Over the past few days, I have been playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD pretty much non-stop. I’m a huge Zelda fan, but I have a really bad habit of never finishing games that I start, and Skyward Sword in 2011 was no different. I’m committed to completing it this time and am already further than I got in my original play through. Last night, as I was making my way through the game’s excellent fourth dungeon, I came across a part that genuinely surprised me in a way that doesn’t happen very often—it only happens in the best of games. I was behind a barred wall, and there was a bokoblin pacing back and forth on the other side with a key shining in the light on his hip. I walked around looking for holes that I could dig through or tunnels I could swim through when I had a crazy thought. I had just found the dungeon’s weapon, the whip, and I thought to myself “what if I use the whip through the bars to hook onto the key and pull it back through?” I tried it and… it worked. The bokoblin was startled, then stomped around back and forth, angry that I got the best of him.
Moments like these that make the player feel like they are smart and are discovering some secret that is unique to their play through. It helps deepen the immersion in video games and makes the great stand out from the rest. This simple moment reminded me of many other moments I’ve experienced like this throughout the years, which begs the question: which moment in a video game truly surprised you?
I’m not talking about huge plot moments with giant twists that change the direction of the game, or giant gameplay mechanics that are introduced halfway through. I’m talking about those simple moments of discovery that help immerse you in the world of the game you are playing and feel as though you are actually interacting with a living, breathing world. Maybe it was on the GameCube in Eternal Darkness when bugs randomly crawl across the screen or the game pretended to reset; or maybe it was in the recent PlayStation 5 launch release Astro’s Playroom when you first felt the sensation of rain through the Dual Sense controller. What seemingly small detail did developers include in a game that just took you by surprise and made the whole experience that much more memorable for you? Sound off below or join the conversation on the Boss Rush Discord.