Posted on January 07 2018 by Brandon Schmitz
As fun and inventive as Breath of the Wild‘s shrines were during my first run through the game, subsequent playthroughs have left them feeling more like chores. Honestly, I’m still trying to work out exactly why that is, but one of the reasons is definitely that the shrines lack sufficient context.
Virtually all of my favorite Zelda dungeons are those that feel like an extension of the world around me — a living, breathing part of Hyrule. Snowpeak Ruins from Twilight Princess, for example, presents Link as a guest in this yeti couple’s home. Admittedly, a dungeon that subversive is an exception to the rule, but look at the Forest Temple and the Arbiter’s Grounds — a monkey hideout and a prison for Hyrule’s worst criminals, respectively. Brief descriptions such as these make these dungeons feel lived in. Even though I remember how to solve all of their puzzles after dozens of playthroughs, I still adore these locales because I’m so drawn in by the atmosphere of them.
By contrast, Breath of the Wild’s shrines feel like generic puzzle rooms with the same Sheikah aesthetic. To be fair, they’re not technically dungeons, but given the game’s comparatively low dungeon count, it seems as if the shrines were meant to make up for the lack of more traditional temples. Again, most of them were a ton of fun the first time through. However, once I replayed the game and knew how to solve the puzzles, there was no lore or context to ground me. As a result, the shrines often felt like busy work rather than locations that I couldn’t wait to revisit. Even some variation in terms of theme or color palette would’ve gone a long way toward making the shrines more memorable.
What about you, though? Does context matter as much to you? Did the shrines make up for the lack of more traditional dungeons? Perhaps you’re not as crazy about replaying Zelda games as I am and this isn’t even an issue for you. After all, different people look for different things when it comes to this series. Whatever your thoughts might be, let us know in the comments below!