Legend of Zelda is an iconic game series. Link is an internationally recognizable character, and Nintendo will remind you of that at every turn. Breath of the Wild is no exception to this rule, but does bring new game mechanics and a modern take on what was, a tradition styled gaming franchise. Since this game’s debut, it has received praises from pretty much every critic; but does Breath of the Wild really deserve a perfect rating? Or are people just happy to see a more drastic approach to the Legend of Zelda franchise?
Let’s start with the story. The game begins with Link being woken up in a strange shrine by a very British voice. Link then picks up something called the Sheikah Slate, which is pretty much a glorified Wii-U controller. There was a definite sense that this game was something different at one time; being originally made for the Wii-U thus making a great use of its tablet like controller. Some of these features carried over to the Nintendo Switch, which was released at the same time as this game, but the developers scrapped or changed a lot of features in the game.
After grabbing the Sheikah Slate, Link then leaves the shrine and learns that he has been in a coma for about 100 years. To add to that, Link has also lost all his memories, so he doesn’t even know who he is. Also in that time, Calamity Ganon; the main antagonist in the game, has destroyed most of Hyrule and has spawned monsters and creatures to ensure that no one messes with him as he chills in Hyrule Castle. Oh, and it might be good to note that he, appears to be dragon; which is Pretty. Damn. Awesome.
The rest of the story is filled with spoilers, so I won’t really go into anymore detail. Some key points to note are that there seems to be 7 races of Hyrule. Hylians (humans), Gerudo (Also human, but mainly female), Zora (fish creatures), Rito (Bird creatures) Gorons (there is no way to really describe them, sorry), Koroks (plant like creatures), and the monk like humans called the Sheikah. These are all the races that have been in most of the Legend of Zelda games, but they have never all been in the same game.
Jumping to game mechanics, right from the start, there are two things we need to note right away. The first is that you cannot rename Link. In previous games you always had the chance to change your character’s name, mostly I change the name to something inappropriate that involves the male genitalia. But this time, your character is and always will be referred to as “Link”. The second thing to note is that there is voice acting, and it’s not just one character. Most of the main characters have their own voice actors. This is a great new feature, but for some characters the voices (to me) did not match what I thought they sounded like. Gorons especially, the voices they used seemed more casual for a race that is constantly trying to fight and prove who is the most powerful.
Some of the other notable mechanics are the weather. There is a changing weather cycle in the game, and it changes between cloudy, sunlight, rain, and thunderstorms. The last are the most troublesome because if Link is carrying any metal weapons, it will attract lightning the strike the player. Rain can also be a problem, making it so Link slides around the surface of rocks, and stopping the player from climbing mountains or hills.
Finally we hit the major mechanics; weapons, cameras and the open world. First off, the way Breath of the Wild uses Link’s new abilities is remarkable. The Sheikah Slate stated above has many abilities, and the game has ample amount of times to use them. Same for weapons, in which Link can carry up to 6 (that can be upgraded throughout the game) from the start of the game. Link can use most weapons that enemies drop; clubs, shovels, mops, swords or whatever else the enemies are holding. Boomerang weapons became my favorite, being both blades and throwable.
But that is where my first fault with the game comes into play – the cameras are still just as bad as they have ever been. Nintendo games have been known to be difficult to look around for certain things at certain times, and this game is no exception. That being said, the games’ cameras are a move in the right direction; which means they actually use the 2nd analog stick and not focus on Z targeting.
Finally the open world game play is where Breath of the Wild sparkles and innovates. Legend of Zelda has always been almost open world, but now it is completely 100% open world from the start. You can literally go to the final boss right at the start of the game; and when you do, you then realize that there is a reason why some people think the game is punishing. The game does resemble the modern Dark Souls era of punishing games; Breath of the Wild doesn’t even have a tutorial (outside the basics); the game leaves you to explore and find out things for yourself, which is incredibly liberating in the Legend of Zelda world.
Before giving my final judgement on the game, I need to talk about graphics. Some game companies and developers pride themselves on the most realistic, best looking games on the market. Nintendo however, proves that good graphics are needed, but perfection is overrated. Some people can feel that the cartoony look of the Legend of Zelda games (primarily Wind Waker) will stop the player from reaching maximum immersion. Breath of the Wild proves that just because the graphic nature of the game is unique, it is no way bad. Personally, I love the shade features of Link and the enemies. As well as the color palette consisting of neon blue, neon orange, and blood moons making everything a blood red tint is greatly immersive and imaginative.
Already this article is pretty long, so I will sum up my final thoughts on the game here. The game is wonderful; graphically, mechanically and has a wonderful story that will keep you wondering which way the creators wanted to show Link and his past relationships. But, the game does have some framerate issues, camera issues and is just not fully optimized for the new Nintendo Switch. With that being said, its an honor to give this game a:
A masterpiece, and it maybe will even end up being the greatest game of all time. But nothing is perfect. In fact, the imperfections in the game make it stand out, and if those bugs mean we get another Legend of Zelda game in the future, then they are well worth enduring.
For TMN, I am Tim Abrams.