Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the latest videogame of the Zelda series. Released in 2017 for the Wii U and Nintendo Switch, this game introduces an open world action-adventure game which lets the player decide their own paths to achieve different goals, reach different places or just explore the game’s world. 

Game trailer:

Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics: Breath of the Wild is an open world game which lets you go wherever you want in the map. The mechanics are taught at the beginning of the game and they are:

  1. Exploration and reaching different locations.
  2. Solving puzzles.
  3. Finishing missions.
  4. Obtaining equipment such as weapons, food, clothing, special abilities.

These are done by the player’s abilities: climbing, running, swimming and paragliding all limited by stamina. Also, attacking, which is enhanced by the weapons you carry and cooking, which increases your health.

Story: This game is a post-apocalyptic game that happens 100 years after a calamity occured. This story is told at the beginning but elements that help you uncover more about this story are the ruins present in the landscape, finding places where you obtain some memories back and talking to NPCs who tell you more about the past and life in the present. The game has a lot of places, so you always find yourself searching for clues about the past.

Aesthetics: Ruins and abandoned places add to the post-apocalyptic story of the game and overall drive to explore of the game. Also nature and landmarks make the player explore and find places. Sound design includes for example only some piano notes that add to the feeling of not many people being present around you and add up to the drive of discovering unknown places or just admiring the landscape.

Technology: The portability of the Nintendo Switch lets you play the game wherever you want, therefore if you have not that much free time you can just continue exploring or walking without any compromise. Also some puzzles require tilt control offered by the Switch. Other features include vibration and sounds which increase the feedback to the user when he is attacked.

Lens of Time 

First of all, Breath of the Wild features a clock and a weather indicator on its main game play screen or Graphical User Interface. In my case, sometimes I check the time and weather to know what type of things to equip for a certain weather, decide parting times for a mission, wait until the sun sets to accomplish a sun light related mission or just see a nice view. 

The game itself and almost all of its missions are not restricted by time, even the main storyline can be accomplished in less than 24 hours. In addition, if you get bored from a mission you can just change it and head towards a different direction in the map. This lets the player feel that they always have something to do in this open world game and it having no time restrictions creates a feeling of freedom in the player.

Furthermore, the passing of time and changing in weather in game changes its dynamics. For example, on cold weather you lose more life if you are not wearing warm clothes, or different enemies appear at night time. This lets the player experience the game differently at exactly the same locations depending on the time.

Lens of Goals

Since the beginning of the game, you are given the main mission to “Destroy Ganon” and this mission always appears at the top of your goals list. It’s easy for the player to understand that this is the ultimate goal of the game. But, there are also a lot of extra missions and quests that add more goals to the list, even the player gets to decide which goal to do next and focus on it. 

Goals range from long term to short term goals. Sometimes when I get bored of a long term goal or don’t know what to do next, I just find myself changing it for another one, or just exploring the world and having more things to do and accomplish. This lets the player feel they always have something to accomplish even if they failed or get tired of their last mission, which lets them never get bored.

The game also features sightseeing towers that let the player see the different geography and locations in the game. Moreover, the player is able to put map markers so that if they decide to visit or revisit one place they can just follow their markers. In other words, the game lets the player decide their own goals, that can be as simple as climbing a mountain or reaching and unknown location.

Lens of Atmosphere

Breath of the Wild is a post-apocalyptic game. It is set 100 years after a great Calamity happened and destroyed the major villages,  landmarks and killed hundreds. Even if the game has beautiful cartoonish graphics, the landscape lets you know the places are not as they once used to be. The main example is the Hyrule Castle Town ruins that is completely destroyed. Therefore, the game has a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, in my case this made me feel sad as the player gets to know the main characters failed to protect the Kingdom and you can no longer see or experience the places as they once were. 

A calming atmosphere is also created in the places were mostly nature is present. The world in Breath of the Wild feels alive, in the sense that many things resemble the real world. For example the movement of the grass, the wind, weather, water, the trees moving, there are animals and insects roaming around, even the sunsets are beautiful in game. In addition, sound design is important as most of the music is just separate piano notes and chords that just add up to the relaxing atmosphere. This made me feel as if I could just stop for a second and hear the sounds in the place I am exploring or watch the sunset from the top of a mountain and relax.

Lens of curiosity

In Breath of the Wild the player is always filled with curiosity, as that is what keeps the player on exploring. This is achieved through the placement of objects in the world. There are many distinct landmarks that are easily seen and that drag the player’s attention towards them, resulting in them wanting to explore and get to know what’s there. Also the maps don’t have a lot of information, but just seeing the drawings lets you wonder what could be found in those places.

In my case, the ruins placed throughout the game awaken my curiosity as I begin to question what they were. There are also ruins with different designs, which lets the player even sort them into different time periods. Another feature is that some of those ruins resemble places in past games; therefore, this lets the player imagine and wonder how this places came to be what they are now. This adds up to the feeling of wonder and exploration the game creates in its players.






