Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
The Legend of Zelda series
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U
Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A breath of change, durability, adaptability, strength, exploration, and adventure.
Having played Witcher 3, my favourite game of all time, on the highest difficulty, I was also desperate for a good challenge and a great story. Breath of the Wild (BotW), after playing through to about 90 per cent completion, was an inch away from grabbing that spot from Witcher 3. Here are the reasons why.
It nails the open world.
The possibility to go anywhere, and do anything, whenever you want, wherever you want in the world is the ultimate definition of an open world. Once our favourite (not-so-silent anymore) protagonist Link wakes up from his cryosleep, the player can guide him anywhere in the land of Hyrule — anywhere. This goes to show that BotW is a truly open-world game. Its vastness, emptiness, and beauty is everything I would ever want in post-apocalyptic Zelda game, fitting right in with the overarching thematic of the plot.
Theme and story.
The world had ended a century ago, Link and Zelda failed to save Hyrule from Ganon (because Ganon was smart enough to not fall for the same trick twice). Link was mortally injured and was placed into cryogenic sleep to recover. He wakes up a hundred years later to find that Zelda might still be alive and sets out to defeat Ganon. It’s the same old Zelda formula, but with a twist. If you are into the story, you will find that for the first time, the characters of a Zelda game are not badly developed. For the first time in a Zelda game, I connected with the characters, even with the ever-silent Link. Through Zelda’s memories and diary logs, one can find out that Link has mental condition and that he can talk but voluntarily chooses to remain silent. My only complaint with the story is that there isn’t enough of it.
The music and soundscape.
This is the first Zelda game that doesn’t have a backing track throughout the game and its areas. The moments of silence in the world as I witnessed beautiful sights are what stick out to me after finishing the game more than any music heavy moment (other than the final boss fight — that was way too epic). The music from this game is arguably the best music from any Zelda game — it’s a perfect mix of nostalgia, ancientness, calm, and as strange as it is to say, wild. Manata Kataoka has done a fantastic job with the emphasis on piano and orchestra for this soundtrack and really brings out the overarching theme of the game with each piece.
Without a doubt, this is the most mechanically intense Zelda game to date. The combat is so rich and offers so many options. Within the first 3 hours of gameplay, the player is given all the tools to basically do whatever the hell they want. The gameplay is liberating. It allows Link to ride anything (get your head out of the gutter). There is even a shrine quest that requires Link to mount a freaking stag. If you were daring enough, you could even try to mount a bear. The gameplay makes the entire map your playground.
Zelda: BoTW is a game that has the potential to impact the player on many accessible levels. It will find a way into a spot into the player’s heart and memory one way or another. If a game can accomplish that, then it truly is great. I wholeheartedly recommend this adventure to new and old Zelda players, it is an adventure that truly stands out in its own light and can be experienced anywhere with the Nintendo Switch.