When Nintendo launched The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild back in 2017, the vast open world, catchy music, endearing characters, and unique art design knocked the collective socks off of players in the best possible way. So when Nintendo announced less than two years later that the game would be getting a sequel, there was much celebration and fanfare, and rightfully so. But a sequel was not without questions: could Nintendo really one up themselves with an even better game, when expectations were already through the roof? The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom answers that question with a resounding, “Hell yes!”
After hundreds of hours journeying across Hyrule, revisiting my favorite haunts from Breath of the Wild and committing myself to the arduous task of hunting down every single Korok, the joys of Tears of the Kingdom remain as bountiful as ever. The story is rich, with stakes even higher than its predecessor, and the themes of love, loyalty, and especially sacrifice permeate every aspect of the experience. The new mechanics are fun and allow for a level of creativity previously unheard of in Zelda games; a quick TikTok or YouTube search will show you more than a few remarkable creations players have come up with over the last 7 months. And of course, the entrance of Ganondorf into this branch of the Zelda timeline is memorable and haunting, and exacerbated by the fact that, in his peak state, he is alarmingly attractive. I have to give props to Nintendo (and Matt Mercer, who provided Ganondorf’s voice), for making me question my moral compass when I was finally forced to draw my sword against the Demon King.
Tears of the Kingdom is a triumph of the classic retelling of the hero’s journey in 2023, and perhaps the most memorable installment in the franchise since 1998’s Ocarina of Time. The emotional depth of the characters, especially Zelda and her willingness to fight for her people no matter the cost to herself, brought me to tears. The commitment of friends and fellow heroes battling their own struggles and coming into their own for the greater good is inspiring and moving. If Nintendo ever intends to challenge themselves again by outdoing Tears of the Kingdom, they will absolutely have their work cut out for themselves.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is just one of GameLuster’s seven Game of the Year nominees for 2023. Make sure to check out our other nominations for this award and many more in the Lusties 2023!