Finally, a long overdue review for a game most would expect me to have been hyped for since day one. Sadly, this was not the case, and it wasn’t until the launch trailer that I became a believer. Like many other The Legend of Zelda fans, Breath of the Wild was not my favorite in the series, but I sure played a lot of it. On the flip side, due to the sheer size, I played at launch, finished, and never went back. It just wasn’t memorable enough for me to revisit.
I think in my case, this was for the better. As for most of what I saw of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, it looked a lot the same. It is a rare case of a full-fledged sequel with the same Link and era, but also including the same Hyrule. Well, sort of. It wasn’t until the later trailers that showed that Hyrule had changed a bit and now we were also getting an area in the sky like in Skyward Sword. This was enough to intrigue me to play and since it’s been a while it will feel fresh.
Well, I’m beyond happy to report that I’m glad I gave in. What an amazing adventure I’ve had in the 100+ hours of gameplay, where I feel I still haven’t seen everything. The map is tremendous and technically there’s more than one. Despite this review coming well after the release, and many have played the game since, I will still refrain from story and in-depth spoilers that elevated my experience.
The biggest question on my mind was, are there dungeons this time around? Well, yes and no. Not in the traditional sense, and to be honest, I do not think we will get those again. This looks to be the formula going forward, and if innovation is involved and doesn’t require a new Nintendo add-on to enjoy, I will give it a shot.
Like many sequels in the world of video games, we are reintroduced to our hero Link, with Princess Zelda as they investigate beneath Hyrule Castle only to find a dark evil that, guess what? Takes all your power and leaves you with the standard three hearts. This time around, there is a well thought out story plot to justify how Link will get his power back.
The overall story is something that has really been elevated since BotW, not only due to the inclusion of voice acting, but that it’s another unique take on a potential timeline we have not seen before. There are some great moments I would expect in many other JRPGs but not in a Zelda title. Plot twists and the improved addition of various music adds to the depth of the overall experience.
TotK is a game that truly lets the player play however they want, and I welcome this so much. The new powers that Link acquires early tease just how much you can do in a Zelda game. From creating airborne vehicles, to adding a mine cart to your shield so you can skateboard. The possibilities are endless in a game with so many resources.
I must mention that it’s a marvel how well this game runs on 5-year-old hardware and at times has so much going on at once. You will eventually get companions to assist like BotW, but the design on how they are incorporated blows me away. It’s seamless and shows how resourceful Nintendo can be with 1st party titles like this.
Shrines make a comeback, but don’t feel completely rehashed. Another return for better or worse, is the Koroks… Joy lol. In all seriousness, they are fine but there are just so many that I would never be able to help them all. One of the best welcome returns is the paraglider, which really opened up the original and I will see it does the same once again, but on a whole different level.
You have a full map of Hyrule and an equivalent sided area of the sky, but there is a whole other map I won’t go into and I have yet to complete them all. This is the Grand Theft Auto of Zelda where you really can just about do whatever you want and can get lost inside quests, which has always been a peeve of mine, but here I am finding Golden Horses and hunting monsters instead of finishing the main story.
There is so much to talk about, but it’s mostly spoiler territory so if you want to hear a more in-depth talk, you can check out my podcast episode here.
All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is an amazing game and I still cannot get over the fact that I have already come up with three Game of the Year contenders and it’s only halfway into the year. This game is incredible and despite it not being the Zelda I remember, it’s one that will be added to the great memories in a way more than Breath of the Wild. My buddy and fellow editor Tyler said it best. “BotW was the early proof of concept and TotK was the final vision.”
Note: Nintendo provided us with a The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Switch code for review purposes.