Into the Clouds One Decade Later
When I look back at the time of Skyward Sword‘s original release, it can feel like a lifetime ago. And the thought that a full (very eventful) decade has passed since then can be difficult to fathom. But it was a crucial moment in my personal history with videogames — because Skyward Sword was the title that brought me back after years during which I had lost touch with these experiences that had been so formative in my childhood and early adolescence. Its release felt too momentous to pass over and so I purchased a used Wii and set it up in my student dormitory room. The skies that soon enveloped me ushered in a personal renaissance in videogaming.
Thus, I played Skyward Sword and fell in love with this beautiful videogame.
One decade later my life has little in common with where I found myself back then. Yet, I anxiously anticipated my return to Skyloft. Nervously, I even decided to play the HD version on my stream from the day of its release and turn it into an emotional journey shared with others. Although many events in my life over the course of the past ten years pushed me away from videogames once more, it was only temporarily. Today I feel so much more connected to them and their unique potential than ever before. When I once again began to guide Link through Skyloft, the skies looked brighter, but they felt the same. I, on the other hand, had changed.
And yet, I played Skyward Sword and loved it more than ever.
Every time I sit down to write a little text like this, it can be easy to fall into a simple review routine. And without a doubt, there is a lot I could say about the ingenious dungeon design, the gorgeous soundtrack, the gentle aesthetic, or the expressive characters. In many ways, Skyward Sword manages to fully capture the variegated essence of what it is I love about the Zelda series in general. But in the end, truly putting into words the many feelings and impressions that come about when I play this videogame remains difficult. Skyward Sword strongly resonates with me — and yet, I cannot easily say why.
Still, I do not think that there has to be anything wrong with this. In fact, the opposite might be the case. It may be true that I often appreciate an analytic angle when contemplating and discussing videogames. But there also appears to be a much more visceral side, a certain ineffability, to those videogames that leave the strongest mark. Of course Skyward Sword is at some level the result of many hours of thought and care given by a team of component individuals, but there is a much more personal connection that sometimes overshadows this sober observation whenever I return to this particular Zelda title. Maybe it is precisely this indescribable feeling — so vague and yet so clear at the same time — that explains why there are some videogames I like and some videogames I love…
With Skyward Sword at least, there is something special that stays inexpressible. Ten tumultuous years could not change anything about it.