The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review

An ingenious reimagining of Hyrule, delivering an enchanting mix of brilliance and nostalgia in a worthy sequel.

By GamesRecon 16 Min Read

If you thought Breath of the Wild was the pinnacle of the Zelda franchise, wait until you play The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. It’s more than just a sequel; it’s a game-changer. This latest installment takes the finest aspects of Zelda’s storied past and weaves them into something fresh and captivating. It’s a brand-new Zelda game unlike any other, one that will leave you feeling fulfilled and moved in ways that other games can’t.

Remember how Breath of the Wild flipped the Zelda script and introduced a sprawling, vibrant world to roam at your leisure? That was a nod to the classic Legend of Zelda’s freedom on the Nintendo. Tears of the Kingdom takes it a step further, offering a similar open-world setup, yet it’s somewhat different, and you can sense that difference. It’s not a copy-paste job, and the map is teeming with new spots for you to discover and wander through the landscape. You never know what’s beyond the next corner or over the next slope. The soundtrack contributes to Hyrule’s tranquil yet vibrant atmosphere by bringing out intense combat with an exuberant rendition of the refrain and then gently soothing you into slumber afterward.

What sets Tears of the Kingdom apart from its predecessor is the increased flexibility of your toolkit for exploring the world. Similar to Breath of the Wild where the Great Plateau grants you four essential abilities before unleashing you into the open world, Tears of the Kingdom has its own introductory tutorial. The four abilities you acquire here are your ticket to the rest of the game. Where Breath of the Wild was all about wandering the wilderness with your arsenal of skills, Tears of the Kingdom urges you to think outside the box by letting you construct imaginative responses to challenges. It’s a natural evolution from Breath of the Wild but ramps up the ambition, encouraging you to use your creativity to the fullest without overwhelming you.

On the flying machine in Tears of the Kingdom

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Exploration, the beating heart of the modern Legend of Zelda titles, is taken to a whole new level in Tears. This time around, you’re equipped with a brand-new building system, allowing you to piece together your very own cars, boats, and even flying contraptions. This gives you the freedom to explore the vast expanse of Hyrule exactly the way you want. It’s an experience that sticks with you. I’ve got to hand it to Breath of the Wild (BotW)—it influenced a ton of games after its 2017 release. But one important factor that appears to have slipped past most is the power of a blank map. Sure, there’s a ton of stuff to do and see, but it’s a lot more exciting when you don’t have a laundry list of tasks to tackle right off the bat. But, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom equips you with just what you need for the main quest, a handful of pins, and a blank slate of a map, beckoning you to chart your own course.

There’s something so satisfying about parachuting down and ticking out interesting landmarks, overhearing people whisper about a hidden gem, or just getting lost and stumbling onto a mystery are all thrilling experiences. It’s a million times better than being herded from point A to point B. And Nintendo, with its wealth of experience, has faith in us, the players, to uncover the mysteries of the surroundings without hand-holding. And if you don’t find every single hidden gem, that’s totally fine. It lends a sense of realism to the adventure, making it feel less like a “video game” and more like a living, breathing world – a vital aspect to provide a better feeling.

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Even though Tears presents the same basic map of Hyrule, it doesn’t feel like a rerun. Not at all! Even for seasoned players who’ve dug deep into Breath of the Wild, exploring this world is still a fresh experience. The timeline for when Calamity Ganon was defeated is unclear in the primary tale, although it has been some time since the people of Hyrule have been idle. close to the castle walls is a newly created township that will serve as your main center and expand in stages as you make your way through the game. There’s nothing quite like seeing old faces in new places, right? It’s a blast seeing how characters and locations we know and love have changed and evolved. But the real magic of Tears is the unexpected. It sends you down new paths, to locations you wouldn’t even think to explore. Trust me, it’s like seeing Hyrule in a whole new light. It’s clear this familiar map has more life in it than any of us imagined.

The Legend of Zelda TotK adventure

If that’s not enough to get your adventurer’s heart pumping, there’s more. Much more. I won’t spoil the surprise by going into too much depth, but let’s just say, there’s been some…well, Upheaval. Whole regions have been transformed, with strange weather patterns and brand-new terrain springing up. Perfect hiding places for treasure chests and shrines, don’t you think? The main quest nudges you towards many of these revamped regions, but there are more off-the-beaten-path locales I’ve stumbled upon in my hours of gameplay. And, I’m willing to bet there’s still more I’ve yet to uncover.

Alright, let’s dive into the really cool stuff about Tears of the Kingdom – Link’s revamped abilities. First up, we have Fuse. Fuse is the ultimate inventor’s dream – it allows you to combine weapons, shields, items, and more. It’s a constant surprise, turning even the most mundane objects, like a rock or a leaf, into something useful. Fuse is a joy because it’s all about experimentation. Item degradation, which some players had a love-hate relationship with, makes a comeback. I gotta say, I’m a fan! It gives everything you pick up a purpose, making you actually use what you find. And thanks to some nifty fascinating upgrades, managing all your gear is easier than ever. If the thought of abandoning valuable gear makes your stomach turn, rely on the Fuse’s ability to simply combine your things.

