Firstly, I most apologise for the most obvious choice of title, which is probably being repeated by thousands of Zelda fans who understand it to be a clever in-joke (Link’s Awakening was the title of the first Zelda game to hit Nintendo’s handheld systems). Still, it’s an appropriate title, in more ways than one!
So here we are. The beginning of an adventure that’s been coming for what feels like an eternity. Since the first reveal of Breath of the Wild as summer wound down last year, I have chomping at the bit to get my grubby paws on this game, and I am pretty sure I am not alone! I am also fortunate enough (thank you Mum!) to have the Switch to play this game on. I’ll be taking a closer look at that elsewhere on this site.
So, first impressions? Does this give you a clue?
The screenshots and trailers don’t do this game justice. It is show-stopping, it is gorgeous, it is unbelievably detailed and sounds great too. There’s a lot of natural sound in this game, with music punctuating the chirping of birds and insects when you encounter enemies, and the music is quite subtle. Graphically, Breath of the Wild is easily the best of the Zelda games, with so much attention to detail at every turn. I can’t describe it in a manner that will do the game credit, so as I prepare to chronicle my adventure, I will let the pictures do the talking.
Be warned. This will have major spoilers for the game and its story. If you don’t wish to know what’s coming, then don’t read this. Also, please don’t treat this as a guide – it’s not intended to be one.
Still here? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you…
So, on to it. By now, everyone who is interested in this game is familiar with the opening segment – Link, being woken by a mysterious light with, having been slumbering in a hidden chamber. From there, you meet an old man, and Link hears the voice from the chamber urging him to head to a specific point on the map.
From here, I decided to head to this point, but in a fairly leisurely fashion. Breath of the Wild is all about exploration and I took my time to poke around at the ruins of the Temple of Time, finding a couple of bows and encountering a few bokoblins – which, after taking a bit of time to get used to the controls, I dispatched in short order. There isn’t a great deal you can do at this point if you wish to advance in the game, so before long I was heading for the Great Plateau Tower. Once here, the Sheikah Slate (given to you when you wake up) activates the Tower and many other Towers and Shrines across Hyrule – a spectacular sequence. Standing at the top of the Tower, I managed to kill Link on the way down – it appears you can either climb down or jump – climbing made more sense in hindsight!
The voice (coming, presumably from the Slate) recounted a brief version of the events one hundred years prior to your awakening – the Calamity Ganon (which looks truly monstrous by the way) was responsible, and had been imprisoned in Hyrule Castle, but the seal that trapped him is weakening. It was on my second attempt to get down from the Tower that I encountered the old man again – he offered me his paraglider in exchange for treasures from four Shrines found in the Great Plateau. You can’t get off the Plateau without the paraglider, so off I went.
Accessing the first couple of Shrines (once you locate them, and the first one is right by the Tower) was pretty easy. The very first Shrine allows you to unlock the power of magnetism – using the Slate, you can move metallic objects. It was using this skill that I (entirely by accident) discovered I could dredge up treasure chests hidden in lakes (and in one case, a nasty muddy bog). I was also able to use this skill to build a bridge to let me get to other chests.
A quick rewind here. The second Shrine was in an area I’d stumbled into very early on, where I had my first encounter with the fearsome Guardians. The first ones I found couldn’t move (mercifully), but a single shot was able to kill me – twice. It’s clear that to begin with at least, I need to give these things a wide berth.
Shrine two granted the power to create both spherical and cube-shaped bombs, that can be remotely detonated. After much trial and error, these would aid me in slaying the first big monster I found (once again by accident).
After several attempts to destroy this thing, I eventually managed to pluck up the courage to take it on more closely, blowing up its arms to make it fall down so I could climb on it and hack away at its weak point. The rewards were in the form of materials and a giant rupee – which may have a use later on.
Gathering materials (and food) is a major part of this game. That much was made clear early on. Defeated enemies will drop weapons and equipment, and there are many varieties of foodstuffs, ranging from meat and fish, to fruit, fungi and herbs. I don’t yet know how I will make use of some of the stuff I’ve found, but I’m sure I’ll find out eventually.
Getting to the third Shrine (located on a snowy peak) firstly required getting hold of warmer clothing, as a brief attempt to enter the colder region triggered a warning that I wouldn’t survive. After a bit more exploring I found a house, and yet again found myself talking to the old man. He offered a warm jacket in exchange for remembering a particular receipe – which turned out to be meat, fish and peppers. From there, the magnet skill came in handy once back in the colder region of the Plateau – I built a bridge over a rushing and very cold river (you’ll quickly die if you fall in), and I was on my way.
As I made my way to the next Shrine (which involved freezing water to form platforms), I pondered the old man. He seemed to be everywhere, and his advice was designed to gently nudge you, rather than outright help you. Nintendo have crafted something special here – the game won’t hold your hand the way previous Zelda games would (the tutorial elements to the likes of Skyward Sword come to mind). Instead, your journey across the Plateau is the tutorial – you are teaching yourself. From Shrine three to Shrine four, which was an easy trip across the peak, and this time, it was about stopping time, and building up kinetic energy in objects.
A word on the enemies. Bokoblins are scattered all over the Plateau and at night, you also have to contend with their skeletons. Defeating an encampment of them will yield prizes – not necessarily anything spectacular but useful nonetheless, so it’s worth finding them and fighting them.
Upon the completion of the fourth Shrine, the old man made another appearance, and asked you to draw a line in your head between the Shrines – the point in the middle is where you would find him. This point just so happens to be the Temple of Time – not a coincidence in my book.
You can actually pray at the Temple, and this serves a purpose too – with four spirit orbs (you get one for each Shrine you complete), you could ask for a reward – an increase to your stamina meter or an extra heart for your health meter. I chose the latter, and the old man then urged me to climb to the roof of the Temple, where his true nature was revealed….
This man, who had guided you in this early stage, was actually the King of Hyrule. Well, his spirit at least. He recounted in more detail the terrible events and the destruction Ganon inflicted upon the land, including taking over the Guardians and also four power artifacts that were originally intended to be used by Champions of Hyrule. The King also tells you that you were gravely wounded in the battle against Ganon, which is why you were placed in the Ressurection Chamber. It transpires that the voice from the Slate is Zelda’s voice, and that she stood alone against Ganon a hundred years ago, and she is trapped along with him at Hyrule Castle.
Before the King fades away, he asks you to save her – and gives you directions on where to continue your journey – eastward, to find a woman called… Impa. The paraglider is now yours, so you can leave the Plateau, and thus I travel east, albeit in a zig-zag fashion. I have already encountered two more Shrines – one requires the use of the glider, and completing this gave me another orb. The next concerns using the magnetic power in a precise fashion, and this is where I am now.
I’ll leave you with a few more pictures, and I hope you will follow me as I continue my adventure.