Nintendo released a new console, and one of the launch titles has been receiving a whole heap of praise. I had to wait over the weekend before I could get my hands on the Switch, but I finally have it. At the moment, I only have two games for it, but I know that my collection will only get bigger.
Back to that launch title – it won’t come as a surprise what I’ve chosen to feature here, so I won’t ever bother teasing it.
The first Nintendo Switch game (though technically it is available on Wii U, too) to be featured as my Game of the Month is none other than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Zelda fans had a long old wait to get hold of this game, but judging from the huge number of positive reviews and what I’ve played so far, it was well worth the wait.
As per tradition, the game begins with Link’s awakening. Except this time around, he’s been slumbering for slightly longer than any of the previous incarnations of the legendary hero – 100 years, in fact.
Once Link is awake and the player is in control, you can collect the Sheikah Slate and some clothes (those are optional though – Link begins the game in nothing but his underwear). The Sheikah Slate is an important item that provides a map, allows you to mark important or interesting places with pins and markers and provides other utilities.
Shortly after that, you step outside for the first time and it is then left entirely up to the player to decide what to do next. There’s an old man nearby you could speak to, or you could just head out and explore. It might be worth speaking to the old man first, though, as completing the tasks he sets you increases the utility of your Sheikah Slate and eventually opens up the entire game world to you.
The game world is huge – it definitely has the feel of Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X about it. That’s not really a surprise, considering that Monolith Soft assisted with the topography design.
Of course, the world is filled with items to collect, monsters to slay and treasures to find. There are also settlements – some may bare familiar names for long-time fans of Zelda.
Scattered all around the world are shrines, which are self-contained challenges you can complete in order to earn Spirit Orbs. Spirit Orbs can be exchanged for Heart Containers and stamina gauge upgrades.
Each shrine has a puzzle themed around a specific mechanic. From the ones I’ve visited so far, there have been ones that involve combat, creative use of the Sheikah Slate’s runes and even ones that require clues from elsewhere to solve.
Talking of the Sheikah Slate’s runes, these are pretty much your items for this game. The Bomb rune is exactly as you’d expect – acquire that, and you’ll be able to throw explosives around. Just don’t get caught in the blast…
There are other runes, which actually open up the opportunity to engage in some really neat physics-based puzzles. They also provide some unique methods for slaying enemies – and considering that weapons and shields have finite durability, these is a very good thing.
It’s pretty easy to just find weapons scattered around the map, but they all tend to break after being used too much. It’s like Zelda stole Fire Emblem‘s weapon durability after Fates dropped it…
The game does inform you when your weapons are badly damaged, and you can use that opportunity to throw the weapon away – quite literally at an enemy if you so desire.
Swords are just one type of weapon you pick up – there are spears, clubs, axes, and all sorts of other things. It’s not just melee weapons, either – since this is a Zelda game, bows are present. They too are subject to breaking if you use them a lot, but considering how easy all types of weapons are to find, it’s not much of a problem.
Also, the series’ iconic sword is totally optional. It probably is well worth going out of your way to find, though.
Breath of the Wild is compatible with amiibo as well – there are a set of Breath of the Wild amiibo that provide you with all sorts of items if you scan them. The Twilight Princess Wolf Link amiibo actually gives you a Wolf Link companion, who will fight enemies alongside you.
There’s a whole host of flora and fauna all throughout the map. You can get raw meat from certain animals, and fruits, vegetables and flowers grow wherever they’re able. You can gather these ingredients, and experiment with all sorts of recipes to create health-restoring dishes, or even ones that increase your stats or make you resistant to extreme temperatures.
Breath of the Wild is a huge game, and the stuff mentioned here barely even scratches the surface of the entire thing. From what I have played so far, I can easily see why it has received the praise it has. I haven’t really put in that much time with it in the grand scheme of things, but I can certainly see it becoming my favourite entry in the Zelda franchise.
I’ve even seen people call The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the best game ever. After having experienced it, I can certainly see why they would think that.
Oh, and for those curious, my other Switch game (at the time of writing) is Super Bomberman R – consider this an honourable mention.