Overall Score: 5/5
Every time a new Zelda game comes out, it’s usually my new favorite, and this one is no exception. For once, I wasn’t focused on the story as much as I was focused on exploring the vast world that is apparently bigger than Skyrim according to some people.
Hyrule is always beautiful, but I think Nintendo really outdid themselves with this one. I found myself easily getting lost within the world, and everything made sense in terms of design. Most paths led you toward the main goal but you are free to roam anywhere. There wasn’t that much music when straying off the beaten path, but the sound effects of the wind blowing through the grass, and the soft breathing and neighs of your horse still make it feel like you are in Hyrule itself.
I found the time setting interesting. The start of the events of the story actually takes place 100 years before the start of the game, and in that time, nothing’s really changed besides civilization reverting backward from their technological advancements. I figured they would have at least changed a few things geographically (taller trees, slightly smaller or larger lakes, etc), at least a little bit, so it’s still recognizable, but enough to show that time has past. If it weren’t for the people who were young at the time being older or dead, or the ruins overtaken by vegetation, I almost wouldn’t have believed that 100 years have past. Despite this, I didn’t let it get in the way of the rest of the game. I figured the reason they didn’t do that is because of time, or budget, or they didn’t think about it, or maybe it was done on purpose so it’s easier to find the locations within the photos taken 100 years ago. But that’s just me nitpicking.
The artwork is simple and cell-shaded, but it was put together in such a way that it looked more beautiful than most games I’ve ever seen. The team really put a lot of work and thought into their world design.
When it comes to Zelda games, the characters stay the same, so I’m not going to list them each individually and write about them. Link is still the silent hero saving Zelda. Zelda is still the princess that wants to save her people, but needs Link’s help. And Ganondorf is still the bad guy trying to rule/destroy the world and holding Zelda hostage somehow.
Minor spoiler warning.
The plot is relatively simple since the game is open world. 100 years ago, Link, Zelda, and the Guardians defeated Ganon, sealing him within Hyrule Castle. But that left Zelda trapped within, the Guardians have perished, and Link was put into a deep sleep state until he woke up for the start of the game, 100 years later. He is greeted by the spirit of the King who died 100 years ago, and he provides the tutorial. He explains that even though Calamity Ganon is trapped within the castle, he is growing stronger.
His mission is simple. Defeat Calamity Ganon and save Zelda before he destroys the world. When he leaves the tutorial area, he is encouraged to seek out the Guardians and the Divine Beasts for help. But it’s ultimately up to the player how they want to defeat Calamity Ganon. If they want, they could skip all of that and go straight to the castle. It wouldn’t be easy, though.
Link can also get some more backstory on his past by finding the location of ancient photos taken by Zelda left on his Sheika device. And the more he travels throughout the world, the more backstory he gets of the world, himself, and his friends.
There were times where I almost forgot I was playing a game because I got so caught up in the world, so invisibility in this game is pretty good.
But it is still a Zelda game, and sometimes being aware of that can break the immersion.
Whether it be traveling on an unbeaten path with no music on, or in a creepy, dangerous area with a boss battle waiting for me, the mood was always on point. Like I said before about the setting, the team outdid themselves with their world design.
The music is familiar to the other Zelda games but it still had it’s own unique sound. The lighting was absolutely perfect. I had no problems seeing within the game, nothing seemed too bright either, and the colors always fit the scenario.
The only thing about this game is that the plot doesn’t often move along since it’s an open world game. But that’s just the thing with open world games. Since it’s easy to get lost in everything else, the player might forget what’s going on in the main story. There isn’t a lot happening anyway. The only thing that needs to be done is to defeat Ganon, possibly with the help of the Divine Beasts, but that’s about it when it comes to the plot, so there isn’t much to forget about.
To me, I didn’t really care that the plot was stagnant throughout the game only because it is an open world game, and that’s just a consequence of that.
The game play is solid. The controls are fluid, everything had a reason to be there, and it was versatile and intuitive. I loved that the items in Link’s inventory could be used for multiple things to interact with the world.
For example, one way you could defeat an entire camp of bogoblins is by lighting the grass around them on fire rather than fighting them one by one. You can also take advantage of the weather. If there’s lightning, you could leave a metal object somewhere for the lightning to be attracted to it so it could strike enemies. If it’s raining, using lightning arrows are extra effective. And you could set different kinds of traps around, as long as you’re creative with your tools.
The cooking aspect was lots of fun, too. I liked to see what came out of mixing different things. And it was pretty cool how you could also just roast something if a pot isn’t available.
Nintendo thought of everything.
So, I didn’t know horses could die, so when my horse fell off a cliff and never came back, I was devastated. I had named her after my dog and everything. The people at the ranch didn’t say anything about it, nor did I get a notification stating that my horse died. She was just…gone. So when I found the Horse Fairy by accident one day, I was so happy, you have no idea! I was able to get my horse back since the fairy knew I didn’t kill her on purpose. Just wanted to mention that.
I love this game, and many others do, too. In the future, it might be looked back upon as a masterpiece; yet another classic from Nintendo.
The main reason I love this game so much is how relaxing it is to play it. There is significant challenge within the game when it comes to fighting monsters and solving puzzles. I died a lot, but it was still so much fun, and whenever I didn’t want to deal with dying, I didn’t have to. I could wander off and see what else the world had to offer.
Personally, this game has helped my mental state tremendously. When I’m feeling down or anxious, the best thing for me to do is to escape and take a break from reality, and what I like to do is escape to other worlds. I could read a book or watch a movie, but the most immersive form of escapism for me is playing video games since you have to interact with it.
And let me tell you, this game is relaxing as hell. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, play this game.