The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Review
Follow Genre: Open world adventure
Developer: Nintendo, Monolith Software
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Review

Site Score
Good: An open world that encourages exploration and experimentation
Bad: Early game pacing feels a bit too slow
User Score
(5 votes)
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Rating: 8.8/10 (5 votes cast)

Well, it’s finally here. After years of anticipation, Link makes his triumphant return in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Is the game any good? Well, of course it is. Given that this is Nintendo’s biggest release in years, they simply couldn’t afford not to meet fans’ expectations. Is it perfect? Well, not quite but it comes pretty damn close. Read on to find out why you should go pick up Tears of the Kingdom right now if you haven’t already.


Set several years after Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom can be played as a standalone story, but those that played Link’s previous adventure will get so much more out of the events seen here, and even more if you’ve also played Age of Calamity. Our story opens with Link and Zelda venturing into a mysterious cavern deep under Hyrule Castle. A strange substance known as Gloom has been plaguing the kingdom, and our heroes are investigating the source and potentially a way to get rid of it. During their expedition, they discover the body of a mummy being held down by a glowing arm. Zelda’s presence sets things in motion, as the mummy wakes up and Hyrule is plunged into darkness once again. Link wakes up on an island in the sky, severely weakened and with his arm replaced by the one that was stuck to the mummy. Zelda has disappeared and now it is up to our hero to regain his strength, return to Hyrule, restore the peace, and rescue the princess.


By this point, the Switch is over six years old, and it wasn’t a graphical powerhouse to begin with, so Tears of the Kingdom doesn’t bring the most impressive graphics to the table by modern-day standards. Within the limits of the hardware, the game does look fantastic, sticking close to the aesthetics established by Breath of the Wild, and even pushing things a bit further in terms of detail and visual fidelity. That said, the game plays to its own visual strengths and the art style hides a lot of the shortcomings that would have been present had Tears of the Kingdom gone for more realistic graphics. The game runs at a fairly steady 30 FPS, with the occasional frame drop.


If there is one gripe we have with Tears of the Kingdom’s soundscape, it’s that it only features partial voice acting instead of being fully voiced. The voice cast does an admirable job, with Patricia Summersett returning as Zelda herself, and Matthew Mercer as the main antagonist in particular standing out. Link still doesn’t talk beyond yelling and grunting, but that was to be expected of course. As for music and sound effects, we’d be doing the game a disservice by dismissing it as “just more of the same”. It is, but “the same” is absolutely top-notch, and Tears of the Kingdom‘s OST is simply delightful.


The vast majority of Tears of the Kingdom’s core gameplay is identical to what you’ve seen in Breath of the Wild, with an extra layer of polish to streamline things here and there. The biggest change comes in the form of that shiny new arm Link has. We’ll get to that, but first, a quick recap for the two or three Switch owners that are picking up Tears of the Kingdom without having played its predecessor. What you’re getting here is Nintendo’s take on the open-world adventure genre, with a vast world to explore and an almost unprecedented amount of things you can do in it. Despite the sense of urgency present in the story itself, the nature of the game encourages experimentation and exploration. It seems like a side quest or shrine with a puzzle is waiting around every corner. Many beloved features, like hidden Koroks, make a welcome return. The game feels very accessible without rubbing everything in your face. Returning players know the drill and newcomers are gently nudged in the right direction, with the game expecting you to figure everything out on your own as you come across things.

The biggest new toy to play with comes in the form of that aforementioned arm, and more specifically the ability to grab and combine objects. This is being pushed as Tears of the Kingdom’s biggest new feature in the game’s marketing. It’s easy to see why such a big deal is being made out of it when you actually start playing around with it. Using this ability feels a bit awkward and clunky at first, but once you actually get to grips with it, you’ll be solving puzzles in new ways, creating makeshift vehicles, and constructing your own pathways across chasms. Other abilities that Link can use include being able to phase through ceilings, rewind specific objects back in time, and more. While these are implemented in very straightforward ways when it comes to shrine puzzles, you are also encouraged to think out of the box and try things out. More than ever, Hyrule is your playground. A playground infested with Bokoblins and Lynels, but a playground nonetheless.

Where Tears of the Kingdom does fall a little flat is with its overall pacing. Unless you’re a speedrunner, it will take you several hours before you even reach Hyrule itself, with Sky Island acting as an extended tutorial. Granted, there isn’t a lot of hand-holding going on, and Nintendo does strike the right balance between easing new players into the core mechanics and explaining the new stuff to returning ones, but we felt like things could have been handled a little faster here. Once you make it to Hyrule, things start to open up quickly, and it’s easy to get distracted. We ignored the main quest line to explore for quite some time until we ran into a shrine that we couldn’t complete without using the glider, which we hadn’t received yet. Another pacing issue is tied to Link’s own growth. It takes quite a lot of time before he feels capable of dealing with threats. It certainly feels satisfying when you start to notice a difference between the weakest Link (pun intended) from the start and the one from several hours in, but we would have liked it had our hero recovered his strength a little faster. We were running around with only four hearts for a lot longer than we would have liked.

Of course, the slow pacing is partially by design, as Tears of the Kingdom is intended to be played over the course of dozens, if not hundreds of hours, just like Breath of the Wild was. Of course, you can simply rush through the main storyline, but where is the fun in that? We should also mention that long-time Zelda fans have a couple of rewards waiting for them too: if you happen to have some amiibo gathering dust from back in the day when those little plastic statues were all the rage, then you’ll be happy to learn that you can scan them to receive materials, with Zelda-specific amiibo figures offering better rewards and even exclusive glider patterns. If you’ve played Breath of the Wild, you’ll find that the horses from your save will be waiting for you at the stables too, which is a particularly nice touch. We’re sure that there are more small nods like this hidden in the game, and we can’t wait to discover more.


We’ve already poured well over two dozen hours into Tears of the Kingdom and we feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface. The game builds on the foundation laid by Breath of the Wild and even improves on its already illustrious predecessor, becoming perhaps the best Switch game in the process. Minor pacing issues and less-than-impressive visuals aside, this is an essential addition to the library of any self-respecting Switch owner. We’ll be returning to Hyrule plenty of times over the coming months, and we recommend you do the same.

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Rating: 8.8/10 (5 votes cast)
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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Review, 8.8 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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