The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I wanted to write this review because this Zelda is unlike any other Zelda game I have ever played, and yet it is hard to begin because it is hard to know where to start! But I shall do my best!
Skipping over the hype for the game before I ever played it (I tend to ignore this, I have been burned by this before. “Oh my God, this game/film is amazing”, followed by me after me playing/watching it, “Meh. Was hyped too much”. Hype ruins it for me because I go in expecting greatness but get something subpar afterwards), I first played this game in May of 2017. A friend came to visit and he brought his Switch and copy of Breath of the Wild (and 1-2-Switch, but that’s a story for another day!), and I played it as a “Make the most of it, it will be a while before you own this game” so I kinda took it for granted.
But, 5 short months later, my wife (at the time fiancee) bought me a Switch and Breath of the Wild for my birthday. I played it again, this time as the owner of the game, and with the foresight of someone who would play it for more than a single day. And boy oh boy, did my view of this game change in more ways than one!
Firstly, I would like to talk about the graphics. We have all these games that are going for total and complete realism. Games like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Alien Isolation. They are all games that are trying to make things look as real as possible, and they did a pretty good job of it too! But that’s not what this game has. Oh no. This Zelda game, as all others, have not gone for realism, but rather a specific style. And this is a specific style that I absolutely love! Granted, it’s slightly more “real” than other Zelda games (I’m looking at you, Wind Waker!), and a hell of a lot smoother than the original Ocarina of Time. But having gone for a style that isn’t total and complete realism, they added so much detail, for me at least, it kinda feels real!
For example, walk into Hyrule Field and look at the grass, look at the trees, and you will see them sway in the breeze. Look at the water, you can see ripples, and waves. With every step of your horse, a small cloud of dust rises from the ground, and in the rain small droplets of water splash upwards. None of this changes the plot line, but it’s what I like to call a bit of “pazzazz” to the game, it’s the little things that just make the game more enjoyable to play, and also shows how much the developers of the game cared for and about it. No developer who didn’t care about the game would spend much time on these details.
So overall, I am a fan of this style, and I hope they use it in a few more games!
Secondly, I would like to talk about a negative aspect (WAIT! Before you write your angry comment, hear me out!) We all know that Breath of the Wild is an absolutely huge game! I have no idea how long it would take to run from one end of the map to the other (let’s face it, we would just fast travel it! 10 seconds! Done!), and while this is a fantastic thing, being the biggest Zelda game to date, it has a negative connotation.
You wake up, and you run into an old man who explains what you have to do, walks you through stuff in a nice tutorial-esque piece of the game. You are told to go to Kakariko Village where Impa tells to free the four Divine Beasts. And then… that’s it. You are on your own. No hand holding. What. So. Ever.
It was at this point I thought “Great! I have a little time to explore!” and I did just that, reaching a few towers, doing a dozen or so Shrines but then I thought to myself “That’s enough of that, let’s get on with the main quest for a bit!” but realised I wasn’t actually told where to go in order to do so. I found myself in the middle of a huge open world without a clue as to which direction to go in, or if one Divine Beast was the best to start with or was the easiest. It was only sheer luck I happened across a Zora who pointed me in the right direction!
This uncertainty made me, for a very short while, not like Breath of the Wild, because I found myself frustrated not having a clue what to do next. Most Zelda games have direction (sometimes, too much direction! Looking at you, Link to the Past!). And while it is possible to have too much direction and have the game suffer, the other end of the spectrum is also true. Not having any direction at all can frustrate the player and make them not want to play the game as it seems an exercise in futility.
Thirdly, I want to talk about the plot. (I will talk about the plot with as few spoilers as possible, and where I deem it necessary, I may blot out certain spoilers for those who don’t want to read it. If you do, simply click on the black boxes and the text shall appear.) So, Link was put in the Shrine of Resurrection for 100 years after getting absolutely destroyed by the Guardian army unleashed by Ganon. He emerges from his sleep to find Hyrule in taters, and must reclaim four Divine Beasts, currently under Ganon’s control, in order to destroy Calamity Ganon once and for all. Pretty good premise, right? Oh, and on top of that, because the player doesn’t know what on earth is going on, neither does Link. Makes a nice learning curve. But here is the kicker: the four Divine Beasts are optional. That’s right! Optional! You can, for example, beat all 120 shrines, get full hearts and stamina, stock up some on some nice weaponry, grab the Master Sword and head off to fight Ganon without once stepping foot into a Divine Beast! Turns out, the whole point of the Divine Beasts is so once you face Ganon, they shoot some super bright lasers at the castle and reduce Ganon’s health by 50% (if you get all four), but when you beat a Divine Beast, you get a special skill which also makes Ganon slightly easier to kill. So, you can skip the Divine Beasts and go and fight Ganon, it just means he will be harder to kill! How cool is that? Having a plot that is near enough completely optional! Having said that, if you don’t beat the Divine Beasts, it makes the whole Ganon fight harder, because of this: When you complete a Divine Beast, you fight a boss which is a part of Ganon. If you don’t beat the parts of Ganon on the Divine Beasts, you have to beat them before you actually face Ganon at all. Makes it slightly hard to do them all in one go!
But going back to the plot, I do have a few problems with the plot line, more accurately, I have a problem with the time line. 100 years has passed, and yet certain people are alive when I really don’t think they should be… Impa, for one, is well into her hundreds. Another character well into their hundreds is Prince Sidon of the Zora. Unless Zora live a very long time, I don’t think it makes sense for him not only to be alive, but apparently in his prime. But then again I don’t know much about Zora lifespans! When I first met him in the game, I thought he was, at most, mid-twenties. Apparenly, he might be closer to his mid-one hundred and twenties!
Also, Zelda? 100 years have passed and she looks exactly the same? Hmmm… We need to ask her what moisturizer she uses!
Overall, however, the actual story line is pretty solid, especially when you add in the Champions Ballad DLC, which tells you more about the Champions, their back stories and adds a little more emotion to it, I think. To be honest, I love the story so much, I am really quite annoyed I have finished it and there is no more story to be had! I am furiously trying to get all the side quests for more story! Come on Nintendo, Chris needs some more DLC!
Having said that, since starting this little review, I have restarted the game in “Master Mode”, and within 5 minutes I was literally climbing a tree to hide from a basic enemy. Master Mode is stupidly hard! But I love it!
And fourthly, I want to talk about the game, as a whole (if it’s possible, the bastard’s huge and I still haven’t completed it… Granted, at the time of writing this, I have all 120 shrines, completed the Champions Ballad and have only about 100 Korok Seeds, but I am getting there!) I think this might be one of the best Zelda games that has been created to date. There are very few flaws that I can think of right now, and so many things that are better about past games. For one, the stamina wheel adds an aspect of difficulty that I thought I would despise, but turns out I really like it! And something that I just found is the new mode on the map, which shows you your travel path from the last 200 hours of gameplay, I am definitely going to be using this to explore areas I haven’t been to yet to find those pesky elusive Koroks!
Overall: Solid 9/10
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go keep playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! 😀