Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Age of Calamity Demo is Everything I Wanted

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That’s right, there is a demo for Age of Calamity! Nintendo recently released the surprisingly large first chapter of its second Hyrule Warriors game, this time set 100 years before Breath of the Wild. That places it smack-dab in the middle of those final days before Calamity Ganon’s emergence and the tragedy which follows. Or will it? Spoilers and a conversation about canon ahead.

Like all the Warriors games, you know what this game provides. You run around a battlefield beating up trash mobs in outrageously flashy fashion while capturing outposts and beating up on the occasional general. It is mindless fun, and developer Omega Force has done a good job incorporating the skills and style of Breath of the Wild into the formula. Every playable character wields familiar weapons, interspersed with skills involving the Sheikah Slate, wizard rods, and character-specific magic.

You can even find hidden koroks.

The whole package feels remarkably like Breath of the Wild and I had a great time playing the game, which of course is the most important question about any game. However, that is not what has me so high on Age of Calamity. I am here for the sweet, sweet character interactions.

age of calamity zelda

One of the best parts (and worst teases) of Breath of the Wild were the flashbacks showing how Zelda, Link, and the four Champions got along before Ganon. Those limited appearances were remarkably effective at establishing the personalities and dynamics between everyone involved and left basically every fan desperate for more. I want to see more of Link and Revali’s rivalry, Urbosa’s fierce protection of Zelda, I want to see more of what Mipha’s relationship with Daruk was like.

I just wanted more of them and all the fun side characters Link comes across. I want more of this fantastic world Nintendo created.

Age of Calamity has an immediate understanding of this fandom craving. Hyrule is restored and beautiful. Link, Zelda, and the champions are playable. Impa is young, badass, and playable, too. King Rhoam is still a total jerk. Everyone has cute cutscenes together. Just the demo alone feels like the further glimpse into the past everyone wanted after Breath of the Wild. If nothing else, we get more of the best version of Zelda ever made.

There is a reason Nintendo is showing off so many character-specific gameplay segments. They know what we want.

While obviously limited, the demo’s pre- and post-mission cutscenes are perfectly in sync with the tone and style of Breath of the Wild and suggest the kind of deeper character development I desperately want. It only features Link, Impa, and Zelda, but all three behave in a way that suggests great care to retain the traits we loved about them. All the hallmarks can be seen; Link’s stoic bravery and goofiness, Zelda’s dorkiness and crushing sense of duty, Rhoam’s detached bad parenting, and even cameos from young Purah (actually young) and Robbie.

They are not quite carefree and happy, since there is a monster invasion to fight, but seeing these characters in this happier, more optimistic place is a joy. Even if we know their eventual fate. Or do we? There may be a twist here.

Age of Calamity’s opening shows Calamity Ganon’s emergence as it occurs and focuses on a tiny guardian bot thing that travels through a portal that brings it back in time to a battle Hyrule’s soldiers fight against a bokoblin army. In the aftermath, this baby guardian awakens one of the Sheikah Towers in front of Hyrule Castle and gives Zelda, Link, and Impa a glimpse of the future the guardian escaped. Its presence also causes a proper grown guardian to be corrupted by Ganon’s Malice.

This raises an immediate question among fans about whether Age of Calamity is a split timeline, and whether the game is even canon. I only have one question at the moment, though; does it really matter whether this is canon?

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly want to know. Nintendo has certainly suggested that the game will be treated as canon, which the demo has left people wondering about since it seems to suggest the timeline will be changed. Or was this always the way the days leading to Ganon’s emergence happened? Is there a chance that the baby guardian will actually change the future and all our beloved Champions will survive?

Is there even a possibility that Breath of the Wild 2 could relate directly to any such change?

In my own humble opinion, though, I will take a non-canon version where everyone survives and is happy over a canon connection to the story. Maybe I am fooling myself and Age of Calamity will end in the same tragedy that we know Ganon’s emergence caused. A fan can dream, though, and I dream of a happy ending here.

Now THAT would be everything I could hope for from this game. So far it has given me everything I could positively expect, and then something. How great would it be to go that extra step beyond? No one deserves a happy ending more than these characters, even if it never actually happened.

Images Courtesy of Nintendo

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  • Bo

    Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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