Take My Breath Away
So, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is finally happening. Our prayers have been answered, and the era of Nintendo continues ... or does it?
Breath of the Wild is the newest entry in the illustrious Legend of Zelda series. If you are unfamiliar with the game, go out there and do yourself a favour and play one. Breath of the Wild is the first next-gen Zelda game, the first game for the Switch and probably the last Wii U game.
The best place to start in reviewing such a massive game is probably the fact that it’s just that: massive in every way. The game is a giant overhaul from what you are used to. Zelda usually figures out a way to make the game linear. You do one dungeon in an open world that leads to the next because an item you got is vital to progress. Not this game.
The world is lush and gorgeous. Fully realized Hyrule gives you chills when you walk. The map offers no direction and offers no advice. You just go. You have an adventure. You are Link and you are free. Of course there is an end goal, but you can choose how and when you get there. You have the mountains to run across, the plains to ride and the waters to swim. It feels fresh and light. It feels like Ocarina of Time did when you first played. The areas are well-textured and well-crafted, each feeling like a biome or territory rather than repetitive retextured land masses. The map isn’t easily unlocked either, which makes exploring worth it, as it is key to seeing how gigantic the map is.
Along with the overhaul of the map and mechanics of dungeons comes combat, style and story overhauls. The fighting is the same but comes with a caveat. Weapons and shields can break, which is a surprising change. Some find this annoying but for me it adds to the intensity of the battle and the thinking on your feet that comes with effective inventory management. When your sword breaks you feel panic and fear, but also excitement. It gets real and you have to respond. Moreover, the style of the weapons and combat, as well as the general look, has improved. The game is detailed but not in an overbearingly realistic way. The weapons look used when picked up rusty, and the damage is felt with good reactionary animations.
The story is virtually the same as other Zeldas as well, but the changes in how quickly you find it or where you see it makes all the difference. You are piecing the story together yourself for the most part. Your memory is= gone and you have to find it. Again, another refreshing change to a game almost feeling stale in Skyward Sword.
The music is gorgeous. It’s a soft touch and adds to the atmosphere. It’s in the background in a way that almost feels like it’s the wind beside you. As a soundtrack, it is top-notch.
Some gripes I have are minor, specifically in relation to the Wii U. The frame rate can tank briefly, the enemies can be unfair at some points due to strength and sometimes it just feels repetitive in side quests. If you don’t like games that move slowly because of exploration, then this might not be for you.
Breath of the Wild is fun. It’s fresh. It made me cry. It felt like what I had wanted my whole life out of a Zelda game. I wish it was a tad harder, but that may just be too personal to be an actual review point. Breath of the Wild will forever go down as one of my favourite games of all time and definitely beats Wind Waker in my eyes.
For this reason, Breath of the Wild gets a 9 out of 10 for me.
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