The longer I play Breath of the Wild, the more easily I can deduce which kinds of shrines are going to be absolutely my shit, and which shrines are going to frustrate me. By far my favorite shrines are the ones that deal with launching Link (and other objects) into the air, followed by shrines that involve using bombs in interesting ways. My favorite shrines so far combine these things.
The Sho Dantu shrine, subtitled Two Bombs, makes you use both the square and round bombs. Up until this point I wasn’t even aware that you could do that, and when I realized it was an option I felt a bit like a dunce. The shrine is in two stages, and the second stage is my favorite. Essentially, you have to flip a switch in order to raise a platform, and then switch it back to open a door, which also lowers the platforms to their original location. The bombs also have to be flying through the air while you do this, meaning you have to time them so they won’t be above the switch at the same time. It requires you to both work out a mechanical puzzle and also be precise with your timing.
The Shodah Sah shrine is also all about timing—in fact, it’s subtitled Impeccable Timing. At a glance I thought this would be irritating to solve. It looks suspiciously close to the “golf range” type puzzles, where you have to cast Stasis on an object, hit it a bunch of times, and hope you’ve hit it with enough force that it will go in the right direction. But the Shodah Sah shrine offers a launcher, which you whack with a weapon to send a ball launching towards a hole. You have to pay attention to the obstacles and time your launches around that. It got me into a zen-like state, watching a series of panels fly past as I tried to finish the shrine.
The Ya Naga shrine is really just about using the bombs in a way that feels satisfying, and then gliding in a way that feels satisfying too. The solution is simple and takes less than a minute to pull off, but it still feels good to get it right. Subtitled Shatter The Heavens, it asks you to use one bomb to launch a block into the air, and then another to shatter the ceiling. Then, you set off another bomb beneath that block while you’re standing on it to launch yourself through the hole you’ve made. You can’t see through to the next room from your vantage point below, so the surprise of it accentuates your accomplishment. Look: you made it.
The shrines in Breath of the Wild aren’t just about being compelling brain teasers. They’re also about giving the player a sense of triumph. For me, that’s most easily communicated through explosions and flying. What are some of your favorite shrines, gentle readers? Let me know in the comments.