(Nintendo Switch version reviewed)
It’s been a long time coming, not only will I be reviewing Zelda: Breath of the Wild but I’ll be bringing you 2 reviews – one spoiler free and the other, not so spoiler free. Here you can read a comprehensive review on the new Zelda and rest assured I won’t be giving away the story! With so many perfect scores, critical and commercial success is Zelda: BotW as good as they say it is?
“Open your eyes” echoes Princess Zelda at the start of the game. These 3 words couldn’t be more poignant as this new Zelda is out to completely open your eyes to how different this game is in comparison to others in the series. And I have to make this clear; this game is completely Zelda with a new breath of air and is completely wild!
When first starting the game, I was in awe of the aesthetically pleasing visuals. I thought videos of the game looked really great but I was doubtful if it could look that good in game. But it does. It really does! Colours explode across the screen with a stunning cel like shading of lush environments, deep greens in contrast to multiple blues of skies and so much detail to take in. Textures are fantastic looking too the contrast of blistering rock mountains against huge leafy green trees is a real treat for the eyes. I spent the majority of my time at the beginning (and probably throughout) just wandering around the environments and taking in as much as I could possibly see.
This brings me onto my next point about the game that impressed me – the sheer size of it. It’s without a doubt one of the biggest games (in terms of scale of the map) that I have ever played. And it’s not just size for the sake of it, Zelda: BotW utilises the expansive space filled with multiple areas to explore and discover. It works well to climb a mountain and discover what’s waiting at the top – is it a Korok seed (over 900 seeds strewn across the map)? Or a rare food ingredient (more on this later) or is it just nothing but a pretty view? Get climbing to find out!
Without giving the story away, as a player you are able to approach how you do things in any way as you please. You could, essentially get to the end game very quickly but obviously won’t be as prepared for the final boss. There are many Shrines (sort of like brief trials) to complete, towers to explore (these then make areas of the map visible) as well as Korok seeds, multiple side tasks on top of the main story, which makes a very big game indeed!
One of the new core game mechanics involves food. Everywhere you look in Zelda: BotW you’ll see ingredients just waiting to be plucked and mixed together to create either a culinary masterpiece or culinary disaster. It’s actually a lot of fun mixing different pieces to see what it will create, for example a Hylian mushroom mixed with herbs creates a tasty mushroom skewer that can recover hearts. This is done simply by holding ingredients (limited up to 5) and then “cooking” them over open fires in cooking pots. It’s not just for fun either – some concoctions can recover health, protect Link from the cold (more on weather below) or even boost things like defence. Though, cook together things like bugs and mushrooms and you’ll be making food that’s inedible! Mixing monster parts and critters creates elixirs that can be used against physical effects. This shows the level of complexity in Zelda: BotW.
The graphics are outstanding, the music is beautiful and game play is near perfect. Story is engaging, mechanics are wonderfully orchestrated, and so is there anything wrong with BotW?
This is the smallest but also important issue I have with Botw. Like a typical British person, my complaint is with the weather. Sounds silly, but weather in Zelda: BotW is very important. To begin with, the game is full of luxurious sunshine and blue skies, but things soon change as you wander the lands as Link. The weather makes way for rain and lots of it! The problem is, when it rains, you struggle to climb mountains, cliffs or trees. It can be very frustrating when trying to get somewhere – which is usually the majority of the time. Storms mean lightning and for a while I was confused as to why I kept being electrocuted to death. Turns out, all the metal armour and weapons I was carrying conducts electricity who’d have thought it? Still however annoying it is to have to remove metallic objects in storms, it shows again just how complex the game is.
It’s a difficult game to play on the whole, enemies are very strong and it’s not always clear how to defeat them. Weapons break easily which is another frustration and doesn’t help during battles it occurs often.
I have to admit I haven’t played the game fully, but I have spent a lot of time playing through the Shrines and getting through the story slowly. I felt the need to write about what I have experienced now because there is just so much. Hence the 2 reviews – keep a look out for the full review with spoilers coming soon!
Minor niggles aside; Zelda: BotW is one of the best games I have ever played in years. It is the game you need to buy if getting a Switch as the game is so suited to being played either handheld or on a bigger screen. It’s simply a joy to play and stirs that familiar sense of curiosity, bewilderment and playfulness that a game should bring. It’s going to be mighty difficult for Nintendo to top this Zelda with a sequel or to top it with any other game for that matter. Breath of the Wild is the greatest contender for Game of the Year, the best game for Switch (so far) and quite possibly greatest game across all consoles…
9 / 10.