Breath of The Wild is a great game. The amount of detail the developers put into the game is probably unparalleled for any other Nintendo game. There are small intricacies that help define the world and connect the game to previous entries in the franchise to aid in pulling those nostalgic heartstrings. However, my heart strings weren’t tugged on at all. Nothing about my experience with Breath Of The Wild gave me a strong emotional response except for perhaps a few times of disappointment and frustration.
If you’re a longtime fan of the Zelda series, you know the drill with most of the games. You’re Link, the hero of time. You’ve got the same job, the same sword and the same methods of saving the world. You enter first dungeon, get the special weapon, beat the boss and head to the next area. Rinse and repeat until you get to Ganon or whoever the boss may be. The development team behind Breath of The Wild decided it was time to change up the formula and give the franchise a fresh new face to make it more inviting to new players while keeping the old ones. That’s quite a tall order and for the most part I would say they did a good job. Except for the fact that they took away a lot of things that made Zelda charming. While Breath Of The Wild boasts a story about exploration and impending doom, the exploration seems stale and familiar after the first thirty or forty shrines and the impending doom seems like a passing thought that sometimes pops up telling you “by the way, there’s a story here,” but most the time you can just shrug it off and go about your business. You really don’t have any sense of urgency in the need to take down Calamity Ganon. Sure, he did some bad things a hundred years ago, but everyone seems to be doing pretty well now. The towns seem cheerful and even the Zora are too busy being enamored by their prince to care about the looming threat.
But that’s not all. The divine beasts, which are Breath Of The Wild’s equivalent to dungeons, are bland, empty and terribly designed. Each one is just a handful of shrine puzzles shoved together, each one loosely tied together. They lack any kind of the traditional Zelda magic. There are no cool nooks and crannies to explore. There are no mini-bosses. There are no cool new weapons to find. Instead, the bosses have been replaced by mini Calamity Ganons that can easily just be defeated if you launch enough arrows at them. Who thought that was a creative design? Who thought that was interesting? But most importantly, who thought that was fun?
While we are talking about weapons, we should probably discuss the wildly divisive weapon system. All weapons are breakable. All of them. Sure, a rare few you can rebuild, but you can’t repair any of them. So if you really love that Guardian Spear, you better just hold on to it and save it for a good battle you don’t mind wasting it on because you aren’t going to get it back. While I understand why they implemented such a system, I don’t agree with how they went about it. There’s no problem having a system where a weapon gets damaged and weaker over time, but with such a flawed implementation, it just feels cheap. I understand that you want me to change up my fighting style and try out a variety of weapons, but what if I don’t want to? What if I really cherish my broadsword? Why can’t I go gather some materials and ore and repair the damn thing? It just seems a little lazy.
Unfortunately, laziness doesn’t begin to explain what went wrong with the story. How do you tell a story in a game about exploration? Simple. Make it as shallow as possible and hope they don’t take the time to explore everything to realize the lack of depth. You would think that with all the memories in the game, they would be able to create an engaging and tightly wound story, but because you can find the memories in practically any order, the story just comes off as disjointed and sloppy. Then there’s the lackluster voice acting. Zelda sounds like she’s trying to do a twist on a British accent, but fails badly. I can understand why the other characters have hit and miss moments given it’s the series’ first time doing voice acting, but wouldn’t you think they would put the most effort into one of the two stars of the franchise? All in all, the story, accompanied by weak voice acting and an anticlimactic final battle, left me wanting something more. I wanted to feel something. I wanted to like the story. I tried. I really did.
So, with all of this bashing on the game, you’d expect me to say I hate the game, right? Of course not. As I stated at the beginning of this article, it is a great game. It has plenty of things to enjoy like the awesome slow motion arrow shooting and the shield surfing, but it also has a lot of weak elements to it that will always keep me from calling it a masterpiece. If you are hesitant on playing the game, the one thing I want you to take away from this article is that it’s not a traditional Zelda game and while that may be fine for others, I feel as though they took away too much of what I have grown to love for years now. If that doesn’t bother you, I think you should try it out.
Written by G. S. Martin