Following up Breath of the Wild was never going to be easy. Even six years later, that game is still the center of a good amount of attention. How do you make a sequel to one of the most ground-breaking and beloved games of the decade?
Well, you do the same thing again, but you give the players even more options for goofy nonsense.
Link and Zelda delve into the depths beneath Hyrule Castle to discover the source of the mysterious haze covering Hyrule. There, they come across an ancient evil, Link is left on death’s door, and Zelda disappears. With the lands greatly changed and a great evil on the rise, there’s a whole new adventure in store.
This game doesn’t take long to get going. We get right to the inciting incident, then the adventure starts. It doesn’t waste your time.
However, the structure of the narrative itself is more or less just Breath of the Wild again. Link is weakened by a great evil and takes a power nap, only waking up after the world has changed dramatically. Now he needs to find Zelda by going to four locations to do a thing with the other kingdoms. All the while, he needs to unravel a mystery regarding Zelda.
My big fear was that everything in this game would feel just like Breath of the Wild. Thankfully, that is not the case. This is a whole new game. Every returning location has been dramatically changed in one way or another, and there are tons of new locations on top of that. Every shrine is different, and the Koroks have been completely redone.
By far the biggest and best changes are to Link’s kit of abilities. All of his abilities from the last game are gone, and in their place is a whole new kit that opens up a wide variety of gameplay opportunities. You can merge items with weapons to make new weapons, reverse time, or dive up through stone for easy traversal.
The best ability, by far, is the Ultrahand. This essentially turns certain objects in the game into Lego blocks. You can create some really goofy stuff with this ability, ranging from ridiculous to game-breaking. It’s a ton of fun, and it expands the sandbox feeling of the game a hundred fold!
You can even create some… less than work appropriate… machines.
As for enemies, there are a ton of new ones to fight here. Plenty of which are surprising returns from previous Zelda games! Hell, they brought back the three-headed dragon boss from Zelda 1!
In terms of visuals… it’s a mixed bag. The world sure looks pretty! But it’s a bit hard to focus on that when the framerate goes to hell fairly frequently. It’s nowhere near as bad as I worried it would be, but the Switch’s limited power is definitely holding this game back.
Musically, however, Tears of the Kingdom is definitely an upgrade over the last game. Breath of the Wild had some decent music, but it was much more ambient than anything. TotK has a much more striking soundtrack.
But I still miss the older, more cinematic OSTs we got in previous games.
So far, I’m really liking Tears of the Kingdom. It’s off to a great start. Whether or not it will be as fun or exciting by the end is still yet to be seen. But it’s had plenty in common with BotW so far. I’ll bet it’ll stick the landing like its predecessor did.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go scour all of Hyrule’s toilets for ghosts. Because if that hand isn’t in this game, then I’m out.