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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Review


 

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch OLED

Also available on: Nintendo Switch

Release Date: 12th of May 2023

Rating: M

Price: $79

 

I must be honest here – I didn’t grow up as a fan of the Legend of Zelda franchise. Hell, I didn’t even properly play a Legend of Zelda game until Breath of the Wild. (I know, I know – what is wrong with me?!)


In fact, the gaming community universally agrees that Breath of the wild (BOTW), along with N64 era Zelda(s) – Ocarina of time & Majora’s Mask, are up there with greatest videogames ever made. And truthfully, I wish I had played those at the time. This beloved franchise has for decades produced some of the greatest experiences one could have on a Nintendo.



Way back in 2017, I was perched comfortably on the couch at my brother’s place, beer in hand and potato chip crumbs on lap, watching him eagerly play through BOTW for the first time. I was immediately hooked. So hooked in-fact, that I went and purchased my own Nintendo Switch, and a copy of BOTW later that same day, and, well, the rest is history.


After a 5 (and a bit) year gap between titles, the newest entry in the series – Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (TOTK) - has finally glided down from the sky and landed at our fingertips. First announced at E3 in 2019, it has seemed like an eternity until we’ve finally had our hands on the game.


For those who had the joy of playing BOTW, you will immediately feel comfortable from the get-go. For those who haven’t, you would be a doing yourself slight disservice to have not played it, as this game directly ties into its predecessor. This isn’t to say that it will necessarily hinder your experience, but there is plenty of lore to be missed.

As expected from the slew of trailers that Nintendo released along the way, the art style and visuals are the exact same as its predecessor. On this note, it is probably fair to say it can be viewed more as a part 2 in this sense, as opposed to a “new” game.



The first thing I noticed was that the whole atmosphere feels the exact same as BOTW – familiarity coupled with a brand-new sense of adventure. As expected, Princess Zelda is at the core of the story again, in trouble after some dark horrors have been unleashed on the Kingdom. I won’t delve to far into the story, as I don’t want reveal too much for those who haven’t played either game yet.


Once you’ve guided Link through opening tutorial, you are thrust into a brand-new area known as the “Great Sky Island”. Here, miles up in the air, you discover some new shrines and some innovative new abilities. The one I particularly want to touch on is called Ultrahand. This is a new ability which allows Link to attach (or “glue”) most assets in the world together to form well, almost anything - boats, cars, bridges, and everything else your imagination can come up with! This really changes the game dramatically in terms of creativity, and along with the other new abilities to unlock, really add a fresh breath of life into the gameplay.


Moving on from the Sky Islands, the Kingdom of Hyrule down below once again remains a vast and wonderous playground for Link to explore. From the time Link has boots-on-the-ground, you’ll quickly discover that the new and improved map is gigantic, and that is an understatement. Like BOTW, Link will be finding towers sprawled across the world to unlock hidden parts of the map, but this time around it also includes unlocking the Sky maps as well. With plenty of tasks and treasures to keep you busy, paired with the size of this new combined map, trekking, gliding, and constructing your way across the entire Kingdom will be an enormous undertaking.



Practically all gameplay features are carried over from BOTW though, so for better or worse, this also means that the maligned weapon degradation feature is still present. This makes for some frustrating battles – especially when fighting a pack of enemies. You can break a couple of weapons on one enemy alone and is particularly annoying for “boss” fights as they require even more strikes to finish off. Although there is no shortage of weapons to find, it still presents as more of a hindrance than anything.


Performance wise, the game runs acceptably for a switch title, docked or handheld, but considering the gluttony of beautifully crafted open world games released between both Zelda games running on fellow consoles and PCs (Elden Ring, RDR2, Cyberpunk 2077 etc.) it does make one yearn for more powerful hardware (Switch Pro anyone??). There are some framerate drops and occasional lags, especially during crowded areas or battles, though it doesn’t have too much of an impact. The development team have seemingly squeezed everything possible out of the switch’s innards.



Overall, its undeniable that TOTK has lived up to the hype, which is no mean feat given its little brother is one of the most well-regarded videogames of the last decade. It does almost everything better, while vastly expanding on the map adding more to the story of Hyrule and a bevy of new gameplay features that are sure to keep even the mildest fan entertained for countless hours. So, grab your comfiest green tunic, jump on the couch and lose yourself (or Link) in the wonderful and mysterious lands of the Hyrule Kingdom.






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