The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review wallpaper
June 11, 2023

Explore the legendary depths of the Zelda series and take gameplay to soaring new heights in our The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review!

Six years ago, millions of fans across the globe were eagerly awaiting the brand new Nintendo console with bated breath. After the downfall of the Wii U and troubled times for Nintendo, the handheld hybrid had the potential to either make or break one of gaming’s most important companies. And despite only a handful of launch titles, Nintendo had one secret weapon up its sleeve: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild opening shot

The opening shot of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild was truly a turning point for the series.

Initiating a new era of Zelda games, the first ever to feature an expansive, non-linear, open-world design, Breath of the Wild signified the biggest change for the series since its leap to 3D. After resounding success and critical acclaim as one of the finest games ever made, Nintendo hastily begun work on a direct sequel, revealed in 2022 as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review opening dive title screen

Returning to a familiar Hyrule and building upon the Breath of the Wild formula, Tears of the Kingdom truly takes the Zelda series to entirely new heights. Through the introduction of a suite of creative mechanics, this latest Zelda title proves to be the most ambitious yet, and possibly even Nintendo’s finest creation to date.

So if you’ve not already played it, dive headfirst through the sky into the world of Hyrule in our The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review – Story

Years after the events of Breath of the Wild, Link, the hero of Hyrule and wielder of the Master Sword, thought his battles were over after his triumphant victory against the fearsome Calamity Ganon. Celebrating peace at last, the kingdom began the arduous task of rebuilding, celebrating a new dawn of freedom. However, darkness always find a way of clawing its way back into the light…

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Zonai mural

Beneath Hyrule lays a distant and mysterious past…

Mysterious and malevolent, a toxic substance known only as “Gloom” begins to seep from beneath the depths of Hyrule Castle, spreading illness and despair among its inhabitants. Ever vigilant, Link joins forces with Princess Zelda to tread deeper the eerie cavern from which the ominous substance billows. Little do they know that this harrowing journey will lead them to the awakening of a mummified Ganondorf, an ancient evil thought long vanquished, held in place my a lone floating hand from an ancient time.

An ancient corpse of a powerful evil? Desecrating it sure sounds like a completely safe idea…

In a cruel twist of fate, Ganondorf’s powers corrupt Link’s right arm, rendering him vulnerable and shattering the legendary Master Sword. To make matters worse, Hyrule Castle is ripped from its foundations and sent soaring high into the sky, leaving Link and Zelda plummeting below. An event known as “The Upheaval” is triggered, and evil washes across Hyrule once again. Separated from his companion, Link finds himself rescued by a mysterious disembodied arm, which had been desperately holding Ganondorf at bay.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Link and Zelda falling

If only he had his Hookshot on him.

As Link awakens in the wondrous and unfamiliar realm of the Sky Islands, he discovers the shattered remnants of the legendary Master Sword, its power completely diminished. At a moment where all hope seems lost, Rauru, a wise Zonai and the first King of Hyrule, appears before him. In an extraordinary act of benevolence, Rauru grants Link a replacement for his corrupted arm, gifting him with a new source of power. With his renewed strength, Link embarks on a perilous quest to reunite with Zelda and restore balance to the land.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Rauru introduction

The first king of Hyrule? He’s pretty ‘armless.

Determined to uncover the truth, Link sets out to investigate strange disturbances occurring across Hyrule. Along his treacherous path, Link gains invaluable allies, meets old friends, and retreads paths once explored in Breath of the Wild. Together with these new companions, Link uncovers the secrets of ancient Zonai “Secret Stones” scattered across the land, discovers a corrupted world that awaits below, and pieces together the secrets to take down Ganondorf once and for all.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Ganondorf revived

We’re coming for you, Ganondork.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom weaves a gripping narrative of resilience, betrayal, and the unbreakable bonds of friendship. As Link confronts the resurgent forces of darkness, he must rely on his newfound allies, and discover the truth behind Zelda’s disappearance. Told through a series of flashbacks, Tears of the Kingdom weaves an enrapturing and engaging narrative among the very best in the genre.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review – Gameplay

