10s!! 10s EVERYWHERE!!! 5s!! 5 STARS!! 40s!! SO MANY OUTSTANDING REVIEWS!! ...So I thought about playing Breath of the Wild because it might be good for a laugh.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild has already cemented itself as one of the best reviewed games of all-time. And with how many perfect scores it's gotten from countless critics and consumers, people are already putting it on par with Ocarina of Time as the greatest video game of all-time. But is it really? Does Breath of the Wild live up to the reputation Ocarina of Time has? Is its perfect scores well-deserved?
Let's find out! (By the way, just so you know, I played this game on the Wii U and not the Switch. Though from what I've heard, there is virtually no difference between the two versions.)
- Beautiful, expansive and lively open world. So the perk of this game compared to other Zelda games is its sandbox-style structure. Which is quite a leap from other Zelda games, and if anything may signal a turning point in the Zelda series. Like, this is what the big Zelda games will be like from now on. Although I can imagine making more Zeldas like this would be daunting for Nintendo, because they went above and beyond with the scope, size and life in the world. There's just so much to do, so much to see, that at first it would be totally overwhelming. And having to rely on your own wits and skills to survive in the wild may seem like an intimidating task at first. But like any great game, you'll soon get the hang of it. By the end of the game, I really got accustomed to exploring Hyrule and learning how to survive in the wild, yet I still had so much left to do and explore. But for the sake of my first playthrough, I stuck to just beating the main story and that's it; leaving side stuff for a later playthrough. But the best thing about this approach is...
- Pacing is entirely up to you. Another key feature to this game among other Zeldas is its lack of linearity. Despite how adventurous Zelda games have always been, there's definitely a one-way style of approach to how you beat the game in most Zeldas. But in this one, while the objectives for you are clear, how you accomplish those objectives is entirely up to you. There's almost never a moment in the game where you're stuck having to do a linear mission or story scenario. And in fact how you beat the story is also entirely up to you. If you want, you can go grab the Master Sword before tackling any of the main dungeons. If you want, you can explore the entire world, complete every quest and Shrine and beat all the main dungeons before even talking to Impa. Hell, if you're REALLY ballsy, you can just go straight to Ganon right from the very start of the game. It will be undoubtedly difficult, but it's still possible. The entire journey of the game is devoted to making the Ganon fight easier; upgrading yourself, activating the Divine Beasts to help you attack Ganon, it's all up to you. And there is no one-way for you to discover locales, enemies or food. You can do whatever you want. This new hands-off approach is definitely a revolutionary thing within the Zelda series, and I'll be glad if they do this again. Even if it's for a Zelda game of a much smaller scale than Breath of the Wild.
- Many, many, many collectables to do and explore. The game is absolutely thriving with stuff to do and collect. There are many sidequests, lots of Koroks to find, memories to recover, a compendium to fill... and of course, the incredibly large amount of Shrines. It seems Nintendo took Egoraptor's advice from his Zelda Sequelitis video, and had these Shrines lie just for you to discover and to beat at your own pace. And the feeling of upgrading yourself is as satisfying as ever, in fact, even more so now that it's all hands-off approach. This game will have you playing for weeks upon weeks on end, should you decide to complete everything, and that's a great way for people to get attached to their new Nintendo Switches.
- Visuals are great. I've heard people being kinda mixed when it came to the game's visuals before its release. But now that it has released, I haven't heard any complaints since. I think that's because these visuals look all the more impressive in motion, while you're actually there. The flow of the grass, the embers in the air, the light of the sun; it all really adds to the stunning presentation the game has on display. What I like best about the visuals is that they're semi-realistic. It's a mix of realistic, but still has the cel-shaded style of Wind Waker, without looking like Wind Waker. It's super stylish, and I love it. I love the look of the races in the game, especially the new look of the Zoras (And so did a lot of people I imagine.) The only that sticks out as off-putting to me are the designs of the children. The children have way too big heads, which makes them look more anime than anything, and it kinda clashes with the rest of the characters. Just look at Purah as an example. People probably wanted the visuals to look entirely realistic, but... no. Just... just no.
- Utilises the best of its technology. Like all Zelda games, or rather Nintendo games, when they add something to a game, they exploit it to its fullest potential. And Breath of the Wild is no different. The Shrines, Quests and even the Dungeons all utilise some form of mechanic in the game, be it the Runes, the climbing, or the physics. So almost nothing feels underutilised, which is a nice thing to see.
