Hello, TAY! Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be a regular feature from me: Why Doesn't This Game Exist? Despite the title, the goal of this column will be to find out from you, the TAY reader, that oh my gosh it totally DOES exist! Hooray! All other relevant discussion and game ideas are very much encouraged.
The first one is going to be an idea I had a long time ago, inspired by Aaron Diaz' Legend of Zelda: The Clockwork Empire idea (itself inspired by one of Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes Vs. Women videos). Around that time I had my own idea for how Zelda could be the protagonist of her own game, but in a way much less centered around combat and more like what I always imagined Zelda was doing off-screen.
While Link is fighting monsters with a sword, Zelda would be fighting them with words.
Mechanically, imagine a combination of the dialogue system from Mass Effect, the movement system from Mirror's Edge (except where you can actually see the ledges), and, yes, the combat system from Assassin's Creed. Think the occasional rapier fight, and some light arrows. All taking place in Hyrule, but in a Hyrule with a much bigger NPC population than we have seen prior. Kakariko City, for instance, has crowds in the streets.
Ganondorf is already amassing an army, and his scouts are working their way through Hyrule. As Princess, your task is to ready Hyrule against him. But Hyrule is not a well-unified kingdom. There are some royal guards, but there is no standing army, there are no supply lines, and there are no established defences. The primary gameplay is journeying to the leaders of the various regions of Hyrule and convincing them to join the fight. Sometimes this also includes convincing them to accept your authority as ruler of Hyrule. I'm also imagining that you'll have to visit and re-visit to get the various local leaders to fully commit all their resources.
Travelling from one safe zone to another will require evading Ganondorf's scouts through a combination of strategic movement, parkour, luck, and a little disguise magic. If you fail to evade them, you are forced to fight. The only reason I imagine fighting the minions being very difficult is because this is not supposed to be a game about fighting minions.
Now, let's talk about The Missing Link: Right at the beginning of the game, your first task is sending Link out as a scout of your own, to see what he can learn about the threat to Hyrule. Throughout the game, he comes back to you with information. You then get to choose between two or three alternatives of what he does next (effectively: which dungeon), which results in different effects on the progress of your main mission and on the readiness of Hyrule's armed forces and defences. Maybe Link has recovered a +5 defense boon from the water temple, or a +5 attack boon from a lava temple. Maybe when Link goes and secures a certain area, it makes it harder for you to convince those people to join — why should they, when the legendary hero has just saved the day? — but you still need to send Link out to do these things for other, big-picture reasons.
Can you save Hyrule from Ganondorf, and from its own short-sightedness? I don't know, but I'd sure like the chance to try. I'd also like to hear what all you lovely people think about this idea. Obviously this is extremely unlikely to happen as an actual Legend of Zelda game, but perhaps a similar game already exists or could happen with different characters.
NEXT TIME: We double down on the diplomacy game.