The Legend of Zelda has always been a game about experiencing an adventure. Whether it is through its story of going on a quest to overcome an evil threatening the world or through the elementary characters you get to meet through the course of your quest or through the puzzles and platform experience represented in the dungeons and bosses, the Legend of Zelda games always create an experience fondly remembered when it comes to gaming. Breath of the Wild is no different. Actually, that is an understatement, Breath of the Wild is expertly crafted and merges those “zelda” elements within an open world setting in such a phenomenal and ridiculously fun way. It is astonishing really, unbelievable in fact how brilliantly constructed Breath of the Wild is. The game is less about consolidating your objectives to serve as the path to the final boss and more about exploring the world to construct your own adventure that you experience on the journey towards the final boss.
There is a story driving the game but you find yourself more frequently as the game goes on going on tangents to that path lined out as you take detours to the main quest objectives set out for you. Exploring is such a joy and so much fun. Rather than be driven by the direction of the quest, what the player is driven by is their own curiosity and desire to satisfy the mystery of whats beyond that mountain, past that river or within that forest. And how rewarding it can be to satisfy your curiosity. Its a sheer pleasure to be so free in how you approach the game. There have been so many moments where you opt to go on a different path than the one that leads directly to your destination because you become intrigued by something in a different direction.
The surprises and excitement you experience during those moments are truly fantastical, you truly feel you are adventuring within an expansive and living world. The creatures, time, weather, critters, terrain, secrets, Koroks and quests all work together to create an unforgettable gaming experience. I am currently at the point where I need to visit a place I previously been to in the past but rather than follow that quest line, I am running around the world visiting the regions and following the ping on my Shrine Sensor+ (when a Shrine is nearby). Exploring the world, enduring the elements (that thunderstorm is no joke), encountering elite monsters and finding secret chest and cool looking weapons – such experiences are redefining what The Legend of Zelda is about to me.
With the Shrines, I love the puzzles they contain, a lot of them are extremely fun to solve and complete. Some take some time to figure out but when you do solve them, the feeling of satisfaction you get does puts a smile on your face. I particularly enjoyed the Five Flame challenge where you have to hits the nodes to rotate the giant cube until the five flames are all lit. I initially was confused about what to do but when I recalled the shrine name – Five Flames, it become obvious what the trial was. I couldn’t help but think of Professor Layton when I first encountered the shrines and the puzzles within. The battle trials/challenges are also fun. Since I avoided going to Kakariko Village for so long and instead explored the surrounding areas, my first experience with the battle trials was one where there was no tutorial on how to combat them. Only when I got to Kakariko Village and was taken through the tutorial in the shrine did I learn how to effectively combat the mechanical constructs. Still, throwing bombs and attacking the Guardians during the cool downs between attacks did prove successful But I learned how to block parry, dodge, counter and flurry attack from that tutorial.
The Lynel fight, what a blast. The feeling of defeating a Lynel is exhilarating. Initially from being overwhelmed to slowing learning how to handle its attacks (I accidentally learned that you can avoid his running spear slash by ducking under it) to performing a perfect dodge and counter to learning that you can mount a Lynel and attack it from behind. It was such a fun learning experience as all the individual failures incrementally built up to the success of defeating the Lynel. To think that I first thought defeating them would be impossible when I first encountered one. Given the Lynel’s overwhelming range abilities, I can see why they made such a terrifying impression on me.
Learning to block/parry took me a while to master. Only when I reached Akkala Tech Lab did I figure out how parrying works. And when I took on the Guardians in the Limenio Labyrinth, I mastered how the parry works – pulling two of the flying Guardians really pushes you to time your shield parries perfectly.
The weapons and shields having durability is an interesting mechanic and I actually don’t mind it, it adds to the exploration of the world when you have find new and powerful weapons. The irony is that now that the bombs can be used infinitely, I am finding myself using bombs as a weapon more often than in previous Legend of Zelda games. Rather than exhaust good weapons I have on fodder, I prefer to use the bombs to knock the enemies back and disarm them before going in for the attach. The higher quality weapons I save for the “boss” encounters.
There is so much to love about Breath of the Wild and the fact that the setting of the world is so reminiscent of the world in Princess Mononoke only makes me love it even more. I know it has taken me a while to begin playing it but I am glad I have finally gotten around to starting it. I wanted to start playing it two years ago but I never got around to starting it. Rather when I went to America last year and played the Breath of the Wild demo in one of the stores, I found myself entranced by the introduction of waking up in an open world with the mystery of Link’s presence overarching the story beginning from when you awaken the first Sheikah tower. From that moment the desire to play the game has built up inside me until it reached a point where I couldn’t not play the game. Even though I was wrestling with the decision to begin the game only when I found myself with ample time to truly engross myself in Breath of the Wild, I ended up finding that that time never comes. Life has a way of always being busy. You start something and then you make time to follow through with it. Also another factor that added to the delay in starting Breath of the Wild is the satisfaction I got when I played Skyward Sword. I really loved that game and how it also expanded on the open world elements of previous Zelda games (like Wind Waker). I am looking forward to continuing my adventure within the Breath of the Wild and uncovering the mysteries of the past.