The year of 2017 will go down as one of the best in all of gaming. From the release of Nintendo’s Switch console to the abundant amount of triple A titles worth your time released this calendar year, it’s hard to find any other time it’s been this great to be a gamer. As the year wraps up I wanted to look back at some of the games that shaped the past 12 months for me. While there were many games I played this year, only a select few stand out as truly awesome. This is one of them.
~ The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ~
Nintendo has, for the most part, always launched their new hardware with some killer titles. The Super NES launched with Super Mario World, and the Nintendo 64 launched with Super Mario 64, arguably two of the greatest platformers of all time. Then we had the Wii and Wii Sports, a non-conventional game that literally defined a console generation. Even the handhelds gave us some amazing launch titles with the perfect pairing of Tetris on the original Game Boy as well as the 3DS and… well let’s not get in to that. The point is, Nintendo knows how to utilize their new hardware, and that point was hammered into our brains this year with the release of the Nintendo Switch and Legend of Zelda; Breath of the Wild.
In development for nearly half a decade, Breath of the Wild was a drastic departure for the fantasy series. For the first time Link could truly go anywhere he pleased as he explored the overgrown and beaten down Hyrule. See a mountain over in the distance? You can go there and climb its apex. A waterfall stands between you and the Zora Domain? Just down the Zora armor and swim right up the damn thing. It was truly inspiring to go anywhere and do as you please. This is perhaps the biggest selling point of BotW: other games like Skyrim and Horizon: Zero Dawn let you pretty much do anything, but some form of invisible wall will limit your progress.
That isn’t to say the only great thing about Link’s latest outing is exploration. The entire cast is comprised of new faces sans the Hero of Time, Zelda herself, and the newest iteration of Ganon. The four Champions will find their place is the hearts of many Zelda fans and will be beloved for years to come. Not only that, this is the first time on a Nintendo console Zelda and company were voiced (sans Link’s grunts and quips, which are still his only form of communication here). The Zelda series has dramatically changed art styles from game to game, and the cell shaded visuals of Breath of the Wild hearken back to the clamor The Wind Waker caused on the Gamecube, only this time people fully embraced them instead of shunning them before getting their hands on the actual game. The open world nature of the game meant exploring and taking in the visuals were part of the fun, and man, did I take in the visuals.
There are plenty of games that look stunning. But with BotW I really felt in awe when looking at the game world. It was like looking at a living, breathing cartoon. One that I could control and one that I wanted more of every time I played. Nintendo are the masters of creating artistic and beautifully rendered worlds that don’t need to be realistic to be believable and jaw dropping. I’ve already spent so much time talking about the visuals and characters, I haven’t even discussed how well the game handles, or how fun it is to explore and jump in to side quests. Or even how I enjoyed the somewhat controversial weapon durability system. Last but not least how could I leave out perhaps the coolest use of amiibo yet! All in all, Breath of the Wild is the complete package which any fan of Nintendo, the Zelda franchise, or open-world games would absolutely love.
Be on the lookout for more entries into my top games of 2017. Before the year is out I’ll recap the best of the best, and crown one game as DownStab’s Game of the Year. Who knows; maybe one day that achievement will mean something and they’ll slap it on the back of the game’s box. One can only hope.