In various The Legend of Zelda games, we end up meeting all sorts of allies, enemies, and folks just hanging around, and shortly after the introduction Tears of the Kingdom introduces the Constructs. After awaking on Great Sky Island, a number of helpful ones like Stewards and on alert Soldiers can appear. But what especially struck me is just how personable they are, even if they’re on the attack.
When I first met the friendly Steward Construct after coming out of the game, I was struck by how novel their design is! It’s expressive, even though the face is motionless. The extended arms and neck allow for these exaggerated movements that lend additional personality to them. Whether it was one I was approaching to learn more about this area and perhaps what I should do next or one that wanted to bop Link on the head with wooden stick, I loved seeing these animations that made them both goofy and a bit of a threat.
But even better was getting to hear them speak. Instead of behaving in a purely robotic fashion, given these are robots, it sounded like any other person would. They’ll refer to smells as delicious. One cutting wood will motivate themselves with positive talk. They’ll express caution by warning the player that the Soldier Construct types will attach. But not out of actual malice, but because their function is to protect and he’s an “outsider.”
My affection for them only grew as I saw them both alone and in their little communities. Happening upon a home, one explained about cooking and potion crafting. There was even food nearby that I was “welcome” to take. When learning about Zonai devices, there’s a whole community working together, trying to build a raft. It can really feel like they’re getting by, and they’re so welcoming to Link. Considering how the The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Guardians reacted to my presence, it was so refreshing to come in and see many of Tears of the Kingdom’s Constructs behaving the exact opposite way upon my arrival.
However, as I got to see more of our new friends, I couldn’t help feeling both delighted and melancholy when happening upon certain situations. As you encounter more of Great Sky Island, you’ll see both the friendly and unfriendly Constructs the Zonai left behind in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Sometimes when you do, Rauru’s spirit will be nearby observing them. Speaking to him leads to more thoughtful moments about their existence. When happening upon one acting as a lumberjack, he’ll explain how he feels bad that they’re still performing their tasks, even after the Zonai are gone and those actions are unnecessary. However, there’s also a great sense of fondness for them. He explains how his people appreciated just how skilled they became and respected them as teachers. He clearly is affectionate toward them.
But in a way, that made it even better. It humanized the Great Sky Island Constructs even further in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. It lent a backstory to what could easily have been robotic, nameless NPCs that would be forgotten once the tutorial area’s done. But even now, I keep thinking about these friends in the sky and worrying about how they are because of that extra context.
It really speaks to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom‘s design that these Great Sky Island Constructs could end up being memorable characters. They could have been throwaway NPCs. Put a few around the area. Have them talk. But instead, their designs and dialogue offer this sense of personality that makes them feel like more than that. After spending time around them, I can see why Rauru and the Zonai cared about them so much.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is available for the Nintendo Switch.
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