Let’s get this out of the way right now. It’s obviously going to be a 5/5 from us. Don’t even bother to scroll down just to scroll back up. It’s a 5/5 drinks.
Now that that’s out of the way let’s actually talk about the latest foray into a version of Hyrule that Nintendo has come up with! If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’d know that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been released on Wii U as well as a launch title for the latest Nintendo Console, the Switch (insert joke about Zelda Characters being reincarnated and how Twilight Princess did the same thing with Gamecube and Wii here).
By now, you’ve probably also already played it a little (okay, maybe a lot), seen a bunch of videos online, played it with friends, and it was a grandiose time filled with a ton of emotions beyond compare. That being said, this will be an unconventional review as we aren’t going to talk about the typical fanfare that you expect with most reviews (and you shouldn’t considering that’s the same exact thing as what Nintendo did with this game, destroy expectations).
It’s truly one of the best experiences you can have
We won’t compare too much of it to past Zelda games, nor compare it to the also released open world game Horizon: Zero Dawn, nor about whether you should get it or not. Let’s be realistic here- if you’re a gamer you’ve already heard all that you would need to hear in regards of whether this review would sway you into playing it.
So instead, I am going to talk about the seemingly random meanings behind this game and why it’s truly one of the best experiences you can have in gaming and how it’s one of the most important games of this generation. It’s even is, perhaps, one of the most pivotal games in all of gaming history.
Breath of the Wild starts off like any good “Hero’s Journey” formula, which means it’s absolutely terrible and slow. Let’s be honest and think back for a second. Most media that follows the “Hero’s Journey” starts off slow, you don’t know what’s really going on, and you don’t understand what the big deal nor do you care until the inevitable Call-to-action. It’s just an annoying thing you hate and don’t care about. Breath of the Wild is no different than the terrible and slow beginnings of Star Wars, The Matrix, Harry Potter, even the freaking Odysee. There! I said it!
And that’s a good thing.
“The Hero’s Journey” intentionally starts you off questioning what exactly is going. Breath of the Wild literally opens up with Link being awakened in a weird futuristic but archaic pool thing. You’re eventually greeted by an Old Man who brings you up to speed on exposition based stuff. You learn the ins and outs and you curse at the freaking mountain climbing mechanic cause you keep on falling off the dang mountain.
And then it finally happens, the Call-to-Action.
SPOILERS. THE OLD MAN IS ACTUALLY THE KING OF HYRULE, YOU’RE CALLED UPON TO SAVE HYRULE AND HIS DAUGHTER ZELDA!
And then it finally happens, the Call-to-Action.
Sorry for the lack of hiding the spoiler, but let’s be real, you should expect that premise by now. And with that being said, the folks at Nintendo take us on a wild adventure that is teeming with endless possibilities and experiences. An adventure that challenges our expectations every step of the way.
It is at this moment that the game opens up and really shines. You start to notice the different nuances of the game, and just how much it actually doesn’t cater to typical Zelda game nostalgia. There’s enough there to feel just right, but a whole lot new to be excited about and to experience.
But outside of the new weapon system (they break and get lost if you didn’t know, and you have to find other ones), or the cooking system (which is truly awesome addition which makes you almost forget entirely about rupees), or the fact that in the beginning of the game they unlock fast travel and the paraglider so that you can traverse the massive world faster, and all the other multitude of changes. None of these things matter nearly as much as what Nintendo accomplishes with this title.
They make the perfect mix of familiar and new that pretty much no one was expecting from them.
I was panning Breath of the Wild in early announcements very badly. I was flat out not interested. I didn’t care about it at all because it seemed like just another Zelda game like the plenty before it. Something that I knew would be “good” just from the fact that it’s Zelda and Nintendo and the expectations have already been set for decades already. And boy was I absolutely wrong.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I found myself caring more about the stuff outside of the main quest! I was actively pursuing side quests, exploring every nook and crevice that I could, discovering new things every single time I picked up the controller. I actually preferred it to the actual main quest! The main game is actually more inline with typical Zelda expectations, so it’s not that interesting to me.
But when I am playing a Zelda game of all things and I can do the following…
- Purchase a house from a flamboyantly fabulous Tom Nook-ish construction guy
- Hit on the other burly bear-ish daddy construction guy
- Help burly bear daddy dude build a whole new town which is basically a metaphor for freaking AMERICA due to all the different characters of ethnic backgrounds coming together to build a unified cultural melting pot
- Be in drag in order to sneak into places
- Snow/Sand/Mountain board on a shield
- Ride a freaking bear
- RIDE AND HUNT FREAKING DRAGONS
- Use boulders to murder goblins
- USE GIGANTIC HORSES TO RAM INTO AND MURDER GOBLINS
- Throw a boomerang AND HAVE TO CATCH IT
- Run around naked just to hear the reactions from folks
- Explore new locations EVERY TIME I PLAY THE GAME
- Discover puzzles and secrets akin to old school playground folklore
- TAKE FREAKING SELFIES (SELFIES!) WITH POSES
- And literally a bajillion things more
…I mean, who really actually cares about defeating Ganon and saving Hyrule?
… who really actually cares about defeating Ganon and saving Hyrule?.
Breath of the Wild does an incredible job of giving you a sense of Adventure and freedom that no other game I can think of has been able to do. The closest one I can think of is Grand Theft Auto 5, but even that falters in comparison to just how much more you can discover on the absolutely massive world in Breath of the Wild. This is perhaps the most important aspect of the game, as since we come to expect Zelda games to be good and for us to follow the Hero’s Journey to save the Princess and Hyrule, we tend to forget that it’s the Journey that makes the entire thing worthwhile.
And the journey in Breath of the Wild is one that always brings something new to the table, something that feels like a new chapter or episode in the hero that has awoken from a 100 year slumber every single time you pick it up.
This is why you should play it, because even though the game is of a brand that’s decades old, even though it’s on “underpowered” hardware, even though you have preconceived notions based off of reactions and previous expectations, it is an entirely new feeling breed of Adventure game. It’s feels like an entirely new breed of video game in general. A game that clearly defines that folks at Nintendo are master artists of their craft. Even with using typical tropes from previous games and competing game titles, we have an experience that is absolutely mind blowing every time you pick it up. It feels like something you’ve never played before even though it feels incredibly familiar at the same time.
In a generation filled with the same old tired shinier rehash of generic Assassin’s Creed, followed by Call of Duty, followed by Uncharted, followed by Halo, followed by Gears, it is absolutely critical that Nintendo’s take on a familiar IP be entirely unique and definitive of the world we live in now. With Breath of the Wild they accomplish exactly that. They challenge your expectations, toy with your emotions, and make you feel every possible thing imaginable, and you mercilessly thank them for it.
Oh, and did I mention that even with putting in 80+(!) hours into the game, I still only got 21% complete of the game even though I beat it with more than enough of the resources needed? And that there are absolutely still things that I have yet to discover? Not to mention the announced DLC that will be coming! Yeah, this game is that massive.