The Legend of Zelda series is one that I’ve always associated with its puzzles and challenges which always give me just the right amount of challenge. Tears of the Kingdom is no different, with Shrines and Temples reactivating that problem-solving area of my brain. While those puzzles are a huge part of the game, Tears of the Kingdom manages to challenge me in ways completely different than what I expected.
Tears of the Kingdom is a large game. It’s not only large, but complex on top of that, and there’s a lot to try to remember. While learning games isn’t something I’ve necessarily struggled with in the past, this is an entirely different beast for me to tame, especially because I really never played much of Breath of the Wild. I’ve lost count of the number of simple things that I’ve completely overlooked while even just navigating Hyrule, but I’ve done my best to document some of the most common and funny ones.
Unfortunately, build mechanics hurt my brain. This isn’t a statement aimed directly at Tears of the Kingdom, but a general statement about games where building is a minor mechanic. Fortnite is another example, where I could play four games in a row and never build a single structure. While I’m exploring Hyrule, sometimes I just don’t think about using things to make other things, I just use what I see.
Amusingly, I’m not great at building in this game. I make a lot of boxes with wheels because I’m lazy, Then I add an axle to the box because I can’t help but to complicate things. Then I slap a fan on the back and feel so proud of myself for making a car, I feel like Henry Ford in his first Model T. Of course, I snapped back to reality when I realized that I’m still on the ground, and I’m reminded of how far I’ve yet to go.
I made a boat once. It turns out, I should have made that boat much sooner than I did. Probably before drowning repeatedly after trying to swim in different directions? But who’s to say. The thing is, I’m just not used to having to build things to get around in games. At least, not in games with a map as immense as Tears of the Kingdom.
I would be a rich man if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been building one of my wheel-boxes before accidentally pressing R instead of L and breaking both my weapon and my vehicle. It always seems to happen right when I’m putting the finishing touches on my project too, so I get to start over while both laughing and fuming.
Something else I can’t seem to remember in Tears of the Kingdom is that I’ve got a plethora of incredibly useful abilities. I know that it’s such a huge mechanic in the game, but even after hours of playing, I’ve only just started getting comfortable using them in ways the game wants me to, and even more comfortable in ways that it doesn’t.
Frankly, Ascend feels almost too over-powered, and maybe that’s why I never use it. It’s almost too easy to get to certain places. Not so easy that it isn’t fun to explore, but so easy that I don’t even think to look up and use Ascend. I’ll just leave like I would in other games, and after 10 minutes realize that I was standing underneath where I had to go the whole time. Using Ascend is one of the main reasons that I’ve been pursuing completion of the Shrines, because I just don’t think I would remember to use any of my abilities if I don’t make myself learn.
One of the moments that genuinely made me put my Switch down for a second was as I was attempting to pass through a large, towering gate in Hyrule. I managed to scale the entirety of the face of the tower, flip around the other side and land on the floor below, before spinning around to admire my accomplishment. When I took a second glance at the gate, I saw it had a massive door, and all I had to do was grab it with Ultrahand to spin it open. Idiot.
I also didn’t seem to understand at first the cooldowns on some of my abilities. I saw a rock fall from the sky and thought, “What could I do with that?” After climbing and jumping on it for a while to no avail, I read a nifty little guide that told me to use Recall to ride the rocks to the Sky Islands. Turns out, I didn’t even read far enough because once my Recall ran out, I just figured I was on the wrong rock. It was only after I leapt off the rock and started falling that I realized I could’ve kept Recalling the rock to go up higher. Idiot.
When I first used Ultrahand to stick trees to other trees to make bridges and scale the sides of mountains, I felt like to greatest genius to play a video game. Then I remembered I have Ascend, and I felt like a complete moron again after seeing how much time I wasted chopping those trees. The thing is, I finally got somewhat used to using Ultrahand to build things, so I just try to build away my problems instead of remembering my other abilities. Eventually I’ll start trying to Ascend my way through life and forget how to build one of my boxes!
I sometimes wonder what the people of Hyrule think of Link when I’m controlling him. The amount of times I’ve fallen off someone’s roof while they’re watching, or accidentally started fires in a town is simply countless now. There was an instance where I was holding an explosive barrel, fell off a ledge, took damage from the fall and then the barrel landed on me and exploded. Imagine what people must think of their supposed hero…
Luckily they don’t get to see what happens inside the Shrines and Temples. In particular, as I attempted to complete the Mayachin Shrine, I managed to walk and jump to my death multiple times before realizing there were stairs next to me the whole time. Worse still, I sat and stared at the then-stagnant rotating device in the room, smacking it with sticks like a caveman for longer than I’m proud to admit, only to eventually find the obelisk I was supposed to strike from the start. It’s those little lapses in judgment that make me glad for Link’s sake that nobody can see him in there.
Every single time I pick up Tears of the Kingdom, it’s a learning experience. That journey is filled with constant ups and downs, but luckily those ups are so much higher than the downs. Every time I feel like a stooge, I have to keep in mind that it’s simply the process of learning at my own pace, while having an absolute blast at the same time. It brings me back to a time when I was playing Twilight Princess and feeling the same feelings as I do now, only with far fewer mechanics. So yeah, sometimes Tears of the Kingdom makes me feel like an idiot, but progressing through a Legend of Zelda game never fails to make me feel like a genius.