The launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was a monumental event for gamers everywhere. The release date of May 12th, 2023 will forever be etched in my memory. When I first delved into the game, I became fully immersed, unable to put it down. However, as time went on, other games began to compete for my attention. Sea of Stars, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, and the Pikmin series all beckoned me, diverting my gaze from Link’s latest adventure. It is astonishing to think that six months have passed since the game’s release. How did time fly by so quickly?
The Never-Ending Journey Continues
Realizing the passage of time, I decided to revisit Tears of the Kingdom to tie up loose ends. Despite having invested a significant amount of time into the game, I believed I was close to completion. However, as I loaded my saved file and stumbled upon the Faron region, I quickly discovered how wrong I was. I found myself standing on Popla Foothills Skyview Tower, surveying the vast landscape. As I soared through the skies, I encountered a familiar Shrine of Light, taunting me with its presence. This was an undiscovered Shrine, placed in plain sight atop a Faron hill. I was initially under the impression that I had uncovered all the game’s secrets, but I was sorely mistaken. This realization came as an unsettling surprise.
Venturing into the Shrine, I encountered challenges involving vehicles and rails, akin to the standard riddles in Tears of the Kingdom. In the short time it took me to navigate through the Shrine, I experienced an epiphany comparable to Anton Ego’s moment in Pixar’s Ratatouille. Ego, a renowned food critic, is transported back to his childhood through the experience of savoring a visually appealing plate of vegetables. Although my epiphany did not involve time travel or emotional distress, it transported me back to the wonder I felt when I first embarked on this journey six months ago. I recaptured the childish joy of exploring the game and approaching its challenges from an unconventional angle.
Rediscovering the Wonder
Instead of simply spending an hour or two on previously discovered side quests, my unplanned adventure led me on a path guided solely by curiosity. Leaving the Shrine, I noticed what appeared to be a colossal pair of hands in the distance. Intrigued, I veered towards them, unknowingly triggering a new side quest involving fallen Goddess Statues, Dragon Claws, and extensive back-and-forth travel across Hyrule at the behest of a sentient rock. Embracing my newfound sense of curiosity, I obediently carried out the statue’s instructions. This led me to discover two more hidden Shrines, visit the Sky Islands, attempt an ambitious flight to an intriguing plateau (only to be abruptly thwarted by a resident Gleeok), mark three additional points of interest on my map, assist my favorite character, Addison, and stumble upon a previously unseen plant. Although my time in the game pales in comparison to that of other players, having completed the main story, embarked on numerous side adventures, and explored the world for approximately 100 hours, the sense of wonder remains as potent as it was on day one.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is akin to venturing into a supermarket for a simple carton of milk while feeling hungry. Instead of leaving with just milk, you end up with an assortment of snacks, drinks, desserts, and even a vegan option just in case. The game is a veritable treasure trove of content and surprises. Although this abundance can initially feel overwhelming, completing the main storyline and allowing the internet’s excessive spoiler discussions to subside has allowed me to appreciate the game for what it truly is: a game jam-packed with adventure and exploration.
Six months after the release of Breath of the Wild, I succumbed to temptation and resorted to searching for the locations of all Shrines and Side Quests online. While I did complete the game, the experience felt incomplete, lacking the thrill of discovery. Returning to Tears of the Kingdom this week, I am reminded that this game is not meant to be truly “finished.” And that’s perfectly acceptable. Although I initially dove back in with the intention of completing a checklist, I ended up seeing an abundance of sights, accomplishing very little, and still without the proverbial carton of milk. I am eager to know how others are faring with Tears of the Kingdom six months into the adventure. Have you taken a break, or like me, do you find yourself continuously returning for more?