‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ is a breath of fresh air.
The Legend of Zelda series’ latest game, Breath of the Wild, is a hit, giving a fresh face to the 20-year-old series with striking new features. The game’s freedom and expansiveness makes it more inviting than any previous Zelda title.
Unlike previous Zelda games, the progression is unconstrained and open-ended. You could attempt to take on the final boss right in the beginning, though, you will most definitely not succeed. the big idea is that you now have the freedom to decide where the adventure will take you. You can climb up any surface to discover what lies at the top, you can explore the different regions of Hyrule to your hearts content.
Unlike previous Zelda games, which saw Link slowly amassing a collection of special items for use in the game, Breath of the Wild gives you everything you need right at the beginning. Bombs, magnetic controls, the ability to freeze objects in time are all acquired within the first 20 minutes of gameplay. Beyond that, there are no other special items. No spinner, no clawshots, no whip. Weapons like swords and bows can be purchased from vendors or scavenged from enemies. Some enemies and chests scattered throughout the land carry unique weapons as well.
The most important tool you’ll be using in this game is the paraglider. It allows you to fly over gaps and bodies of water and get a clear view of the expansive landscape below. The game is truly a sandbox in that there are countless things to do and see at every corner.
Shrines are a new addition to the Zelda world with this game. They are ancient monuments built by the Sheikah to aid the hero in his quest. Each shrine contains a unique puzzle which must be solved in order to recieve the reward- a spirit orb. Four spirit orbs can be traded in for a heart container or stamina expansion.
Side quests are also a big player in this game. While their scope has grown considerably from Ocarina through Skyward Sword, no Zelda game compares to the vast array of opportunities awaiting you at every corner. Almost every NPC has something you can do for them.
The world is larger than any previous Zelda Game, and each region has its own unique climate. From tropical rainforests, to craggy hilltops, to rolling mountains, to scorching deserts, to barren high plains, the land of Hyrule covers just about every type of climate. You can die in intense heat or cold, or from swimming in freezing water, so make sure you gear up properly.
If you are a big Zelda fan, you’ll love the countless Easter Eggs that present themselves. The “Ranch Ruins” in Hyrule Field bear an uncanny resemblance to Lon Lon Ranch of Ocarina of time. Twilight Princess’ Great Bridge of Hylia makes an appearance as well.
On top of this freedom comes a new, survival-based gameplay. You can cook hundreds of different dishes, all with different beneficial properties from crops found around Hyrule. There are no little red hearts in this game that pop up when you break a jar or cut grass. If you want to increase your health, you need to eat some real food.
In addition to this is the aspect of realistic physics. Fruit will grow on trees, grass fields will burst into flames when exposed to fire, and climbing a mountain without proper attire will leave you freezing to death. Exploring the desert or Death Mountain is impossible without heat resistant gear. Weapons will break after continuous use, with the exception of the Master Sword. The realistic physics makes intuition one of the main drivers of the story. It is truly shocking how realistically the environment interacts with the player. Surprisingly logical solutions to tricky puzzles abound, causing the brain to actually think of solutions in a fun way that is surprisingly educational, and will leave you saying, “Wow, I am smart.”
The story is beautiful, with cinematic cutscenes including real voiced characters, unlike the usual noises and transcriptions, these characters actually speak, adding depth and immersion to the story. This Zelda game sees Hyrule in ruins, 100 years after Ganon’s return plunged the kingdom into chaos.
The graphics are top-notch. Drawing on the same art style used in Skyward Sword, the game shines in dazzling, vibrant colors. You can see the life in the trees, grass, and animals. On the handheld Switch, the graphics render at 720p, while on the T.V. it is increased to 900p. While not 1080p, the graphics are smooth and seamless, with very few hiccups.
The musical backdrop is subtle and engaging. It catches you when you least expect it with beautiful, delicate piano riffs. The majestic scores of earlier games are noticeably lacking. There is more emphasis on natural, ambient sound.
Weather can influence the game as well. Attempting to climb something in a rainstorm won’t work, you’ll fall down due to the slippery surface. Characters will seek shelter when it rains. Flint and steel can be used to make a spark to start a fire. You’ll encounter blizzards in the mountains and sandstorms in the desert as well.
Breath of the Wild is a great game. It is a truly massive game, requiring at least 100 hours, if not more, to do absolutely everything. Overall I would give it 10/10. It truly reimagines and reinvigorates the Zelda franchise.