#BlackLivesMatter Support An Initiative

A review by Malindi Chipenzi

The year 2020 was not an especially great year for the majority of people. Due to the pandemic, I, like many other people, found myself confined to my home for a good portion of the year. It’s due to this global isolation that 2020 was declared “The Year of the Gamer.”

Last year, I finally got the opportunity to get my hands on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and what a wild ride it has been. As known to most gamers, The Legend of Zelda is considered something of a series. It is possible to play any one game without knowledge of the other and Breath of the Wild is no different. Here’s my review of the game and some details on some interesting aspects you’ll find in BOTW.

All the hopes and dreams of Hyrule being put on the shoulders of our protagonist.

Out in the wild

The game is set in the fictional land of Hyrule where our protagonist Link awakens in a chamber of healing from a 100-year long slumber. Link has no memory of the events leading up to said slumber. Upon waking up, he begins to hear a voice in his mind that instructs him on how to leave the chamber. As our hero sets foot in the outside world, the voice tells him that the people of Hyrule will be counting on him.

Upon leaving the chamber, you’re greeted with a beautiful cut scene of Link running to the edge of the cliff to get an almost birdseye view of the breathtaking world of Hyrule. It is at this moment that the player becomes acutely aware of the vastness of the world of Hyrule and the map you can traverse.

Link peering over the edge of a cliff at the vastness of the land before him
A breath-taking view of the destroyed kingdom of Hyrule

One notable thing about this game is that it gives the player an incredible amount of freedom. When the game says it will let the player do whatever they please, it is not an exaggeration at all. After exiting the healing chamber and witnessing the map-revealing cut scene, normally the player is expected to run a little to the right to talk to an NPC that will take you through a tutorial of sorts. Instead, the player can ignore this and try to defeat some minor enemies roaming around the area. The player will not be prompted to return to the “mission area” or anything like that and I found that pretty interesting.

Once you complete the tutorial, the NPC (to avoid spoilers, I’ll avoid naming them!) informs Link that 100 years ago, a great calamity befell the kingdom of Hyrule. The thought-to-be sealed away Ganon, who is malice and hatred incarnate, returned to plague the land of Hyrule after 10 000 years. The Princess of Hyrule named Zelda has been trying to keep Ganon at bay for 100 years. It is also revealed to Link that the voice that has been guiding him belongs to none other than the Princess herself. It is then made clear to Link that his goal is to find his way to the castle and aid the Princess in defeating Ganon, saving the land of Hyrule in the process. This is when the game truly begins. After leaving the tutorial area, the player is equipped with some basic weapons and armor that will enable them to explore the surrounding areas and defend themselves from some of the surrounding monsters.

Link has been asleep for 100 years
TFW you take a nap and wake up a century later

It is at this point that another freedom is afforded to the player. You get two main quests: one that will enable you to gather more intel and items to make Link stronger, and another to go straight to the castle and battle the main boss and end it all right there and then, but of course, that is easier said than done. The wiser option is definitely NOT to go straight to the main boss with some measly starter equipment (haha).

Weapon system

Unlike most games, in BOTW, there isn’t a system to allow Link to buy weapons. The only ways to get weapons in this game is either by finding them randomly strewn about or by prying them from the cold dead hands of your enemies (literally!). The easier way is to defeat monsters and take their weapons from them but the (somewhat?) safer way is to go in search of the equipment.

Link with a branch
The game letting the player know that a weapon is close to breaking

Another thing about weapons in this game is that they all have a little trait known as durability. By this, I mean that weapons can only be used a certain amount of times before they eventually break and can never be used again. The durability of each weapon varies so certain weapons break sooner than others. Because of this, I constantly found myself not wanting to use my rarer weapons for fear of breaking them. (That and certain weapons were so pretty I had qualms about eventually breaking them). This trait of durability is also applied to any shields collected. Countless times I found myself trying to block an enemy attack with a shield that was breaking, only for the enemy to break right through my shield and take a huge chunk of my life and in worst-case scenarios, kill me and bring up that Game Over screen that I know too well.

Broken weapon
When a weapon breaks, it disappears. Leaving Link unarmed.

Inventory Upgrades

When you first start, the number of weapons and shields Link can hold before your inventory is too full quickly begins to feel small as you begin to stumble across more and more weapons. Thankfully, there is a way to expand your inventory. On your way to one of the villages in Hyrule, you stumble upon a crying large tree-looking spirit called Hestu. He tells you that some nearby monsters stole his maracas and he needs you to retrieve them for him. After doing so, he tells you that there are no seeds in the maracas and they are too quiet without the seeds. Hestu informs you that whenever you find any seeds, he will increase your inventory for a certain amount of seeds. There are 900 seeds in total to find. Luckily for us, it is not mandatory to find them all. (I am almost 100 hours in this game and I am pretty sure I’ve only found about 80!)

