Audacious Fox

Released last week, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not only Nintendo’s debut title for the Switch, but also now one of Metacritic’s highest rated video games. Breath of the Wild currently holds the #4 spot, with a score of 98, based on 71 critical reviews. Here’s what some of those reviewers are saying:

Arthur Gies, Polygon:

I guess, in the end, it’s not just that Breath of the Wild signals that Zelda has finally evolved and moved beyond the structure it’s leaned on for so long. It’s that the evolution in question has required Nintendo to finally treat its audience like intelligent people. That newfound respect has led to something big, and different, and exciting. But in an open world full of big changes, Breath of the Wild also almost always feels like a Zelda game — and establishes itself as the first current, vital-feeling Zelda in almost 20 years.

Jason Schreier, Kotaku:

This is a game that will dominate dinner conversations. It’s a game that will lead to countless anecdotes, discoveries, and swapped stories. Already, colleagues and I have spent a great deal of time comparing notes and talking about how we solved major puzzles. For one early section in which you have to figure out how to get Link through a freezing cold mountain, three Kotaku writers found three completely different ways to proceed. We’ve discussed surprise boss encounters, hidden puzzles, and where to find all the Korok seeds that are sprinkled across Hyrule. We’ve talked about Breath of the Wild’s mysteries and weird secrets, telling tales about the time one of us jumped down to a crevasse that seemed unexplorable, but in fact contained a new shrine: the designers’ way of rewarding curious players.

Dan Ryckert, Giant Bomb:

Every night, I sat on the couch and played until I genuinely couldn’t stay awake any longer. Every morning, I couldn’t get out of bed and turn on the Switch fast enough. Near the end, I found myself getting sad as I climbed the final towers and saw the map fill in. This Hyrule gave me such a profound sense of discovery, and I never wanted the mysteries to end. Even now, I have no idea of the purpose of numerous things that I saw. Ganon may be dead and I watched the credits roll, but I want to keep jumping back in until I’ve seen everything there is to see.

Jose Otero, IGN:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterclass in open-world design and a watershed game that reinvents a 30-year-old franchise. It presents a wonderful sandbox full of mystery, dangling dozens upon dozens of tantalizing things in front of you that just beg to be explored. I’ve had so many adventures in Breath of the Wild, and each one has a unique story behind what led me to them, making them stories on top of stories. And even after I’ve spent more than 50 hours searching the far reaches of Hyrule, I still manage to come across things I haven’t seen before. I’ll easily spend 50 to 100 more trying to track down its fascinating moments.

There are many similar reviews, but the above pull quotes capture the overall sentiment: Breath of the Wild is a landmark in the series and has near universal acclaim. As a fan of the franchise, this is incredibly heartening; even if my only way of sharing in the excitement is through reading and waiting for someone I know to get a copy.

Side note: As I was researching, I came across a quote from Zelda series creator Shigeru Miyamoto, in a 2012 interview with the Guardian’s Simon Parkin. In the interview, Mr. Miyamoto is quoted, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”.

This summarizes something I admire about creative companies like Nintendo, Pixar, and Apple: they’re not afraid to delay a launch or take extra time for the sake of quality and story. Many publishers extol courage, conviction, and commitment in their games, and good games attempt to translate these ideals to the player. In great titles, however, these principles are not only present, but palpable. No translation is needed, because there’s only one interpretation, and everyone understands.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017