The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Switch exists in a strange space. Before Nintendo started experimenting freely like they did with Link Between Worlds and abandoned Breath of the Wild's open-world formula entirely, there was Link and Zelda's origin story.
No amount of remastering can smooth out the remnants of the motion control era, true, but don't let certain gimmicks and stiff design put you off. Skyward Sword on Switch is a heartfelt and memorable adventure with some of the best music and storytelling in the entire series.
It deserves its place among the high ranks of “best Zelda games”.
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword Switch Review: Voler haut
Skyward Sword opens with a short tableau of Link and Zelda surrounded by friends and living a quiet life. It's been a pretty common storyline for the series since Ocarina of Time first did it, but Skyward does something different that sets the rest of the game apart: Link and Zelda actually belong here.
Whether it's Link in Kokiri Forest or Tetra surrounded by merry pirates, past Zelda games have always ensured that they both stand out from their peers and never quite fit in. There's no doubt in Skyward Sword that both Link and Zelda are the chosen ones destined for great things, since the game makes sure to tell you that repeatedly.
Unlike most previous games, they're torn from their homes and pushed into fates they never asked for.
As the game progresses, it becomes clear that, even though they save the world, Zelda and Link will no longer fit into their old lives and homes like before. It's a fitting way to frame the series' origin story and give it a unique feel, made possible by Skyward Sword's focus on the events that happen to these characters rather than the events that happen. produce around them.
It's also one of the most cinematic games in the Zelda series, with more cutscenes and dialogue than almost any other game in the franchise.
Of course, most of these developments are unspoken, and Skyward Sword is far from a melancholic game, quite the contrary. It's absolutely bursting with character and life, especially in Skyloft itself.
Skyloft is one of the best hubs in the series. Breath of the Wild's cities are larger, and Clock Town in Majora's Mask is a living puzzle full of secrets, but Skyloft feels alive. There's plenty of mysteries and side content to uncover as you progress through the game, and it's impressive to see all there is to do in such a small place.
The size also gives Skyward Sword an edge over its open-world sibling. Despite the story's tinge of melancholy, Skyloft ultimately feels cozy. Finding a quest or hidden object feels more like you've stumbled upon something secret in your hometown, and completing the game's quests actually feels possible in a reasonable amount of time thanks to the smaller map.
The cast of characters may also be smaller, but Fledge, Groose, and some of the other eccentrics who live here end up being far more memorable than most NPCs.
Skyward Sword's quality of life changes make it easier than ever to take advantage of all of this, mostly. Fi no longer pops up every five seconds with unwanted hints and greatly improves game flow.
I've never had a problem with the motion controls in the Wii version, and the Joy-Con motion controls work just fine. Adding push-button controls in their place is so much more convenient that I found myself rarely using the motion.
Skyward Sword is brilliant when it's good, which makes less-than-great games all the more underwhelming.
The game had repeating issues when it was first released, and since they are integrated into the main quests, they naturally remain unchanged. The Silent Realm is duller than ever, but it's the more dated aspects that clip Skyward Sword's wings.
For one thing, the skies around Skyloft are a dull version of Wind Waker's Great Sea. Sailing the oceans and discovering hidden treasures or secret mini-dungeons is fun.
Flying through the open sky with nothing around you just to reach a map marker and open a box is not. Maybe Nintendo wanted to streamline Zelda for the more casual Wii audience, but removing points of interest probably isn't the best way to do it.
Dowsing adds very little to the game other than using motion commands to find things, and some tools seem to exist simply because they had to. It's like an unspoken understanding between you and the developers: they know it didn't add anything to the experience and you know it too, but the buzz around the Wii hardware meant it had to happen.
A few other areas are showing their age, but in often more interesting ways in a post-BOTW world.
Take enemies, for example. Their behavior leaves a lot to be desired after the vicious Wizzrobes of Breath of the Wild and the spin-off of Lizalfos. However, the potential for something interesting is still there.
Unlike BOTW's Moblin mobs, enemies in Skyward Sword make you think about how to approach them and quickly adapt your strategy as they adjust their defenses.
Granted, they're usually still fairly easy to defeat and don't attack much, but the innovation is there. For every backward or confusing throwback that only exists to justify creating another tool, there's a unique dungeon tied to an unusual NPC or side quest that lingers long after it's completed.
Then there are dungeons, which are as innovative as BOTW's shrines in their own way. Instead of the expansive affairs honed by previous Zelda games, Skyward opts for smaller, puzzle-filled layouts that end up being just as satisfying, if not more so, as you learn how everything works.
Nintendo positioned Skyward Sword as the mechanical predecessor to Breath of the Wild through features such as stamina and crafting, and some consider this proof that the series was worn out and in need of a change. However, playing it after Breath of the Wild puts Skyward in a different light.
Sure, Nintendo could have been bolder with the changes it made, but Skyward isn't just BOTW's prequel. It's a different take on the future of Zelda, one less about introducing a number of gadgets to the game and more about giving the series a soul.
None of this erases Skyward Sword's problems, but it does make them easier to deal with and, beyond that, means the game stays with you long after you've saved the world again.
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword Switch Review: The Bottom Line
- Full of life and soul
- Skyloft is a fantastic hub
- Memorable characters, clever dungeons, and a great soundtrack
- Innovative, even after Breath of the Wild
- Shallow Motion Era Gadgets Are Still Shallow Gadgets
- Too streamlined in some areas
- Backtrack to backtrack
The thing about Skyward Sword is that the good outweighs the bad every time. Even if the boring parts are right there in your face for a while, as is the case with the silent realm every time, it's easy to get through because there's something better around the corner. .
The main takeaway from my time with Skyward Sword is the potential of the Zelda series. Breath of the Wild is just one vision of how the franchise could evolve, but hopefully Nintendo won't let it be the only one. There's still a lot to learn from Skyward Sword.
[Note: Nintendo provided the copy of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD used for this review.]