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Review | The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

"Is it possible to innovate the open-world genre anymore, or we've reached a limit where there is no more beyond that point? Apparently not, and Tears of the Kingdom is here to prove it once more."

by Foggy, 30-05-2023, Edited by: No one (Yet!)

I’m not a fan of the open-world games. Elden Ring made me feel good about it, and I was wondering what is more to see and experience in this formula. When I saw the grades for new Zelda game – it made me curious. So, I tried answering myself whether there is more this genre has to offer. The answer will be this review, and I’m happy to say that the new Zelda game is everything I wanted and more. P.S - I loved the Breath of the Wild:

Let’s start with some basics. Nintendo worked 6 years on the direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, and boy they worked their asses of for this one. Tears of the Kingdom is a fresh new instalment of a 30+ years formula that still innovates in the gaming community. How the hell are they still doing it? I have no idea, but what they offer here is something we like to call a masterpiece (minus tiny bits of actual minuses).

Spoiler alert – there are no spoilers, I don’t want to spoil anything in this review. I will talk the less I can while keeping most of the stuff a secret to everyone out there reading and asked themselves if this is worth playing (It so is!)

Meet Hyrule 2.0 - where darkness stigns, where holes takes you to more places, where the whole first game appears, but with so much new content... Tears of the Kingdom is 3 games inside one massive game. And every inch of this game wants you to explore it (and you will wonder of often).

Link is ready for a new adventure in the Hyrule Kingdom. It all starts with him losing his full powers and his right hand?! Well, not literally, but he will be the victim of a new darkness that will spread throughout the kingdom once more, while Zelda disappears and you’re off finding her. That journey will be a long one – the game is huge, so huge that it takes place in the whole previous game packed in the new “suit”, in air and in one more place which I will not spoil in this review. Do not fear – even though everything hides in thrice the bigger world, that everything is as good and better than what it was in the previous game.

I can’t say I’m fascinated by the Zelda game stories – they are always pretty much the same, with some different plots and challenges in a form or every game. Plus, the mute Link, guy just doesn’t care.

That form in Zelda games is although similar, every time in every game there is something cool and fun in its own way. Journey where you collect chunks of lore of Hyrule Kingdom packed with interesting quests, dozens of areas to explore, accompanied with awesome new abilities is what every game needs to think about implementing. It just works here. The core gameplay is so fun that it hides the 30 fps and graphical boundaries, and that is not easy nowadays.

The best approach is to reveal the map by visiting the towers. They sometimes require from you to solve a puzzle in a form of finding why the tower doors are stuck, who is blocking the tower exit - you know, stuff to solve before using the tower to shoot yourself in heavens to explore the sky, because why not?

Starting this game means going through few hours of tutorial. Once you lose all your powers and start fresh, you will find yourself floating in the air, ready and in need of exploring the floating islands. Temples will not solve themselves, right?

The idea is to start thinking like a real construction worker real fast. Why? Because in this game, not only you can do everything you were able to in Breath of the Wild, but you can now also glue objects together and form new paths where it feels almost like your imagination is the limit. It’s not entirely so – each puzzle you must solve on your way is somewhat limited to category of objects you’re going to get at that point, but man, when I look at what I’ve built to get pass some gaps, that was not really what the game wanted from me.

When you finish that first set of islands to finally visit the lands down below, you will by then have some new powers like sticking objects together, surfacing from the celling’s, rewinding objects in time… What you can do here is limitless in its own way. Exploration never offered such a lose form of enjoyment while preserving what matters in its core. With that in mind and in your fingers, Hyrule Kingdom presents itself down below, ready to take you in on a new path where rewinding time on falling rocks matters, and building rocket-powered objects helps reach what you thought it wasn’t possible a minute ago.

There is no reviewer and a review which can put enough pictures to show even a tiny bit of things and stuff you can do here. Side content is awesome - especially the one where you need to find Zelda memories trapped in a pond that you barely see from the air (blimp picture). Solving "more important" quests reveals a lot from the story, you might want to do that - you will find a lot on your way, like in every direction you take.

Weapon break system is back, eh? Yeah, not a fan. I never will be. When you saw that twig of a weapon breaks in 3 hits, something inside of you dies. Then you take another one and fuse it with a rock – bam, 10 times the durability! Not bad, but not enough to make you forget that everything you build simply breaks. It’s great how they “make” you experience with weapons that way, but to me that is just overused system where you spend too much time collecting weapons, bows and shields that breaks often.

