When I was a child, my boundless imagination carried me on many adventures. When I was with my friends, we would gather plastic swords and gadgets and embark on grand and fantastical adventures throughout the neighbourhood and battle the evils our minds concocted. I was also always a curious individual who enjoyed exploring new places and seeing what secrets lay around me, both in areas I had grown familiar with and places I had yet to investigate.
It was a fun time. A simpler time. A time when nothing seemed to matter except how we would best explore the world around us.
However, as is the case with many people, that sense of mysticism and desire for exploring deteriorated as I grew up. My focuses moved away from the world around me and were instead concentrated on school, jobs and career paths. While it was an exploration in its own right, it couldn’t take the place of the grandiose journeys I had as a child.
I craved something more. Something new and exciting. Something that would rekindle that sense of childhood wonderment once again. And that desire manifested in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the latest game in the long running adventure series The Legend of Zelda.
Breath of the Wild released in early March of 2017 to both widespread critical acclaim and fan reception across the world. This new iteration in the loved Zelda series had enticed players from the very start, including myself as I’ve poured almost 75 hours into the game to date – and every moment has been a magical and unforgettable experience.
If you ask most players, one of the greatest strengths that the game compared to previous titles is the huge sprawling open world for the player to explore. This enormous landscape combined with the freedom to traverse wherever you desire helps make the somewhat tired formula the series has fallen into feel fresh and fun, despite having a weaker narrative focus. Of course, a huge open world is pointless if there is no reason to explore, however, Breath of the Wild has a multitude of hidden secrets to discover across the vast lands presented to you. Collectibles, new equipment, interesting characters, fun side-quests, and so much more litters the world, and it has helped recapture some of that magic I experienced playing with my friends outside as a child.
Though there is a central plot driving the game, I often put that low down on my priorities list in favour of just venturing into new areas and finding new secrets every time I loaded up the game. I’d pump my fist in excitement when I discovered one of the many mini-dungeons spread out across the world and gain a new sense of determination in finding a tower that would provide me with a detailed map of the unknown landscapes I found myself in. Mixed in with these feelings of accomplishment was always a driving sense of excitement. I never knew what I would find at the peak of the mountains or in the depths of a volcano, and there always ended up being something there waiting for me. Whether it was a major discovery that would progress the story or a minor collectible being added to an ever growing total, I never lost that sense of wonderment at my new discovery. For the first time in a long while, I felt like I was in elementary school again, being able to leave the stresses of my everyday life and just sit back and experience the simplicity of gazing over a grassy field or climbing up a hill to reveal the mysteries found on the other side.
After being lost in a world where speed and convenience were always the focus, where exams and careers were all one could really focus on, Breath of the Wild was able to take me back to a simpler time. A time where I would explore for hours on end. A time where I was entirely enraptured by a fantastical world around me and left to explore. A time like when I was a kid, and the world was home to infinite possibilities. A time I will never forget.