Red’s Ramblings – The Understated Awesomeness of the Music of BOTW

By Red
July 20, 2017

Pretty early in our adventures in Breath of the Wild, Hick and I had a conversation I never thought we would have about a Zelda game: we were not impressed with the music! Zelda games have consistently had some of the best soundtracks in gaming history. I’m guessing the vast majority of Zelda fans can hum the theme or overworld songs of multiple Zelda titles without even trying. Ever since the iconic overworld theme from the original Legend of Zelda, every title has had one or multiple songs that forever stick with the players.

A few hours into BOTW, I was struck by just how quiet the music was. It hit me at some point that even though I had already spent a good amount of time in the overworld, I couldn’t hum the music, and to be honest, I probably would not have been able to even recognize it if someone played the theme for me. The same was true once I entered Kakariko Village. Sure, Twilight Princess had changed up the traditional Kakariko theme from what we were used to in Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, but the change in BOTW was even more severe. The quiet, reserved music I had encountered to that point just hadn’t impressed me.

Some time later, I was looking for something to listen to at work and remembered I had added the soundtrack that came with the limited edition of BOTW to my digital music library. I thought to myself, “Maybe there’s something I’m missing here,” and fired it up. Then I listened to it again. And again. And again. And I realized that my initial impression of the BOTW music was dead wrong.

In BOTW, we spend exponentially more time in each area than we ever have in any other Zelda game – especially the overworld. The quieter, more subdued music works amazingly well in this sense. Could you imagine the loud, bombastic themes from other Zelda games playing the ENTIRE TIME you’re adventuring around BOTW’s Hyrule?? As good as these older themes are, I believe we would quickly grow tired of them as our hours in BOTW add up. Therefore, having themes that really do fade into the background fits this game perfectly.

The more I explored each area, the more I realized how well the themes fit. The shrine theme perfectly captures the futuristic look and feel of the shrines. Kakariko Village’s theme matches the village’s slightly Eastern feel. Nintendo kept the Zora’s Domain theme largely unchanged from previous games. Considering it’s consistently one of my favorite themes, I thought this was a great decision. The themes for Goron City, Gerudo Town, and Rito Village do an excellent job of capturing the feel of all three of those races.

Beyond the area themes, several other songs were perfectly done. Whether it was the stable theme having hints of Epona’s Song, Kass’s theme featuring his ever-present accordion, or the Guardian theme instilling an immediate sense of dread and urgency, Nintendo knocked it out of the park with BOTW’s music.

What did you think of the music of Breath of the Wild? Did you love it from the start? Do you still not like it to this day? Or, like me, did you initially not like it and come to love it the more time you spent in the game? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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