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There’s no wrong way to play Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Even the game’s creators like to cheat

Link, wearing the Fierce Deity armor and Link’s Awakening head, grinds a sick rail in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

With abilities that let you rewind time, no-clip through ceilings, craft a litany of makeshift weapons, and construct vehicles that would make Rube Goldberg drool, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom can be a bit overwhelming.

Our advice? Embrace the chaos, and enjoy the fact that there’s no wrong way to play this slapstick comedy of a game.

Throughout the two-week review period preceding Tears of the Kingdom’s release, my co-workers and I spoke constantly about the ways we solved certain puzzles, battled specific bosses, or navigated particular stretches of terrain. Where one of us fought the Water Temple boss several times to no avail, another discovered a Fuse combination that made the fight trivial. One of us crafted an elaborate rocket barge to reach a high-altitude Sky Island, but another used Ascend to swim up a massive stalactite hanging off the bottom of the rock.

At first, we worried that we were missing the solution, and had somehow sequence-broke, or cheated. I myself returned to a white whale-esque shrine several days in a row, tortured over a treasure chest that was just out of reach, confident in the fact that I was missing some intricate detail that the game was trying to teach me about the Ultrahand ability. One day, I said screw it, concocted the jankiest machine possible, and opened the chest.

Was it the intended solution? Irrelevant. In Tears of the Kingdom, “intended” solutions are just one path, and ultimately, the ends justify the means. I recently spoke to director Hidemaro Fujibayashi and producer Eiji Aonuma, and they admitted as much. In fact, Ascend, one of the game’s most godlike abilities, began as a developer cheat.

The game has only been out in the wild for a few days, but players are already embracing Tears of the Kingdom’s focus on player freedom. Some have used Fuse to make the game into Link Hawk’s Pro Skater. Others have joined Team Long Bridge at every possible chance.

To wit: my co-worker Russ Frushtick’s solution to the end of Runakit Shrine.

Now, consider my solution to the very same puzzle:

For as many people that have told me they’re adoring Tears of the Kingdom, almost as many have told me that they’re bouncing off of it because of the dizzying number of possibilities. And that’s perfectly fine: There’s a lot going on here. Plus, Breath of the Wild is still a very good game, and well worth returning to if you’re not vibing with the sequel.

But if you’re enjoying Tears of the Kingdom yet slightly concerned, like I was two weeks ago, that you might be playing it incorrectly? Take a page out of Fujibayashi’s book, and revel in the glory of a game that admits: “Cheating can be fun.”

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