Originally posted on Wordpress on 15 September 2023

After playing Tears of the Kingdom for about a month and a half, I realized my First Impressions post wasn't quite enough. I had thoughts on just about every aspect of the game. This is a long review - in fact, the longest review I've written so far - and I've separated it into four sections - Game Mechanics, World, Temples, and Story.

There are plenty of unmarked spoilers. Proceed at our own caution if that's something you want to avoid.

Disclaimer: This review was written out-of-order over the period of several months. Some sections were cut out. I probably repeat myself several times. I was even going to include tons of screenshots, but decided against it as it was too annoying to pick screenshots for each section.

Table of Contents:
  1. Game Mechanics
    • 1.1 New Powers
    • 1.2 Sage Powers
    • 1.3 Weapons
    • 1.4 Enemy Variation
    • 1.5 Koroks
    • 1.6 Clothing Upgrades/Great Fairies
  2. World
    • 2.1 The Sky
    • 2.2 Overworld
    • 2.3 The Depths
    • 2.4 Shrines
    • 2.5 Labyrinths
  3. Temples
    • 3.1 Wind Temple
    • 3.2 Fire Temple
    • 3.3 Water Temple
    • 3.4 Lightning Temple
    • 3.5 Spirit Temple
    • 3.6 Final Boss
  4. Story
  5. Final Thoughts

1. Game Mechanics

1.1 New Powers

Ultrahand is the power I used the most. It's this game's version of Magnesis, except you can pick up anything with it, not just metallic objects. And you can stick things together. This is the power you use to make vehicles, extremely long bridges, Korok torture devices, and weird contraptions to hold up Addison's signs.

Fuse was something that I genuinely didn't see the point of at first. Yes, I knew that you could use it to fuse weapons together and create a stronger weapon, but it took me a little while to figure out how to make decent weapons - with monster parts. I discuss this in more detail in section 1.3 below.

I genuinely think it's odd that Fuse and Ultrahand are separate powers. You use both powers to stick things to other things. I guess it's because Ultrahand is also used to move things. Perhaps Nintendo thought telekinesis wouldn't be a good enough power on its own.

Ascend is probably my favorite power in Tears of the Kingdom. I no longer have to figure out how to get out of a building or cave or whatever - most of the time, I can just ascend through the ceiling and go on my way. Despite this, I kept forgetting about it for the first couple of weeks. Once I started exploring Hyrule in earnest, I started using Ascend a lot more.

Recall was an incredibly useful power...that is, when I didn't completely forget it existed. It took about a month and a half for me to start using Recall regularly, and even then it was mostly for things like lifting Wings into the air so I could fly from one sky island to another. That, and getting into the sky from the surface of Hyrule by using Recall on those pieces of the sky islands that fall to the ground. I was doing that from the beginning, mostly because I remember it from an early gameplay video. I think.

Autobuild is the last of the new powers you get, and it's the one I used the least. I did use it whenever I encountered one of those vehicle build stations in the depths and found it more convenient to use a Wing to get somewhere instead of walking, but that's basically it. I'm sure this ability was more useful to people who went wild with building things, but I wasn't one of those people.

1.2 Sage Powers

Each temple gives you a Sage Power - the unique power of the characters who accompanied you through the temple - Tulin, Yunobo, Sidon, Riju, and Mineru. These Sages are (with the exception of Tulin, who replaces Teba, and Mineru, who is entirely new) the same characters who helped Link access the Divine Beasts in Breath of the Wild.

You can activate and deactivate these powers at any time after obtaining them, so it's possible to have all Sage powers active at once or none at all.

The spirit avatars of the Sages also help you out in combat. Tulin is especially helpful - most (all?) of his shots are critical hit headshots. These spirit avatars don't do much damage, but they can come in handy when you're being mobbed my enemies.

When you want to use a Sage's power, you have to track down the spirit avatar. Since they regularly run around, disappear and reappear, and attack enemies on their own, this isn't always as easy as it sounds. It can be downright annoying at times.


