In an open-world game, you run the risk of things feeling empty. In my posts on Xenoblade Chronicles and Final Fantasy IX, I discussed how background details brought games to life, details that hint towards large mythologies, and also the everyday stories of the inhabitants. I noticed this especially in Gerudo Town where, in the arid desert environment, functionality meets beauty…
Details bring a world to life. For all its wide open spaces and jaw dropping expanses, if Breath of the Wild didn’t have convincing interiors it wouldn’t have won me over. Each region has its own character, and the villages (few as they may be) speak volumes about the cultures and peoples that live there. The houses in Hateno Village, for instance, are adorable! And the tech labs are wonderfully furnished as work spaces and cosy homes for the quirky scientists…
But now to one area in paticular that caught my eye: Gerudo Town. Link enters Gerudo Town as a Hylian vai (the word for girl in Gerudian – otherwise they speak English!). There is one rule in this ‘Forbidden City’: no men allowed. Thankfully, this is no simple stealth mission! You just have to dress like a belly dancer to gain entry.
So what are all the lovely ladies doing in a town without men? Talking about men it seems. The Gerudo vai learn about what makes a voe fall for a vai in a classroom setting filled with books and diagrams on blackboards.
And if you were concerned that learning might well be impossible in the intolerable heat of the desert… well, there’s a cooling system. Seriously. The town relies on its oasis status; the buildings are engineered to have water running on their roofs to provide a barrier against the scorching sun. And perhaps also so that the Gerudo have warm water too? I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that pays that kind of attention to its citizens – it definitely fits with Breath of the Wild’s themes of resource management and survival!
The town also has a bar and a secret shop that sells men’s clothes (scandalous!). The palace room where you meet the very young and beautiful queen is opulent. There is also her bedroom – check that plushie out!
And there you have it! The Gerudo town is a perfectly adapted society to it environment and the ladies can’t stop talking about the gents. All the little details are made all the more impressive by a remarkable technical feat: you can go in and out of buildings and other areas seamlessly (can everyone shout “immersive”, please!).
A small criticism is that I wish there were even MORE details! Specifically, I’m thinking about a different kind of immersion created by storytelling. I wish there was more character development in the towns themselves a la Majora’s Mask. Regardless, Adrian is planning to write a follow up to the Stereotypes of Arabs post for Breath of the Wild, as this installment of the Zelda in the series has many intriguing cultural connotations. So stay tuned!