I’ve been putting this off for a while. No, not for the usual laziness that’s typically why I don’t write reviews anymore. But because it would signify completion. Writing this up and putting it out there for the world to see would be like reading the last chapter of a book. It’ll give me the green light to move forward and say “I’ve beaten it, reviewed it, and now I can move on.” And even though I saved the kingdom from the evil that has plagued it for 100 years, and watched the credits roll on the screen, I could honestly say that I am nowhere near done with Breath of the Wild.
I guess that puts us in a strange relationship, huh? I mean, you come here looking for a review on a game and the first thing I tell you is I’m nowhere near done with what it has to offer. Hopefully I’ll be more clear as I continue to babble. This is, after all, my first review in nearly a year, so pardon my rust. Also, let me warn you: While I am spoiler free, I’m not your typical reviewer. I won’t speed through the pros and cons, give you a score at the end, and call it a day. Like everything else I do, I will dance around my point that I’m attempting to make for at least 2 paragraphs before forgetting what I was getting at in the first place. But hey, at least I’m consistent!
First off, let me Han Solo you and say everything you’ve heard about the game – the world, the addictiveness, the amazing adventure that unfurls before your eyes – it’s true. All of it… When you take your first steps into the world and see the vastness, you think, “Wow. This is going to be fun.” Well I’m here to tell you no, you’re wrong. There is absolutely nothing that could prepare you for the adventure you’re about to embark on when you take those first steps. There’s so much to do, and so many ways to do it, you couldn’t begin to fathom the possibilities. I approached it with a very survivalist mindset, and happy that nothing holds your hand. Unlike other Zelda games, you’re not forced to do a 3 hour tutorial that drags out the beginning of the game. No, this throws you blindfolded into the deep end and doesn’t tell you anything about the pool you’re in.
50 hours in and the reality of it all dawned on me like a giant moon smiling as it edged closer and closer to my little world: I will most likely never experience a first-time joy like this again.
Before this, my favorite Zelda game was A Link to the Past, with Ocarina of Time, and A Link Between Worlds after that. But now? I couldn’t give you a straight answer. Of course, Breath of the Wild is in the top spot, but it’s in a different category from every other one before it. It took everything I ever loved about Zelda, and flipped it around. It is far from the typical formula you’re used to playing, and you’d think that would be a bad thing. But it is such a welcome change. So much so that I don’t know if they will ever be able to go back to the regular Zelda formula again. But that’s another post, and I cannot get into it here without completely derailing.
If you want to put a number on it, it took me 80 hours or so to get from opening to credits. For me, at this point of my life with 2 kids and hardly enough time to cook dinner most days, I’d say that is a huge feat. But honestly, as I stated earlier, saying I’m nowhere near done with the game, I could easily have clocked in double that time with no problem whatsoever. See, at around the 50 hour mark, I had to make a choice. It was a difficult choice, but it’s one that I’m happy I did. I was at a point where I had done enough to say I’m satisfied with what I’ve accomplished and could begin the end game. I came to the fork in that road and I took the path to the end. Not because I was bored or because I wasn’t having anymore fun. But because I didn’t want to rob myself of anymore joy. Let me explain..
I was playing relentlessly. Going from point A to point B, having the absolute time of my gamer life. I was making discoveries, exploring the world, taming the vast wild that had a new mystery around ever corner. I was scaling mountains with my bare hands for the sole purpose of finding the closest undiscovered shrine, and hoping is was a ways below me so I can paraglide to it. And in that moment – leaping off the ledge of a mountain that took a stamina elixir to conquer, opening my glider and hearing it snap as it caught the wind, then looking over to see the sun rising over another mountain that I wonder if I’ve been to yet – it’s then that I realized I couldn’t be happier. Sadly, my happiest moment quickly became my darkest. Because it was then that it hit me.
Whenever someone asks the age old question “If you were trapped on an island, what game would you want to have with you?”, I will happily name Breath of the Wild and look forward to my isolation with it.50 hours in and the reality of it all dawned on me like a giant moon smiling as it edged closer and closer to my little world: I will most likely never experience a first-time joy like this again. This game is a part of a franchise that I’ve loved and have been playing since I was 5 years old. It literally has everything I’ve ever wanted in a single game. And here I was. 50 hours, enjoying every second, and nowhere near completing the main quest (not one Beast done). I know, that doesn’t sound like anything is wrong with that realization. But if you’re like me and you’re the type to not replay games, especially when you’re getting older and have less time to play, this realization can get you mighty sad, mighty fast. It’s not beyond me to replay something, but once I start doing the same thing over and over that I’ve already done before, I get very bored very quick and usually abandon the replay.
