THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD REVIEW

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Scrambling across the idyllic vistas of Nintendo’s vast new fantasy sandbox The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s easy to see the action-adventure’s sunken structures—plaintive artifacts of a vanished golden age waiting to be restored—as a metaphor for Nintendo itself.

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In the game, you play once more as the franchise’s sandy-haired paragon, toiling lớn thwart nefarious forces, team up with the eponymous princess và revitalize a slumbering civilization. In reality, a company so iconic its name still works as a metonym for “video games,” is reeling from rejection of its last console, the bold but confusing and now beleaguered Wii U. The upcoming Switch console, meanwhile, represents Nintendo’s years-in-the-offing gambit to lớn right the ship—and just maybe steam ahead toward terrain of the sort once held by the company’s disruptive Wii.


Breath of the Wild, a $59 action-adventure trò chơi that launches with the Nintendo Switch on March 3 (it’s also available for Wii U), has the makings of a masterful captain. Exploring its expansive collage of verdant, gelid and sun-scorched zones is akin lớn tromping onto the mix of a painterly Studio Ghibli film. It’s like nothing else Nintendo has made, an experience so simultaneously prodigious và accomplished that it feels like a mind-blowing mic drop to lớn the sort of “open world” games (Grand Theft tự động hóa V, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, The Witcher 3) the industry seems bent on proliferating.

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Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi gets there in part by abandoning familiar safety nets while scattering heuristic-upending hazards throughout the journey. If liên kết gets too cold hiking in alpine zones or hot exploring scalding ones, for instance, he dies. If he swims or climbs without resting, he risks drowning or plummeting to his doom. & if he wanders into an area with too-formidable monsters, since the entire world is basically accessible once players exit the starter area, he’s pretty much toast.


It’s an edgy, survivalist affair that doesn’t shy from brutalizing intrepid players (who will likely revel in the glories of being punished at last by the company). When Link’s health drops, players have to lớn forage for scraps then find a campfire khổng lồ cook. When the temperature plummets, you’d better have the equivalent of thermal underwear in your inventory. Even weapons are ephemeral, shattering after a few vigorous skirmishes. Just as Nintendo paints Switch as a millennials-and-up experience, Breath of the Wild assumes this isn’t your first rodeo.

This makes for one of the grandest, most gratifyingly pliable playgrounds the medium’s yet seen. Here players can wage tactically engrossing battles against multistory monsters (ingeniously with just a few buttons, because how you move matters more). Or snap pictures with a Switch-like in-game tablet to lớn populate a compendium of the game’s flora and fauna, then follow audio pings to lớn unearth whatever you’re tracking. Instead of smashing crockery or hacking greenery for hearts (as in past installments), players tinker with an absorbing Minecraft-like economy of foodstuffs và raw goods, balancing intuition against risk to conjure either wholesome or repulsive recipes & ability-bolstering potions.


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It’s something of a revisionist’s fantasy come true, each chơi game transfiguration both clever và holistic. Rather than the staggered tác phẩm rollout of earlier Zeldas, where you quested for themed artifacts that expanded your range of actions, you’re granted several from the outset, including three that let you fiddle with the fabric of reality itself. Bombs, another boon granted early, are now essentially geometry-inflected magic spells you cast while thinking about inertia or gravity. Và that’s just the start. Terms like “magnesis,” “cryonis” & “stasis” not only sound thrillingly weird, they’ll go down as some of the smartest physics-bending ideas a Zelda game’s had.

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In place of what amounted to lớn a Bat-belt ability hunt in past games, Nintendo offers a topographically voluminous world brimming with ways in which lớn deploy those tools, be it within the game’s many shrines (mini-dungeons whose solutions yield items used to purchase health & stamina boosts), to excavate concealed loot, or simply to get from one precarious vantage to lớn another.

Speaking of, almost anything visible is climbable—another series first—but the steady drip-drip of an ebbing stamina meter and threat of going splat turns lofty ascents into tense pathfinding puzzles. So too the rhythms of combat, which often require Dark Souls-ian economy of motion và the ability lớn adapt khổng lồ mercurial, multi-lethal foes. The line between enemies và environment frequently dissolves in the coolest possible ways. A tree toppled by lobbing an explosive at a lumbering giant might, for example, wind up being used by said foe lớn bludgeon links senseless. Be ready for anything, says an experience where even the moon harbors sanguine mysteries.


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There are moments of quiet splendor as well—giaithuongtinhnguyen.vns where being present in a completely placid situation is its own reward. Lớn stand by a road and observe Breath of the Wild‘s literal wilds can resonate for the same reasons a contemplative or languorous scene in a Hayao Miyazaki film might: Birds trill & insects chirrup. Merchants and other passerby wander to và fro, rucksacks bobbing & lanterns clanking. The wind skirls và bends thousands of discrete grass blades in ways that signal what you might vì with items affected by atmospheric vectors & velocities. Storms queue next to sunny or dismal hours in an optionally visible weather prediction gauge, legs of lighting reaching down from roiling skyboxes to lớn topple trees or kindle brush fires. The game’s naturalistic grandeur is off the charts, và composer Manaka Kataoka’s restrained, often poignant musical passages are a tour de force of complementary minimalism.


What would you vì chưng with a Zelda that dissolved its training wheels at the outset? Hunt deer or boar for provisions? Chase fireflies and lizards for elixir reagents? Squirrels up trees for nuts? phối compounds in cook pots lớn conjure startling or mundane thực đơn items? Scrounge for materials khổng lồ dye your clothes in technicolor? Scale colossal rune-scrawled towers lớn glass zones for potential destinations? Scramble up a cliff lớn take the view of an approaching rainstorm? Paraglide over Elysian landscapes while sleuthing for secluded ledges or caves? Of these locales and activities, Breath of the Wild says little, inviting players to wander instead lượt thích Hansel & Gretel off the trodden path into seductive peril.


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But there’s also a clear sense of Zelda-ish harmony in the game play that’s absent from other open world romps, a symmetry lớn its asymmetric but interlocking systems. Part of it’s what Nintendo holds over from past entries: the clever, puzzle-filled dungeons, the easy-to-grasp, hard-to-master particulars of combat, the gaggle of adorable characters and numinous Japanese Shinto-inspired mythology. That these things feel so organically cohesive here speaks khổng lồ the maturation of Nintendo’s kiến thiết chops.


Though in the end, most of what drives Breath of Wild khổng lồ soar the highest this series ever has, comes down to essential Nintendo principles: recasting familiar notions of play in subtle, subversive and accordingly tectonic ways. That an odyssey this beguiling & capacious happens lớn also be playable on planes, trains and, yes, the toilet, is beside the point.