The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Nintendo Switch Review

Discover what lies below and what hides above.

By JustAnotherJake, Posted 17 May 2023

In 2017 Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That game would go on to be considered to be among the greatest of all time, even going as far as to win game of the year at the Game Awards. Now in 2023, Nintendo has released a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild known as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. There is a large hurdle to improve upon for it to surpass its predecessor, and eyes aren’t straying far away as Tears of the Kingdom has already won The Game Award For Most Anticipated Game at 2022’s Game Awards.

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The build-up for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been a strange ride. Nintendo didn’t reveal much of anything before the game was released, despite it having several delays. However, after the game has released, this was likely the best decision for the marketing team. The game is full of moments of amazement, that would have easily been spoiled if there were too many trailers. The few moments that were shown off were barely enough to build anticipation and left many people questioning whether the quality will match the original or not. But in the end, it worked, and there is so much to take in.

Tears of the Kingdom may be a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, in fact, the base world is largely the same, but that does not mean that the game cannot be enjoyed on its own. Much like other direct sequels to other Zelda series games like Majora’s Mask following Ocarina of Time, they can be enjoyed separately without the context of the previous game. However, Tears of the Kingdom will throw many treats to players who have already explored this version of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild. In fact, there is something special at horse stables for players who have a save file of Breath of the Wild on that same console.

The gameplay in Tears of the Kingdom is similar to Breath of the Wild but the core mechanics make everything feel different. Aside from a couple of button remappings, the sheika slate from Breath of the Wild is gone. There is a replacement to keep some of the features, but this does mean that the remote bombs, magnesis, stasis, and cryonis are all gone. There are of course new abilities to replace those ones, but the new ones do not function at all like anything those previous abilities could offer. Instead, these new abilities fully lean into the creative elements.

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The new abilities are fuse, ultra hand, and ascend. Fuse allows items to be sewn together with weapons, arrows, and shields to change the flow of combat. Ultra hand allows for objects in the overworld to be picked up in a similar fashion to Breath of the Wild’s magnesis but it also allows for them to be glued together in order to create structures and vehicles to traverse the world with. Lastly is ascend, which largely changes how exploring is handled as it allows for the player to rise through solid ceilings and up to their surface. This makes scaling the large mountains, and other structures found throughout the world much easier to climb.

In Tears of the Kingdom, most of the world is accessible right away and allows for the mind to carry the adventure through the exploration. Many of the quests will guide the player through new areas, but exploration is at the will of the player. This does include the new sky areas as well as the depths. These areas feature new mechanics and locals that Breath of the Wild never had. But as mentioned prior, these areas aren't the only new things as a large majority of the overworld has been changed, whether its lava pools being drained or mountains having been dug through or even some of the towns being rebuilt there is a lot of new to be had in even the most familiar of areas.

Tears of the Kingdom also adds a lot of caves to the world, allowing for a lot of new interactions with the world. With each cave being unique in design there is a lot to seek out. But these caves are more than just a new form of finding ores, they also act as very small dungeons with some having puzzles or enemy encounters that wouldn’t be found anywhere else. Every cave also has a collectible within, further encouraging that exploration. This is just one of many new additions to the overworld that makes this game that much more interesting.

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Combat has seen a large change compared to Breath of the Wild. In Tears of the Kingdom, the fuse mechanic allows for all sorts of different weapons to be crafted, but to go along with that there are several new enemies to encounter. Not only are there a lot of new enemies but there are also a lot of different variants of enemies to further change things up. Fighting enemies feels even more like a puzzle than it ever has. This can also be applied to the new boss enemies, making things feel much more like the Zelda games from before Breath of the Wild.

Speaking of older Zelda games, Tears of the Kingdom offers something much more like the dungeons of older games a very welcome addition. The new dungeons feel like they belong in the world and feel especially different from each other. Making that climactic ending even more climactic when it is finally reached. It is a feeling unique to the world that is explored, making everything just feel right.

