Incorporating Platforming and Environmental Puzzles

Playing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in gaming. While almost everything about the game–from the friendly protagonist to the exotic, fully realized world–made it an absolute work of art, it was the gameplay that really captivated me and kept me playing straight through its ten hour length. The Prince controlled flawlessly outside of combat, and the environments were designed with his parkour style of platforming in mind.

Sadly, I gave up on the series about two hours in to Warrior Within, as its tone completely threw me off, and I haven’t played more recent evolutions of its style like Assassin’s Creed. But The Sands of Time did get me thinking about the Zelda series.

Many of the puzzles and some of the combat (at least, with bosses) comes from the environment in Zelda titles. Usually, it’s about making the items you earn interact with the environment. You can’t cross over to a specific section of the overworld without getting the Hookshot, Roc’s Feather, or some other “key.” While this has worked wonders for the games, a permanent, dynamic moveset for Link that forced you to think your way through the overworld and dungeons, while still incorporating the use of items, could benefit the series.

Skyward Sword certainly had a more acrobatic, fast-moving Link than we’ve ever seen before. The humble wallrun carried with it so much potential that I wondered if Walljumps might be much of a stretch. From there, it’s not hard to imagine even more acrobatics. While the focus need not move to environmental puzzles, the quicker, more fun-to-control Link in Skyward Sword was welcome, and I’d love to see evolutions of that design.

What do you think? Could action platforming and environmental puzzles incorporating a permanent, more dynamic moveset benefit the series? Would it ruin it or make it too much like other games? Share your thoughts below.