This is one of the more polarizing games for me this year. In some aspects this is one of the best games that I’ve every played and in other aspects, I found it incredibly frustrating. One thing I did discover with this game, I don’t think I’m a fan of Zelda games. The parts of the game that are more traditional Zelda moments, I was not a fan.
There is a lot going on with this game so I thought I would go through and talk about everything that gave me an emotional reaction. The Weapon degradation, on one hand it didn’t bother me but in another sense. I didn’t love it. Its kind of a cool concept, weapons break and then you got to switch and use a new weapon. It forces you to try new and different weapons but at the same time, it discourages you from using the weapons that you like. If you like a weapon, you don’t want to use because it’ll break and the more I think about it, the less I like that game mechanic.
Shrines, this is probably my favorite part of the entire game. There are 120 shrines through out the world and on the gigantic open-world map you just have to find them. I like running around the world looking for these shrines and then when you do find one and enter it. That was a lot of fun as well. For the most part, thats where you get the best weapons and for the most part its just solve a puzzle and after you solve it. You’re rewarded with an “Orb.” 4 of these Orbs can be converted into a another heart or more stamina. Solving each shrine puzzle was a lot of fun, a couple times some of the puzzles left me quite confused and then I’d realize that I was just overthinking it.
In the previous paragraph, I mentioned Stamina. Yes, a Zelda game has Stamina and no it didn’t bother me too much. Normally Stamina is one of my biggest dislikes in a video game. Its a major reason I stopped playing Nioh after a couple hours. You only lose stamina when you’re sprinting, swimming, paragliding or climbing. The climbing is a big reason why the stamina mechanic exists. Without stamina, you could go anywhere you want in the world and there are some areas you probably shouldn’t visit while you’re still fairly weak.
That really brings up the other aspect of the game that I absolutely loved and that was just exploring the world. Yes I was running around and opening up the map so I could find shrines but it was a lot of fun just exploring every nook and cranny of that world. Early on, I put all of my upgrades into stamina so it would get easier to explore around the world. I want to say at least the first 6 or 7 upgrades went right into stamina. Once I had enough stamina and I felt like I could go anywhere in the world. That’s when I switched to accumulating hearts.
For the most part, I have talked about what I loved about the game but its time for me to rant a little bit. My biggest complaint by far is rain. Rain is this fun game mechanic that makes the game unplayable. If its raining then you can’t climb and if you can’t climb then you can’t explore. If you can’t explore, there is no reason to play this game. Now there are options to counteract rain. One is to create a campfire and advance time to when its not raining but for that you have to find a cave or some kind of shelter because otherwise the rain puts out the campfire. So you have to run around for 5-10 minutes looking for a place to start a campfire. Also to start a campfire you need wood which can be acquired by chopping down which are everywhere and flint. Now flint can be found by blowing up specific rocks. When you blow the rocks up, it doesn’t just spit out flint, you could end up getting other crafting materials instead. Because I’m such a lucky guy for the first 15-20 hours, I never found any flint. So I was able to just skip the rain. So I would have to do the other thing and that was fast travel a different area. Which I remember one day, I turned on my switch, the are I was in was raining so I went somewhere else. That place was raining as well so I went somewhere else and you guessed it, its was raining there as well. At that point, I turned off my system and walked away.
My second biggest complaint was the dungeons. I don’t know what it was but the game had 4 dungeons and I hated them. They just felt tedious and annoying. I enjoyed solving the puzzles in the shrines but the dungeons felt like a step too far and I did not enjoy spending anytime in the dungeons.
My final complaint are the boss battles. There were 5 total and 3 didn’t bother me and 2 just nearly broke me. I think its important to note that I don’t love games where the primary weapon is a sword. I like sitting back and shooting more than stabbing or swinging. Just personal preference. So 3 out of the 5 battles I could do just that. Sit back, fire my arrows, dodge and dive. I never really got that close but then all of a sudden the last 2 boss battles I couldn’t play the way I prefer. The first one, it was teleporting all over the place and so it was very hard to hit it and took me hours. The final boss had this really fun part of the battle where he became invincible and the only way to hit him was by dodging perfectly which is a personal skill that I didn’t work on. I did not get the timing down because I didn’t have to play that way up until that point. That last boss battle really left a bad taste in my mouth and really soiled the game for me.