Game review (a very late one) – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

the_legend_of_zelda_breath_of_the_wild_artwork

HALF-NAKED, I reach the top of a cliff on the edge of a desert.

The heat is literally killing me, forcing me to strip down to the tighties.

I had just spent 10 minutes scouring rock formations for edible mushrooms, in front of me I could see green for the first time in hours.

I pull out my paraglider and happily start drifting down in search of food to cook.

Clouds begin to roll in with a thunderstorm, luckily I’m just about to drop through a canopy into a sheltered patch of woodland.

Bumpf, on the ground, right in the middle of an enemy camp; bursts of lightning highlight their monstrous silhouettes.

Now panicking, I pull out my sword and throw it at the biggest one; I was trying to pull out my bow.

The beast proceeds to drop its crude spear, pick up my sword and lead a charge of monsters towards me.

I leg it, spotting some explosive barrels I beeline towards them.

Trying to pick one up while running, I fail miserably and have to run past them to avoid the mob.

The big guy takes a swing at me with my sword, I just dodge it, then BAM.

Everything is on fire, I am now spread-eagled on the ground 20ft away and every single enemy is dead.

Turns out my sword was an excellent lightning rod.

A stray bolt had killed the one guy instantly, before setting off the barrels and wiping out his mates.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild offers a fresh and interesting experience each time you fire it up.

Every part of the world interacts in ways that feel right while also being unexpected.

Fire spreads in grass, lightning is attracted to metal, rain makes climbable surfaces slippy, villagers go to work in day and bed at night, every wild animal has its own behavioural traits and every inch of what you see is begging to be interacted with.

The premise is very basic; you, Link, almost died fighting the big-bad-guy 100-years-ago.

Now, after a very long healing-bath-thing, you are released into a destroyed kingdom where you must regain your strength and rally some friends to finish the job.

How you go about this is completely up to you, it’s possible to walk straight from where you start, up to the final boss and have a pop; like a blue-bottle picking a fight with a 70mph windscreen.

In the 100 years since you lost the war, many settlements have fallen into ruin; leaving either nature or monsters to take over.

This makes every location feel like there is a story behind it.

Ancient mechanical war machines lie dormant on the crumbled wall of a fort they were assaulting.

Crickets are now chirping in grass that has grown through the floor of a dilapidated tower.

Along with what you can see there is also what you can hear.

Subtle ambient cues give just the right amount of emotional weight where necessary, while a pacey drum and trumpet highlight danger from incoming enemies.

The hype behind this game is well justified, but claims that it is the greatest game ever made ring a little hollow.

For starters the voice acting is patchy at best, never giving enough gravitas to moments of significance.

Princess Zelda constantly sounds distraught.

The writing is also on parr with a very basic kids’ TV show.

It touches on heavy topics, such as the responsibilities of becoming an adult, the affect of time and the deaths of many people.

Yet these topics are never explored, they just exist.

A prime comparison here would be with Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time; it revolves around the same themes but manages to explore them just enough without distancing younger audiences.

The game reverses the standards of its genre, where usually the world is the blank canvass on which the interesting story is told, instead there is a blank story on which an interesting world has been built.

The narrative starts as intriguing, if anything because of a lack of information, and gets weaker towards the end.

It took around 50 hours to wrap up the main quest-line along with some exploration and almost all of it was very high quality.

Yet completing the game rewards the player with nothing, there is no pay-off for completing this mammoth adventure.

The entire journey builds to an epic battle against Calamity Ganon, yet the final-form-boss-fight boils down to shooting a few targets with arrows and is followed by an abrupt ending.

Reloading the save drops you at the entrance to the boss, so you cannot explore the world after the big-bad is dead.

This diminishes any feelings of accomplishment or victory upon killing him, so why do it at all when the only reward is the credits?

Breath of The Wild is a beautiful experience with the most satisfying exploration mechanics in any open-world game.

It is held back by basic writing, boring voice acting and a lack of end-game rewards.

Yet, the positive aspects of the title go beyond simply being “good” to significantly outweigh the negatives.

 

Positives:

+Gorgeous art direction

+Interesting world

+Simple but challenging combat

+Everything is interactive

Negatives:

-Weak writing

-Poor acting

-Lack of end-game content

 

Score:

9/10

Try if you like:
Zelda (in general)
Dark Souls
Okami
Horizon: Zero Dawn
The Elder Scrolls
Cooking
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Dragon Quest

 

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platforms: Switch, Wii U

Reviewed on Switch

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