Since I did the Wind Temple first, Tulin's power of wind was the first Sage power I obtained. It's essentially a horizontal version of Revali's gale, which makes it excellent for exploring. It's even necessary to reach some areas (mostly sky islands) that are too far to get to simply by gliding.

Occasionally, you'll try to pick up an item and instead accidentally activate Tulin's power instead, sending whatever you were trying to pick up flying away, sometimes off a cliff. That's the one annoying thing about this power.


Yunobo's power of fire is used to break rocks, boulders, and ore deposits. This means you don't have to waste bombs or rock-breaking weapons, so long as you're willing to wait for the power to recharge.


Sidon's power of water creates a water shield. This shield can take 1 attack before dissolving, and can be used as an extension of your weapon when you attack. There's not really much else to say about it.


Riju's power of lightning allows her to fire a lightning strike at whatever Link shoots an arrow at. From the very moment I saw it, I was a fan. This is a power that's useful primarily in battle. I thought it might also be useful for fishing, but Link's arrow needs to his something solid, not water. What a bummer.


Mineru's power is a little strange. She's the sage of spirit, and has put her spirit into a Zonai construct. This construct can equip weapons and even a rocket to its back so it can fly up into the air a little. Link can ride on its shoulder and avoid obstacles on the ground like Gloom.

I unlocked Mineru's power so late in the game that I didn't get to use it very often. When I did, I found it frustrating, especially in combat. The construct walks slower when you're riding on it than when it runs around on its own, and there's enough of a delay between pressing the attack button and the attack happen that combat can be pretty difficult.

1.3 Weapons

The weapons you find in the overworld are fairly low-damage and most of them are also "decayed" - I believe this is simply a cosmetic thing that doesn't affect the durability of the weapon. Instead of finding weapons with higher base damage like in Breath of the Wild, you must instead use the Fuse power to create better weapons.

When I first started the game I was fusing weapons to weapons; this really wasn't a good way to do things. The better way to create high-damage weapons is to fuse monster parts to weapons. That's what all the new monster parts are for. Higher-level monsters drop higher-level parts that can be used to create higher-damage weapons.

In Breath of the Wild, I kept running out of inventory slots for weapons. This wasn't a problem in Tears of the Kingdom, probably because it's so easy to make good weapons. The durability and weapon breaking issue, which still exists in Tears of the Kingdom, was much less of a problem here - in fact, I would say it's not a problem at all. Rather than searching around Hyrule for a good weapon, I could just make one at any time, provided I had the right monster parts. And I always had an abundance of monster parts.

1.4 Enemy Variation

Enemies are largely the same as in Breath of the Wild. All enemies now drop parts that you can use to create weapons, so there is a small visual change - for instance, Bokoblins now have horns.

The most noticeable new enemies are the various Constructs, which are the first enemies encountered in the game. There are some new overworld bosses - the Gleeoks, Flux Constructs, and Frox, to name a few - and a new variation on the Talus - the Battle Talus.

While there are different version of enemies - fire-type Lizalfos around Death Mountain, ice-type Lizalfos in the snowy Rito areas, and lightning-type Lizalfos in the desert - none of those enemies are limited to a certain part of Hyrule. No matter where you go, you know you're going to find some version of Lizalfos, Keese, or Talus. This is how it was in Breath of the Wild, but I personally think it would have been more interesting to limit certain enemies to certain areas, like how some of the animals are. Eldin Ostrich are only found in the Eldin Region, so why aren't there any enemies (not the fire versions!) specific to the Eldin Region? I think that would have made the regions feel more distinct.

Enemies seem to "level up" much faster in this game. The progression from Red->Blue->Black Bokoblins and Moblins happened fairly quickly - within a week of playing, I believe. That may have been because I was already used to the control scheme of the game and got right back into things while I had to learn everything from scratch in Breath of the Wild.

This was a little tough to deal with at first, especially since the enemies hit pretty hard when you don't have upgrade armor. It pretty quickly became a non-issue, since higher-level monsters give access to higher-level monster parts which means it becomes easier to create higher-damage weapons.

