The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the latest game in the Zelda series and the much-anticipated sequel to 2017’s Breath of the Wild (BotW). It is a single-player fantasy open-world RPG developed & published by Nintendo. Having been teased since E3 2019, fans have been chomping at the bit for Tears of the Kingdom (TotK). The game has sold over 10 million copies 3 days after release and even had the knock-on effect of BotW being a top seller again too.
There were some strong opinions among players about Tears of the Kingdom being too similar to BotW but I feel fans won’t be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t as I found TotK is Breath of the Wild cranked up to 11 with its design and mechanics and the return of many familiar faces.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a Nintendo Switch exclusive and is available now.
Dry your eyes, Hyrule needs saving in Tears of the Kingdom
I was thrilled to play Tears of the Kingdom, especially after Breath of the Wild and have been a Zelda fan since the N64. I would love to hear what you think in the comments below how you have found it or are as excited as I was.
Tears of the Kingdom takes place several years after Breath of the Wild as the people of Hyrule are gradually rebuilding. The game begins as Link and Zelda investigate a strange gloom which is making people ill and they find it is emanating from below Hyrule castle. They discover a desiccated Ganondorf is the source of the gloom and is held at bay by a mysterious arm wielding a tear-shaped stone. Ganondorf becomes free and speaks, hinting at knowing them already and then attacks. Link is dealt a near-fatal blow while Zelda falls down a chasm however disappears in a golden light.
Link recovers thanks to the spirit of Rauru, a member of the mythical race of Zonai. Rauru helps Link begin his journey against the threat Ganondorf presents. The mysterious arm which held Ganondorf at bay was Rauru’s which was transplanted to Link to survive. The arm becomes the source of new abilities which is one of the major differences from BotW. Unlocking and getting to grips with these abilities after guidance from Rauru, Link begins his journey.
I touched on it earlier but TotK really does take BotW and takes it to a whole new level. I mean that literally and figuratively as Hyrule is just as expansive but now with the sky plateau region and The Depths, a whole parallel underground region. True to form, Ganondorf wastes no time as everyone from the Gerudo to the Gorons is in danger as the demon king is perhaps his most malevolent form yet. TotK brings a truly engaging narrative from the smallest of side quests to the main story, the latter of which I can’t wait to see how it ends.
The same Hyrule but different
After guidance from Rauru, Link begins his quest to defeat Ganondorf and learn what happened to Zelda. ToTK follows a familiar formula with the whole world in danger and so helping the other regions reinforces them as allies. Their representatives have avatars that join Link and their promise of help when the time comes. Many of the colourful characters from BotW – allies and enemies – return which gives a sense of familiarity to returning players but more stands on its own for new players.
I definitely had to shake off some rust as I haven’t played Breath of the Wild in years. Getting to grips with the mechanics, and facing monsters etc can be punishing, especially early on. Relearning these mechanics from weapon durability to surviving weather I became hooked on Tears of the Kingdom, especially as I found it builds wonderfully upon BotW.
From solving shrines improving health & stamina and Korok seeds expanding inventory, several mechanics were carried forward. I still have a love-hate relationship with weapon durability however, Link’s new abilities of Ultrahand and Fuse are literal game-changers. They give an array of weapon enhancements, leaving you feeling god-like or crying in laughter. Tears of the Kingdom is really the first game to be prevalent on my social media, especially TikTok. I’ve seen numerous incredibly clever designs, ranging from a Nolan-esque Batmobile to laser super weapons which left me astounded.
The 3 tiers and how they connect to each other across Hyrule are just incredible. The map and terrain all feel very deliberate and meticulous, well worth the 6-year wait. Travelling across Hyrule, combat, solving puzzles and more rewards for exploring and creativity. I’ve watched some Let’s Plays and the different approaches or things I missed altogether make me excited to keep playing.
Graphics & Audio
Tears of the Kingdom is a fantastic-looking game, especially given how detailed and expansive it is. I really enjoyed the stylised graphics, which feel like an improvement from Breath of the Wild. The regions are well-designed and with the day-night cycle and different weather, often look amazing. The excellent visual design does make for some unsettling monsters however e.g. gloom hands and gleeoks. I mentioned earlier how intentional the layout felt and I found the visual design did too. To have a great-looking game I can live with the occasional scary monster.
I enjoyed the audio of Tears of the Kingdom just as much as the visual design. Part of what made gloom hands so unsettling was the discordant score that accompanied them. The big bosses also had their encounters scored, building the intensity of combat. The various environmental sounds all come together so well across the setting. The voice acting was good but Matt Mercer’s Ganondorf stood out as the menacing demon king.
Tears of the Kingdom is a truly massive game with easily 50+ hours of content. I have played over 40 hours at this point with plenty more to do. Exploring alone will keep you busy and the side quests were much more expansive than I expected. Across the 3 tiers of Hyrule, exploring is satisfying as is finding new ways to tackle the tougher monsters you may encounter along the way. TotK definitely rewards you for what you put into it but while it is possible to focus on the main story.
Like BotW there are dozens of shrines to solve and hundreds of Koroks to find. There are also various nods to past games of the series such as Link’s Kokiri Forest outfit which were a pleasant surprise. I also feel like Tears of the Kingdom will be a pleasure to replay, especially with the benefit of hindsight.
I had and continue to have a fantastic time with Tears of the Kingdom. It starts with a very strong opening and maintains this engaging story throughout. The new and returning elements worked well together and encouraged exploration and creativity. TotK really did take Breath of the Wild and crank it to 11 with the whole experience. The detail of the game and the creativity of other players really were unreal to see.
The visual and audio designs were both fantastic and made travelling across Hyrule a delight. They went hand in hand together, especially Matt Mercer’s Ganondorf. Players will find their money’s worth here as many hours in I still have lots to do. I have had an incredible time and no doubt will continue to do so. Nintendo has knocked it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what comes next for the Zelda series.
I hope you enjoyed my review, it was a pleasure to write. You can find my hands-on preview of Solasta: Palace of Ice if you’d like to read more.ll
I’m delighted to give The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom the Thumb Culture Platinum Award.