The very first Nintendo game I ever owned was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy. It was the first adventure game I had ever played. No game before had challenged me with its puzzles, and gripped me with a story that served as more than a thin plot to build gameplay around. It was the first time I had ever cared about the characters in a game and what happened to them.
The Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, is the first one since then that has made me feel that way. It’s billed as an “open world” game, but more than other games that claim the same, the world in this game truly feels like a real place. Birds nest in trees, wolves hunt in packs, and there are no artificial barriers keeping you from going straight to the final boss - or anywhere else. The attention to detail in every corner of this game amazes me.
The world this game takes place in is thousands of years after any other Zelda game, and a hundred years after a near-apocalypse when the series’ antagonist, Ganon, almost destroyed the world. For the past century, the princess Zelda has been holding him captive with magic, waiting for the hero to wake up from a long, restorative slumber. Your goal, as always, is to defeat Ganon and save the world.
There is so much more to do, though. Scattered all around are short dungeons with one or two puzzles. Every 4 that you clear gives you additional health, which you’ll need to defeat Ganon. They’re also a deft way to teach you how to play the game - they get progressively more difficult, and add on to concepts you learn in previous puzzles.
I’ve played the game for 20 hours, and I’m barely a quarter through it (so far as I can tell). The open-world is a new idea for a Zelda game, but it fits the series so well, you’d think it was always this way. When I’m playing this game, it makes me feel the same awe and wonder that the Game Boy game did when I was a kid - and that’s a special kind of magic.