Hestu accepting Korok seeds for inventory upgrades
Link trading Korok seeds with Hestu to expand his inventory

Link’s upgrades

Link starts with a limited amount of stamina and only three hearts to work with. The game offers the player a way to increase Link’s vitality and stamina by way of some mini-dungeons called “shrines” strewn all over the land of Hyrule. The shrines usually present certain puzzles that must be solved for the player to reach the end. Sometimes the puzzle may even be to find the shrine itself! At the end of every shrine, Link comes face to face with a monk who congratulates the hero for quick thinking that is befitting of a hero such as himself. The monk then awards Link with a spirit orb.

A shrine monk awards Link with Spirit Orbs
The shrine monk congratulating Link for completing the trial and awarding him with a spirit orb.

To make use of these orbs, Link must pray to a statue of the Goddess and she will grant either an extra heart or some extra stamina, it is up to the player to pick which.

Trading Spirit Orbs with Statue
Link trading with a statue of the Goddess to either Improve his stamina or obtain another heart.

These little dungeons were always fun for me but I can shamelessly say that for some of these shrines I was forced to pull up an online guide that would show me the solution for the puzzle I was struggling with. Some puzzle solutions are extremely obvious while others would require some serious out-of-the-box thinking.

My overall experience of the game

Picking this game up felt incredibly daunting, at first. Learning all the game’s mechanics as well as trying to learn what I could about the story sounded like it was going to be too much. But the more of the game I played the more I fell in love with the beautiful but fallen world of Hyrule.

Link speaking with King Dorephan
Link getting nostalgic with the king of the Zora people

The music in this game is nothing short of beautiful. Each musical piece heard in this game perfectly correlates with the situation at hand and serves to magnify whatever feelings a certain scenario is trying to put across. The battle music heard when battling common enemies is completely different from battling the sub-boss tier enemies, immediately letting you know what kind of foe you are facing. The music heard in the villages is friendly and calm, letting you know that you are finally in a safe area. The music played during the boss battle almost makes it feel as if the voices of the fallen soldiers are calling out to Link and encouraging him to go on.

The weight of Link’s situation really hit me when I was going through some harder portions of the main quests. Almost all his friends from 100 years ago were long gone. There were no other knights around to help him on his journey. The responsibility was his and his alone. As if to emphasize this point, the only other cut scenes that can be viewed in the game are known as Memories. Link has to go to certain places in Hyrule that will help jog his memory and remember certain things from a hundred years ago.

Impa
The now 100+ year old royal advisor that acts as one of Link’s guides on his journey

I also smiled at the fact that the game also hides little Easter eggs that veterans of the Zelda series will be happy to see like certain game mechanics carrying over or whole buildings resembling certain establishments from the previous games. I haven’t played many Zelda games myself but I was quite pleased with myself for noticing some of the little references to past games.

The Temple of Time
The Temple of Time as seen in some other Zelda games now in ruin

All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game that I would recommend to everyone out there. I could honestly write a whole book about this game alone. It is akin to a beautiful journey: the experiences to be had and the sights to been seen will only have more impact if they are seen by oneself. This game requires a good amount of patience, but take it from me, the payoff at the end of it all is wonderful.

Link on horseback
Travelling by horseback allows the player to see much more of the world that could be otherwise missed… and allows you to ride off into the sunset after a long day of heroic questing

About the author

Malindi Chipenzi

“My name is Malindi Chipenzi. I’m a 20-year-old Zambian woman studying economics and finance at ZCAS. Whenever I’m not in front of my computer watching anime, you can find me gaming. I’ve been into gaming ever since I was a child.”

You can check out Malindi’s Youtube Channel Mali-Chan’s Bizarre Adventures

8 thoughts to “My 2020 Game of the Year – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

  • Riz

    Heart container sounds like a serial killers backpack and stamina vessel sounds kinky
    Enjoyed the review

    Reply
    • Malindi

      LMAO NOW I CANT UNSEE IT
      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  • Taizya

    This game sounds so good. Think I’ll make some money and actually play it..

    Reply
    • Malindi

      YOU TOTALLY SHOULD! It’s a masterpiece

      Reply
  • Dice

    Great article for a beloved game. Hope I get to play it one day, I’m so jealous now.

    Reply
    • Malindi

      You should definitely give it a try whenever you can. It’s literally one of my favourite games

      Reply
  • Spring Jumpy

    Really enjoyed the wonderful review of one the best video games of the last decade. TLOZ: BOTW although a controversial topic among Zelda fans is an amazing game that I urge everyone to give a try just like Malindi did. Once again thank you for the amazing review & will be on the lookout for more.

    Reply
    • Malindi

      Thank you!
      I totally agree with you on the fact that this game brought some discourse in the fandom since it’s so different from the other games.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article!!

      Reply

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