I continue to be amazed by this game. Not just from the weird
little discoveries that seemingly exist throughout the world, but also by the
ingenuity of the puzzles and set pieces. In completing the first Guardian Beast
dungeon, I’ve been amazed at how well it came together. It’s one large,
continuous, perfectly designed puzzle that is both challenging and then upon completion,
obvious. Which is really the best type of puzzle.
It’s not difficult to make an easy or an incredibly obtuse puzzle. But neither of these is satisfying, and the latter is just grating. You can tell when a puzzle is obtuse, because when you learn the solution, you’re more frustrated than anything else (the old Police Quest games are seared into my brain with those moments. Who would inspect the tires before getting in a car!). And then there are challenging puzzles, where upon learning the solution, everything clicks into place, and you kick yourself for not figuring it out sooner. That sensation of how it feels after learning the solution, is how I judge puzzles, and by that measure BOTW is fantastic.
Of course, there are some Nintendo styled limitations that
seem both arbitrary and antiquated (and maybe a little endearing). For example,
you can only mark 100 places on your map, and with the map itself, it can be
difficult to remember where you’ve been and where you haven’t. Cooking, while
fun, is a grind (although I don’t know any games that have really gotten this
right). And yet these are small complaints, and realizing how much detail went
into this game, were probably intentional and debated thoroughly.
I’m not exactly sure how I ended up playing Zelda Breath of
the Wild. I haven’t particularly liked 3-D Zelda games. I bought a Switch in
Germany, because I didn’t have a television and I wanted to play Super Mario
Party with my six-year old daughter. And then I guess I was just bored, and it
seemed like something that I “should” experience, but had been putting off,
like The Godfather Part 2 or Stephen Hawking’s, A Brief History of Time.
Now, I’m about a dozen hours in and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this game. Not just the geography, although that too:
There is just so much to this game. And yet it might be the
first open world game since Fallout 3 that doesn’t ramp up some annoying OCD
tendencies. I don’t have a checklist of things I need to remember to do, like in
Dark Souls 2 or 3. I’m not trying to keep track of my morality and angle
towards a particular ending, like in The Witcher 3. I’m just playing the game.
No guides, no trophies, no cascading objective trees. It’s leisurely and
relaxing. It’s so big, that I’ve given up trying to see it all. Which means I’m
enjoying whatever weird version the game it is that I’m experiencing.
I can’t say yet if BOTW will end up being in my personal top 5 favorite games (which are Dragon Warrior 4, SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters Clash (SNK edition), Demon’s Souls, Tactics Ogre, and The Last of Us. With Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne coming off the bench). But so far I do think you can make a meaningful argument for it being the best game of all time.