‘Zelda’ game breathes life into industry

“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” was released on March 3 as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch game console and garnered acclaim from critics. Photo courtesy of Nintendo.

“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is a different take on the traditional LOZ franchise because of additions like voice acting and genre, but that might not be such a bad thing.  It is an open-world action-adventure game following the main protagonist, Link, and his quest to save the land of Hyrule.

“Breath of the Wild” is the 19th game in the LOZ series, and the first open-world game in the collection in which players have the freedom to choose when they want to approach objectives. Players can also gain items through dungeons and fight bosses to build up the health or heart meter. It holds some similarities to its predecessors, yet introduces new mechanics such as voice acting, making it an entirely new experience for returning LOZ players.

The game begins with Link awakening from a 100-year slumber to find an anonymous voice that leads him to the now ruined kingdom of Hyrule, where he meets the spirit form of Hyrule’s last king. The King explains that Calamity Ganon, a later form of the series’ overarching villain, Ganondorf, is bringing forth destruction to the kingdom and is currently sealed in Hyrule’s castle but growing in power. 

Unlike previous Zelda games, “Breath of the Wild” offers more options to proceed with the storyline. Players can choose to go through main dungeons in any order they choose, or not at all. While it is a nice new addition, it might come across as lacking too much direction if you are a die-hard, traditional Zelda fan.

Alongside that, Link is given a special tool called the “Sheikah” slate to discover the world map at different pedestal waypoints. Accessing more waypoints across the land raises structures and adds landmarks to the overall map, making it easier to run the main quest.

If there is one thing to know about LOZ games, it is that one does not simply walk through Hyrule field. Link traditionally rolls everywhere, yet in “Breath of the Wild,” there is no roll feature. The movement actions follow a similar style from its predecessor, “Skyward Sword,” in that you can sprint and climb using stamina, or simply walk.

While this adds some variety, it was a nuisance to walk everywhere when you are accustomed to rolling. Another difference is the strength of the enemies. In previous games, the field creatures were not hard to defeat and could often be slayed in one or two hits. In “Breath of the Wild,” there are some creatures that can easily one-hit kill you, making them much stronger and more difficult to beat.

Another key element in the overall gameplay is Link’s ability to attain weapons other than a typical sword or bombs. Early on, you are able to retrieve and use an axe, which was a pleasant addition to the usual weapon findings. While it does not follow LOZ gameplay tradition, it adds variety to fighting methods, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Voice acting and the ability to choose what to say truly display the new and advanced structure of the game. Whereas previous games were much more linear, this game utilizes the ability to make choices and proceed in any way the player sees fit, offering a wider array of outcomes and possibilities while still giving proper guidance through the mysterious female voice.

The sheer beauty of the landscape and size of the map is breathtaking. “Breath of the Wild’s” map is about twelve times as large as that of “Twilight Princess,” making it the largest area covered in a LOZ game. The graphics and attention to detail for the game is more advanced than previous games, and makes the game itself a gem to both look at and play.

While it displays many differences from its predecessors, “Breath of the Wild” still offers player’s the familiar LOZ storylines and battles. Those who have enjoyed the previous games will no doubt enjoy this one, making it worth the purchase.

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