We have all watched in anticipation over the last few weeks. Waiting to see what the release of the Switch would bring and it brought something really special. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
This title has done for me what previous Zeldas never have. It recreated the wonder and impressiveness of Ocarina of Time. A feat I thought would never be accomplished.
I picked up my Switch and BotW at the midnight launch, rushed home to set it up and jump straight into playing, I knew full well that I wasn’t sleeping until well after the sun had come up the following day. I loaded the game up and as I started, something happened. I could sense something, a presence I have not felt since…
A presence I had not felt since 1998.
A Childlike Sense of Wonder
I felt like a kid again, giddy and brimming with anticipation. It had been so long since I felt like this. Stepping back into to the shoes of Link I realised that my emotions had not been betrayed. On seeing the first panning shot of the landscape, the sense of awe and scale was immediate.
Not only was I amazed at the seemingly endless world, I was also nostalgic. I saw a gigantic mountain before me that was unmistakable; Death Mountain. BotW is so majestic; it doesn’t even take a fan to be blown away by it. The game is just naturally beautiful.
Right off the bat the gameplay feels great. There’s very little you can’t do from the beginning. I spotted some apples in a tree and wondered if I could get them down. After throwing some sticks at them, I realised I could just climb the tree.
Voila! Apples in my inventory. BotW doesn’t really include a tutorial of any kind. This is in no way annoying or diminishes on the overall gameplay experience. As long as you are willing to explore and experiment the controls and action can be mastered. And BotW encourages it. The more you play, the more you understand.
A World More Open than Open
After being introduced to the shrines and towers you’ll have a grasp of what’s required of you. The shrines have essentially replaced the standard temple scheme. They consist of puzzles, some of which will have puzzles inside and some will require a puzzle to reveal them. When you complete a shrine you get orbs that allow you to upgrade either your hearts (HP) or stamina wheel.
These shrines really keep you moving forward and fuel your need to explore. They’re both challenging and a lot of fun to play. They also give you a nice sense of reward when you get that heart container.
The towers are how you uncover the areas of the map. What I really liked about Nintendo’s approach to an open world are the little things. When you unlock a tower it reveals an area surrounding it. But that is the extent of it. No side quests or icons. This means you decide where you go and how the adventure plays out.
When doing so you will find yourself losing time just exploring. The entire map is full of hidden areas, treasure and wildlife. Once you have the ability to traverse the whole map you can literally go anywhere. You don’t even have to follow the quests you obtain. You can waltz straight into the Hyrule Castle and take on the end boss.
Of course this would not be wise.
Go Anywhere, Die Everywhere
There are areas which you may find difficult to explore in the early game. Some mechanics allow you to overcome this rather quickly though. The wildlife and fauna can be hunted or gathered. You can create dishes at cooking pots around the world and depending on what you cook can have different effects. For example I wanted to climb a mountain covered in snow caps.
Unfortunately it was too cold for me and the bitter frost would sap Link’s health in an instant. However, once I had the necessary dish, I was able to withstand the harsh temperatures for a limited time.
The well written story is beautiful in the same way as a Miyazaki film. What makes it so special is how you uncover it. As you explore further and complete main quests you learn more. It’s something not so unique but has been executed marvellously. It really doesn’t matter in what order you complete any of the game. All the pieces fall into place and the characters are fantastic and completely lovable. Just as you’d expect from a Zelda game.
I keep slugging away and feel like I have so much more to explore, but it never feels like a chore. The gameplay gets progressively more intricate, but it’s not necessary to go too deep. That’s what is so impressive about this game. It has something for everybody. You can be the average person and find something to enjoy in this game or you can play through it with only the basic skills or work into becoming a master swordsman.
The Reason to Own a Switch
Breath of the Wild has not only triggered so many old emotions in me, but it’s churned up new ones too. It’s been so long since I have truly enjoyed a game this much. It’s a true masterpiece. It really does tick all the boxes, beautiful story, fantastic gameplay, wonder, adventure, serene landscape.
If I was a salesman I would pitch to you something about how buying this title makes the Switch all worthwhile. I doubt my opinion is that far from the truth, if I’m being honest with you.
For those who have ever played a Zelda title, Breath of the Wild is a must play. If you have ever played a video game, it’s a must play. Even if you’ve never played a video game, it’s a must play. Hell, just go play it.
This video game is really a piece of art. It very well may become a part of videogame history. Surely that’s something we can all enjoy.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was reviewed using a retail copy, provided to PowerUp! by Nintendo.
Game Title: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
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