Man, what a game.

BoTW is the first Zelda I’ve played in a long time that actually had me engrossed in exploration. The world is unimaginably massive and filled with so many things to do that I haven’t found a dull moment in my 150+ hours to date. While I am a big fan of most (if not all) of the previous iterations of Zelda, the change in formula presented in BoTW is refreshing, exciting, and brings a “breath” of fresh air to the series.

Unlike past Zelda games where most puzzles were contained within dungeons, the majority of BoTW’s puzzles are self contained in shrines scattered throughout the map. Shrines contain the kind of puzzles you may expect from a traditional Zelda game (although there are quite a few physics based puzzles, which are an interesting change of pace). The “dungeons” however are quite different from the norm, as instead of progressing through rooms and finding keys you actually control the dungeon itself. Each of the 4 has a different way to be controlled, either by rotating the entire dungeon, moving certain parts of it, controlling angles of tilt, etc. This makes for a unique experience not provided in any other Zelda game as you must conceptualize the dungeon in its entirety and not as a handful of isolated puzzles.

The combat is also quite enjoyable. Initially I was skeptical of the weapon durability system (as I think few if any games manage to make it work well) but BoTW’s world is chock-full of various unique weapons. I never found myself lacking on equipment, and being rewarded with a new, powerful weapon after a long fight always brought a sense of satisfaction. The only complaint I have here is that, more often than not, my inventory was full of strong weapons and I would have to constantly discard one of I wanted to take a new one. Inventory size can be increased over time but finding the items needed to do so can be a tedious process (especially if that’s the only thing you’re doing).

Minor grievances aside, BoTW introduced me to something I never knew I wanted in a Zelda game, and that is the ability to ride my shield down a mountain, ramp it off a cliff, glide across a canyon and then rain down bomb arrows upon my enemies as time slowed around me as if I was in the matrix. All that is an incredibly roundabout way of saying that I absolutely LOVE the freedom this game provides you. There have been games in the past that sported taglines like “Do anything! Go anywhere!” but Breath of the Wild is the first game I have ever played where I truly felt free. Free to climb the tallest mountain, free to make the most elaborate Rube Goldberg style death traps, free to break conventional puzzling methods with a clever use of physics (rocket barrels!). If nothing else this game stands out as a masterpiece to me for that sole reason.

To summarize my thoughts on BoTW, in the past whenever someone would ask me “whats your favorite game?” I would always struggle to give an answer. I was forever torn between a number of games and couldn’t bring myself to commit to any single answer. Now however, I can say without a doubt that Breath of the Wild takes that mantle handily, and it would be an impressive feat for anything to ever dethrone it.

Time played: 150+ hours (and counting)

Would I recommend it?: Absolutely! (x50)

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