So far, I had already spun quite a few hours into wandering around this new Hyrule, and I had come to the conclusion that Nintendo had remarkably managed to make things familiar and new at the same time. Many of the features from Breath of the Wild remained, but they had been retooled and redesigned, breathing (ahem) new life into the world. I took Link off to the east, in the general direction of the Zora, and encountered a mud-strewn path, that was heavily guarded by hordes of lizalfos. I had to carefully pick my battles here, for despite having completed a couple more shrines (and being completely flummoxed by others), I had not yet increased Link’s hearts or stamina. As such, I was a bit vulnerable. The shrine that I had concluded Part Two with remained uncompleted as yet.
After a lengthy climb along the river-tracking path, I eventually reached my goal: Zora’s Domain. I also learned that the mud now sloshing through their rivers and lakes was coming from the sky, but both that territory and King Sidon (remember him?) were annoyingly out of reach (I couldn’t figure out a path to where Sidon had parked himself). I cleaned a statue using splashfruit (yes, really), earned some kudos, and headed off in search of other shrines, as well as clues as to the Upheaval (the Hylian name for the chaotic events). Along the way, I encountered my first Tear.
The Tear of the Dragon came to my possession via a chance encounter with Impa, by a mysterious, dragon-shaped imprint upon the grass. One of the dragon’s eyes was a pool of water that reacted to Link’s new arm, and prompted a flashback sequence. It appeared that when Zelda fell into the depths beneath Hyrule Castle, she was transported not only to somewhere different but perhaps, just perhaps, to some when? After all, this ‘king’, who appeared as an ethereal spirit at the start of the game, was clearly a flesh-and-blood being here. Skyward Sword involved elements of time travel, and time was a key component of Ocarina of Time, would this be the case yet again?
My travels took me to locations that brought back a lot of memories. After a lot of initially fruitless effort, I managed to activate another tower, and this led me to revisit somewhere truly special.
You may be wondering where I stood. Well, I stood on the Great Plateau, where Breath of the Wild began, all those years ago. The locations of the four original shrines to grace the Plateau had now become chasms, below which mystery and monsters lurked, along with mineral mines of this Zonite or whatever it was. Off I went exploring these dark depths, trying to work out their relationship to the surface. By now I was certain of the correlation between the shrines, and the lightroots that could relieve the inky blackness of the depths. Their locations were identical, and that had to be important, didn’t it?
My travels through the depths led me to a site underneath the Temple of Time (incidentally, I could not offer prayers to the temple’s statue, something to do about being trapped behind a gate, yet another mystery), and also another ability to unlock.
Let’s rewind for a mo. The Great Plateau had been of significant importance to Link’s resurrection in Breath of the Wild, and this clearly irked one of his enemies. The Yiga clan, formerly of the Gerudo Desert, had made the Plateau their home. I ran into a few of their disguised warriors, but dispatched them in fairly short order. I then found two of them loitering in the depths below the Temple of Time, in disguise, attempting to decipher a new machine-building power. Upon claiming the power for myself, they decided not only to try and steal it, but their old leader, the one I consigned to a deep pit in the desert, was back, and looking for revenge!
Kogha trapped me behind a force field, and proceeded to try and ram me in a big, spiked vehicle. He also threw rocks at me, but my time-reversal power put paid to that, and after a few rounds of me slashing him with of all things, Yiga weaponry, he withdrew, slinking off, but vowing to return.
It was fair to say that aside from my little trip to the Zora, I hadn’t really focused on any particular element of the story. I was wandering about, pretty aimlessly, though I did visit Hateno Town, where I became embroiled in a mayoral election battle between the existing major and a fashionista. Yes, seriously. That’s a side-quest that I will possibly revisit, though I’m not sure right now.
After poking around Hateno (oh, I didn’t mention the huge cave and the promise of treasure, nor the epic fall of diving headfirst onto solid ground!), I set off for Kakariko Village. This was said to be the site of a series of fascinating ring structures, creatively named ‘Ring Ruins’, and they held stone tablets that spoke of a great war between the Demon King, and the King of Hyrule from the distant past. It appeared the king sacrificed himself to seal away the Demon King, but the tablets also spoke of sages. Sages have been a key element of many Zelda games, including A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and they are mentioned in Twilight Princess.
In the course of my meandering across Hyrule, I completed a few more shrines, though I had to say that I was finding some of the shrines a bit frustrating and laborious. Still, I was able to increase Link’s hearts and stamina, and thus was a little less vulnerable. I left Kakariko as confused as ever (one particularly strident researcher refused to let me explore one of the ruins), and after helping Robbie collect photos of statues in the depths, I headed north. My path took me to the edge of the Lost Woods (one of Breath of the Wild’s most hauntingly beautiful locations), but whereas before you could figure out a path based on the direction of the wind, there did not seem to be any such clues, and every effort to walk even a short distance within the Woods got me banished. If there was a new mechanism for picking one’s way through the Woods, I did not yet know it.
With that, the latest steps of my adventure came to an end. I was now to the north of the Woods, and heading into Eldin territory, where the temperature would rise. Would I pay the Gorons a visit?