Stepping out from your 100 year place of safekeeping onto a precipice, the land of Hyrule splays vast and unexplored in front of you. A moment is granted to take in the sheer size and absolute beauty all around. This is your first taste of what Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BOTW) holds for you. In classic Nintendo fashion, you go in with a strong awareness of an entire world to explore, while you are small, unequipped, and uncertain of the path ahead. There is an overwhelming evil in the distance, but you know that though it may loom, you will have time to prepare to face it.
Spoilers (sort of) ahead, so gather some spirit orbs to build up your stamina and heart meter and let’s press in to punish Calamity Ganon for his egregious behavior a century ago, and to free Zelda from her prison.
Hyrule is different this time. Everything seems alive, breathing, and ready to take you to task. Starting on the Great Plateau, you quickly realize that the simple hacking and slashing of yore isn’t going to cut it. All snout, pig ears, and anger, Bokoblins don’t take too kindly to the hero invading their various camps, bases, and barbecues. Come armed as you may, but they will fling rocks and arrows, charge at you with sticks, spears, and clubs. Quickly you discover that the three hearts you traditionally begin with don’t feel like enough. I found myself becoming acquainted with the “Game Over” screen frequently my first time playing through, and for good reason! I didn’t realize BOTW was asking something different from me than my previous forays: it was necessitating strategy.
After some trial and error, Bokoblins became a piece of cake, rarely landing a blow. Then, I was introduced to Moblins, Lizalfos, Octoroks, Chuchus, amongst several other “standard issue” enemies. These creatures all had their nuances, but were easily overcome. Lynel, Hinox, Talus, and Molduga, though more formidable foes, all met a timely demise. Only one enemy put absolute fear into me as I traversed Hyrule.
Imagine you are exploring open terrain when the music changes, the soft piano melody starts to intensify and then sound as though it is falling apart. A high, frantic beeping coupled with a red beam of light homing directly on the Hero hits you hard with a primal “fight or flight” response and, like small prey, you run for any sort of cover. While finding a place to duck behind, the beeping intensifies, working your heart rate up and, before you realize what you’ve stumbled upon, a beam of energy finds its target and bursts into flame. The Guardian has found you, tagged you, fired at you, and connected. Game Over.
The Bible doesn’t mince words about these types of situations.
Ephesians 6:11 states: “Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.” (AMP).
Just as Christians are called to prepare for the assault of the enemy, I had to develop a strategy to counter the work of the Guardians roaming over Hyrule. The Guardians at one time fought alongside the Hero until the Calamity came and corrupted them. Sound familiar? Something which the kingdom had intended for good had been construed into evil by Calamity Ganon, and the Hero returned unprepared.
Sure, you are playing as the Hero, but you are a failed hero. You fell 100 years ago with a cadre of others tasked to dismantle the vicious Calamity Ganon. Now, you are working your way back through Hyrule, adding to your arsenal and wardrobe, while earning the trust of those who recall your failure. It’s a very sobering journey. These moments make me thankful that our journey as Christians looks much different than Link’s.
We have but to ask and God hears and does. He knows that our struggles in life are not against physical entities like Guardians, but we struggle to overcome “rulers, […] powers, […] the world forces of this [present] darkness, […] the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. (Eph. 6:12, AMP)
BOTW calls me to not give up on donning the complete armor of God, but instead to prayerfully enter the spiritual fray, lest I am caught not paying attention and a “Guardian” homes in on me, leading to my demise. Like Link, we are all failed beings, but we have a Saviour pointing us to the Great Commission: sharing the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, defiance or no. We know that the spiritual world is primed and waiting to attack, but we take comfort in knowing that, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we are impenetrable, and we know who holds the entire battle in Their hand.