It’s time to take a look at the latest Legend of Zelda game. It’s a very iconic series but one that I have never found quite as critically acclaimed as most. Wind Waker was phenomenal and my personal favorite game in the series. It’s the only one to have lived up to the hype of being one of the best games of all time though. I didn’t care much for Majora’s Mask with the time gimmick and overdone puzzles. I only got to play the portable version of Ocarina of Time, but it was still pretty fun. I never played Twilight Princess since the game was too extreme and would probably give me nightmares. /s Skyward Sword was actually pretty great and I’d probably put that second to Wind Waker. See, the reason why Wind Waker and Skyward Sword were so good was due to the fact that they didn’t really have any gimmicks. It was just a standard Link adventure. You didn’t get lost or have to run around aimlessly for a while. They just got straight to the point.
Now we cut away to BoTW and it has many gimmicks. First of all, there isn’t much of a plot. Zelda is being held hostage in Hyrule Castle (We turning into the Mario series?) so Link must break in and stop her. That’s essentially the entire plot. One of the big selling points of this game was the freedom that was marketed. You could speed off and go save her immediately or gather up some allies and power ups to ensure victory. I naturally sped off to save Zelda immediately since that should be Link’s top priority instead of leading on a sea mermaid, but unfortunately I was unable to win. The speed ruins of people beating the game in under an hour are certainly impressive. It ended up taking me 26 hours.
There are 4 main dungeons to complete in this game and each one that you complete will give you an ally who will take care of one of Ganon’s forms. This makes the final boss infinitely easier and you’ll also get extra Heart containers as well. Aside from the big dungeons, there are also dozens of smaller ones. Every time you complete four of them, you can get a quarter of a heart or a big more stamina.
The gameplay is like your standard LoZ game for the most part. You slice and dice away at the villains. You can also find a horse if you’re lucky and use that to save on travel time. One new innovation for this game is the dreaded stamina meter. This means that you can’t run for more than a few seconds without slowing to a walk for a few seconds. It’s a rather tedious mechanic that only serves to drag the game out. You don’t see Nier Automata bothering with such a gimmick do you? I definitely would have liked for this to have been kept out since it makes climbing in particular a little tedious.
There’s a lot to cover here so lets get started. I usually go with positives than negatives or vice versa, but it’s hard to plan it all out ahead of time in this case so I’ll be going all over the place. First off, I have to say that the concept of a free plot is pretty intriguing. I like being able to go where I want whenever I want to go. The problem is that the game only half committed to this. Since you need certain equipment to go to some areas, the freedom isn’t as extensive as you’d think. I was able to cheese my way into the Goron stronghold by having a lot of fruit and eating it every other second to combat the damage, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t how you were supposed to do it. I also forgot to talk to the old man at the beginning so I missed out on my early chance to get the snow armor. The concept was good, but the execution was bad.
Another part of this that didn’t pan out so well was how slow Link is. In real time, it can take around 20-40 minutes to get somewhere. This gets mitigated as the game goes on since you can activate dungeons that are used as teleport points, but the first trek is always tedious. You’re supposed to be impressed with the backdrops, but a lot of the time they’re pretty empty anyway. There’s nothing to look at so you just want to keep going. Giving Link a good run speed (coughlikeNierAutomatacough) would have definitely been a really good idea. He doesn’t even need to have full turbo speed where you’re rocketing through the world, but being able to permanently run would have been a very good idea.
Now, it’s time for the worst mechanic in this game…the broken weapons. I thought we were done with those after Dark Cloud, but I guess not. This mechanic is terrible because constantly trying to find new weapons is tough. Especially since your storage is so small and after 10 it won’t let you pick something up without discarding a current weapon. I had to fight Ganon with some terrible weapons which significantly prolonged the battle. Just give me the Master Sword and let me swing forever. How I see it, only extra weapons should break, but you should always have at least one sword that is completely permanent. I can’t express enough just how terrible this was. It’s never been a good mechanic nor will it ever be one.
Breath of the Wild’s graphics are pretty good though. They may not be as impressive as Wind Waker’s, but they look good considering that this is a sandbox game. I think the graphics were probably limited to keep the world so large so it’s not quite as detailed as you’d expect at times. Still, it’s AAA quality and I really like the blue lightning effects. I also got some nice Transformers flashbacks from being knocked off a mountain and bumping into everything possible during my long slide down. Sure, it was a little annoying having to go back up, but that was still fun to watch.
