Nintendo’s new Switch launch title, The Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild, has reached the top of sales worldwide and revolutionized open-world gaming. March, 2017 was an exciting month for Nintendo fans, as well as players of other platforms, due to the perpetual hype the title emitted. The Legend of Zelda series is iconic with years of history, but there has not been a full-fledged singular title in the franchise for quite some time. That is, until Breath of The Wild released.
The most noticeable aspect of the game’s visuals is the unique, cartoon-esque art style reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda : Wind Waker, a previous title in the franchise. Though it may seem somewhat odd to look at, it takes little time to adjust and realize the pure beauty of it all. The only issue this game seems to face is that of frame rates. In crowded areas, such as villages and towns, lag lurks in the shadows. The frame rate would drop at random times and prove distasteful. With the newest patch integrated not a month ago, this issue has been significantly improved. But the entirety of it is yet to vanish. It is not the greatest problem by any means – simply annoying at the wrong times.
On the heavily positive side, the world is surreal and full of color. NPC movements are realistic and subtle, such as the gentle swaying of trees when the winds would arise. The world is believable and logical and wondrous. It is a difficult thing to denigrate the visuals Breath of The Wild offers simply due to a few frame rate drops.
Gameplay and Features
Before anything, it is good to note that you can climb anything. Really. If you are able to see it, you are able to climb it. This unique feature coupled with a monstrously gigantic world, besting even that of Witcher 3 and Skyrim combined, makes for everlasting adventure and discovery. Like all Zelda games, you are Link, waking from a hundred year slumber. With no lengthy tutorial or offerings, you are dismissed into the vast world with nothing but the ragged clothes on your back.
Monsters stalk the lands like predators, and you are given no weapon. Instead, you must rob them of theirs with sticks and rocks and pure testicular fortitude. A recurring theme in Breath of The Wild is survival. Link is set with a limited stamina bar that drains after running a certain distance.(The bar may be extended by defeating shrines – more on that later). Swimming in cold water or simply treading snowy paths without proper gear or spicy foods will slowly eat at Link’s health, killing him eventually.
Weather is another prevalent factor of dying frustratingly. Particularly climbing in the rain. In retrospect, this is a beautiful addition that boasts a sense of realism other games tend to neglect. If you are clad in metal armor, or are wielding a steel sword or bow amid a thunderstorm, Link will be struck by lightning. Pair this with the fact that hostile monsters still walk the world – the difficulty has suddenly risen.
Shrines, essentially being side-dungeons, are the game’s most mind-boggling feature. Residing in random locations throughout the world, entering a shrine presents puzzles and unique gimmicks, each shrine having their own little game. Using Runes, or magical abilities such as levitating metal objects, freezing water into pillars of ice, or stopping/accelerating time, make defeating shrines an adventure of wit and tenacity. Defeating a shrine will grant you a Spirit Orb, which then may be exchanged for extra health or stamina bars. Shrines are smile-inducing, exciting mini-dungeons that one cannot simply overlook.
Cooking is a surprisingly addicting feature. With certain materials mixed together, various dishes may be produced, each granting different affects. Stealth, warmth, haste, and more. When mixing…rather disgusting things like monster intestines or insect wings, however, the food produced will usually not hold any magical effects. They will merely grant health. This is a great way to learn what dish does what, and the different outcomes of terrible foods are hilarious.
Unlike the other games in the Zelda franchise, the story here is generic at best. Save the princess, reclaim the castle, slay the evil. It’s difficult to critique this since the game’s sole focus is adventure, exploration, and detail. The story isn’t even bad, it’s fairly good coupled with side quests – and the characters are sublime. Very difficult to forget them. Everything else the game offers more than enough makes up for the lack of a compelling plot. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that everything else enhances the story. Somehow. But that’s the magic of Breath of The Wild.
Final Thoughts : The surface of the game hasn’t even been scratched with this review. This is merely a synopsis of great things to come. Everything as a whole should be experienced by the player blindly. Breath of The Wild is one of the most enticing open-world adventures you could possibly embark on. Arguably a masterpiece.
If you are a fan of Zelda – even if you are not – and you for whatever insignificant reason have not purchased the game yet, do so immediately. Just try to get proper sleep while you’re at it.