By Scott Schweinfurth
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (or BotW) is the most recent game in the Legend of Zelda series (now 32 years old!). In it, you play Link, the personal guard of the titular Zelda who fell fighting the evil Calamity Ganon 100 years ago and has recently awoken from a 100-year slumber that restored Link to health but cost him his memories. Upon awakening, Link has to rediscover what happened to him, recover the master sword, and restore four divine beasts scattered across the land and corrupted by Ganon, in order to help Link defeat Ganon and restore peace to Hyrule once again.
An open world adventure, the main draw to BotW is the ability to go anywhere thanks to the stamina and climbing mechanism. Unlike other games, there are no invisible walls or obvious barriers (or at least, very few). Instead, you have the ability to climb any surface, providing you have the stamina to get there. This alone adds an awesome layer to the game, literally laying the entire world out to you from the beginning. You could, if you choose, walk right from your 100-year nap to the final confrontation with Ganon, but it’s not a very good idea.
With the whole world at your fingertips, there needs to be a lot to occupy it, and just like the previous games in this series, there’s no shortage of stuff to do. Sure, Zelda might be losing her 100-year fight to contain Ganon and prevent him from consuming the land, but maybe you feel like helping a villager find 10 bugs. Maybe you prefer to search the land for the shrines left behind by monks in an effort to increase your own abilities (which is good, since there are 120 of them) or locate hidden Koroks to receive seeds that increase your carrying capacity (which with 900 in the game, might be a full time job!).
Eventually, you will probably visit the different races of the lands to clear Ganon’s corruption from the divine beasts designed to help Link defeat Ganon. The divine beasts are awesome quests and fun puzzle filled sections of the game, each with a great story about what happened to your allies that lead to their downfall. Every one of the guardians was a fun character and I really enjoyed watching any of the memory cut scenes. I found myself really invested in their stories and laughing and cheering along with them. On top of being a great game, Breath of the Wild is a great story.
The only real issue I have is the weapon system. After using your weapons for a bit they will wear down and eventually break. It’s kind of annoying watching weapon after weapon shatter. I found pretty often I would get into an enemy camp and start taking care of the monsters only to run out of weapons and have to leave. Even The Master Sword, the game’s ultimate weapon, will become unusable (it doesn’t break, it just kind of wears out and has to cool down). I wish there was some sort of weapon in the game that was shatter-proof.
I had a blast playing Breath of the Wild, racking up around 130 hours during my first playthrough (I am now about 20 hours into my second play-through!) and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone into video games.
5 out of 5 hands.