Welcome to The High Score, where we explore the creative, immersive intersections of cannabis and gaming through reviews, product pairings, and more. Check out more installments of The High Score series here.
Available On: Nintendo Switch and Wii U
Summary: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will trap you for hours on end in one of the most stunning artistic simulations known to modern day gamers. With dreamlike world-building, imaginative character designs, awe-inspiring landscapes, an astounding orchestral soundtrack, and seemingly boundless map (think nine Skyrims), this game is destined to be played with an edible or a big bowl of your favorite strain.
Three, Two, One Blast Off
The feeling of holding Zelda: Breath of the Wild in my hands cannot easily be described. The Zelda franchise is one that I grew up with, playing every major title since A Link to the Past. Over the decades, the widely worshipped Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword would amount to what might just be Nintendo’s magnum opus: Breath of the Wild.
Filling my lungs with bated breath and Dutchy’s Blackberry Kush, the opening cinematics came on. I unwrapped an infused peanut cup while an ethereal voice broke from the darkness: “Wake up, Link.”
Link awakens—looking like he just took the biggest dab of his life–and emerges from a cave where he’d been cryogenically hibernating for exactly one century, losing all of his memories in the process.
The game wastes no time cutting to its mic-drop moment. A landscape that I can only describe as watercolors over reality breaks out like a sunrise. The expansive view of rolling hills, cloud-cloaked mountains, and trees swaying the breeze will force some sort of audible cry out of its beholder.
Immersion and Atmosphere
Breath of the Wild is easily the most visually stunning game in my collection, second only to a Skyrim modified purely with graphic overhauls and immersion enhancements. However, in an age where many producers aim for digital mimicries of our real world, BOTW sidesteps; it instead pioneers an almost comic-like art style with bright colors and shading steeped in watercolor.
Despite its somewhat cartoonish animation style, there’s no shortage of realistic detail to get lost in. The length of shadows change depending on the sun’s position in the sky; blades of grass sway with the wind’s direction; and clouds in the sky cast shadowed nuances on the ground below, again, depending on the sun’s position. This level of detail is meant for gamers as thoroughly baked as we, my friends.
In earlier Zelda games, kingdom of Hyrule always had fairly strict geographic boundaries and linear plot lines that gave the world somewhat of a ceiling. But with BOTW, that ceiling just got a whole lot higher. You can haul through the game’s main quest in 30 to 50 hours, but if you’re the type of person to stop and smell the flowers (and I mean every single beautifully designed flower in Hyrule), you may find your play time inching toward the 100-hour mark, maybe more depending on how many edibles you took.
My favorite part of playing this game while high was the early days, the simpler times of leisurely strolling about the low-level regions, collecting apples for my pony and mushrooms for my skewer recipes, and drinking in the multi-toned skies of sunset and sunrise without fear of getting utterly annihilated by a Guardian or Lynel (and here’s a summary of how that will go).
I know I said this game was a destined companion for cannabis, but if your skill does not grow proportionately alongside the game’s difficulty, you will swear and curse your way through multi-button commands and timing-based combat. The fast-paced combat forces you to play your controller like an instrument, hitting the right button at the right time for the right effect. Having tried and failed at every instrument under the sun, you can imagine the colorful profanity that gushes out of me every time I’m faced with the oh-so familiar words: GAME OVER.
A few puffs from my vape pen sharpened my concentration, but too much and I found my brain constantly mixing up buttons, constantly pausing to think, Uhhhhhh what was the fast-command for changing arrows? However, as you master the controls, you will have an absolute heyday launching bomb arrows midair from your paraglider, surfing down mountains on your shield, and leaping off the head of one enemy to jab another.
Here’s where cannabis really helped me: shrines. Much of the game is comprised of visiting scattered outposts that test different abilities from combat to puzzle-solving. I love the way cannabis allows you to approach problems and puzzles with a creative edge–that can really help if you get stuck.
Although BOTW introduces some challenging gameplay, I’m learning that game overs are no stranger to most players, whether sober or stoned, skilled or stumbling. Still, the eventual difficulty of BOTW may come as a frustration to those who find cooking cakes and paragliding through the Hylian foothills more enjoyable than battling ancient artifacts who count down to your death with timed explosive lasers.
Characters and Plot
If there’s one thing Legend of Zelda games do best, it’s character design. From hilarious to elegant, strange to epic, adorable to creepy, the inhabitants of Hyrule often look like they walked straight out of someone’s fever dream. The cast of characters served up in Breath of the Wild are just as amazingly colorful, featuring an androgynous Link, cryptic Sheikah monks, the Great Fairy reimagined, and parrots playing the accordion. Stoned or not, these characters will inspire any creative with a penchant for the unusual.
The plot has yet to fully unfold for me, but so far, the theme of time travel and forgotten pasts has me drawing theories the whole way. Early on in the game, Link must start collecting memories using photographs, traveling near and far to re-live them. It’s a trip, especially after puffing on this Blackberry Kush for hours and hours (…and hours and hours).
In conclusion–if it isn’t already overwhelmingly obvious–Breath of the Wild is a must-have game for, well, really anyone. Having played sober, donked into the galaxies, and everywhere in between, I can say that this game’s highly immersive qualities are wildly enhanced by a good, long-lasting edible. But grab your comfiest chair, because you’ll likely be here about as long as Link spent incubating in his tomb of time before emerging into one of the greatest games introduced to mankind so far.