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.