I haven’t played a new Zelda game in years, but the overwhelming positive response to Breath of the Wild was too much for me to resist. I don’t care about the Nintendo Switch’s portability (I prefer using a TV screen), and I probably won’t buy more than a handful of games for the system, but boy does it feel good to be Link again.
The big draw of Breath of the Wild is the open world full of mountain peaks to climb and enemies to slay. But what really sells the world is its sense of history. There are desolate ruins that speak to the violent past of the beautiful land, and forgotten leviathan skeletons are wondrously alluring. There are plenty of shrines to uncover and conquer, and some of them – especially those involving riddles – provide a welcome challenge. Link’s essential abilities are available early in the game, so the player’s only limitations are lack of skill and imagination. I’m not necessarily skilled or imaginative, and I experienced satisfaction in returning to confront monsters that had once made me flee in fear.
Although most of the story is still delivered through text and Link remains woefully silent, Breath of the Wild also uses voice actors to flesh out the story and create bonds between Link and his allies. Zelda is more of a rounded character in this game; she’s idealistic, bratty, courageous, and hampered with self-doubt. Maybe someday Link will follow suit and be more than a mute hero.
At the time of this writing I haven’t yet completed Breath of the Wild, but I’m happy to say it feels like returning to Ocarina of Time on a grander scale. I do have minor quibbles with character pop-in and the short handful of dungeons. Overall though, Breath of the Wild is an incredible adventure, and it’s easy to see why Zelda fans fell in love with it.