The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch is an open world game with the traditional Zelda twist. The story, as with all Legend of Zelda games, begins with Link, but not as we usually see him. When Link wakes up in the Shrine of Resurrection and has no memories at all of his life. The only thing that he has left is his instincts. The game creates a feeling of freedom and curiosity right after leaving the Shrine of Resurrection. The player is greeted with a cut scene and shown this:
This is the presentation of the world. It looks absolutely beautiful, but every good thing has a catch, as the player soon learns. There is evil in the world that wants to destroy the world, and Link is destined to destroy the evil (oh, and princess Zelda needs help too I suppose).
After a brief tutorial, the player is given three options: explore, follow the quest line, or try to defeat Calamity Ganon (the villain) right away. These options can be combined together to create a fully customized experience. This is where the story gets interesting.
If you explore, you can stumble upon many interesting things. Pieces of lore, bowling in the snow, and shield surfing were my favorite discoveries while exploring. Shield surfing especially was interesting because of how you find out about it. You can either accidentally push the right buttons (or look it up I suppose) or you can find several people in the world that know how to shield surf. I randomly stumbled upon someone who told me about it, and I immediately went to the snowy mountains and surfed for several hours. I don’t believe I have ever had so much fun ignoring the end of the world!
Exploring satisfied my sense of curiosity, but then I realized I had a duty to fulfill, defeating Calamity Ganon. So I went to fight him. after a few attempts, I quickly realized that until Link had more practice with his weapons, I wouldn’t be able to beat Ganon and his powerful minion (or maybe I’m just bad, yeah, that’s probably the real reason). I decided instead to follow the quest line in hopes of becoming more powerful.
There are two main quest lines. The first leads to weakening Ganon and the second is all about finding areas that will help to restore Link’s Memories. The first is more important if you want to complete the game, and the second is more important for the background story. I found myself blazing through the first quest line and entirely ignoring the second, but the first storyline is still very important for the story.
During these quests you end up solving problems for many different races pertaining to their “Divine Beast,” which are essentially the guardians of their race. You also encounter the souls of the dead protectors, which are friends of Link. when encountering them, a memory is triggered about them. The newly discovered friends of Link also deal significant damage to Ganon during the final fight. I guess having friends can have a huge benefit sometimes.
After defeating Ganon, Princess Zelda asks Link one simple question:
Ugh… Nope I really don’t, but thanks for the guilt trip Zelda. Time to do the second quest line I guess.
The second quest line is all about recovering memories. You obtain 12 pictures and are asked to find the location that the picture is about in the hopes that it will trigger a memory and help Link remember his past self. Now, in order to get the true ending you have to collect 17 memories, but you get 4 during the first quest line, and there are 13 memories in the second quest line. Finding these memories is fairly hard (I admit, I cheated and looked it up) but the results are totally worth it. I got to understand the story behind many of the characters I had met already and I understood their actions and their attitudes towards Link way better after these quests. Needless to say, I will not spoil them. Trust me though, doing these quests is worth the effort, and this is coming from a person that hates tedious quests.
The way they incorporated the Switch’s hardware was not exactly spectacular, but it didn’t have to be. It was efficient and intuitive and that was what mattered to me the most. Personally, I really miss the mechanics of Skyward Sword’s swordplay (Skyward Sword used motion controls for its swordplay, instead of just a button press), but they make up for it by making shooting a bow controlled by turning the console, and sometimes yourself as well, in order to line up the perfect shot. I found myself forgetting that I had a sword, instead opting to use a bow at every opportunity (or until I ran out of arrows, which happened a lot at first).
My least favorite thing about Breath of the Wild, besides the swordplay not being motion controlled, was that the touch screen was used sparingly, if at all. I feel like I had paid for a touch screen that I didn’t even need to play the game. This really disappointed me. I love it when developers try to be innovative with their controls, and this game disappointed me on that front. After Skyward Sword, this game felt like a letdown for me in terms of controls (And only controls, I promise!)
If I had to rate this game purely based off of story, I would rate it perfectly. There were no flaws in the story that I could find and the story was very emotional and engaging as well. But sadly, I cant rate games just off of story so this game can’t get a perfect 10/10. However, this game is fantastic and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone that loves to play video games. I even will go so far as to say this game is the best game in the last ten years despite having to compete with Skyrim. I give this game a 9.5/10 because although this game was absolutely incredible, I can’t help but feel a small bit of disappointment at the lack of ingenuity in the control scheme.