With the expanded world of Tears of the Kingdom now at players’ fingertips, changes and differences from the world introduced in Breath of the Wild are apparent and abundant. Despite all the new features found in this new Zelda entry, the story of this sequel starts off in a distinctly familiar way.
While the opening of the game is more akin to an interactive cutscene than the true start to the open world, the additional information as to where TOTK‘s story is heading creates a sense of urgency not found in BOTW‘s more mysterious and immediate beginning. Having the initial set-up of the game feature how Link loses his powers, beyond for gameplay reasons, adds just enough difference between both games to make the parallels between each opening even more fun.
Link Continues to Wake Up in Strange Places
In Breath of the Wild, the player finds Link waking up in a weird, glowing place with only a mysterious voice guiding him. The section lets new players get a handle on the controls, come to understand that the Sheikah Slate is mysterious but important, and get an idea of the climbing and stamina mechanics. Link then makes his way out of the Shrine of Resurrection and hears the mysterious voice once again hinting at his ultimate goal as he runs to look over a cliff. The music swells and the title appears on-screen. The sense of scale is immediate — the world of Hyrule feels huge and wondrous. For Tears of the Kingdom, the same concept is clearly on display, and it works perfectly.
After Zelda and Link are separated following the revival of Ganondorf’s mummy, Link again finds himself waking up in a strange place, but with the added benefit of having an idea as to what is going on. A mysterious presence guides him through the game’s mechanics, hints at his current goal of finding Zelda along with fixing the gloom that’s weakening Link, and introduces him to the world again.
Link runs to the edge of the sky island he’s now on and jumps, skydiving through the clouds as the music swells and the game’s title appears on-screen. While the similarities are blindingly obvious, they are not detrimental to the experience in the slightest. With the narrative continuing from BOTW, the repetition of such an opening feels like a treat for players continuing with the sequel.
Context Adds to Everything
As the name would suggest, the strength and focus of Breath of the Wild was for the game to feel like a breath of fresh air for the traditionally rigidly-structured franchise. The game focused on exploration, a natural fit for open-world games, and one aspect of this exploration was learning what the story of the game truly was, beyond saving the world. Having BOTW open with next to no information greatly adds to this goal, as Hyrule felt huge and unfamiliar, thus turning the Divine Beast dungeons into something more emotional than just slaying an imposing monster. Tears of the Kingdom has that same sense of being gigantic and unknown, even to players of the first game, but with the addition of context at the start.
Link’s story in TOTK revolves around finding Zelda and returning himself to full strength. Knowing this at the immediate beginning of the game tweaks the whimsical and grand tone into something more focused and somber. Despite trying his best and pushing himself as far as he could, Link could not initially protect Zelda, and the narrative now follows him trying to right this wrong. The intro is familiar but different, wondrous but mature — and the story follows suit.
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