Zelda remake refreshingly simple yet challenging

Games nowadays get a lot of flak for being increasingly complicated and having too much information and too many gameplay elements to worry about.

The simplicity of The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Nintendo's remake of its 1993 Game Boy classic for the Switch, thus feels like a much-needed breath of fresh air.

The game's controls, including its combat mechanics of mostly using a sword to attack and a shield to block, are easy to pick up.

Enemies, which include goblins, zombies and cameos from other Nintendo titles such as the goombas and Shy Guys from the Super Mario universe, stand in titular character Link's way as he navigates his way through the game's 2D isometric world.

Even the plot is refreshingly simple. Link is stranded on an island and he has to pass through eight dungeons to collect a series of key items to escape.

Not many games nowadays have plots that are as direct as the one in Zelda: Link's Awakening and I appreciate the lack of convoluted lore and storylines.

Like its original version, the game sees Link exploring dungeons and gathering items that allow him to progress through obstacles.

But the game's simplicity does not mean it is a breeze to get through.

There is hardly any hand-holding and besides the help from vague hints, it is up to the player to find out where the next dungeon is located and what he needs to do to get there.

  • FOR

    • Beautiful remake with gorgeous graphics

    • Simple yet sophisticated gameplay that feels fresh

    • Wide variety of enemies and bosses to keep players on their toes

  • AGAINST

    • Lack of hints or help might frustrate some players

  • SPECS

    PRICE: From $67.50 (Nintendo Switch)

    GENRE: Action-adventure

  • RATING

    9/10

This could frustrate those who are used to getting through a game quickly, but I like the way it forces me to really get to know the game's beautifully designed setting of Koholint Island.

The colourful caves, beaches and forests of the island have come a long way from the monochromatic pixels of the game's original version.

Some might find Link Awakening's many puzzles in its dungeons tough. I was stumped from time to time too, but eventually, I would always figure out how to progress.

The game's variety of bosses is welcome as it forces the player to step back and think about the tools at his disposal.

While this might be a Zelda game, do not expect to encounter many of the series' recurring elements such as the Master Sword, Triforce or the regular baddie Gannon.

The game was originally designed to inject some variety into the series by deviating from Zelda's established formula.

It seems fitting then that Link's Awakening gets to now inject some variety into the gaming scene of today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2019, with the headline 'Zelda remake refreshingly simple yet challenging'. Print Edition | Subscribe