Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platform: Wii U (Also Available on Nintendo Switch)
ESRB Rating: E10+
My Rating: *****/5
After years in the making, the latest installment of “The Legend of Zelda” series has arrived with “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” Arriving just in time for the 30th anniversary of the series, Nintendo has crafted a highly immersive entry in one of their biggest series and an experience that honors the lineage of the series while also marking an ideal game for newcomers to enjoy.
The game opens with the player character, Link, awakening from a slumber of 100 years. In that time, an ancient being known as Calamity Ganon has taken over the land of Hyrule. It falls to Link to explore the land and save it from disaster as Ganon once again threatens to consume the kingdom in darkness.
While the premise is familiar to anyone who’s played any of the prior installments, the execution is where the real draw of the game comes in. The dungeons of the main quest can be played in any order the player desires, and the land of Hyrule is the most massive depiction in any of the games to date. There are no boundaries or load screens to hold the player back from exploring the land, and the challenge of the game comes from how the player overcomes whatever obstacles are before them. Whether you’re a new player or a longtime fan of the series, your abilities will be tested as you are on your quest to save Hyrule.
The game is also filled with all sorts of great little touches. When Link tries to kick open a chest to retrieve his clothes for his adventure, he actually holds his leg in pain. Certain foods possess different benefits in your adventure. Eating a hot pepper can help you keep warm in cold climates, and cooking random ingredients together will produce a dish that can heal you, but Link is visibly disgusted when he tries to eat it on your item screen. The graphics are also full of vibrant colors and a visual style that pushes the Wii U to its limits. The land of Hyrule and its inhabitants are almost like a painting in the way they’re rendered and how they move, blending the more realistic style in entries such as “Twilight Princess” and the cel-shaded, Studio Ghibli-infused style of games such as “The Wind Waker.”
While there is a learning curve compared to previous entries in the series, there is a great sense of satisfaction from finding out how accomplish certain tasks. The trials you complete grant you mystical powers to help you solve puzzles, and there is a wide variety of weapons and items to use in your quest. Even if some of them are rare or break after repeated use, you continue to acquire better weapons throughout your journey.
Even though Eiji Aonuma has admitted to never beating the original “Legend of Zelda” on NES, he has succeeded tremendously in recreating that experience for “Breath of the Wild.” As the last major first-party release on Wii U and one of the first major ones on the Nintendo Switch, it’s an ideal game to celebrate 30 years of “The Legend of Zelda” and easily the best entry in the series since “The Ocarina of Time” on Nintendo 64. It’s well-worth playing for both newcomers and true believers alike. Nintendo had a lot to live up to when the title began development, and “Breath of the Wild” has exceeded every expectation possible and delivered one of the best games in recent memory. It is highly recommended on Wii U and Switch.
Review by Steven Pryor