Tears of joy

The newest Zelda release an exercise in engineering and creative exploration

click to enlarge Tears of joy
Inadvisable flying machine.
Since May 12, gamers have experienced an increase in inadvisable flying machines and a general reckless disregard for gravity.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom hit shelves and digital storefronts earlier this month, bringing new life to the open-ended exploration and creative shenaniganry Nintendo add
ed to its classic Zelda formula with Breath of the Wild back in 2017.

The Kingdom of Hyrule is in crisis once again, this time with dark chasms of toxic gloom, flying islands and ancient secrets to be rediscovered by adventurous players. Gone are the magnet, time stop, ice block and remote explosives from BotW, replaced with telekinesis, time reversal, vertical wormholes and the power of super glue.

This power to stick any object to almost any other object opens up seemingly limitless ways for players to explore the huge horizontal and three vertical layers of Hyrule, as well as numerous chances for tomfoolery — and an even greater number of ways to screw up and die. I’m not immune to this; I’ve been playing the game for only a week, and in that time have fallen to being too electrically conductive, forgetting the importance of gravity, forgetting how momentum works, picking a fight with a pig, picking a fight with a small mountain, finding out why building codes exist — and building an incredibly ill-advised flying machine composed of three hot air balloons, three flamethrowers and four rocket engines.

In the latter instance, I was blundering my way across the map to visit a recurring character from the first game, but misjudged my lift-to-thrust ratio. I overshot the flying island by about a mile, then ran out of fuel and plummeted into a lake. Coincidentally, the lake was right next to the village I had been trying to reach, and I’d discovered an entirely unique — though not OSHA-approved — way of getting there. Task failed successfully!

“I was pleasantly surprised that it took a genre that I was already hesitantly enjoying, and turned it into a broader version of Fantastic Contraption,” my brother told me, referencing a 2008 Flash-based browser game. “The most satisfying thing was strapping a Korok to a glider and shooting it across a river” to reunite it with its friend.

The game is rated for kids of all ages, with warnings only for peril, blood-free fantasy combat and a few instances of mild innuendo. It also can be a little scary at times. (The hands! The creepy hands!) Kids who like building unique structures and gadgets in other games will love the opportunity for more of the same. Adults and fans of BotW will like the tighter and denser storyline as compared to the laid-back pace of the previous title, as well as the fun transversal options and broader creativity of viable self-generated solutions to the puzzles.

In a world of bottomless depths and flying islands, the sky isn’t even the limit.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is available at local gaming stores, large retailers and through Nintendo’s online storefront for $69.99.

Bonds is a full-spectrum nerd and gaming aficionado when he’s not editing and designing for the Lewiston Tribune and Moscow-Pullman Daily News. He can be reached at mbonds@lmtribune.com.