Tears of the Kingdom has the potential to be a much darker game than Breath of the Wild. Nintendo has sprinkled clues in the trailers they’ve released, as well as having good form for following up Legend of Zelda entries will dark sequels. Today I’m going to check out the clues to Tear of the Kingdom being much darker than Breath of the Wild.
Before we get into it today, let me know what you think. Do you think Tears of the Kingdom will be much darker than Breath of the Wild, and what do you want to see from the story?
The main plot for The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom is still under lock and key at Nintendo, but through the trailers, we can glean a few small details related to the follow-up to the next mainline Zelda game. While the subtitle Breath of the Wild hints at freedom, exploration and the open-world version of Hyrule, Tears of the Kingdom hints at something darker, something more sinister, reasons to be fearful and there is potential for sadness.
In Tears of the Kingdom Link will most likely take to the skies, explore the sky islands, as well as battle on the ground in Hyrule. With Link’s new right-hand abilities, he can airlift into the sky, plus we’ve seen him travel through concrete and sky diving from islands themselves, landing on a glider and travelling high above Hyrule in the skies. The trailer also tell the story of Malice, flooding out from the corpse under Hyrule Castle, and appearing to cover Hyrule much more than before. Will Calamity Ganon return, or will Ganondorf himself return to claim the crown as King of Thieves? It certainly looks like Link will have a lot on his plate, but will the sequel to Breath of the Wild be much darker than the original? Let’s have a look.
Breath of the Wild is a fantastic example of open-world exploration. Link is woken up after a long sleep, only to find much of Hyrule in ruin. Before Link is one of the best open-world adventures we’ve had the pleasure to play through. Early on we receive the tools to play with the physics of the world and make the most of our open-world adventures. Link’s paraglider was a revelation, plus Link’s ability to climb nearly any surface, it was the pure essence of an open-world adventure.
Breath of the Wild’s title gave hints at what the game would be, with players making their own adventure. Certain parts of Hyrule are very wild and dangerous, with swamps, beaches, deserts and mountains to explore. Nintendo does a decent job of directing you, without holding your hand too much. It’s mainly down to player experimentation to figure out the tools to help Link solve puzzles, and progress through Hyrule. Breath of the Wild also hints at Link’s solo adventure. Link wakes up after a long sleep, with no friends in sight. Fellow Champions tasked with protecting the Princess are long dead, and Hyrule itself has fallen into disrepair. Link is alone, and you can feel it as you run through the Hyrule fields.
Tears of the Kingdom
Nintendo we very tight-lipped when it came to the name of the sequel to Breath of the Wild, and for good reason. Titles of Zelda games are important and fans have been trawling through every snippet of information and detail, every crumb left by Nintendo and every clue.
The first thing fans wanted to know about Tears of the Kingdom, was what the ‘tears’ meant. Did they mean tears as in, someone crying, or did they mean tears, as in paper tearing? Nintendo was quick to come out and clear things up by stating they were in fact tears, as in crying.
Given we know they are tears, and an entire kingdom is crying, this could mean we’re in for a sad time when it comes to the next mainline entry to The Legend of Zelda series. Hyrule itself has been destroyed by Calamity Ganon, which could lead the Kingdom to shed tears of sadness. We can see pieces of Hyrule have broken, and they are travelling up into the sky. If you were caught in the rupture, and part of your house or farm was caught on two sky islands, then that could tear apart families and cause a whole lot of heartache.
Princess Zelda’s death has come up a few times too, with Nintendo revealing Princess Zelda falling in earlier trailers, although nothing has yet been confirmed about Princess Zelda’s death. We’ve seen Princess Zelda falling, but we’ve also seen an important female character depicted in the trailers, at one moment appears to be under a spell, at another moment appears to be hand in hand with a mystery character, yet to be revealed by Nintendo.