- Shrines are a bit too much of a pace-breaker. I distinctly remember comments from people about how they weren't a fan of the mini-dungeons; the Shrines in this game. And I can see why. They get kinda tiresome after awhile. It's nice to to see Nintendo add sooooo many Shrine Dungeons to explore at your whim, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I think what bothers people the most is that they're very redundant in their visuals; they all have cyan-neon all over, and the same boring music, over and over, and it just gets really tiring after awhile. But what personally bothered me most about these Shrines is the reward. Every Shrine gives you a Shrine Orb for reaching its end, and 4 Shrine Orbs can net you upgrades for your Health and Stamina (so like it or not, you have to do them if you want to have a greater chance of beating the game.) And this kinda defeats the purpose of what Zelda is all about. See, remember Egoraptor's key point about modern Zelda games lacking any kind of mystery to their dungeons because the formula has gotten so repetitive to the point where it's not that much fun to explore dungeons anymore? Like you get Bombs for the first time in a dungeon, and the rest of the dungeon and that boss in that case required the Bombs to get you past the dungeon? I see Arin's point, and he is correct to a certain extent. But if this is the key element to Zelda Dungeon design, then Breath of the Wild still doesn't get it. Because the reward at the end of Shrines is always a Shrine Orb, and nothing more. And so, there is practically no mystery to these dungeons; no motive to want to explore them beyond just getting the Shrine Orbs for the sake of upgrades. So, in other words, these Shrines just become busywork, and that really degrades the enjoyment fast. You do get other rewards, nice ones, midway through most Shrines, but it's not enough to stave off the repetition. And my solution for this? Switch the rewards. Make the midway Shrine prize the Shrine Orb, and have whatever the midway reward is, be the end reward of the Shrine. Even if some of those rewards might be underwhelming, it would still ignite the passion to explore for gamers because they want to see what they get for actually progressing to the very end of a Shrine. And thus, the feel of busywork is much less noticeable.
- Story is severely dull and uninspired. Before you even played this game, you can pretty much guess the entire story to this game, and I guarantee you, you'll be right. In a nutshell, Ganon's causing trouble, go beat him up. That's it. No twists, no turns, no real character development, or even interesting characters... just a very, VERY ho-hum story of a knight rescuing a princess from an evil monster. I get that Breath of the Wild wanted to primarily focus on gameplay, and that's fine. But if it's going to have a story, then it should go all-out and not half-ass it like they did here. Skyward Sword pretty much wrote every story of any future Zelda games into a corner by prophesying that Link will always be the hero, Zelda will always be the princess, and Ganon will always be the villain. And that's super boring. I miss when Zelda had actual character moments like Ganondorf's speech before the final battle in Wind Waker, or actually interesting characters like Midna from Twilight Princess. I've seen Zero Punctuation's review of Breath of the Wild describe the game as soulless, and he's sorta correct. While the world is expansive and full of life, the real main story is a snoozefest. And it's all the more baffling why they chose this game of all Zelda games to introduce voice acting for the first time within the series. I imagine people love the story to this game solely because of the voice acting, but to be honest, I didn't care for it. Not because the voice acting was bad or anything, but because there's no real reason to have it. The cutscenes that have voice acting are either used for short intros of characters we don't care about, exposition for a story that is completely predictable, and Link's Memories which are so dull and boring. I was honestly hoping Zelda's Crying Scene would pull my heartstrings, but in the end, I just felt so unimpressed. While the voice acting is fine, the writing leaves no room for emotion for the actors to work off of; they're essentially voicing blank slates, and that's what irks me the most about this setup. Twilight Princess is a story that deserves voice acting. Skyward Sword is a game that deserves voice acting. Hell, A Link Between Worlds is a story that deserves voice acting. But not this game. They should just not have bothered entirely. Would it really have made the game any worse had they ignored voice acting?
- Real-time physics are terrible. When will game designers learn to stop putting real-time physics in their games? They never work. Aside from cute laughs, and shits and giggles, name one contribution that real-time physics have made to a game. Name one game that would actually be worse had they not included real-time physics. ...Exactly. The answer is none. That's because real-time physics are just a stupid gimmick that are only there for stupid gags, and should never be in any professional game period, especially a Zelda game. The puzzles that utilise real-time physics are way too much of a hassle, because the physics make the objects constantly go where you don't want them to go. Link ragdolls whenever he takes heavy damage, which is just annoying, and distracting in the intensity of battle. You could possibly lose enemy loot drops when they fall down off a cliff because of the stupid gravity. Just... F******CK real-time physics! Don't ever try this again Nintendo. PLEASE.
