Nintendo is going loosey-goosey with its latest entry in The Legend of Zelda series. It’s not making this buttoned-down iteration of Ocarina of Time where everything has place. Instead, the publisher is trading in some of its polish for complex systems.
That’s why The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is GamesBeat’s E3 2016 nonaward winner for craziest death physics. In previous Zeldas, Link’s death would often mean a quick fade to black or a canned animation. In Breath of the Wild, however, Nintendo is using a rag-doll physics system that causes Link to crumple up in ways I’ve never seen before.
In my play session with Breath of the Wild, I sorta ran Link off a ledge. As I was falling, I hit the attack button just before the ground expecting that to slow my momentum so that I would survive. When I hit the ground, Link went limp and rolled across the grass before I got the “Game Over” screen.
Developers have used rag-doll physics in games for years, so its strangeness here is due to the context of a Zelda game. When Link dies, I expect the screen to go dark and then my character to twirl to the ground the same way every time. When I get a Link whose leg bends behind his body in a heaping mess of flesh … well, it’s going to take me a while to process that.