The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is pretty scary.
I don’t mean in the same sense that Majora’s Mask is haunting throughout its entire runtime, and there certainly isn’t a moment like it. that scene in Twilight Princess. But even now, with my Link ridiculously overpowered and full of hearts, Tears of the Kingdom has me on the edge of my seat more than any other Zelda game.
Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule was barren and desolate. The first real danger that many of us probably encountered was trying to get to Hyrule Castle and being surrounded by Guardians. Now that It was pretty terrifying – the piano music and the sound of Sheikah robots beeping as they lock on are burned into my mind.
Tears of the Kingdom lulls you into a false sense of security. The first place on the surface that you visit is Hyrule Field, and it is completely different, no longer inhabited by these extremely dangerous creations. You’ll see Bokoblins and Moblins around, but that’s about it. Except Hyrule Castle is floating behind Lookout Landing and the large amount of red and black liquid seeping out of the ground. And all the caves. And that immense feeling of helplessness has accumulated until the age of 20.
A quick note here: I’m going to dive into some game spoilers heremostly alone enemies and locations What else have stayed on my mind. I’m not going to touch the story at all.. However, if you don’t want the outside world’s surprises (or scares) to be ruined, then feel free to gallop away…
Not having to paraglide on Great Sky Island exposed my overconfidence. I reacquainted myself with the controls fairly quickly, but every time I was faced with a gap that I thought I could paraglide across, I didn’t. You’d think I would have learned not to blindly jump off ledges, but I didn’t, so when got Paragliding, I headed straight for every cave, chasm, and hole I could find. That mistake.
Tears of the Kingdom allows you to discover the wonders of the world at your own pace, but that also means you may encounter the horrors of Hyrule. And the game doesn’t really hold your hands when you do.
Horriblins are terrifying. The way they crawl across the ceiling, moving to get closer to you, and the weird noises they make are really unsettling. The first time I came across one, I was wandering around a cave, breaking rocks, and then this big creature scuttled towards me. They held weapons glued together, and their hideout had pieces of meat all over it. I don’t want to know what they were doing, but it really scared me. I hate the growls they make when you walk into a room, and I especially hate fighting five Black Horriblins at once.
I do not like I like
One creature from the series that got an ‘update’ is Like Like. These were already weird enough in Ocarina of Time, but did anyone expect them to be as big as in Tears of the Kingdom? The first time you can see one of these is in a cave on Great Sky Island, and I gasped audibly when I encountered these long creatures. They make an awful noise, like they’re getting ready for a feast, and I’m never happy when I see one.
Other terrifying creatures lurk around Hyrule’s surface, except they’re out in the open, ready and waiting for you. When you first come across a Gleeok it feels like an event, at least mine did. In the Tabantha Tundra, I was trying to sneak past a Frost Gleeok, which was flying proudly around some ruins in the middle of a field. I missed and started to run when the ominous music started. Before I knew it, I was shot by an ice beam and shot to death.
Three heads, each with one eye, looking down at me from the sky, the Gleeoks make me nervous in a way that the Guardians never did. I enjoy the challenge of them now, but their sheer size and ferocity are still enough to make me doubt myself, especially if you run into the stronger variants. There’s something particularly unsettling about the Thunder Gleeok in the coliseum or the Flame Gleeok on the Bridge of Hylia: the restricted area of ground movement means you have to think on your feet, and when you’ve got a three-headed, three-eyed dragon trying to kill you, that is not easy.
gloom and doom
I mentioned sadness earlier, but this substance is basically the answer to all my nightmares in Tears of the Kingdom.
The first time I entered the Depths it was stifling. What an amazing area to get lost in for hours at a time. The underbelly of Hyrule is swallowed by perpetual darkness, only permanently illuminated by the Lightroots you encounter as you randomly make your way through the void and cast Lightbloom Seeds helplessly in front of you. It’s addictive, but it made me feel incredibly claustrophobic for a long time.
With patches of darkness covering swaths of the ground and dark-infected monsters, more powerful than those on the surface or in the sky, taking me out in one or two hits. and removing my maximum number of hearts temporarily is enough to make you panic. I certainly did, abandoning all rational thought, like being able to fast travel away from danger or even, you know, retreat to the safety of the Surface. Instead, I just died and decided I wasn’t going back there until I was much stronger.
I wouldn’t even say dispelling the darkness solves many of the horrors of the Depths. Fox, a new type of enemy, can immediately inhale and spit you out. They’re like an upgraded underground Hinox, except they’re very fast and very big. Stalnox, Hinox, Gleeok, and Flux Construct have shadow versions. Combine all of this with the oppressive music in the depths, and somehow, despite the powers at (and within) its fingers, Tears of the Kingdom manages to make Link seem smaller than ever.
I’ve deliberately saved the worst for last, because I don’t think anyone will ever forget their first encounter with Gloom Spawn, more popularly known as Gloom Hands.
My first time was outdoors in broad daylight while collecting materials from the ground in a small forest. I thought the blood moon was rising until I realized what time of day it was and this great smudge of darkness was suddenly five hands fighting to grab me. I have never run away faster.
Even when I fight these now, armed to the teeth with bomb flowers and icy fruits, the distorted voices and blaring music give me chills. Much like the Horriblins and the Frox, it’s the speed at which these things move and the fact that they can pick you up like you’re nothing. For me, that feeling of restriction and panic is unparalleled in a Zelda game. And as for what can happen when you defeat some Gloom Hands… well, have fun.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Hyrule and weird and scary things still happen to me. Malanya the horse god is still a bit creepy, and I love the Stalhours, but seeing them in the depths was a bit weird. Let’s not even talk about heights.
But Tears of the Kingdom combines wonder and fear to incredible effect: for every something special you see, there’s bound to be something haunting waiting for you, somewhere. Expect the unexpected, all the time.
Do you think Tears of the Kingdom is scary enough? What has been your scariest moment or encounter so far? Vote in our poll below and then challenge the comments, but keep spoilers light!