When I started playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in December of 2017, I was immediately entranced by the beautiful, open-world design of the game, the immersive storyline, and the intricate character design. For me, the game mechanics were (and remain) secondary to the more narrative elements of the text. I was thrilled to receive a review copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Creating a Champion, because it allowed me to further indulge in the rich fantasy space of the Zelda universe.
First and foremost, this book is beautiful. (Almost as beautiful as it is long—it comes in at a whopping 424 pages, but don’t worry: It’s unlikely that you’ll read it cover-to-cover.) The opening sections are really a visual exploration of the broader world, both with the elements (weapons, clothing design, architecture) that appear in the final game and early design concepts that didn’t make the final cut. Each drawing, whether intricately detailed products or simple sketches, is accompanied by an artist’s note describing their motivations. The result is that readers have the option of either skimming through tons of gorgeous art or spending a little more time to learn about the design process (which details were edited out of the hair design of which character) and the world (that no one is really certain why the Yiga love mighty bananas as much as they do). Cumulatively, much space is devoted to musings on how Breath of the Wild remains faithful to established Zelda lore, but also to those places where it deviates, such as the use of turquoise blue for the Champion’s garments, rather than Link’s usual forest green.
The latter sections of the book are devoted to deepening the story. Detailed timelines depict events from up to 10,000 years before the opening moments of BotW as experienced by the various races that populate Hyrule, giving a sense of the history of Hyrule as both wide and deep. Brief narrative segments elucidate elements of characters’ psyches, while also setting a clear sense of stakes that predate Link’s first moments in the Temple of Time. As someone who lives for story, this section was my absolute favorite; the narrative segments deepened my understanding and appreciation of the world, and the writing is beautifully executed.
My only critique of this book is that if you, like me, read the text from cover to cover (which is extremely unlikely), it may begin to feel repetitive. The repetitive quality of the text isn’t unexpected, nor is it especially distracting. It is natural, for example, for elements of Princess Zelda’s story arc to warrant a mention in the segment on her character design and costuming.
This outstanding tome is well worth the time investment required and is a must for all BotW lovers.
Creative Team: Naoyuki Kayama, Kikai, Akinori Sao, Chisato Mikame (writers), Keaton C. White (translator)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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