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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Game Review

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As you delve into the captivating world of Tears of the Kingdom, a multitude of thought-provoking questions arise: Should I prioritize unlocking the map before tackling the main story quests? Can I truly combine any elements together within the game? How is it possible for a game of such immense scope to occupy a mere 16 GB? And, most notably, the burning question remains: How in the hell did they make this game?

Huge Open World
If you have experienced playing Breath of the Wild, you would be familiar with the vastness of an open world map. However, in comparison, Tears of the Kingdom surpasses it in size. Despite the focus of marketing and every trailer on the sky islands in recent years, possibly as a diversion tactic by Nintendo or due to the perceived lack of "marketability" in its darkness, encountering the Depths within the game is quite surprising. The Depths is a completely dark region that matches the surface area of Hyrule, making it impressively massive. As players venture underground, they are compelled to employ various methods to illuminate their path. This aspect stands out the most in Tears, especially for those who still referred to the game as Breath of the Wild 2. Countless hours can be spent simply exploring, which is a characteristic trait of Zelda games known for their fame. The Depths map is intricately detailed and possesses a subtle touch of horror. A tip: avoid playing this alone in the living room during the late hours of the night; trust me.

Boundless Exploration
One of the game's most remarkable features is the absolute freedom it grants you in terms of exploration, and the sense of fulfillment it brings. If you still have the desire to scale mountains, navigate the seas, or take daring leaps from the sky to discover new landing spots, rest assured that all of these experiences are still available to you—and much more. Whether you choose to wander on foot or ride your trusty BotW horses (a delightful surprise in itself), there is always the possibility of stumbling upon something fresh and exhilarating. Spotting shrines has become easier with their distinct green swirls, although uncovering hidden shrines can be an enjoyable challenge, and stumbling upon caves is even more rewarding. You may initially embark on a brief 10-minute exploration, only to find yourself emerging from a cave hours later. It's an absolutely incredible sensation.

You Can Do Anything
Tears introduces a bunch of new abilities, some of which have taken the internet by storm with their creative and sometimes hilariously unnecessary inventions. From Ultrahand, which allows you to fuse any item to literally any other item, including weapons, shields, and arrows, to Ascend, which conveniently helps Link float through ceilings instead of using stamina to climb mountains, and Recall, which allows him to rewind time on objects. While there is another significant ability unlocked after completing a main story quest (spoilers excluded here), what stands out the most is how all these abilities, along with jaw-dropping physics mechanics that have amazed game developers, actually work. In an industry where AAA companies often release underperforming and buggy games, experiencing the complex mechanics of 'Tears of the Kingdom' on a console over five years old is both refreshing and inspiring.

Surprisingly, I don't demand too much "story" in a videogame, particularly an open world one where exploration feels more like storytelling than anything else, even though some of my all-time favorite games include titles like Uncharted and God of War, where story is crucial to the gameplay. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom doesn't demand too much knowledge of previous Zelda games, a plus in my book as it makes it notably more accessible, but it still delivers an impressive story worth checking out. As Link is set out to save Hyrule from another threat as he tries to find Zelda again, the game asks players to find Dragon Tears in mysterious, glowing geoglyphs all over the map. These essentially become the "main story" delivered in memories and unskippable cutscenes, some of which are tearjerkers, and I appreciated that they don't necessarily come in a certain order; instead, players can start to piece things together the more geoglyphs you unlock. I love nothing more than when a story isn't spoon-fed, and actually getting a little Hyrule history for once was extremely welcome.

It's been a while since I've experienced a game that is, without shadow of a doubt, perfect. I've put in a little over 70 hours of gameplay already and still feel like I've just barely scratched the surface (let alone the depths) of Tears. If you've played (or thinking of playing) TotK, sound off in the comments below what your favorite and least favorite things are, what wild creations you've fused together, what bosses you've encountered, and what your favorite temples are (anything besides Water Temple is allowed)!

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