Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is of rare quality | Review
Wow, so it’s possible? Do they know it’s possible? When you play Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, such questions keep popping up in your head. This game makes you feel like you’re cheating, bending the rules. You solve puzzles in a way that makes you think: who invented this? Well, you. In a game, you rarely clap and clap as much as in Tears of the Kingdom.
For example, I had to bring a wandering Korok further up a river, but I also found a large glowing stone. I wanted to take both, but how? The answer turned out to be a monster truck. I stuck the Korok and the boulder to the side of the monster truck and headed up the river. The Korok has arrived where it needed to be. With the stone, I unlocked a new shrine further along the river.
I solved two puzzles at once with a monster truck. In a Zelda game. With a monster truck.
Tears of the Kingdom continues to amaze you, but it’s not surprising. Predecessor breath of the wild already laid a new foundation for open world games in 2017. The game world has always attracted your attention. It rained down incentives and there was always a reward. In Breath of the Wild, adventure was natural. Even FromSoftware has turned to this formula.
Tears of the Kingdom does not say goodbye to this configuration. This sequel is also deliberately vague about where you need to go, and the main mission structure is initially largely the same. This sequel is also pure adventure. Sometimes this heritage is very recognizable. Many Korok puzzles, like making circles with stones on the ground, return in the same form. It’s unfortunate, but any other concerns about recurrence are unfounded.
For example, there are theories that Tears of the Kingdom is some kind of glorified DLC. This fear mainly exists because this game takes place in “the same” Hyrule. These worries are not only useless in retrospect, they are laughable. Nintendo dodges the recycling trap with an arc as wide as the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, the Japanese constantly play with your expectations in this area.
Towns like Zora’s Domain, Kakariko Village, and Gerudo Town are still there, but they’re not the same anymore. Hyrule is torn to shreds. There are islands floating in the sky everywhere. Almost everything is different or extended. It also has a lot of influence on the characters and their place in this story. Old friends play a big role in this adventure. It is therefore advisable to complete Breath of the Wild first – it makes this game much more interesting.
At the same time, this sequel is a great “first Zelda”, especially for children. Certain characters and missions return that warm, nostalgic Zelda feeling that Breath of the Wild was a bit lacking. It really is a old school Nintendo’s hero journey. In any case, this sequel contains a much more linear story than Breath of the Wild. There are also more cutscenes, although voice acting isn’t exactly the game’s strong point.
The story also explains why Link no longer has his old powers. They have been replaced by new powers, and these powers are the heart and soul of this game. They shape your adventures, literally and figuratively. The new starting area is of crucial importance in this respect. Nintendo plants seeds in your head that will benefit you for the rest of the game. You have to think differently in Tears of the Kingdom, and you learn to think differently there.
For example, you can swim through ceilings or objects in your inventory merge with elements in the game world. But the power you’ll use the most is Ultrahand, which moves, tilts, and sticks things together. There was after a few preview sessions sure the controls were clunky, but luckily that’s only the case at first. Ultrahand requires spatial awareness, especially if you want to achieve horizontally or vertically tilted objects.
First you need to learn how to turn tilted objects towards you. It takes some getting used to, but after a few hours of play it feels like second nature. And then you can go.
Imagine: a lava lake. By placing a large wing and sticking fans on it, you can simply fly over the lava lake. But why not build a ten-wing bridge? Can also. You can also build a very tall car to drive through lava. But all of these solutions take time. If you want to be quick, just fuse a missile onto your shield to launch yourself.
You could also have put a board upright on the ground with some sort of spring underneath. Still need to return it. What good is a plank on a spring that falls to the ground? Well, if you rewind time, the board wouldn’t fall, but would straighten up very quickly: a catapult. You can also use this slingshot to launch my own invention, Mammoth Man, into lava. It’s unnecessary, but it’s possible.
Why don’t you build a ramp? At the bottom of this ramp you place a large steel spring to pull you diagonally off the ramp. Perhaps one feather is not enough. Then you just need to glue three feathers together and fly over the lava lake with great ease. You can also use a water sprinkler to solidify the lava. Whatever you do, as long as it works.
One of Tears of the Kingdom’s greatest accomplishments is how consistently the experience thrives under all that freedom. As a player, you have so much room to troubleshoot, but the gameplay mechanics and game world stand proud in almost any scenario. And this with so much freedom, in an open game world. It’s an insane design philosophy.
This freedom goes a long way. For example, almost all interactive objects, such as wheels, balls or fans, can also be stored in your inventory. So you always carry some kind of box with Lego with you. You spawn building materials straight from your pocket, but the game never stops. The amount play tests who cost it must have been absurd. It’s truly one of those games that commands respect from fellow developers. This Nintendo team is not to be envied.
There is so much freedom that sometimes we even forget what is possible. At one time, I was continuously massacred in a camp. Enemies have blocked a tower there. Up to ten times I persevered – I like to bump into the same stone. But in Tears of the Kingdom, there’s really no reason to. There are so many variables to experiment with. I should have built this airship that flies over all enemies a long time ago.
I also could have rewound the big steel ball they roll down the hill, by the way. That would quickly have taken a bite out of those pesky Bokoblins.
There are of course limits. It’s not like you can always impose solutions with, say, a shield with a missile on it. This is certainly not possible in shrines and towers. For example, one of the towers, which you use to unlock areas on the map, had its doors locked, so I couldn’t get in. But I got a tip from someone standing at the tower: at the foot of the mountain, you could find delicious mushrooms in the caves.
Now, if you realize you had to position yourself under the tower to drill Link through the “ceiling” of the cave, then you’re smarter than me. I was stuck there for a good half hour, because such a solution is the only solution in such a case. To get good at this game, you have to learn to think like this game. And that means you really need all your powers to come up with certain solutions. The game is sometimes set up for this.
The towers are a literal and figurative highlight either way. Once you enter them, Link will be shot straight into the air. This is by far the most fun way to enter the overworld. As Link cuts through the cloud fields in a straight line, you gaze upon the torn landscape of Hyrule. You can see far, farther than expected on the Switch. Tears of the Kingdom is truly a beautiful game in such times.
This is especially noticeable when you are in this higher world. You then admire all the different landscapes, each with its own exterior characteristics. Ice, desert, jungle and many moss-covered artifacts attract attention. This higher world is important. You go there often, especially to solve puzzles. The countless islands are all home to secrets and shrines. There is also plenty to do there, if you are still in doubt.
Technically, this sequel pulls a lot on the Switch. The hybrid console therefore struggles with it, especially in portable mode. This is especially true if you’re a little further into the game. Frame drops are comparable to Breath of the Wild in nine out of ten cases. Especially when entering new areas or going crazy with game mechanics, the frame rate drops by half a second.
The frame rate is usually 30, but sometimes it drops to something like 25. It’s a real shame, but to be honest, I factored that in a bit beforehand. Then everything is fine. In any case, the gaming experience does not really suffer.
Also, you won’t remember this frame rate, believe me. The adventures and surprises all the more so. I’ve been really looking forward to typing this review over the past two weeks, telling you all about what I’ve been through. I couldn’t tell anyone about it. This examination should have been a therapeutic moment. But now that the time has come, I really want you to find out for yourself.
Very few games are as good as Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. A lot of pleasure.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will be released on May 12 for Nintendo Switch.
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