Before reading this review, here are some notable details about my history with the Nintendo brand. As a child, I spent countless hours playing games on the Nintendo Wii. It is easily the most nostalgic aspect of gaming in my childhood. However since then, due to the lack of appeal with their next system the Wii U, I never had the inclination to continue the streak of Nintendo consoles. However, when the launch of the Nintendo Switch occurred and a downpour of positive reviews for its launch title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I decided it was time again to come back to the company that was once so dear to my heart. So, on April 19th, 2018, I bought the Nintendo Switch alongside a copy of Breath of the Wild. Another key detail to note is that this installment is the first I have played from the franchise. But despite these notable differences that could have deterred my enjoyment of the game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a master-class of storytelling, art direction, gameplay, and atmosphere. It is a work that defines not only a console, but a generation of consoles. From its realistically interactive world to its endearing soundtrack to its subtle, artistic charm, Breath of the Wild never lets the interest of the player go, defining it as easily one of the best, if not the best video games ever made.
Before playing the game, I had heard multiple reports of the title’s weak story and how it ultimately falls to the backdrop of the game. An understandable criticism for sure, but one that I do not agree with. For one, the overarching story of the game is certainly pushed to the back. But Breath of the Wild, unlike other modern open-world title, focuses on the stories of the player themselves. The many stories, all unique, is what will stick in the player’s mind. The purpose of the video game medium is to instill a sense of interactivity and freedom in a world from reality. Breath of the Wild, more than any other game available on the market, encapsulates that description beautifully. The main story is still entertaining, and a loosely told interpretation of the coming-of-age tale that is present throughout most of the entries in this series. It features multiple exciting characters that have clever designs and simple motivations, particularly the Champions referenced many times throughout the campaign.
But the main plot is what is supposed to guide the player to their own stories. It is a stepping stone to something much better and much more impactful for the player themselves.
How players are able to create countless unique stories in their play through is due to one single aspect…the world. The lush, variant, and seemingly endless world of Hyrule is what defines the game as one of the best ever created. Not since the original NES classic have players been treated to such a finely created interpretation of Hyrule. From the many grassy fields to the ominous volcano hanging in the distance, the game is full of surprises and each environment never feels similar, making the world feel like a living, breathing character.
In fact, the world of the game is practically the main character of the game. The player spends the most time interacting with the world than any other aspect of the game, a feat that may seem small but is actually an achievement that so many recent open world titles are unable to achieve. In addition, the interactivity of the world is spectacular to behold. Outmatching Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s impressive display of interactivity, this latest adventure from Nintendo includes a vast world where nearly every element is able to be used in some way. If the player finds an axe, they can use it to obtain wood from a nearby forest. If the player is clever enough to find an unlit torch and a flame, they can light ablaze patches of grass miles over. The developers’ attention to detail is astounding as the player explores the vast world. In addition to the wildlife, multiple species of wildlife inhabit the lands. From the grubby Bokoblins to the subtle raccoon sprinting away, it all adds to the immersion the game is able to so wonderfully achieve.
As for the gameplay, it continues the theme of interactivity. By interacting with the world, the player is able to receive valuable resources that can be used to craft weapons, cook food, and bargain with to receive other resources. It increases the desire and necessity for exploration which is satisfying for the rewards it can reap and also the danger it provides. As it is a Zelda title, the game features many instances of combat. Multiple variations of weapons, from bows to unwieldy axes to short swords, will be used by the player constantly, due to the somewhat frustrating weapon-breaking system implemented. With these weapons, the player takes on a legion of different enemies throughout their experience. From the crummy Bokoblin to the massive Guardians that serve as the traditional dungeons for the hardcore fans, the variety is indisputable and provides for the excitement and thrills that exploration so masterfully provides in the game.
Ultimately, outside of a few technical hiccups in the form of frame rate dips, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is more than just a game…it is a loving interpretation of the power of the video game medium. Never before have I witnessed such a deep level of interpretation present in every direction I turned the camera. After two hundred hours of gameplay and seemingly dozens of more left to go, Breath of the Wild is a masterclass and a defining game for all of its highly talented developers. For both Nintendo and gamers alike, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is truly a remarkable breath of fresh air for a genre that has become so drab and dull in the recent few years.
Score: 10 out of 10
What did YOU think of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? What is YOUR favorite Zelda title? Be sure to comment and check back for regular reviews on the latest films, video games, and books.
The wilds of Hyrule make for a puzzling game of survival. Climb cliffs to scope out a destination; then cross great distances with the Paraglider or the horses you've tamed. You'll discover items for crafting, beasts to hunt, and plants to forage. So scavenge weapons and armor…or claim them from enemies! From hammers to helmets, items have specific stats, resistances, effects, and levels of durability. Use everything at your disposal to find and conquer more than 100 Shrines. Luckily, the in-game Sheikah Slate can project Runes that manipulate objects and enemies in clever ways. Forget everything you know about the Legend of Zelda series.