Bastion: Thermodynamics, Entropy, and the Physics of Fantasy

If you’re at all a follower of indie games, you’ve probably at least heard of Bastion—the isometric, hack-and-slash RPG from Supergiant Games that quickly after its release in 2011 went on to become one of the most popular and acclaimed indie games of all time. While known for many things, Bastion’s most distinctive component (for most gamers, at […]

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An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part V: The Heroes’ Legacy

So Breath of the Wild is the apex of open-world design. It’s filled with secrets, and it makes exploration itself feel rewarding. Its narrative has depth and resonance, and its characters feel three-dimensional and relatably real. It takes the tropes of post-apocalyptic fiction to a new level—depicting a world not irradiated and destroyed, but retaken by wilderness. And in […]

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An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part IV: The Post-Post-Apocalypse

I’ve spent far too long now extolling Breath of the Wild as the best that open-world game design has to offer, but open-world games pose a huge narrative challenge for developers trying to tell a coherent story. Because the game’s events can be played out in any order, it’s quite difficult to build a satisfying, well-plotted narrative, especially […]

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An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part III: Into the Wild

So Breath of the Wild is open world in the best sense of the term; it presents you with a vast world to explore, where everything you see can be reached, every mountain climbed, every river sailed, every canyon traversed… but so what? I’ve extolled its world design and its exploration mechanics and rambled about its well-crafted mapmaking, […]

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An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part II: “Open World”

In modern game design, “open-world” has become something of a buzzword; after series like GTA and Elder Scrolls popularized the genre, developers (especially Ubisoft) embraced it and began to churn out game after game after game in that mold. Open-world games, in short, discard the notion of linear progression and instead throw the player into what is […]

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An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part I: A Genealogy

Rarely, if ever, does a game like Breath of the Wild live up to its expectations. I still remember the first time I watched the trailer for what was then known only as “the Wii U Zelda”—a mysterious, supposedly open-world title that Nintendo had spent almost three years developing for its flagging console. It starts with a black […]

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