So I made a choice. I could continue my path I’m on. Exploring every corner, doing everything there is to do in the world with the biggest grin as I enjoy every moment of it. Or, I could focus on the main quest, complete the 4 temples, beat the boss, and walk away with something to come back to. I thought about it for a few days. It wasn’t easy, but I finally decided I was ready for the end game. I began that path and finished, and as the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but feel empty. I just completed something I invested 80 hours in and I know there was so much I didn’t do. This was about two weeks ago and I still feel this emptiness, especially when I partake in conversations about it, or worse, help my kids as they play on their files. Does it make me sad? Yes, but at the same time, I know I have at least another 80 hours of exploration, adventure, and mysteries that have yet to be discovered. No, I didn’t finish all the shrines (64/120), or complete/find all of the side quests, but I am happy knowing that when I do decide to pick it up again, there will be stuff I didn’t do waiting for me. And enough of it to make everything feel fresh and new. And that’s not even thinking about the expansion pass which I’m excited to see what else comes from it.
And like a wise man spinning tales to a wide-eyed group of children. Knowing every word he’s saying is another rock on the mountainside that you’re hanging on to for dear life. The game is letting you savor it all, rock by rock.I never thought I’d have to make such decisions with a game before. Most people think gaming is simple. Turn it on, play it, beat it, and repeat. And yeah, most of the time you could do that just fine. But there is so much to do here. So much to experience and fall in love with. Simply playing straightforward and beating it would be doing yourself a great disservice. The world is begging you to explore it. To take it all in and savor every climb and glide. Breath of the Wild has achieved more than any other Zelda before it, and has cemented itself on the top of my favorite games list, and that’s with leaving a good amount uncovered. Not only has it given me immense joy, but it also answers a question I’ve never had an answer to before. Now, without a hint of hesitation, whenever someone asks the age old question “If you were trapped on an island, what game would you want to have with you?”, I will happily name Breath of the Wild and look forward to my isolation with it.
There’s just so much I ever expected from a Zelda title. I was so used to the classic formula of getting to a temple to get a weapon, then using that weapon to get to the next temple, etc.. But A Link Between Worlds experimented away from that and I loved it. Breath of the Wild evolved even further and made so many changes in so many areas, it’s amazing to experience. Even the voice acting in the cut scenes – that I wasn’t too keen on when I heard it was being implemented – was done amazingly (Zelda aside, at some points) and I don’t think the characters you encounter on your journey would’ve been nearly as memorable. It showed the diversity in the different races throughout Hyrule and made you wish you had more interactions with them in the game.
Is this a review? Probably not. Am I gushing on and on like a high school cheerleader talking about the dreamy football player? Maybe. But it cannot be helped. Breath of the Wild left a major impression on me, and made me proud to be a gamer. It dug its claws into my roots and reminded me why I have this undying love for a franchise I have so many memories with.
Even the Divine Beasts, the Temples in this game, were impressive and memorable. In the beginning, I had very mixed feelings about the Beasts, seeing them as the weakest part of the entire game. As I went on though, they grew on me and I began to appreciate what they were and how they functioned. They added so much depth to the story, I couldn’t imagine beating the game without completing them. The beasts, the characters, the world – which is a character in itself – it’s all part of this grand story that the game is telling you. And like a wise man spinning tales to a wide-eyed group of children. Knowing every word he’s saying is another rock on the mountainside that you’re hanging on to for dear life. The game is letting you savor it all, rock by rock. No, it doesn’t spoon feed it, very much how it doesn’t hold your hand through your journey. It’s up to you to find the memories that tell the story of what happened. And again, if you’re a fan of the series and you’re invested in certain aspects of the universe, there are some gripping moments that all lead up to, and execute, a climactic ending that will leave you feeling at peace with what you’ve done to get there.
Look, I know. I sound biased and blinded by excitement and I’m not really giving any counter points to make me sound like a fair reviewer. Sue me, because I’m not going to lie, it’s hard for me to say anything negative about Breath of the Wild. While I was playing there were a few things that I complained about, but looking back now, I can hardly remember what they were. Which means they were overshadowed by the good. I’m head over heels in love with what Nintendo delivered and would be happy if they just added to the package rather than craft me a new one in a few years. Like I mentioned, I’ve been playing the series for a long time. And this is by far, the greatest adventure you can set out on in Hyrule. Living up to its name, this is truly a legend of Zelda.
Verdict – Buy
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