You can of course expand your slots by collecting Korok seeds – but it’s easier said than done, considering the guys gifting you these hide under rocks and all shady places in a 300h long game. Yeah, try finding who knows how much of them (I had around 120 I think). With that you can collect more weapons (swords, bows) and shields in your inventory, so the break system is not so bad. But still bad if you ask me.

I’m also not a huge fan of mute protagonists that Links is, plus the combat in Zelda games was never top notch. It’s fun because it makes you think how to beat bosses, but without a pro controller you’re done for. The combat is just mediocre, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s the setting and diversity of beating opponents often using your surroundings that matters.

With that out of the way, there is not much bad I can think of anymore, so we’re off to the next chapter!

I have 2 pictures of combat! It's not really so important, it's fun, but the most fun is when you build stuff and then laugh your ass off when you see what the hell you built. It's hilarious how wrong you can do in some temples, but it's magnificent how good and imersive the whole experience is.

What really shines is the gameplay loop and places to explore, the quests to uncover and resolve. Every few meters on the ground or in the air are filled with so many secrets, it’s ridiculous how much content you can uncover. And the best part is – it’s always something fun and worth putting your time into. Whether you solve temples to expand your health and stamina, catch hidden frogs in caves, escape mazes in the air, build a roof so you can set thorns on fire because wet wood doesn’t burn… I could write what you can do in the game until tomorrow, and I would probably be halfway through. I love the world so much, it’s so rewarding and every quest I did made a difference with the journey that awaits. There is so much you need to conquer along the way; like hot deserts, stormy islands, cold snowy mountains… And they all require some protection that can either be an armor set, or some brewed food you can prepare to shield you from dying in the mentioned lands.

I was so involved while playing, I enjoyed every moment of my 80h journey where I did the main story quests, plus as much as I could of the side content. That much is really nothing, considering I barely scratched the third area I will not speak of. If you want to play something until you complete it 100%, while having extra few months of free time, this game is here for you.

Probably the most fun I had while fusing objects together to get pass some gap. The physics are so damn good, it matters if you glue one object on the other poorly, the weight matters, everything matters… I never experienced such freedom in any game. At one temple I completely forgot that I can fuse rocket with my shield to fly in the air, so I glued 5 rockets to form a standpoint, while using 6th to shift the others in the air. That escalated quickly, as I turned on all rockets. You can only imagine how that went.

Equipment is cool, I loved how optional is to upgrade armor sets, it just makes you explore and find other sets while unlocking more you can use in your advantage. Also, cooking and combining items is ridiculous – I could write 2 reviews on what you can combine. Just one hint – do not use bomb flower on your arrows in the Goron volcano area.

I was often fusing swords on my shild (by accident). I also tried rewinding objects that I've sent towards the goal too many times I would like to admit. There are ton of situations where I enjoyed just a simple, fun game where you use your brain to solve puzzles and at the same time you feel happy when you solve something.

It’s so rare that the side content and exploring the world outshines the main story and restrictions of now a previous generation hardware. Kudos to the team, they made a marvel, and while it’s not prettier than the previous game, it’s stable, it’s cartoonish and mostly fluent (minus the Water temple boss, that was the fps nightmare boss fight).

It took me like 2 minutes to forget about the technical side of the game though, so don’t worry much about it, it’s the game itself that matters. There is much content to fill 3 larger games, so it’s well worth your money. And all of that content is really good.

I don’t think any other game will come close to such immersive world and surroundings we have here. And combined with Zelda level of puzzles, characters placed to drive their own set of world domains, even allies you get to reach even more places… I really don’t want to spoil it for you, but do yourself a favor – play this game, it’s most fun you will experience in a long time, perfectly packed of a worthwhile open-world premise full of smart challenges and lively world to explore. It will consume your time, but everything you solve matters. I really have no clue how to beat that. Good luck other games.

Hi Zelda, this is Link. Link? Aren't you also Zelda? It never gets old...

"Best, most innovating and fun open-world game on the market – not good in combat like Elden Ring, but even better in everything Zelda games shines the most. If you like exploring while being properly rewarded, hop on, we are still all playing."
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