The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review: A dazzling achievement

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review: A dazzling achievement

How do you follow a game like Breath of the Wild? We’ve waited years to find out Nintendo’s answer to this key question and now Tears of the Kingdom, a direct sequel, is finally upon us.

Expanding on the already extraordinary scope of the last game, the answer is a resounding success. It’s a game of enormous freedom and constant invention that feels just as essential as its predecessor.


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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

editors Choice

Tears of the Kingdom is a ridiculous triumph, offering a suite of tools that will continually surprise and baffle you with the control it cedes. Hyrule is busier than ever before you even consider skies full of intrigue and the dark, gaping chasms below. The definition of a must-have game on Switch, it also pushes Nintendo’s hardware to stunning new heights technically.


  • Amazing list of abilities
  • Extremely engaging world
  • Mesmerizing soundtrack
  • Visually stunning
  • Simply huge amounts to see and do
The inconvenients

  • Some may find it too similar to Breath of the Wild

Direct sequels aren’t too common a thing in The Legend of Zelda timeline, but when they do happen you tend to get something quite memorable – think Majora’s Mask, for example, and its noticeably scarier than Ocarina of time.

There’s perhaps less of a jump between Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, though – it’s not a biased new look at the same landscape, but rather a re-exploration of it.

Legend of Zelda Kingdom Tears 15

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We pick up sometime after the defeat of Calamity from the first game, with Zelda and Link exploring a cave beneath Hyrule Castle before discovering a creepy mummified corpse that comes to life and maliciously explodes.

Link is blasted into the sky with huge chunks of Hyrule, Zelda is zapped in the blink of an eye, and Link doesn’t wake up with amnesia this time, but stripped of his power as well.

Where Breath of the Wild saw you piece together Link’s absent memories while gathering allies, Tears of the Kingdom instead made you realize what happened to Zelda by uncovering snippets of a now ancient past – still gathering allies.

It’s one of the many ways the game strongly mirrors its predecessor, to the point where you could almost feel like Tears of the Kingdom is a flawless triple-A execution of the kind of huge fan expansions that graced games like Skyrim in the past.

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom 3

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It takes what was good about Breath of the Wild and expands it effectively, happy to reuse elements that don’t need much improvement, but with plenty of additions into the mix where refinement was welcome. .

A case in point sees Hyrule becoming a much busier place, with more NPCs making their way through it and more side quests than ever before. It’s a kingdom under siege, rather than one that’s been torn apart, so it’s much more alive than in Breath of the Wild.

That means some of the totemic loneliness of the last game is traded off, which is amplified by the presence of spectral companions you’ll collect in the first half of the game. It’s not a net loss, though – it’s just a difference, one of the many ways we have a feeling these two Switch Zelda games will stand side by side in the minds of a lot of people.

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We’re extremely reluctant to say much more about Tears of the Kingdom’s storytelling, however – it’s the Zelda Handbook, down to unmistakable melancholy, and again a real delight to discover piece by piece.

Technical triumph

There’s no disguise or debate that the Switch is now long in the tooth, with the Switch’s beautiful upgraded OLED display doing nothing to change the internals behind it.

It then feels like a miracle to play Tears of the Kingdom on it – to see such a detailed open world, but also with such a sense of scale.

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom 2

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Where Breath of the Wild has you riding horseback and paragliding over higher parts of the landscape, Tears of the Kingdom takes that incipient verticality and takes it to the extreme.

You can now start at a very high point in the clouds, explore an ancient ruined Sky Island for resources or a rare item, then swan dive and skydive down to the surface of Hyrule hundreds of meters away lower. If you’re careful, you can aim for one of the many gaping chasms in the ground and break through, falling even further into a gaping underworld – dark and full of danger and almost as big as the surface world again. All of this, from the top of the sky to the darkest depths, with no loading screens or hitches of any kind.

