For this week’s Dissecting Design, we’re covering Legend of Zelda Link to the Past.
Procedural and random generation are the cornerstones of rogue-like design, and we have seen many games push these elements further than they have ever been. This past year with Dead Cells, and games like The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, and of course Dwarf Fortress, all provide replayability thanks to those elements.
One game design trap I see is developers trying to build a “Zelda Rogue-Like” experience, and while this may sound like the next evolution of procedural design, it just doesn’t work from a game design perspective.
The Legend of Zelda franchise is all about a cycle of storytelling and gameplay. There’s always Link the hero, Zelda the princess, and Ganon the bad guy. Each game gives us a lengthy adventure of dungeons, tutorials, and an annoying partner that tells us where to go. Breath of the Wild is perhaps the most drastic departure in terms of design we’ve seen from a first party Nintendo game yet, and delivered the first amazing game for the Nintendo Switch. If it wasn’t for a few nagging points, this could very well be one of my top 10 games of all time.
The success of The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild from last year is absolute at this point. The game took home multiple game of the year awards and received high marks from most reviewers. Yet despite the accolades, I noticed that people didn’t talk about one major point: This is a mature game from Nintendo.