It’s been 12 days since the release of “Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” (“TotK”), and Nintendo’s flagship title is poised to outshine its already stellar predecessor. “TotK” follows 2017’s “Breath of the Wild” (“BotW”), which remains one of the most well-received gaming titles of the last decade.
“BotW” was praised for its innovation, and particularly for its well-crafted sense of freedom, exploration and experimentation. It remains one of the few games to justify its open world, surrounded by game studios that still insist on creating large yet barren maps with unrewarding or aimless exploration. “TotK” inherits this multifaceted gem of gameplay design, polishes away its rougher edges and refines its systems to their full potential.
As a game centred on the feeling of figuring out your own way to solve a problem, the stand-out improvement of “TotK” as a sequel must be its eagerness in giving the player a whole physics sandbox with which to tackle a world teeming with puzzles.
From makeshift cars to wonky hot air balloons and unwieldy weapons, players are encouraged to indulge their creativity at every turn in the sprawling hills, caverns, and skies of Hyrule.
Despite its overwhelmingly positive reception by critics and fans, “Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” is not for everyone. Those who were not much enchanted by exploring the world of “BotW” are unlikely to have a much better experience with its sequel. And despite great art design, the game’s graphics and technical ambition is held back by being trapped on the limited hardware of the Nintendo Switch.
James Browning is a freelance tech writer and local music journalist.