In this review, we'll look at one of the most highly anticipated and talked-about entries in The Legend of Zelda series. With the foundation set by Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom promised diverse and dynamic gameplay elements. But did it truly live up to the hype? That's what I, Brighton Nelson, will talk about today. I will be delving into various aspects of the game, from its battle system to the story, music, characters, and more, to provide a comprehensive assessment of this highly acclaimed title. Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... a Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review: An unusual step down from its predecessor.
Battle System - 9.5
Taking the foundation present in Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom created much more diverse and dynamic enemy and boss encounters, which incentivized battling due to the Fuse ability and Zonai devices. This made the battle system in this game near perfect. While I would've enjoyed a few more entirely new bosses instead of series callbacks, a few Guardians here and there (maybe just at the labyrinths), and a better way to utilize the sages in battle, I can't bash on this incredibly cinematic, action-based combat with some of the most fun dodging, parrying, and weapon customization in any game I've played. While I have a few issues with the combat in this game, it is still fantastic and fixed all the issues I had with the combat in Breath of the Wild.
Story - 2
I know many say this is a step up from Breath of the Wild's plot, but personally, I believe it doubles down on the open-world-isms of the not-so-great Breath of the Wild story format. While the story in this game was beautifully cinematic, the memories in this game were very uninteresting, and I found myself wanting to skip them halfway through to move on to exploration again. As somebody who sees the story to be the most essential part of the gaming experience, this was highly disappointing. Rauru was uncompelling and had a very thin characterization compared to the Old Man in Breath of the Wild. While Ganondorf served as an intriguing, looming threat (as always), his dialogue was the only saving grace for this plot. With two blatantly obvious and offensively predictable plot twists that I guessed would happen from the get-go being the central core of this plot, this narrative provided much too little, much too late. While the cutscenes here were beautiful (especially those who have the hots for Link, Zelda, or both), and Ganondorf is a solid villain, this story was mediocre... and that's an understatement.
Music - 8
This game had the great atmospheric sounds and songs of Breath of the Wild, but, unfortunately, this game's music could not live up to the music present there. Sure, the Sky Island and Colgera battle themes were phenomenal, but I can hardly remember any distinct songs from this game outside of those two songs. In Breath of the Wild? We had the legendary Divine Beast themes and Kass's Theme, all of which would place in my top ten Zelda tracks and some of my favorite songs in any game. However, as much as the songs in this soundtrack meshed together to be beautiful and prestigious, this selection of songs was not nearly as memorable as the soundtrack of its predecessor.
Art & Graphics - 9
This game is equally as beautiful as the series' last installment. If you read my Breath of the Wild review, you know I mentioned a terrific friend, and it's time for her to make a comeback in this review. She pointed out to me the evolution of the graphics here, with the brighter, green graphics representing the vibrance of hope and rebuilding, whereas Breath of the Wild displayed deeper, somber hues of blue. I loved the inspired art of the Sky Islands and the Depths, even if I thought the Sheikah technology looked much better than the Zonai technology. I adored everything about the art and atmosphere of this world, and while it doesn't look as phenomenal as games like Paper Mario: The Origami King or Persona 5, it still looks fantastic.
Characters - 3
Wow. This game was a huge step down from Breath of the Wild. Outside of Ganondorf, Sidon, and Zelda, every character here felt dumbed down compared to their Breath of the Wild counterparts. Even returning characters took a backseat (like Teba), were removed entirely (like Kass), or were just incredibly less compelling than before (like Riju). I mean, Zelda, Sidon, and Ganondorf were all fantastic, so I can't hate on this name all that much, but in the end, I just could not get attached to the characters in this game like I so quickly did with Breath of the Wild's Champions.
Abilities - 10
With four primary abilities, this game may seem lacking at first glance... but with these abilities, you can basically do anything! You can build anything you want with Ultrahand, craft any weapon you wish with Fuse, rewind time and fix mistakes with Recall, and phase through ceilings with Ascend. Seriously, these abilities perfectly mesh with each other to allow players to interact with the world and manipulate it to their whims. No other game ever created has been able to give the player as much freedom as Tears of the Kingdom, and this category easily deserves a 10.
Sidequests - 8.5
This game has more shrines and areas than Breath of the Wild ever had and more meaningful, less fetch-questy sidequests than Breath of the Wild. There are still Korok Seeds and such, so what's the problem? I found the Sky Crystals to be a lazy excuse to skimp on creating more unique shrine quests like Breath of the Wild, and the shrines themselves were much less inspired than the original due to constantly revolving around Zonai Devices and Ultrahand. Also, the Sky Islands and Depths were so much more copy-and-pasted than they could've been, with minimal unique rewards for exploration. However, with so much to do in this world, from being a journalist for the Lucky Clover Gazette to building a house; from becoming part of the Yiga Clan to receiving the Master Sword, this game still has a wealth of awesome sidequests to partake in! While I certainly have my issues with some of the sidequests in this game, the pros still outweighed the cons, and I believe an 8.5 is a very accurate assessment here.
Locations - 10
We all know how phenomenal the world of Tears of the Kingdom is. It is easily the most prestigious and immaculate iteration of Hyrule thus far, and with three layers and an expansive cave system, this world is so easy to get lost in. Every minute of this world is worth taking, even if a Korok Seed is the only enumerated reward for your efforts; the feeling of grandeur this world provokes is unmatched by any other game I've played save Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Blue Dragon, and daresay Paper Mario: The Origami King. Even still, this world is the most explorable and interactive of any video game I've played. While I have my issues with this game, no other game truly deserves a score of 10 in this category more than Tears of the Kingdom does.
Quality of Life - 10
Outside of the occasional, annoying downpouring of rain in this game and the lack of explanation for the disappearance of Sheikah technology, Kass, and the delectable durians of Faron, this game is basically flawlessly polished. Yes, even the physics engine—it's so crazy, and I love it. Alright, now for the verdict.
Fun Factor: 9
Overall Score: 78%
Letter Rating: A
This game is widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time and, at the very least, one of the best in The Legend of Zelda series. Yet I still enjoy most other Zelda games, including Breath of the Wild, better than this entry. While this game gives up so much creativity to the player, it lacks creativity in its narrative, characters, and, in some aspects, expanding on this new version of Hyrule. While this is an awe-inspiring game, and it is considered the pinnacle of the series by many, I found myself missing the magic of previous entries in the series. For all this game did, part of what makes The Legend of Zelda so unique is its story, which is incredibly weak here. Ultimately, this game is a must-play game for modern gamers, but it will likely disappoint any traditional Zelda fans.
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Primary Version: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Nintendo Switch)