1.5 Koroks

Koroks didn't seem nearly as necessary as in Breath of the Wild. In that game, I went through the trouble of finding over half of the 900 available Korok seeds so I could fully expand all three inventories. Meanwhile in Tears of the Kingdom, I was fine with only a few inventory upgrades, and didn't go out of my way to get them. If I found an easy Korok seed, I'd do it right then. Otherwise, I'd mark it on my map and then never come back to it.

1.6 Clothing Upgrades/Great Fairies

The quests to unlock the Great Fairies are fine. You no longer have to give them rupees; instead, you end up reuniting the members of a band who play music for the fairies, and this is what convinces them to leave their flower bud.

The clothing upgrades the Fairies give out, on the other hand...

They've gotten more complicated. There are a lot more materials required for an upgrade, and each upgrade also costs 50 rupees. For example, a lot of the upgrades require 20-30 amber for a single piece of clothing. While amber is the most abundant gemstone in the game, you still end up needing 150 pieces of amber to upgrade the Hylian Set fully. And that's just one set. The Soldier's Set requires 90 amber, the Amber Earrings require 125 amber (yes, for a single piece of equipment), and the Hero of Time Set requires 300 amber.

Yes, that's 665 amber to upgrade all that equipment fully. That's a lot. And I know it isn't necessary to upgrade everything fully, especially since I only use a few sets, but the problem is that even upgrading the Hylian Set fully was a struggle. It took much longer than I would have liked it to.

And maybe that wouldn't have been a bad thing if the enemies didn't hit so hard in this game. But they do. It's easy to die if your armor isn't upgraded.

2. World

There are three levels to the world: The Kingdom of Hyrule (the Overworld), the Sky Islands, and the Depths. Hyrule is (mostly) the same as it was in the previous game, while the Sky Islands and the Depths are new additions.

2.1 The Sky

You start out in the Sky, on the largest island - the Great Sky Island. It's largely the equivalent of the Great Plateau from Breath of the Wild, complete with four shrines that you need to visit in order to get new powers. Okay, three shrines give you new powers, and the fourth tests your ability of the Recall power that you get in the Temple of Time. But you get the picture - the Great Sky Island and Great Plateau serve the same exact purpose in each game.

Each region of the game has sky islands. Some of those islands have more to do on them than others, but most of the islands are fairly small. There are (I believe) a shrine, a gachapon machine Zonai Device Dispenser, an overworld boss, and a flower-shaped sky island (relevant to the Messages from an Ancient Era sidequest) in each region.

The sky is peaceful, except for the bosses, but those are easy to avoid. The Construct enemies, for the most part, are fairly low-level. When you want to look for shrines, lookout towers, or geoglyphs, the sky is a good place to start. You can see most things from there and reach a large amount of the Overworld from the sky, especially after you've unlocked Tulin's power.

I would say that the sky is underutilized. There isn't nearly as much to do there as there is on the Overworld and in the Depths. When I saw the first reveal of the sky islands, years ago, my thought was that Nintendo wanted to create a better version of the sky from Skyward Sword. I don't know that they actually succeeded in doing this.

2.2 Overworld

Most of the game takes place on the surface, so it's the "layer" with the most things to do. Most of the Korok seeds, shrines, and quests are on the surface. It's largely the same as it was in Breath of the Wild, with the addition of a couple of new things - Lookout Landing, caves and wells, and Zonai ruins all over the place.

Caves are essentially mini dungeons, each with a Bubbulfrog that provides a gem that can be traded to an NPC for items. I found them to be a genuinely great addition to the game; they reminded me a lot of the overworld caves in Twilight Princess. They're fun and a good source of resources, especially ores.

Each village/town has a quest chain. Hateno's is about an election and whether or not the town should stick to tradition or embrace new things, Lurelin's is about ridding the town of pirates (which are regular monsters, much to my disappointment) and rebuilding, Tarrey Town's is about Hudson and Rhondson's daughter Mattison, and Kakariko's is about the Ring Ruins that have fallen in/on the town. Of these four, Kakariko's quest chain is the only one that's integrated into the main plot. The others can be skipped without missing anything other than the house in Tarrey Town.

