Firstly, before we get into The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review details, we need to give credit to the previous game of the series, which is directly related to this game. Nintendo had a great success with Breath of the Wild, which came out in 2017, and brought one of the most important series that defied the years to a much different point.
We can say that the game was a full production with its level of detail and fun gameplay from the first minute to the last moment. We can say in advance that The Legend of Zelda, which is a direct continuation of the story: Tears of the Kingdom takes this success and continues on its way by putting on it.
Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review
At the end of our hours-long adventure, just when we think that things have worked out and we have saved Princess Zelda, we realise that we have only witnessed the tip of the iceberg in the first minutes of Tears of the Kingdom. The game begins with Zelda and Link investigating the cellars under Hyrule Castle. Here we see that the evil that has been suppressed is much greater and that Ganon is only the first stage of this work.
We encounter a very large mummy in the crypt and the hand standing on this mummy attracts our attention. At that moment, we realise that it is that hand that has been suppressing this power for hundreds of years.
As you can see in the trailers, this mummy is actually Ganondorf, our main villain this time. I don’t want to give more details with the introduction, but as you can guess, our main event is to save Zelda and the whole kingdom once again. After a series of events, we open our eyes, having lost our powers.
Tears of the Kingdom didn’t break a system that was already working like clockwork. Instead of dealing with the foundation of the game, you realise that the production team is more concerned with the upper floors. When I say upper floors, I mean both figuratively and literally, because the place where we open our eyes is a huge sky island!
Just as in the first game, there was a region (Great Plateu) where we solved the logic until we got a paraglider, a similar process was carried out in the new game. Of course, this time the wheel works a little differently as we open our eyes on a sky island called Great Sky Island and have brand new features.
Since we say goodbye to our basic features such as remote bomb and stasis along with our health and power bar, we are looking for different features this time in these first hours of the game.
We enter four different Shrines on this big island, and just like in the first game, we gain our basic features and leave the training part behind. At this point, let’s give the answer to the question “I haven’t played Breath of the Wild before, will I enjoy this game?”.
Of course, it becomes more enjoyable if you play that marvellous game, but it is not a big problem if you don’t play it. In fact, all games of the Zelda series are somehow connected to each other as Lore. Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are directly related games.
However, it is not the case that you will not understand anything from this game without playing the first one. I should say that if you still have the opportunity, of course, do not skip the first game.
Yes, the Shrine logic has preserved its place in this game and has a similar functioning. In the first place, these small-scale dungeons, where we earn our key features, are very important for life bar and stamina.
In each Shrine you enter, there are puzzles to solve with the help of your attributes, and when you complete each Shrine, you earn an item called Light of Blessing. As in the first game, you can increase your health or stamina bar for every four items.
As you can understand, the Shrine system is also very important in this game and forms the backbone of the game. The more you explore the surroundings and the more Shriners you complete, the stronger character you naturally become. Breath of the Wild had a total of 120 Shriners. I have completed 30 hours in the new game and I have found over 20 Shrine so far. It is likely that we will probably encounter a similar number in this game.
The game is divided into regions again. This time the tower climbing dynamic has been removed. We solve the towers in different ways and we are thrown up by a mechanism. After being thrown up for metres, Link opens the map with the Purah Pad he was entrusted from Zelda. Purah Pad is actually the Sheikah Slate from the first game. It has almost exactly the same features and usage, but this time they changed the name.
Of course, when the map opens, the islands on the ground and in the sky also appear. Although not all the islands are as big as the Great Sky Island where we started the game, there are many large and small islands. The island event really managed to make a great contribution to the world of the game.
Although Hyrule seems to have a very similar structure at first, you realise how much the map has changed over time. Of course, the iconic places have kept their place, but they harbour brand new stories with the change they have experienced.
