I remember my first steps outside the tutorial area in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as it had been yesterday, becoming an outsider in a behemoth of a game. But it wasn’t the story, the gorgeous landscapes or the sense of wonder that left that memory in my head. It was the smile of a fucking Wizzrobe.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild starts with tangible chaos menacing everyone in Hyrule. Ganon, in its ethereal and dark shape, torments the castle where no one else but Zelda is there to defend what’s left of a world facing the abyss. Link is determined to help her after waking up from his long sleep, but there are swarms of enemies waiting for him pretty much everywhere.
A massive boulder blocking your path might surprise you by lifting itself up, revealing its colossus form. There are Bokoblins pretty much everywhere, chilling in their campsites around trees and caves. And don’t even get me started on the cute-but-deadly Chuchus or those treacherous Lynel.
The flora and fauna of this modern Hyrule are vast and worth exploring, but with trepidation, and always with the right equipment and a few dishes in Link’s tummy to endure in battle. But as I quickly learned during my time with the game, you can never be too prepared for an encounter with a Wizzrobe.
These creatures, present in The Legend of Zelda series since literally the early days, have been iterated in all forms and shapes. Hell, there even was a time where they could be considered cute enemies to confront. But in heart, they’ve always been undead wizards that are considered ruthless foes for Link. They specialize in one type of magic and have the ability to become invisible and teleport around.
In Breath of the Wild, they’re scarier than ever, their presence only strengthens by a more life-like and sinister design, resembling a dark imp with a long robe that showcases their element magic of choice. But it’s in the way they interact with both themselves in solitude and Link’s presence that really got me.
My first steps in Hyrule were totally fresh for me since it’s the first time I’ve ever sat down to play a Zelda game. I know, you don’t need to say it, but this isn’t about me. Thing is, all enemies were new, and everything proved to be a surprise. Encountering a Wizzrobe, though, is something else entirely.
The first time I saw one, the long-gone wizard was dancing in the air. I thought it was funny, so I got closer, thinking it was an NPC waiting for me to interact with them. But then I saw that smile, heard the eerie sounds each one of its steps did and noticed how it stopped for a second when I was close enough. The Wizzrobe smiled at me once more, waved its hand saluting me kindly, and then disappeared.
Without having a moment to react, it was already behind Link, striking him with a lightning bolt. I was an intense moment, and it took me a few seconds to recover from that sudden encounter. I had never seen anything like it, an enemy like this just openly mocking you, or maybe one so trapped in its own Malevich tendencies that were actually happy to see me, only for the sake of fighting against me.
The worst part is that is easy enough to kill them if you play in a clever way. It only takes you to use the exact opposite magical element on them, and that’s it. They vanish from existence. But if you don’t happen to have the right equipment, or get ambushed by several different Wizzrobes at the same time, you’re in for a rough time.
I’ll never forget that first encounter, but there’s a similar personal reaction every time I see one out in the open. It makes me stop and rethink my next movements, maybe leading to sneaking around a hill or just finding a different path altogether. There are many dangers in Breath of the Wild, but Wizzrobes are the only creatures out there that manage to scare me every single time, putting me on alert as if I was playing a horror game.
They don’t get close to any of the biggest menaces of Hyrule. Once you’re well equipped and prepared for anything, you can take them down easily. But there’s still something weird about them as if they shouldn’t belong in this world at all. They live in their own world, endlessly dancing and singing to themselves until they’re approached by Link.
The Wizzrobe waves and smiles. And in the blink of an eye, they disappear. But the fear doesn’t go anywhere.