Stardew Valley

Opening screen
(Picture taken from

Stardew Valley is an open-ended country-life Role Playing Game. Player starts with a few basic tools and has to farm, mine and fish to obtain more resources while helping to restore the old town. The player is also able to talk to NPCs and maintain a friendship with them by giving them gifts and in turn, receives items and other benefits.


Game trailer: 

What I do in one game day:

  • usual morning routine (watering crops, harvesting and/or planting, attending to animals, selling crops)
  • talk to NPCs, give gifts
  • mine/fish 

What I am focused on in the game:

  • the time, day of the week, date and season in top right-hand corner: different things occur at different times of the day and season
  • hotbar 
  • energy bar (and sometimes health bar) at the bottom right-hand corner: to monitor energy (and health) levels to decide what to do next

Elemental Tetrad 1 – Story:

  • Player may feel a sense of nostalgia or some kind of emotional attachment to the setting of the game as the plot of land is passed down from the player’s father where he used to live before moving to the city. The game maintains this “relationship” by the father continuing to send money to the player in the farm, and one of the NPCs sometimes mention the player’s father in his dialogue.
  • Different NPCs also have their own storylines, personalities and circumstances which adds to the depth of the game, makes the game more interesting as the player learns more about the stories of the different characters

Elemental Tetrad 2 – Mechanics:

  • Inventory management: player starts with only 12 slots in inventory, so the number of items the player can carry at any one time is very limited, forces the player to walk home to drop off stuff when player’s inventory is full
  • Goals: goals are set by the player himself and there are various ways the player can play the game thus allowing for many many hours of re-playable content
    • speed runs
    • complete “optional” main quests in the game
    • set own arbitrary goals
  • Time and energy management: each day has a limited period of time from 6am to 2am and player only has a limited amount of energy so time and energy is precious and player can only do so much in one day. Also, the player has to go to bed by 12am, otherwise there could be consequences (lose gold, wake up with less energy the next day thus hindering the player’s progress).
  • Other examples include health, weather, seasons

Elemental Tetrad 3 – Aesthetics:

(Picture taken from
  • Game is very aesthetically pleasing. Made with pixel art and graphics look simple but detailed, with wide range of colours. When seasons pass, the scene/settings also change such as different coloured leaves.
  • Also very simple UI
  • Music is also quite well-done. Usually calming, relaxing and cheerful but can change when player is at different areas (at the town vs at the mines). There is also different soundtracks for different events that happen in the game. 

Elemental Tetrad 4 – Technology:

  • Not computationally or graphically intensive, able to play on various devices (PC/mac, console, mobile)

Lens 1: Essential Experience

  • Player can choose to do anything from a wide range of activities, endless gameplay
  • Limited time and energy forces players to think about what to do to conserve energy and make full use of the time and energy
  • “Social” (even in singleplayer) – NPCs are almost like real players as they move around the map, can be interacted with and have various different personalities, makes you feel connected to the characters and sympathise with them
  • Complete collections to rebuild the town to its former glory, instills a sense of achievement

Lens 2: The Lens of Surprise

  • Though some may find the lack of a tutorial to be a disadvantage of the game, I find that it adds on to the fun of it because sometimes the player can discover new areas, items as well as new ways of doing things, all on their own.
  • This encourages players to be curious and explore the game by themselves
  • Also encourages players to share tips and tricks with one another (via forums or YouTube videos), builds the community
One of the many in-game events that take place annually
(Picture taken from

Lens 39: The Lens of Time

  • Time is often of the essence in the game, having only a set and limited amount of time in each game day that feels short yet it is still long enough to complete a substantial number of activities and allows the user to feel accomplished. It still leaves the player wanting for more.
  • The current day and date that the player is in also affects certain aspects of the game such as farming and giving gifts.
    • If player plants the crops a day too late, it may result in one less harvest for those crops and player loses out on the opportunity to make more money
    • Players can take advantage of NPCs’ birthdays to give them gifts to gain many more friendship points than if gifted on a regular day, allowing player to more quickly max out the friendship points with NPCs

Lens 46: The Lens of Economy

  • In singleplayer, the player can buy and sell items to NPCs. Main source of income for players is from selling harvest and animal products.
  • As money is limited, players have to make mindful and meaningful decisions about buying items with the money that they have earned, such as:
    • buying seeds for the most profitable crops
    • buying seeds for less profitable crops but for other benefits
    • upgrading tools
    • equipment and armour
    • farm buildings, more animals
  • Items that players buy can go towards making more money and making more progress in the game or for aesthetic purposes
  • Crops or most of the items that the player can sell also have secondary uses and thus sometimes it may not be wise to sell all of them away and have to think through what they should sell and how much of it
  • As the player progresses, he/she will earn money more easily but items such as equipment and farm buildings will also progressively become more expensive to purchase, maintaining the difficulty of the game