Now, let’s talk about Ascend, an ability that lets Link move through ceilings within a specific range. It’s impressive, both in concept and execution. It changes how you traverse the areas, adding a whole new dimension to your exploration. Then there’s Recall which allows physical objects to travel across time in reverse. It opens up so many possibilities and had me constantly questioning, “Can I do that?” Spoiler alert: most of the time, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” But the absolute star of the show is Ultrahand. Simply put, it lets Link connect the items. I won’t lie, it seemed a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’re basically Hyrule’s top handyman.

There’s also another ability, Autobuild, which is easily overlooked but becomes pretty vital as you gather more machine parts and face tougher challenges. Autobuild is like the upgraded version of Ultrahand, letting you piece together parts for a design that you’ve saved or marked as a favorite. Instead of building something you desire from scratch every time, you can build it from materials that you already have, supplementing it as needed with Zonai components.

Crafting in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is fun no matter what you’re making. This holds true whether you’re making something basic or something complex including fans, launchers, and power supplies. It never feels like you’re stuck on a single project for too long. The game usually has a pretty good idea of the outcome you’re going for, so if you hook a steering wheel to a four-wheel body, you’ve got yourself a very decent car. But it doesn’t stop at the basics. You can create some incredibly complex contraptions, and their usefulness in resolving challenges never ceases to amaze and thrill me.

Beautiful scene of Tears of the Kingdom

Just as you’d expect from Zelda, the Tears of the Kingdom map is chock-full of notable locations. Key among these are Shrines that not only serve as quick teleportation spots but also as catalysts for health and stamina upgrades. Just like before, these Shrines are little puzzle or combat chambers, easy to digest, and offer a quick challenge. My strategy? Activate them for fast travel, then tackle a bunch of them in one go when I felt up for the challenge.

A new consumable enters the scene too, letting you upgrade your portable power pack, essential for keeping your Zonai machines running. Then there’s this sprawling underground area where you can illuminate your path with Brightbloom seeds and trigger glowing plants that double up as fast-travel spots. You’ve got three distinct layers of this open world to explore, each with its unique vibe – it really gets that adventurer’s spirit in you going.

What sets Tears of the Kingdom apart, even within the franchise, is the flow it creates with these tools and the vast region they’re a part of. More than just figuring out how to go through riddles or fighting off foes; you’re also creating your own strategies. Confronted with an impassable chasm, an undefeated rival, or an unsolvable puzzle? Time to tap into that toolbox of yours. The only thing left is to come up with a scheme, acquire the items you need, and put it into action; you’ve already got the skills and knowledge to succeed. If things don’t work out – and sometimes they won’t – you modify your strategy and have another crack at it. While creative solutions are always welcome, your plot may be completed with far less effort if you stick to the basics. The game rewards creativity but doesn’t demand it.

Tears of the Kingdom is filled with a large number of sky islands with valuable items.

And if you still want more, there’s plenty. Waiting to be explored are the innumerable caverns, reservoirs, and sky islands. You’ll need to use your wits and your fists to overcome the unique difficulties presented by them, which might range from secret fairy ponds to massive hurdles. The discovery of an unknown cave, the struggle to navigate its spaces filled with dangerous beasts, or unearthing a secret valuable item—nothing compares to the pleasure of these discoveries. The new Skyview Towers are more than simply eye candy. You could utilize them to soar through the air, scan the land below for shrines, and then make your way to nearby islands. Every type of difficulty is waiting for you to come up with a strategy to finish them.

Let’s have a brief discussion about the epic adventure of the game. The story kicks off with a bang and just keeps getting better and better till you reach an insanely good finale. And hey, remember how in the first game, we were all like, “Where the heck is Zelda?” This time, they’ve sorted it out, and the story really feels like a proper sequel, giving us a peek into how our favorite characters and locations have evolved. I mean, sure, the plot doesn’t totally break the mold of what we’ve come to expect from a Zelda game, but the twists and turns kept me hooked and always wondering what’s coming next.

Gameplay-wise, the structure is pretty much the same as we used to – combat gives the old feel, but with a fresh sprinkle of new Shrines that are a blast to solve and serve as your fast-travel points. And yes, they’ve brought back good ol’ Zelda dungeons, but with a bit of a makeover. They’re simpler now but still pack a punch in the puzzle department, and the bosses – oh man, the bosses are top-notch. Those unexpected challenges are great for putting your newly acquired skills to put into practice.

Link running in the underground dungeon

Now, here’s the thing about sequels in the gaming world – they generally just build slightly on the original. Maybe the graphics are a tad better, the gameplay is more juicy, some new features, and they carry the story forward. Yes, Tears of the Kingdom meets a lot of these criteria, but it also excels in other ways. Tossing out the old Runes and replacing them with fresh designs in an old-fashioned but updated setting is a stroke of pure brilliance. You’re forced to think differently about every puzzle, every battle, and every bit of exploration. I won’t lie, the thrill of discovering Hyrule wasn’t quite the same as the first time, but the game stirred up a bunch of new feelings in me, both from cracking the individual puzzles and from getting to revisit one of my favorite known spots with a fresh perspective. Despite the old adage, revisiting Hyrule with a fresh set of equipment was a great adventure.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review: All the Details
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review
Exceptional 10
Our Score 10 out of 10