It always feels like a special day when a new BIG Zelda game is released, it feels like almost the entire gaming world stops to take it in. And with a whole new console to play the game on stakes seem to be high for this one to be good. And thankfully Breath Of The Wild more than delivers, the game starts with Link waking up in a water filled room after 100 years and is almost immediately tasked with saving Hyrule and Princess Zelda from Calamity Ganon. The story is simple but simply provides a base for the huge world to explore.
Created by the combination of the Zelda team, Monolith Soft (Xenoblade) and a new team the world feels like it completely outmatches other open world series in terms of scale and it’s completely jam-packed with things to do, from legions of monsters (and monster camps) to puzzling shrines to hidden critters all across the map. See that mountain in the distance? You CAN climb to the top of it and jump off to what lies beyond. It’s all these things that make Breath of the Wild a simple joy to play through, you can opt to do the main quest (which can take only a few hours) if you are skilled enough, or the true main quest (which can take around 15 hours if you only focus on those) the entire thing could take one hundred hours if not more. I know myself as I’ve spent hours just doing nothing with no progress on anything which is the true beauty of the title.
The gameplay is incredibly simple but can be incredibly deep at times as the entire world becomes a world of small puzzles. The implement of a weapon durability system allows you to plan your attacks, do you do it stealth or rush in? Link is extremely durable in the game which means you’ll die in a handful of hits so don’t waste them. In fact dying is a regular occurrence in this title, seemingly more so than in past Zelda titles other than the first, the lack of hearts dropped by enemies (or by cutting grass) only makes this more difficult as instead, Link must learn to cook from the various items he’ll forage from across the world making a lot of the items you’ll pick up essential. Cooking not only replenishes your health but can be used to help you traverse some of the more dangerous areas, try to get up Death Mountain and you’ll find your clothes setting on fire, go up a snowy mountain and Link will start to freeze, these can be countered not only by the correct clothing but also by cooking up special elixirs that will allow you to combat the harsh environments for a few minutes.
Everything in the world feels like it’s been incredibly well crafted to the minute detail and with little overlooked, it’s almost impossible to go a few steps without something new coming out at you and a new challenge awaiting, be it a powerful monster or a simple puzzle, the world just keeps finding new ways to surprise and thrill you.
Sadly Breath of the Wild does have a few small problems which stem more from the classic Zelda titles, the four dungeons are each very short and underwhelming as are just a few rooms with puzzles and nothing else, while they are enjoyable in their own way they are over too quickly and each of the bosses are sadly forgettable. Another disappointment was the lack of classic items that often appear in the games. The Hook-Shot, Musical Instrument, Megaton Hammer, Lantern and many other classic items are sadly absent and with them the puzzles they contained. Although to combat these issues there are over a hundred shrines dotted on the map, each with their own trials, each can only take a few minutes to complete but most are vastly different, from combat trials to having to direct balls into holes to magnetic or gravity related there’s always something pushing your brain to think differently.
We cannot talk about Zelda without bringing up some of the cast members either, and once again Nintendo has brought out some great ones, while some classic characters will appear it’s the likes of Paya (a girl who blushes whenever she meets Link) and Prince Sidon (A Shark Zora who cheers you on in his own manly way) have been more memorable than most recent characters in games overal. It’s all the things that add up in the game.
Graphically Zelda feels up there with some of the bigger boys, while the docked switch somehow looks worse than the handheld tablet version the game itself is just amazing to look at and there’s always something going on in the background to keep your eye on it. The game really looks like a true Zelda game while managing to distance itself from the likes of Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess. Sadly there do seem to be some performance issues with the title, however these seem to be greatly exaggerated, a drop in frame rate here and there but doesn’t seem to impact things in the slightest, at least not on my end, however, other people are experiencing this.
Soundwise the title differs from classic Zelda titles in this aspect too, gone are the overblown fantastical scores known in earlier titles and instead, the music feels more natural and only used when necessary, you’ll find some classic songs mixed in, however, it feels you have to work at it. Ride your horse for a few minutes without coming across enemies or anything else and you’ll be treated to the series main theme, others such as Zora’s Domain and Lon Lon Ranch are mixed in too, however, again, on a more subtle scale.
This Zelda feels like a huge departure from the series classics and only in a good way, and while there are issues with the game they are rather small and instead they make me excited to see how they could improve on the game. Overall The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is an absolutely phenomenal title that is well deserving of its high praise. Go into it as blind as possible and allow yourself to explore the game on your own and you’ll get the best experience. It’s not only one of the finest Zelda games I’ve played but one of the finest games I’ve played period and has reinstated my love for gaming once more.