From the moment it was announced, and even before that, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was already set to be the greatest game within the Zelda franchise. As a sequel to Breath of the Wild, how could it not be? Taking place several years after the events of its predecessor, Tears of the Kingdom manages to make better what was originally thought to be a perfect title.
Following the events of the Calamity Ganon, both Zelda and Link journey under Hyrule Castle to find that a dark being, simply known as the Demon King, is being held down by some sort of phantom arm. Upon their discovery, the being resurrects itself and removes the arm from its body, successfully causing a new shift across the land. As a result, Zelda is transported to a time when the first King and Queen of Hyrule (King Rauru and Queen Sonia) reigned, Link stays behind as his right arm is replaced by the phantom arm from before, and the entirety of Hyrule has had chunks of it lifted into the air. A new area below the sacred ground of Hyrule, known as the Depths, has also been added to the map. giving players double the play area that was featured before.
With Zelda missing and Hyrule under a new wave of fear due to the return of the Demon King, Link must use his new abilities to journey through Hyrule and rid it of danger.
Improved Gameplay and Mechanics
In Breath of the Wild, the gameplay heavily relied on different abilities that allowed Link to solve puzzles in a myriad of different ways. Instead of something simple with respect to gameplay, Nintendo opted for giving players complete control over how they can accomplish tasks by using these abilities in different variations. This also was done when it came to the story itself, also giving players the ability to proceed at their own pace or, contrarily, as fast as possible. Upon release, Breath of the Wild presented itself as the quintessential open-world, sandbox game with little to no competition. In fact, it was pretty difficult to see exactly how the developers were going to top this game in order to tell the story of its sequel without being repetitive.
However, they managed to still make a completely new game. This time around, Link has a new series of abilities presented to him as a result of having a new arm. These abilities vary greatly from the ones that were presented before and provide completely new ways to arm yourself and solve puzzles and obstacles. One of these new abilities gives Link the ability to fuse objects together, essentially giving players the ability to create whatever their hearts desired. On TikTok, it’s hard not to run into a video of someone creating the most ridiculous vehicle or weapon only for it to work perfectly, as though developed by engineers. Another ability gives allows you to essentially swim through the object above you, allowing you to come out on the other side.
Even something that sounds so simple has divine uses such as escaping dungeons in a pinch or even finding secret areas that couldn’t be reached otherwise.
The Same Yet So, So Different
While the map within Tears of the Kingdom is the same as the one featured in Breath of the Wild, the added areas within the sky and in the Depths provide so much more to explore that it seems like a completely new game. The timeline between games is a bit fuzzy (though some say that it’s about seven years), but it’s still the same world and the same characters essentially working towards the same goal in, you guessed it, stopping Ganondorf. But considering that the previous game happened, the needs of the people of Hyrule are different now, and it’s very obvious in the landscape and the priorities that NPCs have. Even some of the characters featured in the previous installment have returned with completely new ideals, goals, and intentions that give a different feeling altogether from Breath of the Wild.
The shrines that are found throughout the land are also in different locations with some even providing context clues to other locations to be explored. That alone encourages the exploration of the Depths and the different rewards that you’ll receive just for piquing your curiosity. While exploration was always encouraged in Breath of the Wild, it seems as though that encouragement is amplified in Tears of the Kingdom in all respects.
How Will Nintendo Top This?
Nintendo somehow managed to create a masterpiece to follow up on a masterpiece. While it was difficult to imagine where the series would go after Breath of the Wild, that mindset almost seems silly now in comparison to what Tears of the Kingdom is. Now, with that same mindset, it almost feels impossible to imagine what could come next for the series. The fact that investors and stakeholders felt that spending an entire year to focus on the post-development of the game to ensure it was perfect for consumers is incredibly evident. If anything, it makes the $70 price point that Nintendo Switch games are being faced with seem completely fine so long as the deliverables are the same as Tears of the Kingdom.
After having played through The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, one thing is for sure: there is no doubt that Nintendo will manage to create something that will absolutely blow Tears of the Kingdom out of the water, as impossible as that might seem. Now, it’s time to finish the game after playing through it for almost 200 hours and not even scratching the surface.
This game review was originally posted on DailyGamer.com on June 8, 2023.