With the Legend of Zelda: Age of Calamity dropping at the end of the month, what better time to revisit the original game.
Many of already played it, but with my Switch’s recent acquisition, I finally had the chance to sit down and give the game people called “the best game in the franchise” a chance.
Until now, I’d waved that banter off as mere hype or the love a current release typically gets. Give these matters a few months, and usually, the game goes from “the best in the series” to a reasonable position on the hierarchy. For me, I doubted it would surpass my personal favorite: Majora’s Mask. Let alone the very close runner-up: The Ocarina of Time. Spirit Tracks though short, is a hard title to beat as it oozed charm from start to finish. Enforcing this expectation was the simple issue that the last two open-world Zelda games had for me been a complete bust.
With the absolute freedom to go anywhere, but no incentive to do so, these titles became boring fast. Thus I feared Breath of the Wild would follow this trend as it adopted a very similar design mentality. Owe how wrong that was.
While the game indeed offers the unlimited freedom of its predecessors – not forcing you to go to any dungeon in any order or at all if you just want to speed run right to Ganon – it couples this with robust exploration mechanics and quests. In a world littered with activities and secrets, this granted the game the breadth of engagement and motivation I found lacking in its predecessors.
Each task and objective given can be accomplished in a variety of ways, utilizing the game’s various mechanics. Sure, you can fight your way through enemy ranks to get to the tower to unlock part of the map, or you can climb up a cliff face and forget all that. Another towered offered the option of using extra stamina to climb it or launching a slate upward with stasis, or you could complete it as I did by circling the cliff, scaling it, and then gliding a good distance up the tower.
Typically, open-world games demand you discover what methods the developers want you to use to complete a task. Rarely, and perhaps it has been too long since the last time, are we given mechanics and then unleashed upon an objective to complete it how we see fit or can imagine. Breath of the Wild embodies that old-school mentality.
Couple with other small things such as every weapon actually be as powerful in your hands as it is in the enemy’s hands, a great story, fantastic voice acting, and a well-made world, the impossible has happened. A Zelda game has surpassed Majora’s Mask. Blasphemy I know, probably heretical as well, but it’s finally happened. With bated breath, I look forward to the continuation of the story with the sequel and upcoming Age of Calamity.