the 4 Champions and of the King of Hyrule watch the two leave, likewise silent. This was another super powerful scene, and it said so much despite having no dialogue.
With that, I was done with Breath of the Wild. If you’ve stuck around since the beginning of my posts on it, you probably know I went back and forth on whether I enjoyed this game or not. I definitely struggled with its combat and puzzles numerous times. I feel like I enjoyed it the most in the final quarter of the game, basically the section I played through this week. By then, I feel like I finally had enough heart containers and proper equipment that I wasn’t dying all the time, and I had gotten used to the mechanics of the game enough that I really enjoyed it. The open world here is definitely superb. As a whole, it’s a master class in non-linear world design. Nintendo and Monolith Soft crafted an incredible sandbox here, and my hat’s off to them for that. Is it my favorite Zelda game? No, definitely not, but it had some really beautiful moments even so. Did I love the story? Yeah actually, I did! This version of Hyrule is pretty different from most other games, and is probably closest to Wind Waker’s Hyrule, so that was interesting to see. Plus, even though I didn’t see all of Link’s memories, I loved seeing the Zelda flashbacks. Seeing Zelda struggle in the past really fleshed out her character in a way that I don’t think has ever been done before in this series. Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. I had enough fun in the endgame that I think I’ll probably revisit my save at some point and explore more of Hyrule, but I think I’m done with Breath of the Wild for a while now.