Tears of the Kingdom is a legend told with a little less wonder.

There is an early moment in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, at one of the first shrines, when I felt a shiver of pure emotion run through me. I had been presented with a simple task: get to the other side of a deep falling abyss to your death using the new ability Ultrahand and an assortment of wooden planks, stone hooks, and a single fixed rail. The solution was clear enough, so I used Ultrahand’s ability to essentially super-glue anything to anything else and put together a square board for Link to stand on and a stone hook to connect him to the rail. Then I hooked my crude contraption to the rail and climbed aboard. Everything worked exactly as expected, and I was able to cross the chasm quite easily. Yet this simple act of seeing the problem, literally building the plan, and executing the solution felt so satisfying that by the time I crossed the chasm, I had broken into a smile that swallowed my face.

Though there were many equally satisfying moments afterwards, she would never smile like that again, and that initial excitement would slowly be replaced by a soft, familiar sympathy.

Tears of the Kingdom is the sequel to the game that defined the Nintendo Switch and reinvigorated the 30-year-old gamer Zelda franchise, breath of the wild. The game continues almost immediately where breath of the wild finished Princess Zelda and her silent protector, Link, are investigating the ruins beneath Hyrule Castle when they stumble upon a sleeping Ganon who is actually feeling the effects of neglecting his nightly skincare routine. Ganon wakes up, shaking the disembodied arm that holds him prisoner, and throws Zelda and Link into the darkness. Some indefinite time later, Link awakens with a new arm that grants him new powers, but is given the same mission as always: to find Zelda.

In Tears of the Kingdom, Link has a new set of powers emanating from his new device, the non-Nintendo Switch Purah Pad. He can string things together to create all sorts of items, including weapons, he can rewind time for a specific object, and he can teleport through matter directly on top of it. Although these are relatively simple powers, taken together, they create infinite possibilities of how Link fights, flies and solves puzzles on his way through Hyrule and the sky islands above him.

Though there were many equally satisfying moments afterwards, she would never smile like that again, and that initial excitement would slowly be replaced by a soft, familiar sympathy.

I’m the type of person who needs structure. This is why I tend to avoid open world games. I freeze when given the mandate to do anything, which often results in me doing nothing. So I thought I’d rush Tears the same way i did breath of the wild before she finally abandoned him somewhere vah route.

But in TearsI have logged over 100 hours in two weeks.

And all because Link’s new powers are much better and more interesting than the previous ones. They inspired a kind of “F- it, we ball” attitude that turned my brain on trying to figure out how to get to interesting places on the map or solve a difficult shrine or dungeon puzzle. Hyrule is filled with wooden plank, beam, and wheel hideouts and an assortment of neon-green machines called Zonai devices to match them. Gadgets range from the practical, like a portable pot to cook on the go, to the martial, like a fire emitter to stick onto the tip of a sword, to the esoteric, like the stabilizer I’ve only used exactly once in recent years. the great effect.

But the best part is that the game allows you to solve any problem, however you want, with any material that you can find or take with you. Tears it will show you explicitly, through the materials it generously distributes for your use, that 1 + 1 = 2. But it will reward you just the same if you somehow get 1 + 1 = banana.

Me: Yeah, that glider over there with the fans I have here makes more sense if I want to get off this sky island. But he’s too slow to walk there, grab the glider, and put everything together. Will these fans and the floating platform I’m standing on work as well? Oh! What happens if I use a rocket? Will it make me go faster?

Tears of the Kingdom: Yes, and.

As my colleague Andrew Webster said: “These new powers just give you new ways to do things that only make sense to you.”

Another beautiful element of Tears of the Kingdom it is its large size. I have spent over a hundred hours on this game. I fully upgraded my Purah Pad, completed more than 90 shrines, unlocked every Skyview tower on the mainland, and charted every point on the sky islands. I met all the Great Fairies, completed all the quests in the labyrinth, and found more than 50 korok seeds. I saved a village from pirates, helped uncover Hyrule’s priceless archaeological history, cured a sweet old lady’s illness with my stellar cooking skills, and fought deadly misinformation with the power of local journalism. And there are still parts of the game that I have barely touched. I’m not a completionist, especially not with games as big as Tears is. I lack patience. And I certainly didn’t feel compelled to do everything I did just for this review. But Tears it forced me, like the braised oxtail, to remove the meat, open the bone and suck the marrow.

