This post contains location spoilers from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
It’s nearing bedtime, and before my eyes get too heavy, I settle in for a short session with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I don’t have a set goal in mind, rather, the last time I played Link had just discovered the Akkala region, so I decide to simply explore. Maybe mark a few shrines, maybe battle a few enemies, maybe see if find that white stallion that’s supposedly roaming the region.
I slowly work my way around the map, and indeed, it’s rich spot that’s teeming with resources and goodies to find. I eventually reach a cliff, and I pause. Off in the distance there’s something…something big. I look down, and I can’t see the waters below. The fact that it’s nighttime doesn’t help, because it makes everything the atmosphere that I’m staring at seem extra murky and extra scary. I take a look at my map, and sure enough, there’s a large, rectangular-shaped thing…a maze?… sitting in the right spot. From the cliff, it looks extremely far away, but since it’s on the map, I figure that I must be able to somehow reach it. As I stand there, I start thinking that the only way for me to do that is to glide.
And that means jumping…into nothing…and hoping I land.
I’m paralyzed, and for a moment, I can’t do anything but stare into the bottomless pit below me. My heart starts racing, my hands start to tremble, and I begin to feel dizzy. I back Link away from the cliff, pause the game, and put down the Wii U handset. I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths, and begin to feel better. As I’m sitting there, I take stock of what just happened, and the first thought that pops into my head is you just had yourself a case of vertigo! I’m somewhat stunned. In real life, I have moderate acrophobia. It’s something that I’ve learned to manage, and experiencing vertigo is the worst of it, but that’s not happened to me in years. And I’ve never, ever had it manifest…in a video game.
I sit for a bit longer, and the more I think about it, the sillier I feel. C’mon, it’s just a game! I tell myself. A game, for crying out loud!! Self-scolding aside, my brain is right. Considering the number of times and ways in which poor Link has met his demise in the game so far, plunging off a cliff seems humane. But then my thoughts shift back to those actual feelings that I’ve never felt in a game before. I’ve encountered plenty of death-defying moments in games, even ones similar to this where I was forced into taking literal leaps of faith. But something but in Breath of the Wild was different. I couldn’t (and still can’t) put my finger on just what, though. Did the ominous-looking setting trick my mind? Did the scenario trigger something subconsciously? Was I honestly worried that Link might actually fall to his death? Maybe it was a little of all those things combined.
I didn’t come to any sort of resolution before picking up the Wii U handset again, but I ultimately convinced myself that I was just being silly. Oh, the seconds of vertigo were real, but I had dealt with them before, and I wasn’t going to let them stop Link from saving Hyrule! (Even though I had no idea of the big, square, far-off island had anything to do with that.) So I did what any good explorer would do.
I waited until morning.
Looking out over that same cliff at the same portentous structure was a little less terrifying in the daytime. At least things look less dark and foggy. However, in the daylight, the big island seemed even farther away than before. With real-life sleepiness beginning to set in, I decided that if I was going to jump, I was going to JUMP! Giving Link a running start, I turned off my brain and sent Link over that cliff…remembering to glide, of course. He soared quietly over the “bottomless pit” and the island maze got closer and closer. I spotted a spot (the only spot) to land, and he made it down, with room to spare.
Huh, that wasn’t so bad at all. I’m sorry, my brain kindly noted.
I was relieved once the name of the place, Lomei Labyrinth Island, appeared on screen. Not only was I on solid ground, but I was someplace that I apparently needed to explore, and it really was a giant maze, no less.
Unfortunately, extreme tiredness took over before I could solve the maze and locate its shrine. Even in my most alert mindset, something like it would be a challenge, so I figured I’d teleport back to the mainland and tackle it another day.
Which, only means I’ll have to make that jump. Again.
Well, at least next time I’ll know what to expect.