The tears are likely to refer to sadness, but they could also refer to Link collecting physical tears. We’ve seen the device on Link’s hip, plus we’ve seen Link transform into a water droplet and travel upwards through solid matter. Do we have to collect the tears from dungeons around Hyrule? I hope so, but we haven’t had anything confirmed yet from Nintendo.
A Darker Sequel?
There have been a few high-profile dark sequels or follow-up games in the Legend of Zelda series. The one that immediately jumps to mind is Majora’s Mask, the follow-up to Ocarina of Time on the N64. We also have Twilight Princess, while not a sequel, the gritty, realistic art style felt like a reaction to Wind Waker’s cartoony, bright colours. Eiji Aonuma has discussed Tears of the Kingdom saying it’s “not necessarily going to be related to Majora’s Mask or inspired by it”, but that it would be darker than Breath of the Wild.
Breath of the Wild may not immediately seem dark in nature, especially when compared to Majora’s Mask or Twilight Princess, however, scratch under the surface and there is darkness and mystery to be found. NPCs are full of interesting tales; families destroyed by monsters, and valuable relics stolen all while Link slept in the Shrine of Resurrection, recovering from his terrible wounds of battle.
A particularly dark story occurs related to one of the Sheikah Gatekeepers named Dorian. He lives in Karariko Village, although before that he has a wife, and two children named Koko and Cottla. Dorain had been a member of the dangerous Yiga Clan and was sent to Karariko Village to spy on Impa and the rest of the villagers. However, love-struck Dorian as he fell in love with a woman in Karariko Village, eventually creating a family. Dorian realised his life was wasting away with the Yiga Clan, and he decided to tell them he wanted to leave. The Yiga Clan didn’t like this and murdered Dorian’s Wife and threatened to kill his daughters too unless Dorian continued his work spying on Karariko Village for the Clan. Dorian had to continue his spying for the Yiga Clan, and once again they upped the stakes by threatening to kill Impa and Paya. Link manages to intervene in The Stolen Heirloom Shrine quest, setting Dorian free of the Yiga Clan’s clutches. Dorian begs Link not to tell the Sheikah Tribe and to protect his children from the murderous clan.
This story goes to show there are dark elements at work in Breath of the Wild and we are no doubt going to see more in Tears of the Kingdom. This tale of murder from the Yiga Clan and Dorian reminds us that dark forces are at work when a kingdom collapses, and if the Malice is rife once again and Hyrule falls, then communities will also fall with it, and particularly bad things can happen to the kind folk who inhabit Hyrule. With the destruction of Calamity Ganon, all the monsters that followed him will now have no leader and they will likely go on the rampage causing death and destruction wherever they go. Given we’re in a sequel to Breath of the Wild, there is likely to be a bigger threat, perhaps even bigger than Calamity Ganon. But what, or who is that threat?
With the dark theme, Nintendo has an opportunity to build on a few concepts from Breath of the Wild. Guardians were exciting enemies to encounter out there in the open world, although Nintendo did feature early concept art from Breath of the Wild indicating large, dark souls-like enemies out there. Lynels and Guardians operate in a similar kind of space, but it would be good to see much more variety in these tougher enemies like the variety we see in Elden Ring. It would be good from a gameplay perspective, but it could also be good from a story a lore perspective with hideous new world bosses introduced into Tears of the Kingdom.
Malice-infused enemies could be introduced to Tears of the Kingdom, given we’ve seen an abundance of Malice pouring from under Hyrule Castle. In Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity we were introduced to Malice versions of the champions, plus we saw Malice Link, similar to Dark Link we’ve seen in other Zelda games like the final boss of Zelda II The Adventure of Link, or in Ocarina of Time. Given we see lots of malice, infusing enemies with this dark power could lead to an interesting story in Tears of the Kingdom.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Tears of the Kingdom will be much darker than Breath of the Wild. Whether it’s Princess Zelda dying, or fighting Malice-infused enemies, or battling back Ganondorf’s corpse and a potential army of the undead – there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to Tears of the Kingdom.
Let me know in the comments what you think.