review – Breath Of The Wild

I had another review I had planned for today, an old timey crime movie, but… I had gotten too close to the personal deadline to write something and I didn’t want to re-watch the movie for further notes, so, maybe next week. Instead, I’ll tell you what I have been up to when I’m not drawing stupid looking robots:

The Legend Of Zelda Breath Of The Wild, or Zelda The Breath of The Wild, or Breath of The Wild – look, you get the point. I’m playing the new-ish Zelda game on the Switch, ok?

Some disclaimers: I have never sat down long enough to finish a Zelda related game. I do however love 8 bit rpg games. I didn’t have a Nintendo growing up, but my friend who did would loan me his so I could beat Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy for him. But he wouldn’t lend me the Zelda games. Once I played Zelda II and found an extra life that was hidden BUT everyone reading Nintendo Power knew about it – so I snatched it up, and my friend became super angry with me. He was holding on to it because it wouldn’t reappear later when he wanted to face an end game boss or whatever. So, I’m bad at these particular games, is what I’m saying. Not to mention, millions of Zelda games were released on later consoles (okay, not millions) and there’s an intimidating feeling of in-series knowledge that you have to have to know what to do, where to go, how to play (not true).

Link’s adventures are set in a cute but dangerous world, with lots of goofy enemies and NPCs. As the series goes on, it includes more and more side missions. With the exception of Zelda 2, you don’t exactly level up – it’s more like a more freeform Metroid exploration to find certain things, with puzzles that span screens or areas, where you have to find items to improve your chances of success through the game. Breath Of The Wild is mostly the same, with upgrades to found/rewarded armor, but also employs a Skyrim level set of ways to improve your resistance to the elements or defense or attack for a limited amount of time.

I have not finished this game, yet, hopefully I will – I am very much enjoying it. You can find and train horses to help you get a cross areas quicker, but I have not been doing that as much because like with all their games, there’s a lot of nooks & crannies. This time, Link can climb on almost every surface (depending on the stamina bar, of course), so virtually no space is off limits. You can mine areas for gems that you can sell to various merchants if you make it safely from town to town. You might make it safely from town to town but baddies pop up from nowhere depending on the time of day and the weapons you find break after a few battles, and occasionaly you are very overpowered. And you can only hold on to a few weapons at a time in your inventory, so you have to make hard choices about what you’re carrying and plan to use knowing that when things do break, you can’t go back to find the stuff you passed on (depending on how much time has passed, if you’ve respawned, etc.).

Like Skyrim, exploring is a blast. Unlike Skyrim, the variety of what you find is very small. There’s like a dozen enemies with a few types of difficulty for each. I might be exaggerating. (I’ve not gotten far with the progress of the game, but as of this writing I’ve unlocked the maps of most of the areas of Hyrule.) The real fun to the game is the amount of ‘shrines’ that contain various puzzles where you use a few of the skills you’ve gained to solved, with, added bonus, different ways to solve most of the puzzles. The end reward is how you increase your hearts or stamina levels (plus some weapons, most of which you may already be used to). This part of the game is a blast for me, at least, and which is why I feel free to have a review of a game I am sure I am not close to finishing – there’s four ‘beasts’ (giant animal shaped structures) that serve as minibosses before you’re supposed to fight the series’ antagonist & rescue the title character, and I got through one of them. Seriously, I’m just running through area to area, testing the borders of where certain doom is just over the hill, seeing how far I can get on the map and if there are more shrine dungeon areas with puzzles. I love the puzzles!

So, and so far, good job, Nintendo team. I’m not upset about picking and choosing weapons or if I’m missing any legacy issues, such as “you should know how to do this if you remember that from games X, Y, and Z, that you never played.” The purpose of the game is to figure it out, so I’m committed. My only worry is once it’s over, is it worth playing the open sandbox? Can you keep playing? Skyrim has ‘radiant’ quests, where you can keep getting similar Macguffin quests from NPCs that replace one item with another to be found in one location or another. After you’ve been everywhere and defeated everything…will that be the case for such a huge open world with tons of video game possibilities? WHAT ABOUT REAL LIFE, AM I TAKING ADVANTAGE OF EVERY MOMENT? Haha midlife crisis there. Don’t mind me.

Regardless, super enjoying this. If it was designed to keep my interest figuring out these puzzles while travelling around this fake land, done! Yay!

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