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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Release: 03/03/2017
Publisher: Ninendo
Developer: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure, Role-playing, Switch Reviews
PEGI: 10+
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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is massive, and seemingly full of outstanding feature after outstanding feature. While not everything is at 100% throughout the adventure, my low points where inevitably a result of my own short comings, not that of the game. Much time and effort went into taking the Legend of Zelda in a whole new direction, and I’m not sure Nintendo could have done any better.

Breath of the Wild is massive, full of life, interesting characters, and enough quests and puzzles to keep you busy for over a hundred hours. With years of development work behind this release, it’s quickly understandable that the developers thought everything through, down to the most meticulous detail.

Open World Fun

The franchise standard for Zelda titles is that the worlds feel open and large, but tackling the various dungeons is completely linear, often requiring a specific item to advance at any given point. It’s not a bad standard, but it’s well worn. Breath of the Wild breaks from this Zelda tradition and treks off on its own, giving player complete freedom over their destinations, dungeon completion order, and much more.

I was over 25 hours into Breath of the Wild before even touching my first real ‘dungeon.’ But that didn’t mean I was limited. At that point, I had almost two dozen shrines completed, climbed half of the games many towers – think of eagle points in Assassins Creed, which remove the ‘fog of war’ from areas of the map – and experienced every climate and environment the game could throw at me, including cold mountain tops, harsh desserts, and lush jungles. The cold and heat provided unique challenges where I as the player had to grapple with the elements by changing what clothes I was wearing, what elixirs I was drinking, and what food I was taking with.

Instead of working on three or four unique ideas for their latest title, the Zelda developers created dozens, and left the ultimate game play decisions to the gamer. Want to be a master chef creating dishes that produce great effects and lots of heart regeneration? Great, go ahead. Do you just want to collect a crap ton of apples and cook them up? Go ahead and do that instead. Both ways of playing have their merits, and both will ultimately lead you down the  path of completion. 

By providing so much to do in this open world, players can figure out what they like best, and stick to it. You can even spend hours upon hours purchasing houses and decorating them. Is it required? No, but it is a nice touch that many fans will really enjoy. However, if you think buying houses is stupid and a waste of time and rupees, guess what? You don’t have to do it. You can do something else.

I knew Breath of the Wild was going to be difficult to review when I began playing it, and it’s because of the variety. I couldn’t even begin to lay out everything you could possibly do in this game, so I’ve created a list. In no particular order, you can: cook food, create elixirs, hunt for better weapons and armour, complete the main quest, complete side quests, climb to the top of all the towers, complete all the shrines, complete your compendium – broken down by animals, enemies, weapons, and more – buy and decorate houses, ride horses and deer, find dragons, find towns and cities, find stables…

You get the picture. So much to do, so little time to do it all for this review. Essentially, you are probably reading a never-ending review-in-progress.

Story

At GamesReviews, we have never been big on divulging too much of a games story, but rather comment on what we think of it as a whole. The story in Breath of the wild takes place 100 years after the great calamity, in which Link has been killed, placed in the resurrection chamber, and ultimately brought back to life. Despite being alive, Link has lost most of his previous memories, and with calamity Ganon back, Link must remember the past to ultimately face the future. That is the quest you are on. It’s a tad different than other Zelda games, but only in how it is presented. The end goal – saving Hyrule and Princess Zelda – is one aspect of Zelda that has really stayed the same.

Controlling the World

The subtitle here might seem odd, but it is true. You can control the world. Using your slate, Link is able to use a number of special abilities, such as remote bombs, the ability to move metal objects with a magnet, the ability to freeze items in time and knock them with a hammer to launch them when things unfreeze (stasis), and so much more. The way these various abilities are used in puzzles around Hyrule are very exciting. In one instance, for example, you will see a number of Treasure Chests on a platform in the middle of a mud swamp. Trying to wade in will cause you to die, and there is no real way to fly to the platform. However, using your magnet ability, Link can find a metal board in a nearby pond that will help bridge the gap between the land and the platform.

These abilities are at their best when trying to complete the shrines scattered around Hyrule. While not every shrine will require an ability, most will. They are never significantly hard – outside of a few motion control Shrines that don’t work as well as the developers had probably hoped – but they will take time and skill to complete.

Controlling Link

My only grip with the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is trying to control all of Link’s ability, which on the Joy-Cons is sometimes a chore because of how buttons are mapped. When I demoed Breath of the Wild at events, I was able to use the Pro Controller which made a world of difference. However, seeing as the Pro Controller would be considered a 89.99 add on (in Canada), it’s hard to say the controls are fine. If you love Zelda a lot, and plan to put significant hours into this game, making the extra investment – which will likely pay off in future Nintendo titles like Super Mario Odyssey – is probably a good idea. If you don’t, however, expect a steeper learning curve for some of the movement you will need to make between button clicks.

Conclusion

Many people will read this review, and point out that I didn’t cover ‘x’ or ‘y’ and that somehow my points are not valid. Be real people, anyone who wants to fully review this title could write more than 5000 words, and frankly, no one is going to read it. My score and initial opinions are all that really matter. I can easily say that when it comes to launch titles for any console, Breath of the Wild is the best to ever hit the market. This game is truly remarkable, and could quickly put the “soft launch title issue” to bed for the Nintendo Switch. Why would you want anything else if you plan to drop 60 hours + into Breath of the Wild?

 

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Adam Roffel has only been writing about video games for a short time, but has honed his skills completing a Master's Degree. He loves Nintendo, and almost anything they have released...even Tomodachi Life.

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