The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review: A sequel in its rarest form

Nintendo /

Game: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Consoles: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on)
Release Date: May 12, 2023

To say The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has become something of a phenomenon is an understatement. Despite being out for two months now, even the most dedicated of players is still finding new and unique things in the game. Whether it’s secrets, easter eggs, or just discovering something they can do with the game’s insane Ultrahand ability, there’s such a wealth of discovery here.

While Tears of the Kingdom is a sequel to Nintendo’s ultra successful Breath of the Wild, it is almost hard to classify this as a sequel just because of how different this game feels. This game is the kind of upgraded sequel one would normally encounter during the era where new game consoles actually felt different. Like when you’d play Sonic 3 and be blown away by how it looks only to suddenly play Sonic Adventure when it first released and be stunned by how much they could add to a game.

Tears of the Kingdom is an example of how amazing a game can be on the Nintendo Switch if enough work and effort go into it. To sit somewhere with the Switch in handheld mode and experience a game of this scope is something that I would never have imagined possible back in the day where I would sneak my massive Sega Game Gear into bed at night to play what little I could on it before the battery drained.

The story thus far

The game begins several years after the events of Breath of the Wild where you and Zelda are exploring some sort of temple. I will be honest, the £%$@ around and find out ratio with Legend of Zelda characters is insane because while exploring this strange and unique temple, the duo also reawaken the most intimidating version of Ganondorf I’ve ever seen.

In the process of reawakening, Ganondorf (who I remind you just came back to life and isn’t fully formed or fully powered) completely devistates the entire landscape, sending structures permanently into the sky revealing civilizations long lost, forcing Zelda to relocate herself in the time stream, and removed on of Link’s arms. And this is BEFORE he’s able to move freely.

Coming to in one of the airborne temples, you befriend a spirit from a long forgotten people who gives Link a hand. Metaphorically in the sense that he teaches you about the world and what it has become, and literally in the sense that he attaches his long since severed dead arm to Link to replace the one he lost which…eww.

Luckily though, in addition to giving Link more freedom in which arm he wipes with, this new arm comes with a host of new abilities like the ability to send items back in the direction they came from, teleport upwards through platforms overhead, and, most importantly, the ability to use Ultrahand. Ultrahand is the ability to take things laying around the world, pick them up, connect them to other things, and essentially build whatever you need from things laying around.

Link then has to use his new found abilities, along with his trusty glider, to travel the land, fixing everything that’s happened to the various kingdoms of the realm, and figure out what happened to Zelda. All while encountering slightly older versions of the characters you met in Breath of the Wild who, in many cases, have suffered from a case of MAJOR glow-ups.

Tot-K-Glow-Up /

The mechanics involved

First, I’ll get this out of the way, yes, the break down of weapons is still here. BUT at least this time it is explained. In Ganondorf’s quest to enfeeble the world he has somehow cast a spell that has degraded the world’s metal. Even the fabled Master Sword finds itself rotted and broken. So at least now it makes sense in the story.

Luckily one of your new abilities is the ability to fuse things to weapons, often making them stronger. For example, are you fighting with a stick? Fuse that bad boy with a nearby rock. Now you have a hammer like weapon. Found a pole? Take the horn that feel off a defeated enemy and attach that bad boy to it, now you have a trident or a pike. Heck, I attached a ruby (which in the game is tied to the element of fire) to a dry mop and suddenly ended up with this weapon where when I swing it in front of me, several fireballs shoot out and bounce around the room. It’s incredible what you can discover just attaching one thing to another. You can even do it with arrow. Attaching a bat eye to an arrow before firing it creates a grossly sentient arrow that homes in on the targets beast.

It’s wild. And it helps give you confidence against some of the more horrifying boss encounters. It becomes less of a “how will I survive” moment and more of a “which of these am I going to fuse to an arrow to destroy you” moment.

Tot-K-Queen-Gibdo /

The big thing in the game though is the aforementioned Ultrahand ability. This one is Tears of the Kingdom money maker in a big way. The ability to create whatever you need extends far beyond what you could possible imagine if you’ve never touched this game. When you first start using it you’ll often find yourself getting over difficult terrain by slapping a slew of items together to create a bridge or a raft of some sort. But as I got farther into the game I became a weird fantasy engineer just freely shooting out ideas. If I needed to get somewhere, I wouldn’t get on a horse and ride, I’d find a stone that fell from the sky, using things to build a secure runway on top of it, use my rewind ability to send that stone back up into the sky from the floating structure it came from, and while it was up there use the Autobuild feature (an ability that lets you summon something you previously built) to call forth a high speed plane like device I built. Then I just take off from the sky and fly to where I need to be. The ability to freely get anywhere like this is amazing, it’s like when you first get your drivers license and start freely going places you want to go in the real world.

All in all

The game is stunning.

The story itself is light and, frankly, super predictable. I accurately guessed the ending to a friend of mine after my third day playing. But it’s all about the journey not the destination.

The sense of discovery is overwhelming in the greatest of ways. Like seeing a massive cube hovering in the air for most of the game only to, eventually, figure out how to get to it and discover…that you’re about to get involved in some crazy floating maze craziness.

Tot-K-Aerial-Maze /

It’s an absolutely incredible experience filled with wonderful set piece moments, wide varieties of locales and character interactions, puzzles that straight up tickle the seratonin development center of my brain, and tied together with an Ultrahand to a series of absolutely fantastic controls and a mind blowing physics engine.

If you own a Switch and don’t own this game you aren’t using your Switch correctly. It’s like owning a lawnmower when you live in an apartment. It’s the best of what your Switch can do and it genuinely has everything. Honestly, I don’t normally gush about games but damn, well done Nintendo.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Nintendo Switch) Score: 10/10

The fact alone that this game is capable of being played on the Nintendo Switch without it overheating into a miniature sun is, in itself, an achievement. But the complexity, freedom, and creativity that Tears of the Kingdom is chock full of makes this an absolute wonder. It has something for every body, whether it’s mystery, puzzle-solving, exploration, combat or story. It is all here in abundance.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.