Another element I should mention in the map system is the underground sections! Yes, I can say that I was quite shocked when I first saw it, but in tears of the Kingdom, apart from the already huge surface and sky islands, there is also a huge underground section. Moreover, when you start to go down to this part, the atmosphere of the game changes 180 degrees. In addition to being pitch black, it also has a creepy structure in terms of atmosphere.
Another aspect of the game that I like is that the dungeon structure changes at some points. We can already call Shrines small-scale dungeon missions. In the first game, the main dungeons were loaded on the event called Divine Beast. This time, a structure similar to the classic Zelda dungeons was used.
I don’t want to give more details about this underground world and dungeons that are not shown in the trailers, because as you know, the game is all about exploration and you need to explore these places and experience those first feelings first hand.
Tears of the Kingdom is a production with very important exploration dynamics. As in the first game, the game does not guide you at all except for some points. Where to go, which region to explore first is completely left to you. This opens the door to a strange freedom in the game. When a region starts to force you, you realise that you need to come there later.
I will not explain the dynamics in the game such as the life bar, stamina system, taking photos, riding horses, cooking, floating in the air or breaking your weapons as you use them. All these dynamics are already the same as the structure in the first game.
This time, our features and the existing structure have been changed considerably. Of course, new ones have been added instead of our outgoing abilities. This time we have four key features called Ultrahand, Fuse, Ascend and Recall.
Ultrahand is kind of an improved version of the Stasis feature. In addition to dynamics such as lifting and turning objects, we can combine them or attach them to certain surfaces.
For example, you can cut trees and connect the resulting logs together, and you can build yourself a beautiful raft with a sailboat you can attach to it.
Moreover, this system is much improved with some special items called Zonai Device, which are distributed in the game area or you find. You can attach a propeller or rocket to the back of this raft. Or it is even possible to make a raft that can fly in the air by making a balanced basket made of wood and attaching rockets, propellers and other items you find.
You can make a motorbike that sprays flames from its tip, a small plane that floats in the air, or a balloon that will carry you up metres. It is even possible to build a huge vehicle with a steering wheel. Zonai vehicles, special items that act as batteries and this system of the game has managed to open completely different doors to the game both in terms of creativity and freedom.
My favourite feature in this regard is that the game does not put you into certain patterns. In other words, if there is a big lake in front of you and you are given the necessary materials to build a raft, of course you have the possibility to build a raft. But on the other hand, you can let your creativity speak and solve the event in completely different ways.
If you have played the first game and remember how different ways the puzzles in the Shrines are solved, you can think that this whole structure is scattered throughout the game.
Our Fuse feature brings this merging system to weapons and shields. Let’s say you have a long spear in your hand, you can attach the rock you see on the road to the tip of this spear with the Fuse feature and make your own weapon.
Or you found a bush, you can make an axe with a small piece of stone. There is a wide range in this regard, and despite playing for so many hours, I can still come up with different weapons. This situation has allowed you to finish the events and fights with creativity.
For example, one of my least favourite points in the first game was drowning in items after a certain period of time. In other words, the goblin I killed left the bat pieces and I didn’t want to turn my inventory into more crowded. In this game, on the contrary, all those useless items played a key role with the Fuse system.
For example, when you connect the bat eye to the end of the arrow you will shoot, you can turn it into an arrow that follows the opponent. You can attach a bomb to the tip of the arrow, find an item that freezes the opponent, or even attach a chilli pepper.
Using all the items you collect in this way has both maximised the element of curiosity and made the game’s combat system much more fun. “I wonder what will happen if I attach this to the tip of the arrow or the weapon in my hand?” you find yourself in a constant trial and error. Although your favourites emerge after a certain period of time, there is really no end to this job.
Especially with Zonai tools, the event goes to other dimensions as in the Ultrahand system. You can attach a flamethrower to the tip of your sword and make them burn while hitting enemies, or you can attach a battery and watch them get electrocuted.
Another feature is Ascend. This feature is more prominent in platforming and travelling. You can go up to the top by travelling through almost all the faces in the game at a certain distance.
