Some time before I actually finished The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I stopped playing. It wasn’t because I got carried away by other games, and it wasn’t because I was tired of it. I just stopped. New Zelda games are rare things that only come once or twice a console generation, and games as good as Breath of the Wild are even rarer. So I wanted to keep it around unfinished and return to in the future.
I’m aware, of course, that going to Hyrule Castle to confront Calamity Ganon will not technically end the game for me. Should I take on the final boss, I will still be free to roam the world and do all that I’ve left undone. I’m also aware that it is, on some level, extremely funny to have Link look out to the horizon, see the castle where the princess is imprisoned by a force that threatens the entire land, and just say nah as he climbs a tree to get some coconuts to make a soufflé.
On the other hand, I love having a video game metaphor for this big insurmountable challenge that you need to experience a little more life to prepare for. To take the time to do the small things well, to understand how much there is to see and how little you’ll be able to glimpse of it. Then, one day, it’ll be time to fight the monster at the heart of it all.
This is why I left Breath of the Wild not just unfinished but unresolved. I wanted to keep playing as a Link that wasn’t done yet, who still had growing to do, two more Divine Beasts to conquer, more memories to unlock. That’s not to say that I intend to play until 100 percent completion—quite the opposite. One day, I will stop and say, “that’s enough.” I’ll say, “I’m ready.” Then I’ll go do the thing.
I didn’t really know when that day was. Then Nintendo caught us all by surprise, announcing a sequel to Breath of the Wild at this year’s E3. Now Calamity Ganon is no longer the only big challenge in my future. Now I’ve got something else to take on, someday.
That’s the funny thing about big, pivotal challenges that demand the most of you: Sometimes you can prepare. Sometimes you can meet them on your terms, or grow in a way that leaves you better equipped to handle them. But eventually, life will tell you it’s time or move on without you, and you’ll have to decide—show up, or stay behind.
So I’m playing Breath of the Wild again.