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom 7

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Wherever you stop along the way, you’ll find lush grass, looming architecture and geology, enemy encampments, and hidden secrets, all beautifully crafted and with enough detail to impress.

This all works about as well as Breath of the Wild – so there are occasional frame rate drops and slowdowns, but given that the world is much busier and more dynamic than the last game, to match its performance while increasing its density is a superb result.

The lighting and environments are amazingly good most of the time, the character models are all so awesome and quirky, and on top of that, a simply stunning soundtrack.

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom 6

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Knowing when to fade into the background and when to accentuate a show with an extra tinge of magic, his melodies are both powerful and subtle.

Invention is the name of the game

While Tears of the Kingdom is tweaking Breath of the Wild’s presentation and remastering its storytelling, its gameplay systems are perhaps where the biggest improvements have been implemented.

To cover what hasn’t changed, the combat is largely as you remember it, with a fairly simple but satisfying system of dodges and parries that can be chained together satisfyingly or skipped in favor of just gobbling up more. food to heal whenever an enemy hits you. Weapons also degrade a break, which creates an ever-rotating list of options to grab when the opportunity arises.

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom 1

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Link also collects new armor as the game progresses, with passive effects that will help you deal with areas of extreme heat or cold, swim faster, climb better, or skydive more freely. , but meals and elixirs can easily be crafted to help you out. all these effects too.

You’ll slowly explore Hyrule, pulling strings to find allies among some of the world’s major tribes and gaining new powers as you go, making navigation and exploration progressively faster and easier as you get more of tools.

If this sounds familiar, don’t get me wrong. Playing its first 10 or so hours, let alone the rest of the game, feels a bit like playing an interactive game show of Nintendo’s own design, all centered around one repetitive question – “What if Breath of the Wild let you do This?”

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom 4

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What if, for example, instead of letting you freeze an item in time, the game allowed you to rewind time entirely for that item? Or, say, what if its fast-moving towers, instead of just high points to jump from, were actually giant cannons that propelled you into the stratosphere?

What if the massive underworld that was added was pitch black, requiring players to drop light sources and smash their way through or get completely lost in its darkness? What if you had a single power that could fuse any loot item onto weapons, shields, and arrows, each giving a different boost or effect?

Now let’s get really crazy – what if you could pick up and assemble a multitude of in-game structures and objects to create steerable vehicles on land, sea and air, powered by a portable recharging battery that you can upgrade?

Less ambitious designers could easily build entire games around one of these elements, but Nintendo just stuck it all in here, just to see what players make of it. While in your first few hours the answers will largely be in the realm of “Why, would I use this power to build the worst raft anyone has ever seen, of course”, over time you will begin to assemble janky little masterpieces.

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You’ll start to see rewind opportunities everywhere, bouncing projectiles back at enemies; you’ll graft boulders onto any weapon to create huge wrecking balls; you will barely remember how your horse looks because you are too busy wingsuiting wherever you can at maximum speed.

With shrines of challenge once again littering the world, each offering a low-key, satisfying puzzle that will usually teach you a new way to use a given power, the amount of player freedom these systems come together to create is nothing short of staggering. .

When we finished Elden Ring, we rightly felt that many game worlds were going to let us down in the next few years by comparison. Completing Tears of the Kingdom gives us that same unparalleled sense of dread – games with this much finishing simply won’t let you. as much very often unfortunately.


Tears of the Kingdom seems like something of a crowning achievement for the Switch – a testament to its resilience and as powerful a demonstration of before Nintendo knew how to make truly great games. It doesn’t need a hardware upgrade to make improvements, and it doesn’t need to ship a new console until it’s ready, because it can create something just as wonderful as this on hardware as old as you want it to be.

If you have a Switch it’s a must-play in every way, but if you have fond memories of Breath of the Wild it’s even more essential, and honestly we can’t wait to see the myriad secrets that we have yet to find, and what truly insane feats players will achieve with the many systems it generously offers in the years to come.


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