Those aspects of the game were handled well. I do like how realistic the gameplay engine was with respect to falling and bumping into things. You don’t just die instantly because you fell a long distance, that was never realistic. The glider was also extremely handy and pretty fun. The game also made the 4 super skills very useful. One of them allowed you to quickly fly for a second straight up which helped a lot with climbing. Another one gave you a full revive which easily makes it the best ability in the game. A third one made you invincible for 3 hits while also stunning all enemies, even the final boss. The final skill was a thunder bolt which I didn’t find to be very useful until Ganon, but that’s reason enough to get it.
They were all quality of life upgrades that didn’t outright break the game, but made it a lot more fun. The developers certainly got that aspect right and it felt like Shantae. The journey to beating the final boss was reasonably difficult, but once you got there, you could now go back to early areas and easily get the bonus collectibles. I feel like that is definitely how a game should play out. For Breath of the Wild, it’ll be a lot more convenient to trek around and find things now that the campaign is done.
There is no doubt that Breath of the Wild has a significant amount of replay value. I could probably platy this game up to 50-60 hours and still have more to do. There are probably around 100 dungeons left and hundreds of wood chimps to find. If I went after the 100% mark it would certainly keep on proving why the game was worth the money. At the same time, Nintendo stubbornly refuses to add a trophy achievement system so there isn’t much point to doing it imo. I’d probably settle for getting the Master Sword and finding the lost memories.
Speaking of the Master Sword, it’s a real shame that you can beat the game without it. I really wanted to see it in action, but I likely never will at this point. It should have been made mandatory if you ask me. Ganon shouldn’t be able to be defeated without it. The final boss was still pretty fun though. Particularly the final phase as I was fairly stressed out. I only had 1 heart left from the first phase so I was running around like crazy trying not to get hit. I do love when final bosses are dramatic even if I’m sure that I would have rage quit for a day if I’d lost. No way was I going to replay the first phase again!
I can’t say much for the soundtrack though. LoZ’s never really been my style when it comes to music which is odd since Metroid, Star Fox, F-Zero, and even Mario have had some really good tunes. The final boss theme isn’t bad even if it’s a little generic. Most of the time, you won’t even notice music playing (If any is actually playing) which is a little unfortunate, but you can’t win them all I suppose.
Another strike against the game is that a lot of the dungeons tend to be very similar. The game is very repetitive in that respect as the 4 major dungeons are almost identical. One of them in particular was very tedious and took me almost 3 hours. It was the low point of the game for sure. Luckily the other 3 weren’t as bad and it’s still a step up from Majora’s Mask. Still, this is the problem with having all weapons from the get go and getting to decide where you want to go. The developers have to make all of the dungeons beatable from the start so it’s hard to make any of them more or less difficult without getting cheesy.
I didn’t really care for the cooking mechanic either. I never really got it and only made random stuff during my playthrough. My cooking failed each time so I blame the game on that…totally. Either way it’s not as if you really need the food. I did like the survival aspect of the game though. As I spent most of the early part with almost no hearts, one hit could KO me from any enemy. Even by the end of the game, the minions were serious threats. It was cool to see them KO me in one hit as it would usually involve a pretty large fall for Link. It really made you fight strategically and that was cool. Again, it was nice to see the progression since once you were a lot stronger, you could theoretically mow them down. At least if you had the super abilities.
Overall, Breath of the Wild is a good game. What it does really well is offer you a ton of replay value and also give you a lot of quality of life upgrades as you play through the game. It rewards you for playing it more and more which is great. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t say that it is one of the best games ever made or even that it is a great game. It’s a good title that had significant problems but enough strengths to get it by as well. I’m still glad that I ended up pre-ordering it and experiencing the journey day 1. It wasn’t disappointing the way that Star Fox Zero was. Hey, I did play it for 26 hours right? It’s the kind of game that I think I may have given a much higher score back when I was a kid and a completionist for games that didn’t even have trophies. At this point though, the game has to have a phoenominal reward for me to do that since I have so many games on the backburner. I recommend checking this out if you like 3D games or are an LoZ fan. Of course if you’re the latter, then you probably already own the game. I’m hoping that the next one goes back to its roots though. All I’m asking for is a classic LoZ game with a good plot and not a whole lot of gimmicks.