Much like Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kindom adopts an incredibly similar open-world style of gameplay, giving players complete freedom of choice. Veering away from the traditional linear adventure and temples seen throughout the series, TotK captures a true sense of adventure allowing you to create your own path in the game’s three expansive worlds that await: Sky Islands, Hyrule, and The Depths.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review hot air balloon

Sky Islands

Upon beginning Tears of the Kingdom, you’ll find yourself hanging high in the clouds, way above the land of Hyrule with no means of descending. These ancient ruins floating peacefully across the horizon of Hyrule are known as the “Sky Islands” – ancient Zonai ruins that appeared after the Upheaveal, holding the secrets of a long lost civilisation.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Temple of Time

I’ve visited this place in another time…

Navigating the Sky Islands requires a wealth of creativity, as every movement could potentially see Link plummeting back towards the surface (often to his demise). And although navigating a series of hanging islands may seem like a chore, Nintendo have crafted an effortless means of moving about in vertical space through the inclusion several brand new mechanics:

  • Ultra Hand – take control of Rauru’s right hand to lift, combine, and manipulate any object in the game. This is essential for making devices, solving puzzles, and navigating tricky terrain.
  • Fuse – combine literally any item with a weapon, shield, or arrow to complete alter its properties. The possibilities are endless! Need to get to a higher platform? Strap a literal rocket to your shield!
  • Recall – turn back time on any item you wish. Especially useful in platforming, as you’ll be able to jump upon objects that are moving against the flow of time. For example, falling platforms immediately become instant elevators!
  • Ascend – launch headfirst into… the roof? Send Link soaring upwards through any surface and emerge out the other side. Incredibly useful in platforming, puzzle-solving, and making the most of vertical space.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Rauru's right hand

Right hand – handy, right?

Drawing upon the mystical power of the Zonai and the right hand entrusted to you by Rauru, you’ll almost immediately unlock the ability to combine almost anything in the game with almost anything else. What initially appears as a somewhat clunky and gimmicky crafting mechanic is anything but – this completely transforms that game. Moving about the sky, solving puzzles, and even fighting enemies can be achieved in literally thousands of different ways depending on how you choose to ultilise the Ultra Hand.

The new skills are only limited by your own imagination.

After a lengthy introduction and interactive tutorial that teaches the new mechanics of the game, you’ll be invited to quite literally dive headfirst back to earth. Plummeting down from the clouds into the land of Hyrule below is when the game truly begins…


Familiar yet completely new, Hyrule is once again where the vast majority of the game takes place. Where the vast countryside was once littered with powerful guardians and Sheikah Shrines, the Upheaval has completely morphed the landscape beyond recognition. You’ll instead find yourself contending with Ganon’s forces, hostile new enemies, and discovering Zonai Shrines littered in every corner of the map.

At the very centre of Hyrule, Lookout Landing is your new base of operations.

Shrines occupy a large portion of gameplay, with 152 Shrines in total each with their own unique challenge. Many of these introduce the game’s many mechanics cleverly, giving you the means to experiment with them. These are unbelievably creative and can be solved in numerous different ways, prompting players to draw upon their own creativity. Other Shrines require you to overcome combat feats, deftly platform, or even take on waves of enemies in nothing more than your boxers.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Infiltration Shrine

“Commending virtuous mission.”

Moving across Hyrule is also easier and swifter than ever before with the addition of Skyview Towers. Similar to the Shiekah Towers in the previous game, these landmark locations are associated with sections of the map and will unlock large regions once discovered. The key difference is that Skyview Towers quite literally launch Link into the Sky, giving you the ability to easily navigate to Sky Islands or simply glide into previously unreachable portions of the overworld.

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings.

The main regions from Breath of the Wild return: the waterlogged kingdom of the Zora, the fiery wastes of the Gorons, the peaks and ranges of the Rito Tribe, and the vast and deadly desert of the Gerudo. And although these may seem familiar, each is given a brand new twist, with strange environmental occurrences fully morphing the landscape.