The regions of Hyrule are the same, as is the weather and weather effects. It doesn't seem to rain nearly as much as it did in Breath of the Wild, and it isn't as much of a problem as it was in the previous game. There's an armor set you get that prevents you from slipping when climbing in the rain, which is obtained from a quest chain that takes place at Hyrule's stables. You assist Penn, a reporter, who's investigating rumors involving the missing Princess Zelda. Along with the armor, you end up getting a ton of money out of it. Penn is a great character, so I never minded doing any of these quests.

There are a few things "missing" from the overworld that were in Breath of the Wild. The rhinoceros that lived in the Tabantha region has seemingly been hunted to extinction, and large game is rarer to find in general. This, combined with the fact that there are still tons of ruins from the Calamity a hundred years ago along with the new Zonai ruins, give the feeling that Hyrule isn't exactly doing all that well with regards to rebuilding. I get the feeling that this really isn't what Nintendo was going for.

2.3 The Depths

The Depths are this game's version of the Dark World - an inverted version of Hyrule where mountains are deep pits, valleys are plateaus, and rivers are impassible stone walls. There are puddles of gloom all over the place, which make traversing the Depths difficult at times.

There are ancient mines scattered throughout the Depths where you find zonaite. There are also plenty of Yiga hideouts and a questline that culminates in the defeat of Master Kohga. Each of those Yiga hideouts and Kohga fights give you a schema stone, so they aren't particularly worth it if you aren't interested in using schematics for Autobuild.

Chests are scattered throughout the Depths. They give you armor and weapons that were previously only obtainable by Amiibo in Breath of the Wild. They're typically locked behind a monster fight of some sort and cost tons of amber to upgrade. They're entirely optional and don't really add anything to the game - the weapons aren't better than weapons you can create on your own, and the armor is really only necessary if you're a completionist.

Speaking of monsters, there are only two unique monsters in the Depths - the Frox and the Little Frox. All other monsters are just gloom-covered counterparts of the overworld monsters. They don't even have separate compendium photos. Dungeon bosses do respawn in certain places, but they're fairly easy to avoid, with the exception of Colgera. Colgera also happens to be the only boss I've run into more than once.

Disappointingly, the terrain in the Depths is largely uniform. There are a couple of areas with lava where you need fireproof potions, but no other status effects exist. There are no cold or rainy/stormy areas. All parts of the Depths are essentially identical; there are no regions with unique, distinguishing features other than the aforementioned lava areas underneath Death Mountain.

The Depths are entirely dark when you first enter them. In order to light up areas, you activate Lightroots. Getting to some of the Lightroots, especially those located on the side/top of steep cliffs, is often harder than reaching the corresponding overworld shrine. There were plenty of places I didn't bother activating Lightroots because they were so annoying to reach.

Overall, I think the Depths were about as well-utilized as the Sky - not at all. While the Sky suffered from being too small, the Depths have the opposite problem. Aside from the dungeons and the camera rune, there's no reason to go to most of it unless you're a completionist. And with it being the same size as Hyrule itself, it's simply too big for the lack of things to do down there.

2.4 Shrines

The Shrines of Light are very similar to the Ancient Shrines. There are shrines that teach you game mechanics and shrines that teach you how to use the new powers. There are also shrines (Proving Grounds) where you have to defeat the enemies with only what the shrine gives you - similar to Eventide Island in Breath of the Wild. You can think of them as this game's equivalent to the Test of Strength shrines.

With some shrines, you have to complete a series of events before they're available - such as bringing the green crystal to the stone foundation or snowboarding through a series of rings in a certain time period. Each shrine provides a Light of Blessing, which you give to a Goddess Statue in order to increase your heart containers or stamina wheel.

While all shrines in Breath of the Wild were on the surface, some in Tears of the Kingdom are in caves and in the sky. Some of the cave shrines can be difficult to find even with the Purah Pad's sensor upgrade, but there is fortunately an easy way to find out where each shrine is located on the surface.

Lightroots in the depths correspond to shrines on the surface. If you find a lightroot - and it's often easier to find lightroots, since they do glow - you can mark the corresponding location on the surface and look around for the shrine later. This has helped me find so many shrines I'd otherwise spend literal hours searching for.

