The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game of many faces depending on who you ask – overrated, boring, GOAT, hard, easy, and everything in between. For me, the open world adventure has continued to hit me hardest in its unique sense of relaxation and content.
I’ve poured over 80 hours into the game and I’ve still not beaten it. I’d go so far as saying that some of my favorite moments with the game didn’t require any sort of achievement.
And despite all of the things to do in the world of Hyrule, from the countless Shrines to subtle secrets all throughout, much of what Breath of the Wild does best is drawing the player in to the present moment.
It’s no secret that the majority of what you’ll find in Hyrule lies outside of the bounds of reality, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t oddly relatable. Everything from the art style, sights, sounds, and general tone of ambience lend a helping hand in making the game easy pickings for immersion.
But my time with the open world edged closer to something that of contemplation. Instead of inspiring an emotion as simple as happiness, it draws on something I’d compare to the feeling of content from meditation. It’s a game that never ceases to make you fall back and sift away in comfort.
For me, there was a honeymoon period of this affect, and at first, venturing into the world brought a heightened sense of awe. But even now, after more than a year of first starting, Breath of the Wild continues to fit like a warm glove.
The game just has an uncanny ability to destress after a rocky day and strip away all of the excess. That’s not to say it doesn’t excel at what it is, a video game, and it’s something I cover as I’m writing my delayed review, but its delivery of nostalgia for the moment is something I’ve yet to experience with another game.
Definitely not boring
A lot of what you’ll find in Breath of the Wild are open stretches of emptiness. It’s you, varying weather, idyllic vistas, and gentle ambient tracks. In my experience, this has always been the perfect parallel to Shrines, environmental puzzles, enemies, and residents of Hyrule, but it’s easy to see why some might find it incredibly dull.
Just as negative space provides a pivotal role in more conventional forms of art, Eiji Aonuma and his team have expertly implemented the concept in the medium of video games. In talking with a very good friend of mine about his experiences with the game, I think this is what ultimately makes the game so calming for those able to embrace the functional emptiness.
Beat by beat, Breath of the Wild provides a rhythm that defies overly constricted play. Many hours of my time so far have explicitly been diving into the lulls of the experience, and the game does an amazing job of illustrating the beauty of seemingly monotonous moments.
There’s never pressure to do anything at all, and the hand of its designers seen in the meticulously crafted world, while hidden in plain sight, makes for a game just as peaceful as it is rewarding.
Track by track
The music of BOTW is definitely more subdued than electric, but it’s also a big part of what drives the zen of the experience. While searching around YouTube I found a great compilation of the game’s most peaceful tracks.
It’s definitely a great mix to throw on in the background and mellow out.