There was a moment in The Witcher 3, in Skellige, where I just stood and watched. The wind was blowing through the trees, the sun was just peering over the mountain tops and the light was breaking through the branches. It was truly beautiful; the world felt alive.
I've been remembering that Witcher moment this week, because I've been thinking the same thing about Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
There's no photo mode in Breath of the Wild, but if there's one thing the Switch does really well, it's screenshots. The system captures them in a heartbeat, which is great when you want to capture one of the game's more beautiful effects - like Link becoming ethereal.
But even then, there's a great deal of beauty in Breath of the Wild for a game that, on a technical level, has a lot of flat textures. It's really quite clever in the cuts Nintendo has made in some areas to maximise the scope and scale of the in-game world.
It's not as photogenic as The Witcher, of course, or a dozen other open-world games released in the last couple of years. But the charm is in the smaller details, the way the grass clears as you cleave it with your sword, the way a regular arrow lights up when you put it in a fire, the way the shadows roll across your field of view as the day passes, the way a fire blazes across the ground when you wave a Korok leaf at it.
Breath of the Wild isn't perfect, as Jason wrote in his review. But it's pretty good, and goddamn does it have some charm.