The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was like a breath of fresh air, offering an experience that somehow goes beyond what its predecessor, Breath of the Wild, delivered.
Not only revisiting the charm and vastness of Hyrule but enhances every aspect, making the familiar feel new and fresh. That first skydive from the Sky to the Surface is emblematic of this evolution, capturing the spirit of freedom and discovery that defines the Zelda series.
Tears of the Kingdom takes the groundwork laid by Breath of the Wild and expands it in every possible way. The world is not only larger but denser, filled with more secrets and opportunities for exploration. It’s a testament to the game’s design that it can take a familiar setting and make it feel entirely new and uncharted.
I thought Breath of the Wild would never be topped. Yet I’m somehow not at all surprised that Tears of the Kingdom has delivered in spades over its predecessor.
Tears of joy
The game retains the core mechanics of its predecessor, ensuring that fans of Breath of the Wild will find comfort in the familiar combat system, map, and game structure. Yet, Tears of the Kingdom introduces enough innovations to make the gameplay feel fresh. The landscape of Hyrule has evolved, with new geographical features, settlements, and ruins that beckon players to explore. These changes are not just cosmetic; they reflect Nintendo’s attention to player feedback, improving on areas where the first game may have fallen short.
The narrative is more pronounced in Tears of the Kingdom. The story weaves through each domain, and both new and returning characters are given their moments to shine. The quest structure is varied, offering a mix of puzzles, exploration, and character-driven missions that keep the gameplay engaging and diverse.
The world of Hyrule in Tears of the Kingdom feels alive and dynamic. Side quests are more than just filler; they’re compelling narratives with memorable characters and meaningful rewards. The addition of long quest chains adds depth to the world, guiding players through the story and enriching the overall experience.
Up and down
The Sky, the starting point of your adventure, offers a stark contrast to the Surface. Composed of a network of islands, each hosting unique challenges and treasures, the Sky encourages exploration and discovery.
But it’s the Depths beneath Hyrule that present the game’s most surprising and challenging aspect. This underground realm tests your navigation skills and survival instincts against formidable enemies and a dangerous new status effect, Gloom. This area of the game offers a tense, atmospheric experience that’s distinct from the rest of Hyrule.
The countless hours I’ve spent plunging from the sky into the depths, just because it’s so damn fun! I love skydiving in games, and the power fantasy here is second-to-none. Tears of the Kingdom delivers in-spades.
Look and feel
Visually, Tears of the Kingdom is a feast for the eyes. Building upon the artistic style of Breath of the Wild, the sequel takes full advantage of the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities to deliver more detailed environments.
The game’s audio is equally impressive, with a mix of familiar themes from the previous game and new compositions that add emotional depth to the adventure. Those melodies, that familiar song in the distance. Reassuring, perturbing and everything in between. The soundtrack is, as expected, phenomenal.
Gameplay in Tears of the Kingdom is revolutionized by the introduction of new abilities like Ultrahand, Fuse, Ascend, and Recall. These powers open up a world of creative possibilities, allowing players to interact with the environment in innovative ways. From manipulating objects to crafting solutions to complex problems, the game encourages experimentation and creativity.
Same but different
Despite the ability enhancements, navigating Hyrule remains a challenge. The game introduces new obstacles and enemies that require strategic thinking and clever use of your abilities. This balance ensures that the game is both accessible to newcomers and challenging for veterans.
The story in Tears of the Kingdom is enriched by the use of regional allies and the reintroduction of some more traditional-style dungeons. Each dungeon is unique, with its own set of puzzles and bosses, blending the open-world nature of Breath of the Wild with classic Zelda dungeon design. This approach offers a refreshing take on the series’ traditional gameplay.
Shrines return with greater variety, offering a mix of tutorial-style challenges and more complex puzzles that strip you of your gear, forcing you to rely on your wits and skills. The integration of puzzles into the world feels more organic, with cave systems and overworld challenges that add depth to the gameplay.
Exploring the three distinct maps – Sky, Surface, and Depths – is a journey of discovery. Each area offers its own unique gameplay, visual style, and musical themes, yet they all feel interconnected and part of a cohesive world. The seamless transition between these areas, without load times, is a technical feat that enhances the immersive experience.
However, the game does push the limits of the Nintendo Switch, with performance dips in busy areas or during complex gameplay moments. These issues, while noticeable, do not detract significantly from the overall experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a remarkable sequel that builds upon the foundation of Breath of the Wild in every way. It offers a vast, immersive world filled with adventure, innovation, and the quintessential Zelda charm. Whether you’re revisiting Hyrule or exploring it for the first time, this game promises an unforgettable adventure.
The scope and scale of Tears of the Kingdom, combined with the charm, Zelda hallmarks and the fact that it runs on the Nintendo Switch, all just mean that this game is pure magic. Flawless? No. Incredible? Absolutely.