There are 152 shrines in Tears of the Kingdom, divided between 120 on the ground and 32 in the sky. Breath of the Wild only had 120, all on the ground. It's a lot of shrines, honestly, and even if you know where all the shrines are and how to complete them, you're still going to spend hours running around getting to them.

It gets repetitive, mostly because of the cutscenes. The cutscene when you activate a shrine, when you walk in (leaving the overworld, and then entering the shrine), activating the final platform before you receive the Blessing of Light, the cutscene afterward...

Some of those cutscenes are skippable. Some are not. They're essentially the same cutscene as in Breath of the Wild, just with different images. But there are SO MANY, just for the shrines, and they take up time that you could be doing something else! I don't want to know how many minutes I've wasted watching those same unskippable cutscenes!

2.5 Labyrinths

The labyrinths from Breath of the Wild are back in Tears of the Kingdom. This time, they have equivalents in the sky and the depths. There is a quest involved with each labyrinth. It starts on the ground, moves to the sky, and then you dive from the sky all the way to the labyrinth in the depths.

I did Lomei Labyrinth Island first and thought it was really cool. It made me wonder just what the other labyrinths would be like. Unfortunately, the process is the same with all three.

3. Temples

3.1 Wind Temple

In order to get to the Wind Temple, you have to traverse the Rising Island Chain with the help of Tulin. There are two shrines along the way: one that teaches you how to use the floating boats you encounter in the Island Chain, and a blessing shrine right outside the Wind Temple. Personally, I found the entire series of events to be much more interesting/fascinating than the Wind Temple itself.

The Wind Temple is the Stormwind Ark, a ship from Rito legend. It functions similarly to a Divine Beast from Breath of the Wild - activate five terminals to get to the room with the boss fight. The entire dungeon only took around an hour to complete, which feels fairly short. It also felt more like a traditional Zelda dungeon than any of the Divine Beasts did.

What really made the Wind Temple feel like a traditional Zelda dungeon was the boss - Colgera. You don't need to use any weapons to defeat it. The Rising Island Chain has some sheets of ice that you can glide above and then dive into in order to break the ice. That's exactly how you defeat Colgera.

It's apparently possible to break the ice with arrows, something I didn't realize until I looked up what other people were saying about the dungeon.

While the Wind Temple itself was ultimately not too impressive, the Rising Island Chain and Colgera boss fight made quite an impression on me and gave me expectations that the next dungeon couldn't really live up to.

3.2 Fire Temple

The leadup to the Fire Temple takes place on Death Mountain. You climb to the summit of the mountain with minecarts, and at the top you find Moragia, a miniboss you must first defeat by flying around on Zonai decides and launching Yunobo at them. After that's done, a chasm opens up and you're able to jump into the Depths.

In the depths is the lost Goron city of Gorondia, the Fire Temple. Like the Wind Temple, you activate five terminals with Yunobo's power in order to get to the boss fight. I found this dungeon to be more difficult than the previous one; I couldn't quite get the timing right on the minecarts and mostly resorted to climbing, gliding, and ascend to get to where I needed to go.

Yunobo's power was more incorporated into the boss fight than Tulin's was in the Wind Temple. It's used to stun the boss (Marbled Gohma) which allows you to easily attack Marbled Gohma's eye with a regular weapon. It's a pretty easy boss, and for that reason, I though it didn't feel like a real boss - more like a mid-dungeon boss that previous Zelda games had.

The Fire Temple being in the Depths is super cool, especially since you can see the surrounding Depths from inside the temple itself. I just wish Marbled Gohma had been more impressive and the dungeon itself hadn't been so difficult (for me) to traverse.

3.3 Water Temple

Similarly to the Wind Temple, the Water Temple is in the sky. It originally seems like the Water Temple is going to be underwater, due to you having to dive into a whirlpool in one of the lakes. I am not really sure what Nintendo was thinking here, having a Water Temple in the sky instead of in the water. How cool would it have been to have a dungeon in the Ancient Zora Waterworks? We could have learned more about the history of the Zora.