The story was something Breath of the Wild struggled with heavily and was often one of the largest complaints about it. Tears of the Kingdom does things similar yet different. There are still memories that can be found in any order that tell the story of the past, but there is a much more woven in story to the actual plot of what is happening to the world. Coming across a town will often prove story elements to the world whereas in the previous story, it was often nothing more than a bit of lore to the region. Again this makes the world of Tears of the Kingdom feel much more important.

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That is not to say everything about the story elements is perfect, as those previously mentioned memories will provide the story in a random order. This can easily lead to that specific plot being twisted and misunderstood, or it may even lead straight into it spoiling large bits of the story. If the order in these memories was found to have no effect on which cutscene was played this would be no problem but it does remove a lot of tension to certain reveals or moments the game would otherwise have shown with great pride.

Tears of the Kingdom also upgrades upon other elements from Breath of the Wild such as the soundtrack. While there are still reused songs and most of the sound effects remain the same, the new tracks added to the game make a much better fit. While Breath of the Wild was a ruined land with several empty fields, Tears of the Kingdom is recovering land with technology and towns once again thriving. The soundtrack reflects that with a more full-sounding set of tracks. Many of the new songs feel more like songs that sporadic notes that were meant to set a feeling.

There appears to be a larger focus on the voice acting in Tears of the Kingdom as well. Many new characters have spoken lines and several returning ones have better performances, especially from Zelda’s voice actress Patricia Summersett. Previously her performance was a bit on and off with the quality, but this goes around she fills the role much better. This is likely more on the side of vocal direction, and less so an issue with the actual actress, but regardless that specific role feels so much better in Tears of the Kingdom. It still feels like the fact Link is a silent protagonist in Tears of the Kingdom is holding back the overall experience.

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He doesn’t need to speak much for him to have an impact, but even a bit more interaction in the cutscenes and he would feel much more important. Characters will often directly address him and Link shows nothing but a head nod or some brief hand movements. While this has a small impact on the overall quality of the game, it is something that Nintendo could really improve on, as other Links are fondly remembered even though they never spoke like Wind Waker’s Link or even Twilight Princess’ Link. This was because they emoted heavily in the face or body. Tears of the Kindom’s Link seems more like the most heroic piece of cardboard rather than the hero he’s chalked up to be.

The biggest issues found throughout the Tears of the Kingdom experience are to be found with what is likely due to the hardware. There are several points where the game will stutter or even pause to load something, and there is that strange fog over the entire world that can make some things look murky. These are elements of the game being on the Switch. While it is impressive that the Switch can even run a game like this it still feels like the console is holding back the potential of the game.

Games like Tears of the Kingdom and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 show that the developers are capable of something amazing, but the console makes things less amazing. Graphics aren’t everything, and by no means is it really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. But it is just a sour note to have in such a lovely game in all other manners. When games get so close to being something perfect, even the smallest flaws stick out like a sore thumb.


The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a difficult game to even discuss without spoiling some element of the experience so it makes it difficult to reach into every aspect of the game. However, that is an element that should be greatly regarded as something good. With a game like this, every element is something to behold and appreciated, and with a game this large, if there are elements that the player doesn’t enjoy there is so much to do that missing out on one portion of the game will not even begin to make it a lesser experience.

While Breath of the Wild created a new feeling for the entire gaming world, its sequel Tears of the Kingdom, turned it up a notch and made it that much better. There are a good number of people who are disappointed that Breath of the Wild seemingly killed off what was known before as the traditional Zelda format, but with Tears of the Kingdom, they brought back so many of the elements that made those games feel wonderful. Of course, many people will miss the linear stories, the dungeon items, and the overall feeling of the old Zelda titles, but Tears of the Kingdom surely fills in a lot of those holes for now.

Jacob Cowsert (@TweetJAJ)
News Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Nintendo EPD
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Role-Playing, Horror, Strategy
Release Date: 2023-05-12

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