The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

released on May 12, 2023

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The setting for Link’s adventure has been expanded to include the skies above the vast lands of Hyrule.

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This builds upon and evolves everything about BotW in every way. So much more exploration, crazy fun game mechanics, incredible music you will always be humming, and a better story. I would fall asleep planning my adventure and what I would do first and where I’d explore next. You’d easily need over 200 hours to see everything. Or you can just do main quests and inevitably get side tracked. Peak gaming experience. If you’re on the fence, definitely try it. I couldn’t recommend TotK enough.

Tears of the Kingdom feels like more or less what I wanted Breath of the Wild to be. As much as I tried to get into BotW, it was never a Zelda title that clicked for me like it did for the majority. I appreciate what it did, but it just didn't move me.
So, with Tears, I was cautiously optimistic as to whether this game would fulfill my issues, or go even farther down the path laid about by Breath. And... it sort of does both?
Tears feels like both an expansion of what people who loved Breath will want, but it also feels like an answer to the many Zelda fans who felt like a lot of the beloved elements of the "Zelda experience" just wasn't as apparent, or of a lesser form. The world is bigger, the expansive nature of how you choose to play is even greater, yada yada yada you've heard it all by now at this point I'm sure. But it throws in exciting new elements like ACTUAL dungeons and a more involved story to quell some of those complaints people had with the original. It's arguably the most accessible Zelda title, since there's something in this one that I think will appeal to the fans no matter which type of Zelda structure is your favorite.
"It's got a little something for everyone." - IGN
There's a lot to say, so I'm gonna try to keep this organized a bit differently than my reviews typically go but bare with me.
Here's things I LIKED:
- Combat feels improved a lot, weapon degradation is never an annoying mechanic to constantly be reminded of. Bigger variety of enemies, and the fuse mechanic allows you to have fun with even the most barebones weapons. It's the items you find that make your weapons special and I think that's cool.
-The physics in this game are absurd. It's insane how this game can do what it does and not just completely crash at every given second. What they've done here is nothing short of a huge feat.
-Soundtrack is a step up from Breath. While it's still got a lot of the same "ambient" type music, there's a lot more loud and traditional sounding pieces in this title that were nice to have. A lot of dynamic tracks, too. Hearing a music piece progressively evolve as you progress deeper in a dungeon was a wonderful touch.
-Speaking of dungeons, it's lovely to see them back in a much better form here than they were in Breath. Wind and Water temple in particular were really exciting parts of the game to both get to and to actually conquer. The dungeons are great fun, and so is the process of actually GETTING to them.
-The new abilities (Ultrahand, Fuse, Rewind, and Ascend) are all very exciting tools to take advantage of and really add a whole new layer to how EVERYTHING in the game goes about, whether it's traveling, combat, or puzzle solving.
-The game really allows you to go about in a plethora of different ways. Solving puzzles or reaching obstacles can be solved in more normal ways, or you go absolutely nuts with some "out of the box" type methods and it can still work. There's no right or wrong way to play this game and that goes a long way in making your adventure through Hyrule feel like your very own.
-It's just nice to look at. It's a beautiful game.
- The boss fights are all really great. Especially the final boss which is just absolutely incredible.
Things that I DISLIKED:
- The plot feels like both a step forward and backwards from what we got in Breath. It's a bit more complex, but it's also hurt majorly by the fact that the game is so open. Once you do a temple, that's it. Repeat the same plot point 3 more times. Because there's no set order, there's no sense of plot progression. It hurt the experience a bit for me to realize that basically each temple is repeating the same plot point. So each time you do a temple, it sort of feels less exciting because it quickly becomes a predictable set of events that all play out broadly the same. The "memories" portion of the plot is a tad bit interesting but the fact that you are unraveling it in a jumbled order hurts the experience of learning how things unfolded as well. I see what they were going for, but it's a miss overall even if there were some exciting moments here and there.
- Sky Islands and the Depths were both underwhelming additions overall. While they're both exciting new ventures for the first 30 or so hours, they quickly become copy-pasted feeling and the joy of exploring them just went away for me eventually. Sky Islands had a lot of potential but are devoid of a lot of unique designs so it's just like repeating the same thing over and over. The Depths and its odd layout, combined with the darkness, starts to be less of a fun twist on the playstyle and more of just a hindrance. Again, like the Sky, the initial mystery and potential of these new areas quickly diminish when you realize everything is extremely samey looking and your rewards for going out of your way to explore them didn't feel that worth it.
- The Sages as companions is a neat concept, but it felt like their helpfulness was rather mixed. Sometimes they felt useless in certain fights. Other times they were the opposite.
- The shrines are improved from Breath, but I still feel like the majority of the game is spent running between towers and shrines and they get in the way of making the more natural exploration feel encouraged and rewarding.
- Side quests were never interesting to me. I couldn't be bothered to go out and do random fetch quests for people or go help someone so a great fairy would give me something. Same thing with Koroks and the one signpost dude. Nothing about it all felt worthwhile which I think further hurts my desire to further explore every nook and cranny, since most discoveries and things you run into are nothing that special.
- Not enough Purah.
There's probably a vast amount of other good/bad points I could bring up, but ultimately I really loved this title even if it has a noteworthy amount of hiccups from my perspective. The sheer quality and polish, not to mention the insane innovation present in so much of the gameplay, is too grand and respectable for me to feel comfortable giving this game anything less than a 9/10.

A game that provides awesomely fun mechanics to build almost anything you can think of, which you can then use to bypass all the monotonous shit that isn't fun, which is everything else in the game.

If you're like me and Breath of the Wild scratched an itch that no other game has scratched before, and you just couldn't get enough of it, this game is fucking perfect. It's just Breath of the Wild, but bigger and better. Twice as much world to explore, new enemies, bosses, quests, and collectibles, and to top it all off the story actually takes the front stage. I played for around 120 hours, and I expect that number to climb into the 300-500 range in the next few years.

This game shares a lot of strengths and weaknesses BOTW has(including bad flurry rush timing), but when it takes one step forward(Fuse, relatively better dungeons, by far better bosses, caves/depths), it also takes one step backward(somehow worse Shrine design and menuing, weaker story, Skyview towers trivializing exploration, Sky being copy pasted). This game's hard to judge/rate because of taking from BOTW's foundation, but TOTK is still great.