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Legend of Zelda Breath of Wild Review

Last Friday after realizing what day it was and doing some quick calculations I got myself The Legend of Zelda Breath of Wild for the Wii U (I traded in a few games. Kind of on a budget.) I had been happily waiting for this game since it was announced in 2014 and after one week of exploring Hyrule, going through dungeons, and creating a drinking game out of dying (essentially it was a shot each time a died, two shots if it was a boss fight, down a cup if I was doing something really stupid), I have finished the game. Also BEHOLD THE FIRST (and probably only) GAME REVIEW ON THIS BLOG!

Spoilers from this point on

It was a fun game and very unique in comparison to other Zelda games starting with the fact that there is voice acting and you can’t change Link’s name. Another major change is that the game functions mostly as an open world environment meaning little to no loading screens unless you’re doing a special challenge or decided to warp to a different area in the game.

Gameplay

I was a little disappointed to see that Nintendo wouldn’t continue using motion controls with Breath of Wild after having so much fun with them in Skyward Sword. Using the Wii U gamepad wasn’t a bad experience, however as soon as muscle memory kicked in things went along more smoothly. There was still parts of the game that involved using the gamepad as a motion control that didn’t quite go as smoothly and almost resulted in me throwing the darn thing out of a window.

Having this game be an openworld game was an interesting experience since I never had played one before and didn’t fully get the concept. There were a few times I was lost in the game and had to backtrack some steps and take things more slowly rather than running around gliding from place to place for the sake of doing things the fast way.

The dungeons in this game are Divine Beasts you have to purify from Calamity Ganon’s control. My only complaint is that at times going through the dungeons themselves seemed too short with boss fights essentially being “stab it until it dies” rather than using strategy the whole time to fight the boss. Fighting bosses at times could be breezy so long as you timed dodging an attack perfect to unleash fury on the boss, or just came fully prepared. The lack of finding hearts and rupees in grass was a very welcomed change in Breath of Wild bringing in a new challenge of how to prepare for boss fights by cooking specific food dishes out of the ingredients you find around Hyrule and creating very useful potions out of the remains of monsters you kill in battle.

The game also takes a step away from other Zelda games by not having specific items and weapons needed for dungeons. Weapons could also be broken with the sole exception of The Master Sword, and even then it would need recharging at times. This got annoying at times since very useful weapons got destroyed out of sheer anger with minor enemies.

One item of importance is the Sheikah slate; it’s Link’s smartphone. It can be used to download maps from various areas, take photos, become a makeshift pokedex for enemies, wild animals, and other things, set reminders on quests, and everything but make a phonecall.

Another nice twist is that the start of the game involves you avoiding most of the monsters in the game similar to one would do in the first Legend of Zelda game (well that’s how I played it anyways). You couldn’t just barge into a room killing all the enemies without some serious consequences of either nearly being dead, losing a valuable weapon, or just plain dying.

I also liked the inclusion of the environment affecting Link in the game; you had to change Link into different clothes to suit the condition he was in. Hot volcano area? Special Goron armor. Wanna swim faster? Zora armor. Wanna sneak around? Use the Sheikah clothing (which was THE BOMB to use when exploring while wanting to avoid enemies).

Finally a love and hate thing I had with the game was the fact that the game didn’t hold your hand while you were playing it. Unlike in Orcarina of Time and Skyward Sword, Breath of Wild gives you little to no hint of what to do outside of “go to these places” which was kind of bad for me since I would rush to marked areas, die, and start over. It was when I slowed down and took the rout to areas marked on the map that the game became easier to play.

The Story

I’m still having trouble trying to figure out where Breath of Wild takes places in the timeline of The Legend of Zelda. The only clue given is that there is still reference to the goddess Hylia still being worshipped, but in the stages of being overlooked by the citizens of Hyrule. There is no ill will to the Gerudo tribe and the royal family, oddly both the Zora and Rito tribes coexist, the Kokiri have become the Koroks, there is still a Sheikah population beyond Impa, and the royal family is all but dead.

The game starts with Link awakening from a hundred year slumber to Zelda calling out to him. From that point on Link is placed on his quest by the spirit of the King of Hyrule (who now slightly resembles the late Robin Williams) to save the land. Link is giving the Sheikah slate instructing him to go to Impa to figure out how to save Hyrule.

The story concentrates mainly on Link and Zelda’s relationships with the citizens of Hyrule in the past and their fallen comrades at the hands of Calamity Ganon. In this version of Hyrule things are not going good at all with the castle destroyed and Zelda being the sole survivor of the royal family.

The background of the story is that Hyrule has gone to shit with Calamity Ganon corrupting ancient technology the Hyrulians and other species were using to banish him once and for all leading to not only Link being mortally wounded, but all of Link and Zelda’s allies being killed. As mentioned in gameplay Link is required to purify the Divine Beasts and free the spirits of his fallen friends in order to bring peace back to Hyrule.

A major theme in the story is doubt and having the ability to overcome doubt and what others think is destined for you. During game flashbacks Zelda heavily questions if she, Link, and their allies can defeat Calamity Ganon constantly thinking Link isn’t skilled enough to win against Calamity Ganon and hating herself for not having the power of the goddess Hylia despite Hylia’s divinity flowing through her blood. Another key point is that Zelda is more interested in doing research and studying the past rather than her role as princess and relying on prayer and meditation to use her powers.

There is a better explanation on some background events seen in Orcarina of Time and other games when it looked like there was friction between the Sheikah and the royal family by introducing the Yiga who are Sheikah who broke away from the clan and seek to kill Link.

There is no mention of the Triforce, it is there, but I’d rather not say what happens for the sake of a lovely twist in the Legend of Zelda series.

Artwork

Breath of Wild is beautiful; the game continues using the same cellshaded artstyle seen in both Wind Waker and Skyward Sword leaning more towards the later. The game also seems to lean more towards Wind Waker HD with a beautiful combination of cellshading and HD. I will admit I was hoping the game would be like a watercolor painting the same way Skyward Sword tended to be at times, but I got over this desire pretty fast.

I played the Wii U version so I think I got the less fancy one. If I ever get a Switch I’ll do a comparison of both games to see which system brought out the full beauty of the game.

The music also compliments the artstyle of the game very much with music increasing in tension at times of danger and turning light and soft in times of normality in the game.

Final Thoughts

Waiting two and a half years for the game was worth it, trading in Pokken, Professor Layton, and Animal Crossing was worth it, literally spending all of last Friday playing the game and making some friends think I’d been kidnapped may have been going a little overboard.

But the game brings out the best of the Wii U and possibly the best of the Switch (I’ll probably have to buy one if Nintendo kills off the 3ds). There is so much to do in the game both in the main story and side quests and even just screwing around and exploring Hyrule is worth playing the games at times considering how huge it is now.

I give The Legend of Zelda Breath of Wild for the Wii U and the new Nintendo Switch five out of five Sheikah Slates.

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