The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW) is an action adventure game developed and published by Nintendo. Following the epic shenanigans of the eponymous Princess Zelda, the tirelessly heroic player character Link, and the rest of the colourful denizens of Hyrule, Breath of the Wild is a minty breeze on the face of a long-running franchise. Whether or not you’ve played Zelda games before and whether or not you’ve enjoyed them, this one is too good to pass by. Have a Switch? Do yourself a fantastic favour. Get this game.
The premise follows the trusted formula of the Zelda series, where the player takes control of the timeless protagonist Link and gets tasked with saving no less than the world. As a driving force it might sound a bit overused, but then BotW is not a game where the finale should be your goal. When I wound up finishing the main objective by defeating the big bad, I paused for a second. Then immediately went off doing something else again.
At the cost of wallowing in cliché, from the very first steps BotW feels magical. Waking up in a dark cave and moments later stumbling to view a breathtaking vista is a scene that replays in my mind with reckless frequency. In fact, the opening minutes of the game manage to capture almost every aspect so terrific about it.
First comes the music, amazing from the get-go. The composers present a touching build-up as you emerge from darkness into a bright world. Fitting like red on Rudolph’s nose, it’s mercilessly nostalgic. For what, though, I’m not entirely sure. I can only say BotW is the only game that has managed to make me feel bittersweet just three minutes in. And while the rest of the soundtrack is filled with grandiose battle themes and haunting melodies to fit every mood and moment, I enjoyed the peaceful tunes the most.
Nintendo has always handled stylized graphics better than many, and BotW is no misstep. The massively open world of Hyrule is painted with some of the most vibrant colours I’ve encountered in gaming. Riding your horse through lush green grass; fighting a pack of snarling enemies; skating on your shield down a snowy hill; diving into a deep blue lake; flying above it all with your glider… The world is seamlessly diverse and truly invites you to explore everywhere, something that seems to be missing in many open world games lately. The open world of beautiful Hyrule seethes with opportunity which the player is given every tool to seize.
The impressive presentation comes with a cost—or so one would think. I encountered a single spot on the map with noticeable stuttering, which I think is notable for a game of such scale on the Switch. The rest of the game’s shortcomings have to do with a somewhat repeating cast of enemies and side activities, plus some hassle with maintaining combat equipment, but they are so mountainously overshadowed by the successes I can’t with good conscience dig deeper in.
BotW is a game built of good feeling. Masterfully crafted from the very stuff of imagination, the worst of it is this: I can’t play it again for the first time.
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Genres: Action adventure
Header image: promotional picture of the game, https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-switch/
Other pictures: screenshots taken by the author