Skip to main content

The Opening Section of ‘Tears of the Kingdom’ Is a Masterpiece

Link and Zelda in the caverns beneath Hyrule Castle in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

It’s been a long road Zelda fans, but we’ve finally arrived: happy Tears of the Kingdom weekend! We all watched that first teaser trailer drop at E3 almost four years ago. We could all have gotten college degrees in the interim (and some of us did!). But it has been worth the wait. The moment TotK booted up and dropped me in those caverns with Link and Zelda, I was breathless. To anticipate something for so long and suddenly be dropped in the middle of it—I started laughing.

Opening up The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was an incredibly emotional experience for me. I haven’t felt this giddy about a piece of media since I was a kid—well, excluding One Piece Film: Red. But I’ve never anticipated any piece of media they way I’ve anticipated TotK.

What followed was an incredible tone-setter for the entire game. Zelda says a mist is emanating from the castle, making people sick. She also tells us that the castle has fallen into disarray since the Calamity was defeated. Both details are really interesting little flashes of story. It says a lot about Zelda—who must now rule as Hyrule’s queen—that she’s prioritized rebuilding towns over rebuilding the royal castle, to the point where the castle is now actively neglected. The only reason she would return is because she’s worried about her people.

So down you go, until you see a mural. As Zelda explains the legend the mural depicts, it’s impossible to escape the hunch that the trajectory of Tears of the Kingdom is being laid out before you. Right now, mere minutes into the game. The mention of the “Demon King” is enough to make any long-time Zelda fan shiver with excitement—does she mean Ganon(dorf) or Demise? Even though the game is dishing out this heavy foreshadowing, it all still feels deeply mysterious. The important part, we’re told, is going to be the spaces connecting this moment to the game’s finale.

Meanwhile, Link is just as powerful as we left him in Breath of the Wild. He’s got a full slate of hearts, and he’s got the Master Sword. Link and Zelda very much feel like equals—Link’s there to do his thing, Zelda to do hers. I played the section walking slightly in front of Zelda, Master Sword unsheathed, because that’s what Link would do in my head-canon.

And yet, even though I was preparing for some enemies, they never really came. The only enemies you encounter are Keese, which you’ll successfully one-shot with a literal stick in the next act of the game. Down you go, into deeper and more ominous tunnels, with equally ominous piano cluster chords slowly trickling into the score. When I saw the light which I knew signaled Ganondorf’s resting place, my heart started racing.

After four years of anticipation, I didn’t expect this scene to zoom by so fast. Hyrule, and Link and Zelda’s fates, are changed in just a few short seconds. Link doesn’t even get the chance to put up a fight. Ganondorf unleashes his “gloom” upon Link and the Master Sword, and you watch as Link’s very life is stolen from him. Ganondorf then actively mocks Link for not being able to do jack-shit.

The castle and Ganondorf ascends, while Zelda falls. We get the already-iconic shot of Link leaping after Zelda, bum arm and all, and missing her. The moment hits even harder than it did in the trailer. The arm, which had been plugging up Ganondorf, grabs Link, and the scene is over.

It’s a fascinating take on the well-worn video game trope of starting as an overpowered hero who gets weakened. We don’t get an opportunity to utilize or dip back into that power at all. It’s simply stolen, and then we’re mocked for how weak we are.

Plus, I love how little is explicitly said here. You get the vibe that Link and Zelda’s presence at this moment was fated, as per the murals. Rauru’s arm gives out accordingly, the second they enter Ganondorf’s platform.

This scene sets the tone of Tears of the Kingdom immaculately. We get the inkling that there is an opportunity for actual horror later in the game. The creepy and ominous nature of this whole sequence was effective as hell. I’m a weenie, and I found it genuinely chilling.

We’re even told, to an extent, what’s going to happen. We’re shown the stakes, and the gap between the characters and their circumstances. Only a few minutes into the game, I found myself awash in how incredible Tears of the Kingdom already was. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.

(featured image: Nintendo)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.