Associated with each of these regions, you’ll be presented with a challenge to overcome, drawing upon your new powers and collaborating with newfound allies along the way. Each of these story segments sees Link undertaking a journey with a new side character, exploring Temples high up in the sky or deep below the surface of Hyrule. These newly-designed temples offer some of the most creative and polished segments across any Zelda game, testing your problem-solving skills before culminating in an epic boss fight.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Water Temple boss

Sidon, what happened to you!?

But there’s one last portion of Tears of the Kingdom that’s quite possibly its most impressive addition. The darkest, deepest, most foreboding and challenging element ever to feature in the entire Legend of Zelda series: The Depths.

The Depths

This is Zelda unlike you’ve ever seen. Where many prior entries have featured darkened and challenging areas like the Twilight Realm or Silent Realm, the Depths takes this moody and foreboding atmosphere even deeper with a world the size of an entire Zelda title.

Nestled beneath Hyrule and entered through chasms in the land’s surface, you’ll often find yourself plummeting into these dark and horrifying lands in search of secrets to aid in your quest. Once launching into a chasm, you’ll be immediately engulfed in darkness, as The Depths feature no natural light and rely entirely on your own sense of navigation to find your way.

Finding a Lightroot offers a sense of relief and comfort like you wouldn’t believe.

Rather than the Shrines of the overworld, the key to finding your way in the Depths are “Lightroots” that can be found throughout its cavernous wastes. These massive roots can be activated and wash light across portions of the Depths, revealing the horrific monsters, hideous horrors, and Gloom the oozes across the surface.

But it’s more than just atmosphere, The Depths add a challenge to gameplay through a variety of fascinating mechanics. Upon taking damage in the Depths, you’ll be afflicted by Gloom, permanently reducing your hearts until you’re once again exposed to light from the surface. This high-risk gameplay requires you to be far more deliberate in your actions and navigation.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Shadow Ganon

Sheer horrors await in the lands below.

Light also plays an incredibly important role in finding your way, not just through activating the large Lightroots, but creating your own light to reveal the path ahead. Various items can be attached to your arrows, such as Brightbloom Seeds, which cast a radius of light when shot into the ground. You can also draw upon a wide variety of Zonai devices to cast light, help you navigate sheer cliffs, or even safely ride across deadly gloom.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Master Kohga

You might even run into some familiar faces down in the Depths.

There’s simply just so much gameplay to Tears of the Kingdom that it’s impossible to cover every single aspect in a single review without it turning into a thesis-length essay. More than just the sheer quantity of gameplay, the game’s creative new mechanics offer players a multitude of ways to achieve the very same outcome. Puzzles are more fascinating than ever before, combat is more varied and exciting, and the game as a whole feels the most polished of any Zelda title to date.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review – Visuals

Breath of the Wild revolutionized the visual experience in The Legend of Zelda franchise, captivating players with its breath-taking graphics and artistic presentation. The game’s visuals offered a blend of vibrant colours, expansive landscapes, and meticulous attention to detail, creating a world that feels alive and teeming with beauty. And Tears of the Kingdom is exactly the same, for better or for worse.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review visuals graphics gif

You’ll again be treated to a gorgeous painterly aesthetic, pushing the Switch to its technical limits thanks to both Nintendo and Monolithsoft (behind the Xenoblade series). Its distinctive visual identity set a new standard for open-world games, and Tears of the Kingdom elevates this style through the addition of its newest environments. The sprawling fields, towering mountains, dense forests, and shimmering lakes of Hyrule return once again, but with far more variety.

Diving through the sky is a stunning visual smorgasbord that never gets old.

Both the Sky Islands and The Depths feature their own distinct atmospheres. The land above the clouds creates an ethereal tranquillity awash with gorgeous soft light, whereas the Depths below are harsh, desolate, and at times even genuinely disturbing. These vastly different locations create a sense of playing single game with three distinct art-styles.

Distinct and memorable character design is certainly one of the game’s visual strengths.