TearsCombat remains largely unchanged from breath of the wild. Weapon degradation still exists, though I appreciate that there’s now a reason in-game why everything breaks so easily. I didn’t particularly like fights and avoided most encounters when possible; although somewhat contradictory, I really enjoyed fusing weapons. Each enemy drops something that you can use to turn it into a new weapon. Horns, toenails, and rib cages become the cutting edge of swords or arrows, while the enemy’s clubs, spears, and in some cases severed arms function as handles. As with puzzle solving, Tears allows you to be creative with how you build your arsenal. Or, if that’s not your thing, each component has its own attack power that allows you to simply combine the two most powerful components. But above all else, I prefer ranged combat. There are so many things you can stick on the end of an arrow to suit your needs while staying relatively safe. A ball of white chu chu jelly will freeze an enemy and allow you to get free melee hits. A juicy steak arrow draws in enemies so you can sneak in and steal goodies from a camp. And of course, there is nothing that tastes as good together as bomb + arrow.

When outlets first tried Tears‘, one complaint was that the controls felt too complicated. My colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore called them “edgy” and I agree. There was, at times, a very complicated dance to do the most basic actions, and it was very easy to get it wrong. In a new commercial for the game, a man mutters to himself as he plays the game, speaking through the action on the screen. I recounted hardcore not because of the obvious resemblance between me and a middle-aged white Australian, but because I, too, had to say out loud the steps I needed to take so I wouldn’t be wrong. These are the steps to make a new weapon:

  • equip handle
  • Open the menu
  • Select the element you want to merge
  • Drop the item you want to merge
  • Select the power wheel Fuse ability
  • So I hope you hit the right button so you don’t accidentally fuse the item with your shield.

Now try to do all of that in the middle of a boss fight.

The controls also become unwieldy to solve puzzles. Many shrine and dungeon puzzles are based on a set time and a specific location. Fortunately, if you do make a mistake, recoverability can usually reset it with minimal loss of time. But there are times when you hit the wrong button and end up throwing your prized 60 attack power gibdo club into a chasm when you wanted to select the Ultrahand ability. No, I don’t speak from experience at all.

But the messy controls are only a minor complaint. Where Tears really falls short is in its attempt to evoke the same emotions inspired by breath of the wild without having anything particularly emotional to talk about. In breath of the wildWhen Link stepped out of the Shrine of Awakening to see all of Hyrule before him, I gasped audibly. That was a special moment that defined the game, and although Tears he tried, he couldn’t replicate it. While I had many moments where I was glad that some “there’s no way this is going to work” creation of my own actually worked, there’s nothing I can point to in my many hours of Tears that inspired that very gasp.

Tears of the Kingdom It has a ton of new features that are very well done and fun to play with, but it doesn’t really do anything really new. Tears it follows the same rhythms as its predecessor both in the game and in the story. Wow, Ganon is back. It’s time to gather your color-coded elemental friends, unlock their powers, get the Master Sword, and save the day! It’s still a lonely game that even the addition of your fellow Wise Ones, who fight with you but follow you around like silent, eyeless ghosts, doesn’t remedy. Zelda, though she’s teased to play a more active role, has been, once again, completely sidelined, this time in a particularly egregious way. Her weapon will still break at the most inconvenient time, but now there’s a tricky waltz of button-pressing if she needs to make a new one. The story scene that plays at the end of each dungeon maddeningly repeats the same moment over and over again, only swapping which Sage gets the foreground. Even the game’s new setting, the sky, doesn’t feel all that different or special, just Hyrule with an autumnal palette swap. When Link makes his first parachute jump, the camera pulls back to show you the entire sky and the world below. It is supposed to reflect that first moment in breath of the wildbut instead of inspiring that very wonder, at best, it elicited a thoughtful hum.

None of these things is bad, nor does it diminish the pleasant Tears is. It just seems like Nintendo wants you to feel what you felt in 2017 and keeps pointing out moments throughout the game like a friend trying to impress you with something you don’t have the heart to reveal you’ve seen before.

When the first game showcase for Tears was released, I wrote that the game, due to its great depth, was going to ruin lives. I still feel confident in that assessment, so clean up your social calendars. But if you’re like me and you expected this game, like breath of the wildinspire a much-needed sense of wonder in our increasingly bleak world, then the kingdom won’t be the only ones shedding tears.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launches on Nintendo Switch on May 12.


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