In an era where RPG games are losing their charm, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gives the genre a much needed shot in the arm.
Breath of the Wild drops us straight in the middle of the never-ending conflict between the denizens of Hyrule and the forces of Calamity Ganon. You’d think that after all these years Ganon would get the message having had his arse handed to him umpteen times but no, he’s … special … that way. It’s been a hundred years since Ganon’s previous arse whooping and he’s back again. No prizes for guessing what he’s up to, however, our hero still lives. Link’s well alive but without his memory. He has to start anew with learning how the world works and how to hold and swing a sword. Oh, by the way, the sword’s gone as well. That’s where we begin our latest journey across the Kingdom of Hyrule.
Breath of the Wild starts out fairly simple. There are a lot of mechanics about the game which, if introduced to the player at the get go, might be ridiculously overwhelming. However, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a pretty shallow learning curve and the first few hours are spent making the player comfortable.
Once Link gathers all the magic runes that help him navigate and interact with the world, the game opens up to its true open world format. From the beginning itself, Hyrule puts you up against Guardians which will kill you in one shot if you’re silly enough to stand still for a while in front of it, that is.
Most of your time will be spent in rallying more people to your cause as you inch towards your arch-nemesis. The usual races, namely, Zora, Rito, Gerudo and Gorons have their own problems which you have to deal with. Each quest feels different than the previous and if you’ve played RPGs in the past, you’ll know how that has become a rare thing to expect from the quest system.
Another facet of the game that keeps the gameplay feeling fresh are the shrines scattered across the Kingdom of Hyrule. They tend to have a pattern to them but don’t feel templatised. With your Sheikah slate and runes by your side you’re good to deal with everything. The shrines are key to building Link’s vital stats to handle the scaling enemies.
One thing that can get on your nerves quite easily is the need to get a healthy supply of weapons. And that’s because weapon durability is an absolute $@#$% in this game. A puny weapon such as the Boko Club will break in under 20-30 hits as compared to the Master Sword which will last you a long time. So there’s a strategy towards stocking and using weapons if you want your favourites to last long.
Then there’s Stamina, something you’ll need a lot of. The starting amount is simply too damn low for the game. Thankfully, like all RPGs, you can upgrade your stamina and it’ll be a while till you end up with what suits your play style.
Graphics and audio
We’d like to thank Nintendo for not going with whatever’s hot and spicy in the world of computer graphics. They were severely limited given that the open world game had to run without any issues on a hand held. Instead of downsampling the same stuff you’d see in any AAA title, Nintendo went with cel-shaded graphics for BotW and it certainly has worked out in their favour. Breath of the Wild plays out wonderfully without feeling as if it were playing on a console.
With a majority of the world’s elements using flat textures, the game has a very simple look that brings the focus of the game onto the storyline and the active elements. This is unlike the majority of RPG titles out there which are hell-bent on throwing every colour on the electromagnetic spectrum at your face.
The Zelda series is notorious for its lack of voice acting, an element that’s often seen as central to any RPG. While there is nothing remarkable about the audio in Breath of the Wild, this would be the first time a game in the series has voice acting done well. No, Link doesn’t speak but you end up getting more than you usually do with the series.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Verdict
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild should end up being a lesson for all studios into the business of making RPGs. An RPG itself is a massive undertaking if done right and rarely does a title crop up which checks all the boxes the way Breath of the Wild has managed to. We’re not saying it’s perfect but it comes quite close. Despite the efforts taken to reduce the monotony, there can be certain instances which feel that way and it’s only natural for that to be.
We don’t see Breath of the Wild scoring a 10/10 in any manner. There are quite a few facets of the game that can be considerably improved. You know we’re talking about the voice acting and the weapon durability, right? However, even in the titles like Elder Scrolls, which define the RPG genre, the developers have scaled back on some of the elements and the immersion levels. So when a title like Breath of the Wild comes along, it really shows them all who’s boss.
|Platform: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Tested on: Xbox One X
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Deep in the suburban jungle roams the only member of the mystical species, Barbarianicus Ass-kick-us. This super awesome creature carries with it the answers to none of life's mysteries. Then what on earth could be so awesome about him? Being able to binge-game for countless hours and exercise remarkable restraint over his penchant for sarcasm around members of lesser species are just some of qualities that make him likeable...really likeable. xD