Nintendo Switch games have arrived at The Library! We now have 40+ games for Nintendo’s new portable console available for checkout, with more on the way. I have thoughts on lots of them, and they’re all worth playing, but I have to start with what has become one of my all-time favorite games.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is aptly named, as it breathed fresh life into what is perhaps gaming’s most storied franchise. Since the release of A Link to the Past in 1991, Zelda games have followed a familiar formula: the hero Link adventures from dungeon to dungeon, finding a unique item within each that you use to solve its puzzles and slay its guardian, before finally fighting the final boss, rescuing the titular princess, and saving the kingdom of Hyrule from the forces of darkness.
Breath of the Wild marks a radical departure from this formula. Within the first hour or so, Link already has every item he’ll need for the rest of the game. More importantly, after clearing the initial tutorial area, the entire map opens up to him. He is, as Sartre wrote, “condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to him to give life a meaning.”
In real life, the concept of radical freedom can be a curse – hence Sartre’s use of the word condemned. Fortunately, life in Hyrule is a lot less complicated, and so exercising your freedom is an unadulterated blessing. The developers at Nintendo have crafted a vast, beautiful open world for Link to explore, filled with rolling plains, verdant riverlands, lush rainforests, vast deserts dotted with oases, snow-covered mountains, and more. Best of all, Link’s paraglider and ability to climb basically anything he sees make traversal a true joy, uninhibited by the pitfalls of invisible walls and insurmountable terrain so common in every other open world game.
Of course, there’s more to the game than sightseeing (although admittedly I’ve spent a large portion of my playtime with the game’s camera feature). Hyrule is not just vibrant but vital as well; there are settlements teeming with colorful characters to meet, and the wilderness is filled with outposts manned by enemies who will test your mettle. I could go on endlessly about this game, but ultimately its true joy is to be found in exploration and discovery, so rather than spoil any more of that experience for you, I’ll simply suggest that you check it out and see for yourself.