January is a tough time for me. Seasonal depression can zap loads of power from of us — doubly so for these of us who wrestle with depression yr spherical. And regardless of video games not requiring a lot power, my personal motivation to play tends to plummet within the winter months. The fall at all times brings a flood of new video games, and I can by no means appear to complete all those I need earlier than the subsequent yr’s games begin popping out.
Even as I play games I’m actually having fun with, like Yakuza: Like a Dragon or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, my eyes begin to glaze over. I spend a lot time in my personal head that instantly I’m dropping the thread in final yr’s biggest hits. And so, each January, I flip to a collection I already know properly: The Legend of Zelda.
The want for one thing previous
January has been my retro month for years now. After days of making an attempt to muster pleasure for something new, I fall again on Zelda, Banjo-Kazooie, Ratchet & Clank, Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear, or a quantity of different franchises I do know properly. These retro games fluctuate in age and complexity, however none of them come near the open-world, system-laded extravaganzas of 2020. I like a fancy sport — I spend most of my workweek writing about Destiny 2 and different MMOs — however they’re an excessive amount of for me after I’m too depressed to even sit on my sofa with out taking a nap.
Games like Banjo-Kazooie work for me as a result of I do know them backwards and forwards. I don’t must assume a lot after I replay, so it doesn’t matter if my thoughts wanders or my focus dims. Any kind of progress is an achievement over falling asleep once more, and my auto-pilot helps maintain me on monitor. I don’t must spend my time determining which abilities I wish to unlock for Banjo or which pair of shorts I wish to equip to improve his stats. I take bear and hen for a spin and maintain going till I’ve collected all the pieces.
I like Banjo-Kazooie, however I’ve been enjoying it because it got here out in 1998 — I’ve found all there may be to find. When it involves exercising my mind, that’s a bit of an issue. But the Legend of Zelda collection is comparatively new to me, having skipped the franchise solely till 2013 after I first beat A Link Between Worlds. I’ve since gone again quite a few instances to replay the Zelda collection, however my reminiscence of every particular person sport isn’t as clear as Banjo. And it’s that elusive mastery — nevertheless small — that makes Zelda good for clearing my head.
Why Zelda works for me
I’ve fallen for every Zelda sport for its distinctive charms, however nothing helps me refocus my love of games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.
Ocarina of Time is an intricate puzzle, and whereas I enhance each time I play, I nonetheless overlook the precise order of operations. I at all times misremember the way to gentle the primary flame in Death Mountain and I’m at all times lacking a key within the water temple. Those moments of forgetfulness mix with moments of triumph.
It took me studying a information to get the hearth arrows the primary time, however now I keep in mind precisely the place I want to face after I shoot the solar in Lake Hylia.
Replays of Ocarina of Time at the moment are 80% auto-pilot and 20% puzzle fixing for me. That first 80% helps me push by the in-between dungeon sections with muscle reminiscence, however that leftover puzzle fixing helps me refocus my mushy depression mind. Every time I fall by the ground within the Bottom of the Well, I curse to myself, swearing that I do know this — like a dad who drove by someplace 5 years in the past so he refuses to ask for instructions. It’s a jolt of frustration — the great type — that helps resuscitate my lifelong ardour for games.
When the winter depression hits, I at all times discover simply the correct amount of discovery hidden within the corners of a sport I do know very properly. Ocarina of Time is my go-to sport for that sort of discovery, however the Zelda collection shares sufficient DNA that Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and A Link Between Worlds fill the same void.
The Legend of Zelda games have straddled the road of snug and stimulating for me since I first began enjoying them in school. They’re right here for me now, coming off a troublesome yr for all of us, and so they’ll be right here for me once more in 2022.