When I played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I eventually did everything I could to avoid the Lynels, Centaur-like creatures that dotted Hyrule. I say “eventually” because I didn’t avoid them at first. At first, I was ready and willing to take on these difficult beasts with my dinky wooden sword, because why wouldn’t I at least try? That’s part and parcel in many games – trying to defeat anything and everything in sight. I did manage to take out a couple before my brain broke a little from the stress, at which point I made up my mind to simply ignore them. In fact, I started ignoring just about anything that didn’t make the first move, and I had a pretty grand time. I conquered the Divine Beasts, cooked and collected until my heart was content, and explored every corner of Hyrule I could.
Until…well…I hit a point where I had no choice but to defeat a Lynel in order to progress. Since I hadn’t practiced on the Lynels before it, I was sorely unprepared. Oh, I tried my best, remembering what I could from my two pitiful Lynel battles much earlier in the game while also consulting the Internet for help. But the truth is that I knew from the moment of the encounter that I just didn’t have will to see through the fight. And that’s when my time with Breath of the Wild ended.
Did I play the game wrong?
I write this out because of Elden Ring. I’m not playing it, but if you are, I hope you’re not somehow playing it wrong and yet still enjoying it. Because it seems like that’s not the thing to do, right? Play the game in whatever manner makes you happy? If you’re on gaming social media in any capacity, you’ve probably seen lots of posts and quips and tips about “cheesing” the game versus playing it the “right” way. I’ve never played a Soulsbourne game, but I’ve heard that the “right” way to play follows the traditional “git gud” notion. You play and practice and die a whole lot in order to master gameplay. If you don’t follow this method and make up your own rules and workarounds in order to progress in one of these games, you are somehow playing it wrong or “cheesing” it, i.e. not playing the game in the manner intended.
I have no wish to draw the ire of any particular crowd, but the fact of the matter is that people have been “cheesing” games since video games became a thing to do. Sure, maybe there were a few directions given with any game (stick moves ship, hit button to fire), but coming up with one’s own methods to progress from point A to point B is just playing video games. And it kind of means that I’ve been “cheesing” games my whole life.
I mean, I’m definitely doing it in God of War right now. In boss battles, I use mostly quick, cheap shots (because I simply can never remember to recall Kratos’s axe at the right time, goshdarnit), seek out plenty of health, and run and hide when I need a moment to think. I’m sure my Kratos looks like a flailing wrestler to someone who’s taken time to master his move set, but, I’m still defeating those bosses. My tendency to “cheese” it during the game has led to a few failings, yes…like, I don’t have the chops to defeat any of the difficult, and optional, Valkyries, but that’s okay. I can try if I want, and I sometimes do, but there’s no punishment if I don’t. At least…there hasn’t been yet. I get that I might very well end up in a Link vs. Lynel situation with Kratos, but I can only cross that bridge when I get to it.
And I won’t even get started on fighting games. In them, I “cheese” like Velveeta. (And if you’ve watched my Not Zangief series, you know!) I’ve played enough fighting games to understand the basics (especially if we’re talking Street Fighter and its ilk), and I do actually try to not button mash my way through fights, but if I happen upon an easy way out of the fight, you best believe I’m taking it. Admittedly, since my skills aren’t up to par, happening upon such is usually accidental, but still…a win is a win.
Isn’t this true in any game? No matter if you get Mario to the Princess, Sonic through the race, or Samus to her ship, you spent time with a game you enjoyed. What else is there to prove?
Lede image captured from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gameplay (© Nintendo).