In other words, let’s say you enter a cave, you can float towards the ceiling and ascend to the upper part of the cave by passing through it as if you were swimming in water. This has both made the game very fast and sometimes blind dives have fuelled the excitement of the game.
The different solutions that are common in general are also valid in this feature. For example, there is a huge rock boss named Talus, which you may remember from the first game. After clearing the creatures on Talus, you need to get on top of it and hit its weak point.
The most creative solution in the first game was to burn the grass on the ground and float up with the air wave to get on top of it. Of course you can use this tactic again. I wanted to give it a try this time and ran under Talus. I activated the Ascend feature and climbed on his back by passing through it. I can say that even this small example is the biggest indicator of how useful the methods you can think of will actually work.
Our last feature is Recall. This feature is a kind of replacement for the stop time feature. This time, it allows you to rewind time in certain objects. For example, there is a high wall in the Shrine that you need to climb and you cannot climb. You first put a piece of wood on the wall with Ultrahand.
Then you pick it up and bring it down. When you apply the Recall feature to this board, it rewinds the time for that object and takes it back to its previous state. in other words, the board on the ground starts to climb back on the wall where you picked it up. when you get on the board, you climb to the height you cannot reach.
Or you see huge rocks falling down from the sky islands while walking around the playground. When you stand on these rocks and apply Recall, it carries you to the sky like a kind of lift. In this way, you can reach the island above, as well as reaching a point you need to run to more quickly by gliding from above.
As you use all these features, including the Recall system, in fights and platform dynamics, you start to realise how big a change the new game actually shows on the gameplay side.
Hyrule does not spare its beauties from us in the new game. There is a different detail in every region you turn your head. In terms of integrity, the visuals and atmosphere of the game are really admirable. The sky islands contribute a lot to the atmosphere.
When you go up, you can look at different points of Hyrule from metres high and the freedom to go wherever your eyes see gives you great pleasure. When you go down to the underground, you encounter the opposite, flattened and changing peer tones.
The music, piano tunes and occasional up-tempo entries that accompany you while exploring the surroundings accompanied by magnificent landscapes contribute greatly to the integrity of the game.
Tears of the Kingdom does not grin technically in portable mode. I can already say that it has similar tones with Breath of the Wild in terms of general structure and visual quality.
Technical quality and animation structure make it feel more like the first game. However, with the new features I mentioned, you soon realise that this similarity is only in visual and technical terms. Of course, there is a much larger playing field compared to the first game and the visibility has been visibly increased.
When you switch to Dock mode, it is actually felt that the graphics are a bit outdated in technical terms. Look, at this point, it is necessary to separate the graphics and technical aspects of the game. The graphics of the game are absolutely beautiful, when I say graphics, don’t immediately think of skins. I have absolutely no complaints about that.
But when you look at the technical details, you feel that the game should be much more advanced than the current hardware. I mean, if Nintendo announces a new Switch model the day after tomorrow, and if tears of the Kingdom comes out on this console in a renewed way, I can say “aha, now they’ve done it right”.
As I said, I am quite satisfied with the atmosphere and visuals of the game as in the first game, but you also feel that it gets old from time to time. On the other hand, as in the first game, they couldn’t solve the frame problem completely. Especially in intense moments, instant frame drops can occur.
As I said at the beginning, Tears of the Kingdom is as enjoyable as the first game with its wonderful world, combat system and puzzles. The first of everything surprises more, maybe it doesn’t make you feel that big transition with sharp lines, but even after playing for hours, you continue to see new places to explore, new dynamics. This situation strengthens both the sense of discovery and the binding structure of the game incredibly.
Having played the previous game for over a hundred hours, it continues to amaze me as a player to see new details to discover even after hours. As a result, Tears of the Kingdom goes through the door opened by Breath of the Wild and offers you an adventure that you will play for hours.
You can buy the game on the Nintendo Store.