After 135 hours and counting, I’m steadily chipping away at all the secrets TOTK has to offer. However, while my time with the game isn’t at an end, my coverage of it is, meaning it’s high time I shared my Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review.
The latest instalment in the epic history of the Zelda franchise is, by far, one of the best video games I’ve played.
It delivers graphically, the quests are challenging yet fun, and the storyline is even more emotive than Breath of the Wild.
All in all, this game is limited in its flaws.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a couple of years from now, TOTK makes it onto Retro Dodo’s revised listicle of the 10 best Zelda games of all time.
However, that doesn’t mean issues in TOTK don’t exist. While the game is generous in what it offers players, that generosity is part of its downfall.
If you want to know exactly what I mean, and to learn whether this game is right for you, it’s time to get to the heart of my Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review.
Table of Contents
Familiar Yet Different
I think I speak for many fans when I reveal I had concerns about TOTK from the initial trailers – it looked so much like BOTW, how could it offer something new?
Luckily, I’m able to hold my hands up and admit that those concerns were misplaced. Although TOTK is set in the same world as BOTW, and has many returning characters, the feel of the game and its story is vastly different.
This isn’t the Hyrule we saved previously.
Beloved characters have aged, unusual chasms have appeared, and an evil thought once defeated has returned.
Link has to fight his way through a changed landscape, one which has spooky Gloom Hands potentially lurking around every corner. Then there’s the Depths, a haunting location that genuinely gives me palpitations every time I’m down there.
Hyrule is split between three layers – land, sky, and below – each as diverse as the first, thus ensuring we have plenty of new avenues to explore. It’s breathtaking how much Hyrule has grown since the Calamity.
In short, TOTK feels like catching up with an old friend: you feel at ease with one another, but there’s a lot of new information to process.
As the Zelda franchise has grown, so too has the emotional depth it offers its fans, with each installment pulling on those heartstrings in new ways. When it comes to TOTK, you need to have a box of tissues handy because the story gets dark.
Honestly, the main storyline is arguably TOTK’s best feature, with the collecting of Zelda’s memories resulting in a shocking twist I genuinely didn’t see coming.
When I retrieved all the memories and pieced them together, I cried for the sacrifices Zelda made to try to help Link in building an army against the Demon King. It’s truly a moving moment in the game that sets TOTK apart from the rest.
Still, while its emotional depth is undeniable, the way in which Zelda’s “irreversible decision” is then reversed, takes away from the narrative’s lasting impact.
I love Zelda as much as the next fan, but the magic she tapped into shouldn’t be undone for the sake of a happy ending.
200+ Hours of Joyful Adventuring
I defy anyone to play TOTK and not experience joy.
Even when you’re facing down a menacing foe, wondering how in the world you’re going to figure out how to beat the next boss, you’ll feel joy.
Rage tinted joy, but it’s valid nonetheless.
There’s so much for you to do, with the hours just disappearing in the blink of an eye as you come out of a 12 hour TOTK marathon you didn’t plan for. Trust me, I’ve been there countless times since starting this game, and it never gets old.
Let’s be honest, video games cost a pretty penny, to the point that it puts us off spending £60 in one go. However, with a game like Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, you get your money back tenfold in terms of gameplay.
Awe Inspiring Yet Overwhelming
As much as I adore having hours of gameplay still left to enjoy, the sheer number of quests in TOTK make the game overwhelming.
It can be difficult to know where to head next, whether you should power through the main story or get distracted by side adventures. There’s a lot to unpack, which can make progress hard to achieve.
For the first 20 hours, I just rambled over the landscape, getting distracted by anything that came my way. And while my primary focus was unlocking those Skyview Towers, I often deviated from my intended route.
Is this a deal breaker? Oh no.
But it can make the game feel like a chore instead of entertainment when you’re overwhelmed and inundated with quests. There were several times where I sought the advice of friends also playing the game to get my bearings on where I should go next.
Zelda Deserves Better
Zelda undeniably plays a vital role in the shaping of TOTK’s story, however, I still feel her character deserves better.
Once again, Zelda is relegated to damsel in distress, with Link needing to rescue her. Although this is typical for Zelda if you look at previous games, I feel it’s about time Zelda took on a more hands-on, empowered role.
I’m just tired of seeing her flounder unless Link is there to save the day. It’s been done to death, which this rehashing, however emotive, can’t mask.
Again, it’s not a reason to hate the game – Zelda Tears of the Kingdom is superb – but it could be even better.
Retro Dodo’s Final Verdict
I love TOTK. It’s exceeded my expectations, and has given me a game that I can’t put down nearly two months after its release.
Just when I think there’s no more to discover, Link and I are scrambling down into a hidden cave, my sword and shield at the ready as I unearth yet another secret of this expansive world.
Nevertheless, as much as I adore how creative, varied, and entertaining it is, the next Zelda instalment needs to give us something truly innovative. As I said earlier, TOTK felt familiar, and while it never bored me, yet another game with similar mechanics will.
Clearly, the formula of sprawling open worlds is working for the Zelda franchise, and I for one welcome it. However, I’d like to have a little more guidance so that I don’t lose myself to the next shiny item on the horizon.
Although this is where my Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review comes to an end, my journey in-game is far from over. How amazing is it that; even now, I get to play another 70+ hours before I hit 100% completion!
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Emma has loved video games ever since she first saw Alex Kidd platforming across her TV screen. Since then, the 32 year old has dedicated an obscene number of hours to playing as many games as possible. When she isn’t obsessing over games, she spends her time honing her vinyl collection.