There are a few new mechanics introduced in the leadup to the temple - water bubble travel and low-gravity - and both are used in the temple itself. There are only four terminals in this one, and I felt like this temple was much easier to traverse than the Fire Temple. The low gravity does get annoying at times, as it caused me to misjudge a few jumps.

I didn't like the boss. Mucktorok is exceptionally annoying, especially in the second phase of the fight. Sidon's power is barely useful with all the mud that ends up on the floor of the boss arena. As a result, the boss fight took much longer than the fights with Colgera and Marbled Gohma. Also...Mucktorok looks like a silly balloon, not a real boss.

My feelings on this dungeon are similar to those on the Fire Temple: cool dungeon, boss could be better.

3.4 Lightning Temple

When you get to the Kara Kara Bazaar, you learn that most of the Gerudo Desert is under a permanent sand storm, including Gerudo Town. There are also Gibdos in the town, so everyone's hiding in a shelter. With Riju's help, you defend both Kara Kara Bazaar and Gerudo Town. Riju's power is used to destroy the tall mushroom towers that spawn Gibdos. Then you do a small puzzle using mirrors to shine light in a triangle around the Gerudo Desert. This points the way to the Lightning Temple.

The entrance to the Lightning Temple has a glowing purple "button" on it, similar to the Gibdo-spawning mushrooms, and when you use Riju's power to destroy it, the boss of the dungeon appears and you have to fight it. At first, I thought I'd found a way to cheese the entire temple, but then I realized that there was no way Nintendo would do that. This game isn't that open-world.

Although I did skip a good amount of the beginning of the temple by ascending through the ceiling into the main room (The Room of Ascension) rather than going through the bottom floor. And then I couldn't get back in and wondered why there was a gate blocking me from going into a particular hall.

There are four switches to find in this temple, and you use Riju's power to activate them, just like in the other temples. There's a lot of shining light around the place with mirrors, and this even carries into the boss fight - sort of. The boss is the Queen Gibdo you fought at the beginning of the temple, and there are four Gibdo-spawning mushrooms in the boss arena. Destroying those mushrooms allows light into the boss arena, which actually kills the Gibdos for you, allowing you to focus entirely on the Queen Gibdo.

I liked the idea of this dungeon more than the dungeon itself. It was a little too easy and took a surprisingly short amount of time to complete, although that may have been because I accidentally skipped part of it. The boss fights were definitely the high point.

3.5 Spirit Temple

I accidentally found this temple when I was wandering around in the Depths, looking for Lightroots. Once the words "Spirit Temple" showed up on screen, I realized I didn't want to wander into the temple with zero knowledge of what I was supposed to be doing, so I left and decided to figure out which quest would give me some backstory and properly lead me to this location.

Turns out it was a couple of quests. You're properly notified of the existence of a fifth sage after competing all four of the Regional Phenomena and investigating the Princess Zelda sightings in Hyrule Castle. Then you start a series of events that lead you from the Ring Ruins in Kakariko Village, to the Dracozu River in Faron, to the Thunderhead Isles in the sky, and then down a chasm and into the Construct Factory in the Depths.

At this construct factory, you have to build a new Zonai construct body for Mineru's spirit. Each limb is obtained in a different area and you complete a series of puzzles to bring it back to the Construct Factory. Then once that's done, Mineru's construct body is complete and you can finally head over to the Spirit Temple to get Mineru's secret stone.

The Spirit Temple itself is just a boss fight, probably because everything else you did was equivalent to completing a dungeon. I actually found it pretty interesting until you had to go into the Depths. That part was annoying. Not so much the boss - the Seized Construct - but having to use Mineru's power to defeat it was awful, and building Mineru's construct itself was annoying. I would have preferred a more traditional dungeon in the Depths.

3.6 Final Boss

This isn't a temple or a dungeon, but it definitely deserves to be in this section.

Getting to Ganondorf actually takes quite a bit of time. You jump down the chasm under Hyrule castle into the depths, traverse a dangerous, stressful area filled with high-level monsters, and reach an area where you receive a notice saying that the Sages' powers cannot reach you. Ominous.

