Video game review: ‘Breath of the Wild’ flips a new switch for Zelda

Todd Hailstone

Five stars

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo’s new Switch console launched with relatively few titles and only one truly of interest for me: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. As it turns out, it’s an outstanding game.

This Zelda feels bold and different while holding on to tentpoles that have made the series much beloved for the past 30 years. The story still follows Link as he fights to defeat Ganon and save the land of Hyrule and Princess Zelda, but after setting you that ultimate goal—along with four other long-term challenges—the game backs away, essentially loosing you on the largest Zelda world without real direction or outside control.

There are truly no unreachable places in Breath of the Wild. Every mountain can be climbed, every cave explored. Every puzzle in the game can be solved using five tools given to you in the starting area, and every enemy can be defeated if prepared for in advance.

Zelda respects players in a way it hasn’t since its original NES entry back in 1987. It trusts that we will want to investigate the strange rock formation on the cliff side, or that we’ll guess that the statue raising a sword to the horizon might be pointing at something.

The soundtrack is pitch-perfect, too. Minimal and subtle, it weaves playful piano into the tapestry of weather and animal sounds. There’s nothing quite like riding your horse into battle during a raging thunderstorm, or cresting a peak just as the sun rises in the morning. Breath of the Wild captures the spirit of adventure flawlessly, delivering a fantastic experience from beginning to end.

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