The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review

Unleashing Freedom: How 'The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom' Sets You Free in the Vast World of Hyrule

Mason Moeller

5/15/20232 min read

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" is more than just the latest entry in the beloved Zelda franchise. Released on May 12, 2023, it goes beyond being a mere game. It's an embodiment of player freedom, a canvas inviting every stroke of creativity, a symphony of interweaving elements that together, create an unforgettable experience of boundless exploration.

As a long-time Zelda enthusiast, I was thrilled to dive back into the rich, naturalistic, and vibrant landscape of Hyrule, a world whose palpable richness has been beautifully built upon the legacy of its predecessor, "Breath of the Wild". But what truly sets "Tears of the Kingdom" apart and allowed me, as a player, to immerse myself in this world were the choices and discoveries that felt profoundly personal. Every subtle change in the environment, every opportunity for exploration beckoned me to venture forth into the unknown, presenting me with a ceaseless array of surprises and rewards.

A masterstroke in game design, "Tears of the Kingdom" introduces three distinct layers to explore: the surface, the sky, and the depths. This trilayered world isn't just a gimmick, but a fresh dimension to exploration and adventure. I found the joy and ease of traversing these layers unparalleled, offering a sense of freedom and scale that left me genuinely awe inspired.

Then there's Link. In "Tears of the Kingdom", our beloved hero is endowed with new abilities that grant him novel ways to navigate his adventures, solving puzzles, and engaging in combat. These abilities – Recall, Fuse, Ultrahand, and Ascend, to name a few, are not only a perk of Link's mysterious demon arm, but they also encourage creative problem-solving, transport, and combat strategies.

Recall, for instance, allows you to "rewind" time and the path of physical objects. I found this power incredibly satisfying to use, sending enemy projectiles back at them, or using it to cross rivers, lakes, or lava pits by reversing the flow of drifting items. Fuse, on the other hand, opened up a whole new world of combat strategy for me, letting me create instant combinations of weapons and shields merged with other items. This unique power altered how my weapons functioned, their durability, and the amount of damage they inflicted, which felt incredibly empowering and versatile, especially in the heat of combat.

Ultrahand combined the powers of telekinesis and superglue, allowing me to move and attach objects to form new structures and, more notably, new vehicles. Building a lava-defiant, all-terrain vehicle using Zonai-powered wheels and a few slabs of concrete felt immensely satisfying, not to mention the thrill of attaching rocket jets to a minecart for an off-the-rails experience. This ability was key to solving many Korok puzzles as well, reinforcing the feeling of freedom and agency that the game so expertly imparts.

And then there was Ascend, a simple yet effective ability for when I just couldn't be bothered to go climbing. This power allowed Link to rise straight up into the air, as long as there was a surface within range above him. Despite its limitations, it added a unique dimension to exploration and synergy with the other powers, further enhancing the sense of freedom and adventure in the game.

Despite its few hiccups, like the performance on the Switch that could be better, with issues in frame rate and unpredictable loading times, and moments where the game's free-form experimentation feels abruptly interrupted by the developers' guiding hand, "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" offers an ocean of freedom.