Then you continue on a little more until you reach an area that's surprisingly familiar - the very beginning of the game. Continuing a little further takes you to the Imprisoning Chamber. I put a travel medallion down on the cliff and returned to the surface, because at this point I'd lost half of my hearts to the gloom.

Past the Imprisoning Chamber is Gloom's Lair, and past that is the point of no return where you can no longer teleport out. Before facing Ganondorf, you fight four waves of monsters with the help of the Sages - the actual Sages, not the spirit avatars. It was a surprisingly easy fight with dropped a ton of weapons, so you can restock if you broke all/most of yours just getting here.

Then the dungeon bosses show up and the Sages hold them off. If you didn't do the dungeons, you apparently have to face them all in a row. If you did, then you go right in to fight Ganondorf while the Sages are occupied. At this point I was wondering if maybe reaching Ganondorf was going to end up being more difficult than actually fighting Ganondorf, but this wasn't the case at all.

There are three phases to the Ganondorf fight. In phase 1, you're entirely on your own. The sages help you in the first part of phase 2, and the Light Dragon herself assists you in phase 3. In addition to "disabling" your hearts with Gloom, Ganondorf can delete them entirely, which took me a little while to realize because I had 32 at the time. On my first attempt of the fight, I made it 2/3 of the way through phase 2 before I realized it was better to reload an earlier save and prepare properly.

This boss was actually difficult! It was made more difficult by two things: I'm bad at things like flurry rushes, which are probably the best way to reduce Ganondorf's HP, and I'm bad at using controllers in general. But it's an appropriately difficult boss. The entire game had hyped up Ganondorf as a serious menace and he really felt like one.

4. Story

The story in this game is pretty lackluster, but it's still better than Breath of the Wild's story. Memories return, and just like in the previous game, they all take place in the past. They partially tell the story of Zelda after she's been teleported to the past. And just like in the previous game, you can get them out of order. Unlike in Breath of the Wild, this really isn't ideal. They aren't random events; there's a definite order to those memories that they should be viewed. I know Nintendo wanted to lock certain memories to certain geoglyphs, but I think the memories should have been available in order.

In the Regional Phenomena quests, you travel to four different regions of Hyrule to deal with the things that have been going on since the upheaval. After completing each temple, you receive what is essentially the same cutscene, showing events that happened in the past that Zelda was sent back to. These cutscenes don't really tell you anything, just that there was a fight against Ganondorf in the past. You learn that through memories and other quests, so seeing the same cutscene four times in the temples and then again elsewhere gets old pretty fast.

After those Regional Phenomena quests are done, you travel to Hyrule Castle to check out the Zelda sightings. That Zelda turns out to be an impostor, which you'll know already if you completed the tear memories and learned that Zelda turned herself into the Light Dragon that's been flying around Hyrule's skies...or just paid attention to the beginning of the game, where she used her time power to send herself into the past. And then again at the end of the tutorial area where Link sends the Master Sword into the past where Zelda receives it.

As a last comment, I can't possibly be the only one who thinks Secret Stone is a bizarre name. Shouldn't it have been Sacred Stone? I have to wonder why this decision was made.

6. Final Thoughts

I didn't cover everything in this game. I wanted to, but that probably would have added another 6000 words to this review, and I wanted to be done with it - and the game - this year so I could move on to something else.

My main problem with this game is the same problem I had in Breath of the Wild. While the game is huge with tons of things to do, those things aren't integrated very well. There are lots of interesting places to visit and things to see, but you'll really have to go out of your way to find them. There's a shrine in the sky (Ga-Ahisas Shrine on Lightcast Island) that I think is a good example of this. The puzzle to unlock the shrine is super interesting and uses some new mechanics introduced in Tears of the Kingdom, but there's no reason to go there.

And that's another problem I had with this game - that the optional side content often better used the new game mechanics than the main quests. The main quests taught you how to use the new stuff, but it's like it was just a tutorial for the things you weren't required to do. I imagine this was for people who just wanted to get through the main game without having to learn too many new things, but I think it would have been better if the new mechanics had been expanded in the main game, not side content.