Shacknews Best Narrative Game of 2023 - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Out of all the narratives told in video games this year, the best stories are the ones found in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.


When it comes to heartfelt stories and a narrative that perfectly ties up a series, few games come close to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. While Nintendo’s flagship title is often lauded for its gameplay, the storytellers at the Big N have delivered a tale that defines a generation while also giving space to those quirky side stories fans have come to love.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the fitting conclusion to the two-game story that started back in 2017 with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. After the events of the first game, Link finds himself in a Hyrule overrun by the minions of Ganondorf, Zelda has disappeared, and all hope is lost. From the get go, things are dire, and they don’t get much better as representatives of each town begin to wonder whether Zelda has betrayed them.

But with each village you help and with each new ally you acquire, faith is restored and eventually the Hero of Time walks a path he’s walked many times before, across many lifetimes. It’s a harrowing and deeply moving main story that perfectly encapsulates so many important elements of what it means to be a Zelda title.

The emotion isn’t limited to the main narrative either, as heartfelt moments can be found all throughout the kingdom of Hyrule. Each citizen you meet is just trying to get by, to rebuild a life for themselves while the world is seemingly coming to an end. It’s not just glib and melancholy either, as Nintendo isn’t afraid to dabble in the bizarre and surreal – like the merchant Koltin who wants to transform into a Satori or Addison who wants help building signposts.

Just when you’re starting to feel a bit cheerful, Nintendo will hit you right in the emotional center with a questline like The Dragon’s Tears. This confronting narrative shakes the bedrock of what players have come to know about the world. For a lot of people, this will be the narrative that makes them gasp as the reality of the situation comes sharply into focus.

While many will praise The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for its open world and various mechanics (and rightly so), it should also be praised for its storytelling. Both the main story and the side quests help paint a brutal, yet honest picture of the realm of Hyrule and the ancient evil that has plagued it since time immemorial. It is with great pleasure that we award The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom with the Shacknews Best Narrative Game of 2023 award.

Be sure to read over the rest of the Shacknews Awards in our Year of the Games: 2023 feature.

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler brings a bit of the southern hemisphere flair to his work. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and entering the video game industry, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can message him on X: @SamuelChandler 

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