Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild Review
I bought a Switch about 2 months ago when it started becoming available and well stocked in stores after being hard to find since its release. Like many others, the first game I bought with the console and played through was The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild. I'm enjoying the Switch so far and will be doing a review of it in the future, but today I wanted to share my thoughts on the latest Zelda game in the franchise.
I've played many but not all the games in the franchise. I played Ocarina of Time, Windwaker, Twilight Princess, and most recently A Link Between Worlds as they were released. I did not play the original, a few on the handhelds like Spirit Tracks, Oracles, and most notably Skyward Sword.
As you all know by now the game is amazing and deserves all the credit it has been given so far. It's definitely worth it at the full retail price, which I don't predict will come down anytime soon. I generally try to stay away from game reviews before I have a chance to play through the game myself, but I would agree with the perfect and near perfect scores that this game has been receiving. Here are my thoughts on why it deserves to be at the top of the best Zelda games in the entire franchise.
1. Truly Open World. I feel more games are pushing their games to be open world, with the success of games like Skyrim and the Witcher series. It's not a criticism for a game to be linear, and it depends on the vision of the game designers. A game like BioShock Infinite, which was amazing, could be thought of as going straight from one checkpoint to another. But the style of narrative would not have worked if you could skip to the end. Breath of the Wild is one of the games that does open world right. There are no barriers or wall preventing you from exploring the whole map once the game begins. You can even head straight to Hyrule Castle to take on Calamity Ganon, after leaving the starting zone. Some areas will have extreme temperatures that will drain your life, but there are always options such as clothing or food to use to prevent taking damage. While exploring parts of the world you will encounter shrines that reward you with an item used to increase your hearts or stamina bar. My favorite aspect of the game is the addition of the stamina bar and the fact that you can climb anything. There were a couple of exceptions but climbing to the top of a tower to reveal the surrounding area gave an amazing sense of scale and how big the entire map is.
2. Story. For most Zelda games personally, I feel the story is the weakest part. Similar to Mario games, we know that Link is going to be the hero and we need to save Princess Zelda by destroying Gannon, bringing peace to the Kingdom once again. Even though that is the gist of the story again, by using memories to full in story events that have taken place in the past the player gets more of a complete story the more time they spend in the game. The tone is more serious overall, not as dark as Twilight Princess or Majora's Mask, which I thought was a good balance. The feel of Zelda is obviously still there, and the characters and dialogue are funny and memorable. Princess Zelda was my favorite character and through optional scenes, she is portrayed as a strong and determined, while also vulnerable and unsure about the responsibility of her role in destroying Ganon. Unfortunately, Link as a character is hard to feel attached to as he does not have spoken dialogue. He is Zelda's loyal protector, and the facial animations help portray his mood during scenes, but not being provided a backstory and motivation like the other characters are disappointing. But that's a small gripe sense we may not even need a backstory if we can take things from his other adventures.
3. Gameplay. There are a lot of new features added to this game that are new to the franchise. Weapons and shields all have stats and durability that can cause these items to break after some use. It made the encounters more challenging knowing that you needed to locate better weapons for stronger enemies. One downside is that I often found myself having to open my inventory and drop weapons and armor to make room for better ones. You have the opportunity to increase the number of slots you can have for weapons and shields, but this reminded me of games like Skyrim where I felt I was constantly making room in my inventory instead of looking forward to collecting more loot. Cooking is also a new mechanic that is used to increase your stats. This can be giving a temporary boost in hearts, stamina, resistance, speed or stealth. This worked great experimenting with all the drops you can pick up in the game. I found myself making the same recipes once I figured out a few good combinations, however, I would have liked to see a way to track recipes or previous creations because there are so many item combinations possible. The Zelda games have also been known for their puzzles and dungeons. The Shines I have seen so far can range from easy to more difficult, but the best puzzles were part of the mechanical beasts as part of the story mode. There were a few times where I was stumped and then having the eureka moment, were the most rewarding moments in the game.
My verdict. Based on the time I spent playing the game, which was about 40 hours so far, I would without a doubt I would recommend this game to everyone. I could easily put 70 more hours into this game like others have, knowing how much there is to do. I don't have an official scoring system yet, so I would say buy now, 10/10 or A. There is so much more to say about the game but the best way is to discover these things yourself.
Let me know in the comments below how long you have played the game. Is this your new favorite Zelda game of all time? If not, what is?