- Weak bosses. The approach to bosses in this game is also far different than in other Zelda games. But difference doesn't always mean it's better. And if anything, in these situations, it's just worse. I get the idea; the new hands-off style of gameplay basically means the bosses should adopt a new level of versatility to their battles as well, and should allow the player to tackle them from any angle that they so choose. The problem is that the need to make these bosses creative and fun is much less focused-on. What made previous Zelda bosses so much fun was that they were essentially another puzzle that you had to solve, with the added degree of danger because these puzzles will attack you. So you had to think on your toes as to how to defeat a boss using the skills you had on your arsenal. It employed creative thinking and made the designs of these bosses more interesting because they're designed based on how you need to beat them. Granted at times Nintendo got very formulaic with this method of game design as well, but the point is that these bosses were creative and intuitive. But not Breath of the Wild's bosses. Gone is the ingenuity and tact; just run to them and hit them. That's it. That's the method behind most of the boss battles in this game. Sure you can bring anything to these boss battles to smack them with; the problem is that there's no thought to it. Just run up to them and hit them. These bosses have devolved to just boring hack-and-slash attack sponges. And their designs are boring too. It's just the same Talus enemy, the same Hinox enemy, the same Blight Ganon enemy over and over. Yaaaaaawwwn.
What I think they could've done is at least make use of the Runes; which are essentially your Items in this game. But very few bosses actually make use of this concept. This is the one factor about this game that feels underutilised. It's a damn shame.
So... let's answer the question at the start of this review: Do I think Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a 10/10 game? ...No. A 10/10 game implies that it's perfect, and lacks any real major flaw. And this game is far from having no major flaws. In fact, it also has a ton of other minor flaws that I won't get into detail here.
But let's answer the other question: Does Breath of the Wild rank on par with Ocarina of Time; the supposed best game of all-time? Well... yes, actually. In my opinion, that is. Personally, I don't think Ocarina of Time is a 10/10 game either, and I would actually rank this game and Ocarina of Time on the same reasons. Both are highly overrated games; both have substandard boring stories yet each game focuses more on bringing these stories to a highlight, and both are seen as revolution of their time. So I'd say Breath of the Wild is just as good as Ocarina of Time.
But if you were to ask me which of the two is better, my answer would be clear... Ocarina of Time is better. Mainly because it really was a revolutionary game for its time. There was simply no other game like Ocarina of Time when it first came out; not at the style and scope that it presented. And that's what captured so many peoples' hearts and inspired so many other action-adventure games to come. If Ocarina of Time did not exist, we would not have games like The Witcher, The Elder Scrolls, or even Grand Theft Auto to a certain extent. But while Ocarina of Time inspired those games, Breath of the Wild feels like it was inspired by those games. It feels like a product of its time rather than a revolutionary game. If anything, we probably should have had a game like Breath of the Wild sooner, considering that other sandboxes like The Witcher and The Elder Scrolls have already surpassed Breath of the Wild in terms of size, scope and especially the story. Hell, we're spoilt for choice in terms of sandboxes, so it's not like we have no reason at all to be ungrateful or anything like that when it comes to thinking critically about this game. I mean, did we all just forget that at the time this game came out, we had 2 other sandbox titles that rival Breath of the Wild in terms of quality: Nier: Automata and Horizon Zero Dawn?
So I really don't think Breath of the Wild is a 10/10 game. I highly believe it got such acclaim because of the Zelda pedigree alone. Along with the introduction of the new Switch, which is an event that has currently grabbed the attention of a major audience. People really did jump on the bandwagon to give this game a perfect score, critics and consumers alike, which is just frustrating to see that people choose to hand out scores based on hype and excitement rather than just sitting down and thinking critically about what they liked and what they didn't like. And that only hurts the reputation of gaming people.
But with all that said, I still think Breath of the Wild is a great game. While it may not be a revolutionary game in the industry, it is still a revolutionary game within its franchise. It proves that Zelda can be totally fun without the linear factor and hand-holding, and will no doubt influence greater and better Zelda sandbox games. After all, Ocarina of Time was a great game, but arguably the games that came out after; Majora's Mask, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, got better and better with each instalment (until Skyward Sword happened). Breath of the Wild could be the same thing. As ungrateful as it sounds, I like to see this game as a stepping stone for better Zelda games to come. The road has been paved, the formula has been proven successful, so I eagerly await the next new Zelda adventure.
RATING: 8 / 10