I’m not the best video game reviewer out there. For one, I’m pretty bad at video games compared with a lot of “serious” gamers. I also tend to forget the details of games, instead remembering them in a vague haze of emotion. Dead Space? Very scary. I can’t remember any specific moments apart from the ending, but man, it was terrifying. Stardew Valley? Nostalgic and charming! But don’t ask me what I planted, or even who I married. I forgot.
It should speak volumes for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, therefore, that I not only look back on the game in a haze of pure joy, but also that I can remember so many of the specific, minor details that made it such a great game.
And those details are there in spades.
- The villagers’ dialogue changes based on time of day, weather, and even what you’re wearing.
- Throw an egg in a hot spring, and you’ll get a hard-boiled egg. Drop meat in the snow, and you’ll get frozen meat. Light a deer on fire, and you get seared roast. Ok, that last one is pretty grim, but seriously?
- You can fish with bombs. Throw in a bomb, stun the fish, collect them when they float to the surface. Electrified shock arrows work even better at this, bit it’s less cool than fishing with bombs.
- The look of surprise on an enemy’s face when you knock a weapon out of its hand.
- The spontaneous dance parties that Bokoblins throw around fires.
- And on. And on. And on…
The game is classic Zelda, with elements of Skyrim thrown in. It’s completely open ended, in that you can tackle anything in any order whenever you want. I meandered through the story, and then challenged myself with a bunch of the different shrines scattered around the map until I felt powerful enough to take on Gannon. Speed runners, on the other hand, are bypassing the game entirely to run up and kick Gannon’s porky tuckus right out of the gate. I think it’s a testament to Breath of the Wild’s fantastic game design that you can do either.
But if you do skip most of the game, you’ll miss one of the best Zelda stories in years. Like the setting, the gameplay, and the design, the story both mirrors earlier Zelda installments and surpasses them. Told through memories and dialog with long-dead spirits, the tale was epic, hopeful, and more than a little melancholy. I admit, I got a little misty at the end credits. That may have just been because I knew I’m going to miss playing this.
The downside of owning a Nintendo Switch right now is that the Switch feels like it really only has one game. The upside? It only needs one. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my favorite Zelda game ever. It may be my favorite video game ever. It’s easily in the top 3. I wholeheartedly recommend it.