TOTK Diary 12

Well… you’re not going to believe this.

Getting out of the underworld is EASY.

All you have to do is use the map to quick-travel. All levels of the map are accessible; you just have to use your eyes to notice the control hint on the screen, which tells you that the D-pad up/down will select the layer that you’re looking at on the map.

I figure this out after spending an hour or more in the underworld. I actually found it fun and rewarding to have the extra challenge, to actually need to use those foods and items that I had found, and to have some fear that I could actually run out of the stuff I needed most to keep me alive. I loved the unknown fear of not knowing how to get back to the safe and familiar area. But now I feel a little disappointed that it’s that easy to leave. I was expecting to have to earn the capability to get out, to have to fight my way up to the surface, to have to explore an extended time down there with little chance of survival and having to run away a lot and use my wits to their maximum, and find something that I would have to activate in order to be able to leave the underworld at will.

Instead it’s just a quick travel feature that I didn’t realize was given to me “for free”. This is how quick-travel can cheapen the game and remove opportunity for challenge. I would expect quick-travel options at some point, but let me appreciate quick-travel by not giving it to me so early and with so little done to earn it. Make me feel just how big that Hyrule map is.

Sigh. Well, whatever. I explored down there a bit more. I found an area where there was plentiful Zainite or however the fuck you spell it. I used up my stone hammers, but the combats with the bokoblins down there yield plenty of them, as they seem to be mining the stuff down there also. But I found that bomb arrows are even more effective for mining the stuff. They will destroy several blocks of the ore and drop all their yield at once, giving you many times more Zainite per action than pounding it out with a hammer weapon.

I also found these items called “poe” which are souls of some kind. They seemed important, but they also seemed like insects that you can gather as raw material. And there was a lot of them, so I grabbed all I could.

I couldn’t find anyone to talk to down there, or any clue about what I should be doing, so once I realized that I could just leave any time I wanted to, I decided to get back up to the surface. I’ll obviously need to go back down there again, at some point, once I learn more about what’s going on down there, and likely after I’m a lot more powerful. I will be much better off when I have a few more heart containers and some decent armor, and more supplies, especially light generation.

Without knowing more it seems like it’s going to be important to activate all the Roots of Light down there. Or Light Roots. Or whatever they’re called. Once they are turned on they brighten up the environment, fill out an area of the underworld map, and give you another quick-travel point. So probably once you light them all up, the evil power of the Gloom coming from below ground will be seriously weakened or destroyed. Beyond that, I expect as the story unfolds I’ll learn more.

I’m not sure what the right path is to do more story; I can look at the quest log and figure that out easily enough, but I’m just exploring right now.

Back at the surface of Hyrule, I return to the point near the chasm that I had jumped down. There were multiple points of interest within line of sight of this area, and I pick one at random and head toward it.

I pass by a little fortified zone full of at least a half dozen or more bokoblins and a moblin. It seems like this game must have been coded more efficiently to make it possible for you to have to fight more enemies at once. Which is a good thing. But I’m not powerful enough right now, and fighting is so pointless in a game where you use up your gear about as fast as you replenish it from these fights, nothing is permanent, and leveling up from combat only means that they throw tougher versions of the enemies at you.

It feels like a sisyphean treadmill, honestly. There’s no sense of progress other than the opening of the map and the completion of quests in this game. And yeah, that’s a criticism.

The thing I’m headed for is a shrine. I get there, and discover Addison, holding up another sign nearby. So before I go to complete the shrine, I help him get his sign erected, and he thanks me, gives me three rewards, all paltry, and then heads off to put up another sign somewhere else in Hyrule.

Another nearby rock formation has a treasure chest high up on a shelf, which I can’t seem to get to. I try using Ultrahand, but I can’t move the chest, and although I can put a platform right next to it, it doesn’t seem to want to open for me for some reason. I guess I just suck.

Oh well, it’s bound to be a crappy weapon that will last about 10 hits and then shatter, so who gives a fuck.

I go to the shrine. This one is another ultrahand challenge. It’s a bit of a tutorial. There’s these tent-spike objects that you can manipulate with ultrahand, and this helps you learn how those work. Not everything in the game world can be manipulated by ultrahand, and the things that can’t be manipulated, you can pin stuff to using these tent pegs objects. The pointy end will sink into the ground and anchor there. And you can attach other ultrahandable objects to them, so they end up being like anchor points. This is useful and I’m sure will prove important to solving many of the challenges ahead.

