I try not to gush too much, but if you listened to the podcast, I gushed all over A Link Between Worlds. I love Zelda, but the last few outings haven’t really done it for me. Skyward Sword was slow, plodding, and held back by motion controls; Twilight Princess was… well, just totally expected.
A Link Between Worlds avoids both of these pitfalls. It gets going within 30 minutes and turns several mainstay mechanics of the series on its head. It’s wonderfully refreshing. And while familiarity was a nice draw, I think the main thing that propelled me forward was the sense of freedom. Exploring the world didn’t feel like a chore, something I was required to do to find the one path I needed to travel down. I explored because I enjoyed exploring the world. I explored because walking down a path would lead me to something unexpected.
I think that’s what made A Link Between Worlds such a wonderful experience: the unexpected melding so well with the familiar. It’s something very few games have been able to do. Given that it’s such a revered franchise, it’s a brave title, and I sincerely hope the next Zelda game takes a few cues from it.