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Link drowning during his approach to Eventide Island in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

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Zelda: Breath of the Wild has one of Nintendo’s best pranks

Eventide Island is a showcase for Nintendo’s sharp design and wit

It takes a lot of stamina to get there by glider.
| Image: Nintendo via Polygon

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild contains 120 shrines sprinkled across every section of Hyrule, many of which are out in the open, exposed to the elements on hilltops or lying dormant in a peaceful valley. But some are completely hidden, waiting for you to complete a quest or a puzzle before they emerge from the ground.

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While replaying Breath of the Wild during the wait for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, I recently took another run at the Korgu Chideh shrine. In order to access it, I had to travel to Eventide Island and undergo one of the open-world game’s most grueling quest lines. It’s praiseworthy in terms of level design, but it also displays Nintendo’s sometimes twisted sense of humor — and it can be outright annoying to deal with if you don’t go in prepared. It’s a booby-trapped, Hitman-esque level where the odds are stacked heavily against you, and it’s amazing.

Link is on a cliffside gazing upon the distant Eventide Island in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
It’s far enough away to seem impossible to reach.
Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Eventide Island isn’t easy to reach. It’s an empty spot along the southeast coast of the game’s giant map, and unless you’ve heard of it through word of mouth, you might not have stumbled upon it unless exploring out of curiosity alone. You can fly there via Link’s glider (although this requires a lot of stamina) or use a raft. You can’t easily escape, either; the only way to leave is to swim all the way back to the mainland — that is, unless you’re very creative.

Upon landing on the island, the quest’s rules will display on screen: Move three orbs to various locations to win. Simple enough. But there are some harsh conditions: The game takes away your weapons, shields, armor, food, and all other stat-buffing supplements. You’ll have to find new gear on the island. To make things tougher, the quest disables the ability to save your game, so you’ll lose everything (again) if you die.

Link from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild standing on Eventide Island, shirtless, with no gear.
You’ll definitely feel the breath of the wild on Eventide Island without any clothes on.
Image: Nintendo via Polygon

It initially seems unfair, even though you do have your Sheikah Slate and its runes — the bag of tricks you obtain in the early game. So, you can blow stuff up with bombs, make ice platforms in water with Cryonis, lock enemies and obstacles temporarily in place with Stasis, and telekinetically pull magnetic objects around with Magnesis. That means this could be a particularly hard quest if you’re more comfortable fighting with degradable weapons than Link’s reusable runes.

Beating each cluster of enemies requires a solid grasp of every one of Breath of the Wild’s game mechanics — especially stealth, luring enemies into traps, and being brutally accurate with bows and bombs. You need to know how to get the most damage with crappy weapons that’ll break quickly, backstab what few unassuming enemies you can, pull off critical headshots, cause distractions, and on top of all that, use the environment to your advantage.

Depending on your skill level, getting through Eventide Island can take multiple hours and restarts. With each new attempt of this quasi-roguelike experience, your equipment will be gone, but your knowledge of the island’s layout remains. I won’t pretend that the knowledge alone will help you win; you’ll likely have at least one heated gamer moment when dealing with some fidgety physics, or when an overwhelming rush of enemies gets in the way of an orb. Nonetheless, finally making it to the shrine is one of the most rewarding moments that Breath of the Wild has to offer.

Link running from a Hinox in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, holding a sword and a wooden shield as the large, piglike enemy hulks in the background.
I’ll admit it: I cheesed this Hinox by lobbing bombs at him from a perch. You gotta do what you gotta do!
Image: Nintendo via Polygon

It’s been about six years since I first made my way to Eventide Island, and my appreciation for its design only grows. It’s a fun yet torturous sandbox where Breath of the Wild’s many game systems work in symphony. Most of all, I love how this quest toys with the game’s relationship with the player, almost as if to say, “If you fly over here, acting all independent and curious, we’re going to let you do that. Just know that you may get your ass kicked in the process — right up until the moment where you triumph.”

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