Breath of the Wild

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The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild, is a departure from the previous game design of the iconic video game series in many ways. From just a few screenshots of the game we notice a beautiful, refreshing new artistic direction taken in illustrating our protagonist, Link, and his surrounding world. Inline with the games naturalistic motifs, the new game art features more minimal detail with an increased focused on shape, form, color, and shading. Producer Eiji Aonuma stated that the art design was inspired by gouache, a water-based painting medium similar to watercolor, and en plein air art. And it shows. Beautiful landscapes are rendered in vivid color whilst maintaining an artistic illustration technique that seems to suspend reality much like looking at a landscape painting. The game’s landscape is based on locations near Kyoto, the game director’s hometown.Together, this new art direction delivers a visually impressive display that at times is quite awe-evoking. The gameplay itself also defies the conventions of the series and traditional role-playing game mechanics. Featuring a single open world that players can explore, the game abandons the traditional dungeons-and-puzzle gameplay of the video game series. Adhering the naturalistic-emphasis of the game, the open world prevents an incredibly immersive experience for the player that is unlike and any previous game I’ve played, both within the series and outside of it. The player is allowed to interact with the game environment with an impressive amount of freedom – much like how an individual is free to interact with a real-world natural setting. To handle the new mechanics required for an open-world-style game, the development team ended up building a new physics engine to handle their new massive virtual landscape. The scores for the Legend of Zelda series are critically-acclaimed and iconic for their whimsical melodies and upbeat tempos. For the Breath of the Wild, composer Manaka Kataoka also departed from his previous work on the series and wrote a soundtrack performed primarily on piano featuring more ambiance-styled music to complement the game environment and fit within the naturalistic motif. While in many ways the Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild, is ground-breaking for the series, the vision and risks that the game team took in developing the game ultimately resulted in one of the most unified, immersive, and simply beautiful game experiences I’ve experienced.

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