[Review] An Evolving World: ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’


The opening scene in ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’ (Credit: Nintendo)

The opening of ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ is one of the most awe-inspiring scenes in video games, the camera panning to reveal the beautiful plains of Hyrule. In ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’, the opening takes the opening to another level with link diving from one sky island to another.

The next entry in Nintendo’s 139.63 million dollar franchise, ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’ expands on the formula of its predecessor. The main gameplay mechanics are very similar but have been expanded upon. 

With an entirely new story with hours and hours of new side content, the argument cannot be made that this is simply a $70 DLC (downloadable content). 

All of the new abilities such as ultra-hand (physical manipulation and building), ascend (rise through solid objects), fuse (make weapons and shields), and recall (time manipulation) are amazing additions to the Breath of the Wild formula. The game also features the return of dungeons that were absent from Breath of the Wild but were a staple of the series before it. 

While the surface part of the map has only changed in relatively minor ways, the addition of the sky islands and the depths truly add a lot more exploration to the game.

Both the sky islands and the depths are the size of the original map, although the sky islands have large gaps in between, with the depth offering a whole new element of exploration with its almost horror game-like atmosphere, while the sky islands inspire a sense of wonder.

It’s almost impossible to avoid either the sky or the depths as both contain interesting shrines, side quests, and equipment. 

‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’, like its predecessor, has a plethora of fun, light-hearted, side content. As I first entered the surface area of Hyrule, I found myself unable to even get to my main objective as I continually got distracted by side content.

With many other games, where the main story is convoluted by side content, that side content almost feels like a chore due to its repetitive nature and limited rewards. However almost every bit of side content is unique and offers some value upon completion, each side quest or adventure actually feels like a separate adventure.

For example, in Hatento Village, there is a quest line about a famous fashion designer challenging the incumbent mayor in an election. It was a genuinely silly story, but its ridiculous nature would keep anyone interested, finishing every quest related to this storyline will take a good chunk of time and Hyrule is littered with content like this.

The stories in both ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’ are somewhat dark stories simply shrouded by the children’s game-like graphics and humor. 

The incredible environmental storytelling, character design, and sound design truly play into the story, establishing an atmosphere enjoyable for everyone, regardless of age.

The unfortunate truth about both ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’ is that these are incredible games, however, they are hamstrung by the console they are exclusive to.

The Nintendo Switch had outdated hardware when it came out in 2017 and, with no new Switch versions with upgraded internals, games like these are severely limited by things like the 30 frame-per-second cap, storage concerns leading to high levels of texture compression, or the reuse of textures, and the maximum 1080p resolution.

Hardware limitations aside, this is a great game that deserves commendation, the only game that could reasonably compete with ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for the Game of the Year award is ‘Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’.