So, this puzzle takes a long time to figure out because I don’t know how the stuff is supposed to work.

First, I cross a bottomless trench, by jumping onto a platform that is rotating on an arm, which carries me to the other side of the trench. There, I find a floor switch, and a hittable switch. I stand on the floor switch, and a large section of wall in the chamber before me rotates around a 180 degree spin, and on the other side of the wall is a big orange bullseye.

There’s a chute coming out of the ceiling, and a ball drops from this chute, and rolls down the floor, and drains off into the bottomless pit, and then appears again at the chute, endlessly.

I’m not sure what the solution is, but evidently I need to get this ball to hit the bullseye.

On the ground there’s a couple of those tent spike anchors, and two sections of rod.

In the center of the floor is an object that I don’t understand, but I can’t control it with ultrahand, and the ultrahandable objects won’t stick to it. Eventually I figure out that when I hit the hittable switch in the room, this object rapidly spins. I deduce that the solution to the puzzle is to glue the ultrahandable parts together, and somehow attach them to this spinner, which I can then use as a baseball bat to hit the ball into the target.

It takes quite a bit of trial and error to realize that the anchor spike is the only way to get the log-shaped pieces to stick to the spinner. But once I figure that out, it’s pretty easy. I just have to get the angle and the timing right, and then I can hit that target.

I managed to do it on the 2nd or 3rd try, and open up the Spirit Light room, and collect my Light reward, completing the trial.

But there’s another room, locked, and the second target in the puzzle chamber must be the solution for it. This second target is more difficult, because there’s a section of wall hanging from chains, blocking it. The chains are unbreakable, but the hanging wall section is ultrahandable. Eventually I figure out that I can use more of those anchor pins to attach to the wall section, and pin it to the ceiling so that it is up and out of the way. This is really awkward and difficult because I’m so bad with the controls, but that’s the point of these shrines, to get you to figure out how to solve these puzzles in a trial that is challenging without trying to kill you.

So it take me a long, long, time to fucking pin that section of wall to the ceiling, but once I do, I figure the next part will be easy. Nope! The positioning is awkward; I have to change the angle of the “bat” that I created with the ultrahand objects, and the angle that the ball rolls in is really awkward. It’s like I’m batting lefty, and I am trying to swing at a pitch while standing in the batter’s box in a weird, oblique angle that makes it so that I almost have to hit a foul ball to hit this target. Most of the time when the bat connects with the ball, it doesn’t make good contact, and the ball rolls slowly, without enough energy to hit the target even if it happens to be hit in the right direction, which is only maybe 1 in 8 attempts, if that.

I fiddle with the positioning of the bat again and again, hoping to make the adjustment so that it will be easier and give me a better chance.

Eventually, I manage to do it, but it takes a good hour, hour and a half. And it’s frustrating. And for all that effort, the reward in the chest is an Elixir of Speed, which is a craftable item that I could make, and is a temporary item that I probably will never actually need to use, or will rarely want to use.

Totally not worth it. Fuck’s sake.

This is a cool game, and I know everyone loves it, you can’t say anything bad about Legend of Zelda without hordes of Zelda fanboys wanting to hunt you down for having a contrary opinion, but Nintendo could make the challenges better and make the rewards better. I don’t hate it, but I feel like it’s less fun, more of a chore, and has little to nothing to do with advancing the storyline, or completing the mission of the game.

I felt this way during much of BOTW, too, but I kept faith that all this stuff would be rewarded, like the shrines were going to be some kind of practice for a real world battle where I could use the abilities that I was training with. But really they’re just like little mini games built out of the engine’s physics systems, and they’re alright, but not when they’re ultra frustrating and give you so little in reward for the effort.

Could be it’s super easy in reality, and I just really suck at the game, but as I’m new to these things and learning the mechanics this way, I kind of feel like these kind of tutorial puzzles are supposed to be a reasonable challenge, with a reasonable reward for solving them, not a pain in the fucking ass with a jack shit reward that’s not worth it.

But because every Legend of Zelda game is supposed to be the Best Game Ever Made in the History of Video Games, I feel kind of guilty feeling like this. Only… I’m not wrong. I don’t think I am.

When people post memes like this, it tells me I’m not alone in feeling that the game is a bit too repetitive and that this gives it a feeling of emptiness or meaninglessness.
Updated: 2023-May-22 — 9:07 pm

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