Forget everything you expected from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Whilst your high hopes and expectations are certainly admirable, they’re about to be surpassed with perhaps the greatest leap Nintendo has ever made.
It might sound premature to wonder if Breath of the Wild is the greatest game Nintendo has ever made, it definitely wouldn’t come without a hazardous route filled with a Moblin army of doubters. Unfortunately, a Moblin is susceptible to a fire arrow as to an explosive, and any hesitation towards Nintendo’s new console has certainly been slew with one arrow.
From the beginning, there’s a sense of anticipation of how this story is going to unfold. Link is a little worse for wear, awakening to a voice heralding for his aid. The moment you step out of your slumber and into the Great Plateau is the moment you realize this isn’t a Zelda game of old; the formula has changed and modernized to give much more freedom to the player.
And as you make your first gasp in the fresh air for one-hundred years, you are mesmerized by the breathtaking beauty that Breath of the Wild is. Every tree majestically swaying in the wind, every flower that coughs pollen as you glide past it, every heron taking flight at the sight of a blond-haired boy. Every blue, every purple, every red; not a pixel out of place. Breath of the Wild is gorgeous, a palette of aesthetics that paints the pretty side of a tragedy.
A darkness effortlessly surrounds the world. A sense of Twilight Princess swims through the veins; a frailty sealed with the innocent much like The Wind Waker. The artwork shouts Adult Timeline, with the Koroks and Beedle included, but the story screams Child Timeline. A convergence is not out the question as there’s a mixture of influences from all previous Zelda games. However, any discussion on the timeline now remains cautious.
Hyrule is certainly in ruin and that’s as far as can be said without any spoilers. The shrines, which are mini-dungeons, are some of the easiest puzzles you’ll ever witness. However, treat them like a sanctuary. The open world is much more challenging than previous Zelda titles. There are many ways to perish, more ways than you’ll probably discover. Death by lightning and ice in the same playthrough isn’t uncommon. The foes have been buffed, providing a much more rigorous challenge than before, notably the blue Moblins have become a feisty adversary. A surprising range of techniques are needed to surpass such obstacles, and to ‘die trying’ has never felt so real.
The depth in gameplay has succeeded expectations. Much like Skyrim, you can spend hours just traveling the world in awe of its beauty, or you can get serious and accomplish as many quests as possible. Just like any other RPG, talking to NPCs can arise new quests and challenges, bringing vital clues to the wider story. This is no linear path, this is a web of chaos that only leads to further chaos, which is a fine thread that the best RPGs are balanced upon. The mystery of what to do leads to the discovery of further mysteries.
Breath of the Wild is huge and the best advice would be to get your own Epona as soon as possible. It will honestly take hours going by foot as you discover new places, the map is beyond anything Zelda has ever done previously. There is no preparation for this map, it will shock you regardless. And yet, miraculously, you will probably still want more. The perfect transition between areas, the serene music that elegantly pursues each step you take with not a note out of place, the sense of adventure that accompanies you on your own journey. This is a masterpiece.
This is Nintendo’s next step. The people shouted ‘higher’ and Nintendo touched the sky. If this is how the Nintendo Switch is going to be from this moment forward, then we’re about to witness Nintendo’s greatest achievement yet.