The first The Legend Of Zelda game I ever played and completed was the first game for the NES, which I completed last year on the Wii U virtual console, and I haven’t completed another since. The only other Zelda game which I have played enough to be able to say I played, is Ocarina Of Time on the N64 when I was younger and I really can’t remember much other than riding a horse around the place with no idea what to do or where to go, so to say I’m a long-time fan would be a lie. Here’s my story towards rectifying this horrible atrocity of not playing more than two games of one of the most respected and beloved game series.

The Legend Of Zelda’s key defining aspect of each game in the series is the story and Breath Of The Wild delivers on every level, it begins with Link’s awakening, see what I did there? After 100 years of recovery and rejuvenation it is time to once again become the hero of Hyrule and deliver the kingdom from the Calamity Ganon. Along the way you will come across many faces old that give you a link to the past, these faces and the new, build a full list of deep meaningful characters that each have their own backstory and a lot of them a part to play in bring the whole world together. The main quest is accompanied by a deluge of side quests that keep you busy on your adventure, some can be as trivial as gathering some animals that got loose from their pen but each one adds character and depth to it all and hey it isn’t a Zelda game without them.

Thoughtful way of gaining more abilities, through use of puzzle’s scattered throughout the world known as shrines, overcoming the trials that loom within will grant you a spirit orb, to beat each trial you must use the power bestowed on you and your Sheikah slate at the start of each, then after the beginning area the shrines become about using your wits and your obtained powers to best the challenges and be rewarded with the spirit orb. Four of these orbs will allow you to obtain another heart of health or increased stamina when you pray at statue’s situated in the vast open world.

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Link becomes a chef! Cooking is the key crafting system for survival, able to produce some delicious health providing food and elixir’s that grant buff’s dependent on the ingredients. Not only is it necessary to partake in this hobby, but it’s actually really fun, you can try out different pairings of ingredients that can each produce very different results.

Controlling Link for the most part is a breeze, there are some button mapping issues that I have, coming from different platforms and games in general. Movement and camera controls are fine, mapped to the left and right sticks respectively, this has become the standard. The four key buttons X, Y, A and B often gets me confused, jump in most games is the bottom button however in Zelda is the top button this has led to oh so many falls, now yes that could just be a review of my ability to get used to controls, but when a game goes against the standard control scheme it’s usually a menace for the player to overcome. The action button being the right button A is usually relegated for de-select not selecting, and has forced me in and out of the menu’s more times than I care to mention. Everything else however is in the right place and easily accessible.

The on-screen HUD is minimalist, taking up so little of the screen it allows you to focus on the world around you without being distracted, yet all the information needed is right there in front of you still, health controls for abilities, mini-map, temperature gauge, audio levels and time of day, hard to believe all that fits on the screen without being intrusive, right?

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The menu’s these have been mapped to the – and + buttons, the – button opens up your Sheikah Slate which houses your map, runes, album and Hyrule compendium, the slate has its own look and design, keeping you immersed in the world, making you feel like you are using the device yourself. The + button opens up the general menu and contains your inventory, adventure log and system options such as save, load, options and controls.  Both menu’s are easy to navigate and have a style that fits the game.

The game’s art-style has been noticeably influenced by anime and benefits greatly from a wide colour palette that helps produce some of the most fantastic views I have ever seen in a game. The world of Hyrule looks gorgeous no matter the play-style, admittedly in handheld mode, landscapes in the distance have fewer detailing but as soon as you close that distance you can marvel at its beauty once more. Each blade of grass sways with the wind, smoke clouds gather and glide along the floor, water ripples with each footstep breaking through. With all the animation taking place it can unfortunately affect frame-rate slightly, but these hiccups aren’t immersion-breaking or all that often.

The game’s soundtrack and sound effects all help create this massive fantasy world in our mind’s. Each sound has been thought about carefully and I don’t just mean the rustling of grass whilst walking through a meadow or the splash of water when you’ve landed into a pool from running out of stamina mid-flight but the sound’s made when entering the menu or opening the Sheikah slate, just selecting items produces this magical tune. These combined with the stunning melody’s that play during the entire experience produces emotions within you. Matching the visuals and audio together I couldn’t help but stop and look around at my surroundings and this happened no matter the location, whether I was in the village of Hateno or atop Mount Hylia every area of the game has been looked after with thought and care of its look and sound.

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Story – 10/10
Visuals – 9.5/10
Sound – 10/10
Gameplay – 9.5/10
Game Design / Innovation – 10/10

Breath of the wild is a superbly put together stunning adventure filled with charming characters, immersive visuals, a breath-taking soundtrack and gameplay that’s an absolute master quest, I mean class. It truly is a game you cannot afford to miss.

OVERALL – 9.8/10 – EXCELLENCE

Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin (Jester).

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