And of course, the game’s absurd sense of scale is a true visual achievement. The vast expanse of Hyrule has never been more awe-inspiring than in Tears of the Kingdom, especially when launched high into the sky. Vistas stretch as far as the eye can see with a draw distance allowing you to easily spot distant landmarks and locations, beckoning you to explore further.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review – Audio

The soundtrack of Tears of the Kingdom is a vibrant work of art in itself, much like it was in Breath of the Wild, with a sound that feels familiar yet fresh. Returning to compose the music for the sequel, Manaka Kataoka and his co-composers truly capture the game’s essence of exploration, adventure, and the epic nature of Link’s journey.

From the stirring melodies that accompany dramatic moments to the serene and contemplative tunes that play during peaceful interludes, the soundtrack adapts seamlessly to the player’s actions and emotions, adding in futuristic hints of the Zonai throughout.

But it’s more than just music – Tears of the Kingdom also draws upon the dynamic nature of its environmental soundscape. Whilst exploring the vast landscapes, you’ll be enveloped in a symphony of natural sounds. The wind whistling through canyons, birds chirping in the distance, and wildlife scurrying through the underbrush. These subtle audio details create a living, breathing world, helping you to feel truly connected to the world.

The audio design also plays a crucial role in gameplay. Players can rely on auditory cues to identify nearby enemies, alerting them to potential threats even when they can’t see them. This is especially important in The Depths, where at times you’ll be surrounded by complete darkness Additionally, the use of sound effects during combat, such as the clash of swords or the triumphant fanfare upon defeating a powerful enemy, heightens the intensity of the action.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review – What Else?

Tears of the Kingdom is truly a completionist’s dream and nightmare at the same time. Why? Because the game features an overwhelming amount of content that will keep you playing for literally hundreds of hours. This content in addition to the main story includes:

  • 152 Shrines to complete, each a mini dungeon in itself
  • 1000 Korok seeds, many requiring environmental and construction challenges
  • Over 200 individual quests with unique stories and characters
  • 124 individual pieces of clothing, all of which can be upgraded multiple times
  • Multitude of unique weapons and items scattered throughout the Depths
  • Photography compendium requiring you to photograph literally everything in the game
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review Korok Ya-ha-ha

By the end of the game, you’ll hear “Ya-ha-ha!” in your nightmares.

And beyond this massive amount of additional content, the game also includes a number of challenges and minigames to put your skills to the test. Some of these are as simple as deftly falling through courses in the sky, and others are as complex as multi-layered dungeons both on the surface of Hyrule and high in the sky.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review mayor side quest

Tears of the Kingdom features some of the best side quests across the entire series.

Completing the main story might potentially take 80 – 90 hours (depending on the player), which is a hefty amount of content for the core component of the game. But for those dedicated enough to pursue 100% completion, you’ll easily be occupied for 400 – 500 before you hear your final “Ya-ha-ha!“.


Tears of the Kingdom is the crowning achievement of The Legend of Zelda, incorporating the best aspects of every single game that has come before it. Polishing and perfecting the Breath of the Wild formula and its expansive open-world, the addition of creative mechanics now places power in the player’s hands, allowing infinite possibilities to the game’s puzzles, exploration and combat. Through its compelling story, stellar cast of characters, and an unbelievably polished world, Tears of the Kingdom is a true Master Sword master piece.

So, why should you play The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?

  • Enjoyed Breath of the Wild? This sequel improves upon it in every single way
  • One of the most expansive, polished, open-world games to date
  • New mechanics add a level of creativity never seen before in the Zelda series
  • Engaging and compelling narrative that expands upon the world of Breath of the Wild
  • Seamless transition and exploration between the game’s three distinct locales
  • Massive amount of content that will keep you playing for hundreds of hours

But why shouldn’t you play The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?

  • Didn’t enjoy the open-world formula in Breath of the Wild? You may find TotK overwhelming
  • Some frustrating companion AI, especially during combat

A review code was kindly provided by Nintendo Australia for our The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review. If you enjoyed this review, check out our review for The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker tribute album review and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us all about Tears of the Kingdom!

In this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *