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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom 200-Hour Review.


Yeah, you read the title right, I’ve already played 200+ hours of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Big whoop wanna fight about it? I just finished my degree and had a lot of time and thank god I did because when you play this game, it’s all-consuming. When you’re not playing it you want to be.


It is a fantastic sequel to 2017’s Breath of the Wild, in fact it’s a MARKEDLY better game in so many ways; Sheer volume of content, depth of story, and luscious landscapes that go beyond the original BotW map.


The Story so far.


The story of Breath of the Wild was very basic. You collect the four champions powers by defeating and completing four VERY similar mini dungeons, then go fight an entity called Calamity Ganon, the pure essence of evil that is unable to hold human form anymore. You beat him, Zelda is returned to the world, story over.


Tears of the Kingom’s story is so much more detailed. Link and Zelda find the mummy of the true Ganondorf, the demon king himself, deep under Hyrule castle. Now this little story snippet was shared in the first ever trailer for the sequel in 2019. What follows is a twisty path that follows through multiple story threads, to rescue Zelda (again) and defeat the demon king (again.)


Along the way, you uncover the story of the original Ganondorf’s rise to power, and the warriors and protectors who fought him. Meanwhile, Link searches for Zelda, while collecting powers and allies in his fight to destroy Ganondorf once and for all.


With the help of an older Purah and Robbie, Link is able to follow these new quests pretty easily. It’s almost impossible to miss the important parts of the game. Really important quests need to be done. then there are Side Adventures, which are hard to miss and add a lot to the story and the game's flow. Then there are Side QUESTS which are less important but still help to build the land of Hyrule and establish it has grown since the events of BotW.



What’s the same?


There are more than a few similarities between Tears of the Kingdom and its predecessor. For one, controversial shrines are back. Small buildings that dot land and sky, filled with little puzzles that test Links new abilities. A lot of people didn’t like the shrines and easier dungeons in Breath of the Wild, so to see them return was a surprise.


There are lots of cute outfits for Link to wear. Hidden in caves, ruins, and riddles, Link can find many of BotW’s outfits plus many more. A lot of them do show a lot of skin for our hero Link, and to that I say… Give the people what they want, I guess.


There is a similar quest to the Captured Memories quest in BotW. These memories help shed light on the game’s main characters and enhance the understanding of the story.


There ARE dungeons. I’m someone who believes that the divine beasts from BotW were fine, as I’m not the smartest with puzzles and exploration and enjoyed the pretty obvious mechanics. Many people however hated or at least didn’t think these dungeons were big or unique enough. The selections of dungeons in TotK are bigger and more unique but more of that later.


There are many little towns scattered TotK, most of them the same ones from BotW. It’s reassuring to revisit these beautiful, storied towns like Kakariko and Hateno village, and see how they’ve changed or evolved in the time since BotW’s end.


What’s New?


While most of the game takes place in the original Hyrule from Breath of the Wild, there are many changes to the map that really enhance the gameplay. There are the obvious additions of the sky islands, floating land masses that have suddenly appeared over Hyrule after the “Upheaval,” the event that happens at the start of the game. These islands have different climates, enemies and rewards/treasures either hidden or won through challenges. As someone who has explored every sky island, I would say it’s very important to try and explore as many of them as possible.


Meanwhile, giant chasms have opened up all over the surface that led down to an entire subterranean world, the Depths, a secret world Nintendo kept completely secret until launch, but exploring around in the dark, doing what you can to light it up, and uncover it’s secrets and treasures is a true joy.


Also new are Link’s changed abilities, linked to his new and improved arm that is altered during the upheaval. Gone are the bombs, time stops, ice and magnet runes that help Link navigate the world.


Four new abilities take over the old ones:


Ascend: The ability to fly up and morph through the ceiling until you reach the top of whatever you’re standing under. This includes inside buildings and caves; you can reach the top of mountains if you find the right caves.


Recall: A souped-up version of the stasis rune, this new power can turn back the time and flow of certain items. This means you can travel upstream or rewind cogs to enter blocked areas. If you're quick enough, you can even send enemy projectiles back at your attackers.


Fuse: The ability to fuse anything, and I really do mean anything, to a sword/ranged weapon or a shield. This strengthens the original item (usually) and gives them great or even hilarious abilities. You can add an enemy horn to a sword to fortify it or add two long weapons together to make something to poke from far away. Then with shields, you could use a mushroom to blind enemies who hit it or send them flying backwards. There are sooo many avenues you can go down with this power but I won’t spoil them. Just try fusing anything and everything!


Ultra-Hand: A better version of BotW’s magnesis. You can pick up large things, very large things, that no longer need to be metal. And you can join two objects together to create fantastic new things. Like…


Vehicles!


A MAJOR new feature, Ultra-Hand helps you, along with some unique items, make the vehicles of your dreams. You can think basic, like adding a sail to some logs to make a raft, or wheels to make a makeshift cart. Or you can totally go bananas with it and create… Whatever you want! It’s literally only limited by your imagination. YouTube can show you some of the crazier things people have built, but isn’t it more fun to try and make your own creations?


Dungeons:


Dungeons are back baby. It’s so far from release that I don’t think it’s a secret, the divine beasts of BotW are gone and in its place are some unique, challenging, and visually stunning dungeons that harken back to the dungeons of old games like Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword. Each has its own gimmicks, and each requires a certain thing Link needs to do that make each dungeon feel connected but in no way “samey” like in BotW. Plus, some mega-cool bosses.


Enemies:


Speaking of, I won’t spoil those, but TotK does have a larger gambit of enemies than

BotW. In addition to stronger versions of the enemies you might meet in BotW, there are many NEW enemies, and enemies brought forward from past games. Horroblins, for instance, are monkey-like creatures that hang from the ceiling and poke you with long sticks, or Like-Likes, disgusting-looking worms with teeth. It’s amazing when you enter a new terrain and see something new to fight. There are a whopping 110 types of monsters in the game.


Story:


One last thing I will say about story is that the cutscenes and conversations you have within the game are so much deeper and longer and more important. BotW’s cutscenes were disparate and often random. These are all linked and help form a greater narrative. I don’t want to spoil how you come across the story or how you experience it. But it’s bigger and more complex. It's amazing and by the end you can replay these scenes and make a movie out of it.


My Verdict.


So you’ve heard what’s old and what’s new, all things you’ve probably seen on IGN or Nintendo Life by now, but does all this new pomp and pizzazz make the game worth the looooong hours it takes to finish it?


My answer is yes. Why? Because for every one of those hours, there are fifty different things you could explore, caves you could plunder, or quests you could follow. You can easily get sucked in for hours, whether you’re a story-only person who doesn’t really dabble in the side quest thing or a true completionist, this game has you covered.


The main story, told through a few major quest lines, is rich, interesting, surprising and totally subverts what you think a Zelda game would do with its story. Some of the twists and turns made me truly emotional and shocked me. But even the more obvious parts were well crafted and evenly paced.


It revives one of the series' most iconic characters, Ganondorf, and gives him a decent story arc, that matches Link and Zelda’s as well. It also takes time to revisit and reacquaint oneself with the older characters and see how their lives have changed as well.


Some rapid-fire things that I loved.


· Flying machines.

· SO many hot outfits for Link to wear.

· Fusing is so much fun.

· The sheer amount of exploration on offer.

· Makes you feel a gambit of emotions.

· You can still pat dogs.


So there you have it. I feel like, as a veteran of 200 hours by now, and someone with no reputation or stakes, it should be clear my review is solid, and filled with nothing but love. In the five or six years it took to make this game – time well spent every hour- Nintendo outdid their last efforts in every way.


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