Zelda: Breath of the Wild released March 3rd, 2017. It was a special, memorable day for me as I plopped into my horizontal red lounger by the window and rediscovered an excitement for Zelda I thought was impossible to feel ever again (note to self, don’t try hard drugs or chase dragons).
After a game receives high praise you’ll see a wide range of opinions surface, some call it GOTY, others strike out with a galvanizing ‘overrated’, but that’s human nature and a huge part of why talking about games is so interesting. There is no right opinion. Sure there are aspects of games that a vast majority can agree upon (Mario has great control for example) but you either connect with a game or not, and that’s completely personal.
Anyways, after spending most of the year away from BotW, I lazily auto-played into a review of it and was struck by the unique piano plinky-plonks that brought so many fond memories back.
BotW’s score creates a specific palette of piano that feels unique to the experience. The piano darts in and out, like vague memories phasing in and out of clarity. This Link – like the player – has lived many lives as a hero previously, but remembers them less than we do. While glimpsing at a Temple of Time overgrown with time itself, the nostalgic dreamy score embraces my own memories of my first Temple of Time experience back in 1998. The score teases and flirts with epic moments as you discover your own adventure just over that next hill.
It’s not all ambient pokes and jabs of course. There are full on pieces reserved for boss battles and epic encounters that are better suited by an intense burst.
Before the game released, I had heard pieces of the score and felt underwhelmed. Used to the grand galloping scores of previous entries this felt practically non-existent. But while some scores can be enjoyed without context, the BotW score selflessly sacrifices to serve the game. Once you’ve keenly explored the hills and mountains as gentle chords and melodic lines accentuate tiny discoveries, the score is elevated to heights of perfection.
Like giving the Beatles a break so I can listen with somewhat fresh ears, I relish the day when I can start a new foray into BotW to try and recapture a fraction of the feeling of first emerging from that cave on March 3rd, 2017.