After around 150 hours of gameplay, I present my review of Zelda: Breath of the wild for Nintendo Switch.
The play-through itself is an escapist’s daydream. Seamless entertainment with rich graphics and subtle but emotive musical scoring, Breath of the Wild allows the gamer to lose themselves entirely with its vast landscape and countless quests. You work hard in this game; not just in the expected areas of fighting mastery or object acquisition, but in ways that aren’t typically tapped in a Zelda game: survival skills, stealth, and deep puzzle unraveling. It will test you in so many ways that the gratification of accomplishment in this game will parallel that of your real life achievements. Just don’t go boasting to your partner if they’re not into gaming.
The freedom that accompanies BOTW is at first very intimidating. We were all very used to the traditional boundaries that Zelda games offer, and this felt so HUGE when I began the first steps out of the Shrine of Resurrection. The gorgeous natural lighting brought out rich colors in the sea & sky. The immense mountain ranges: snow-capped, red rock, and grass-covered were so compelling that I often got lost in traveling tangents and would often stumble on a shrine or a new quest which made exploring very gratifying.
The abilities granted to your character from running, crouching, sneaking, climbing, gliding, swimming, jumping, catching and taming horses, and then additional abilities that you get later on from freeing the Divine Beasts, gives you an experience that rarely feels limiting. I missed the ability to dive down from within water and I really wanted to pet the freakin dogs; but other than those two things, the gameplay was exhilarating with its wide range of mobility.
The seamless transitions between actions helped keep you completely in the moment with your quest. For example, running and jumping off of a cliff, gliding down over unsuspecting enemies, and then pulling out your bow for a few easily aimed arrows into their snouts in slow motion before hitting the ground and drawing your sword in realtime to finish the job. No glitches, no delays. Just flowing beauty.
This game is full of challenges and puzzles. The 120 shrines have unique puzzles that are very satisfying to solve and reward you with orbs that you can exchange for hearts or additional stealth capacity. And just when you’ve finally worked out a side quest and found your way into a difficult-to-find shrine, they reward you with a freebie orb inside instead of making you stretch your brain one more time before you get it. That’s when you take a deep, refreshing breath and move forward feeling loved.
But if puzzles aren’t your thing, there are battles around every turn, whether it’s a cluster of enemies protecting treasure, a large ogre, stone colossus, or sand-swimming beast poised in your way, or one of the many ancient mechanical guardians waiting to incinerate you with lasers, each new fight brings it own strategy and weaponry.
This game teaches you to free your mind of covet and possession by making all of your weapons destructible. Even the Master Sword will break, but it is the only weapon that will regenerate itself. The rest, when you break them, are gone. Seems mean, hey? But the game makers have balanced that inconvenience with a plethora of weapons scattered all over the Hyrule landscape. You can also steal weapons from your enemies. So, even though this is a new a somewhat frustrating aspect of the game, I never felt in want of weaponry. And I got of a kick out of constantly threatening this weapon-hungry kid.
The melee weapons all have different sizes and weights to them, giving individual experiences to each of them. Using a bow is very gratifying when you get a direct hit on an enemy and you’ve guided your aim using the motion controls (i.e. aiming with your hands instead of with the joystick) which offer far more precision than the joystick alone. Well timed use of shields and jumping during sword fighting allows you to get in a few flurry strikes in slow motion. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed trading up weapons and taking out enemies with them.
There’s quite a bit of humor laced throughout the game, including quirky characters and trying to register animals that aren’t horses at stables 🙂
But I loved Prince Sidon the most:
Overall rating: 10/10
Favorite challenge: Eventide Island. You’ll feel like you can pretty much do anything after conquering that nonsense.
Goddess rating: “When stressed, jump off of cliffs and glide back down to solitude.”