Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Image: Nintendo Life

Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they've been chewing over. Today, Jim celebrates six months of Tears of the Kingdom by flying back into Link's latest...

The launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was such a momentous occasion for me, so much so that the 12th May 2023 will forever be burned into the back of my mind. Over the summer, I kept playing it without putting it down, yet, as the weeks ticked by and the likes of Sea of Stars, Super Mario Bros. Wonder and a handful of Pikmin games were dropped at my feet like new toys in front of a puppy, I eventually put Link's latest down and turned my attention to other things in the big, wide world (namely, more video games).

If you asked me when Link's adventure landed, I would have said a month or two ago, maybe a little more at a push. What I would not have said is that the game came out six months ago today. Six months. That's half a year, gone by in a flash. How?

Upon this realisation, I thought I should probably go back to Tears (the game, not the emotional state) and see what little bits of mopping up there are still to do. I put, what, 100 hours into this game? I know I'm by no means done, but I'm basically there. That is what I told myself before popping the cartridge back in my Switch and realising that, in fact, I was very wrong.

I'm not sure exactly what I was up to when I last put the game down, but loading my save file, I emerged in the Faron region. Straight off the bat, I chucked Link into Popla Foothills Skyview Tower and flung him into the air, just to see what was around, ya' know? But as I was watching this little hero soar through the what-I-thought-to-be-well-travelled skies, I noticed the distinctive green swirl of a Shrine of Light and was met by the familiar ping of my sensor as if to passive-aggressively tell me, "What's that Mr I've Seen Everything Tears of the Kingdom Has to Offer?"

Dropping down to investigate (and to silence that god-awful noise), I found that this was indeed an undiscovered Shrine. Upsettingly, it wasn't even a well-hidden one; it was slap bang on top of a Faron hill, easily viewable from all areas. Again, I didn't think that I had completed the game by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought that I had plucked the low-hanging fruit like this. The Shrine had me building vehicles and riding rails (your standard TOTK conundrum), but in the few minutes that it took me to get Link from entrance to exit, I had my Anton Ego moment.

For those of you not well-versed in Pixar's Ratatouille (shame on you), Ego is the food critic who, at the end of the movie, is transported back to memories of his childhood via the taste of a particularly eye-pleasing stack of veg. My Ego moment didn't encompass quite the same time jump, nor the emotional damage, but I was still transported back to a time long ago (six months ago was long ago, okay?) and once again was filled with a sense of wonder at Tears of the Kingdom's sheer size. I also felt that same childish glee again, at the prospect of doing things 'the wrong way'.

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

I had planned to boot up the game for an hour or two, check off some previously discovered Side Quests and then get back to my evening. Instead, I left the Shrine determined to consult no map or list and travel only by my sense of curiosity.

Leaving the Shrine, I got distracted by what I thought was a giant pair of hands in the distance. I went to check them out and, in turn, triggered a new Side Quest all to do with fallen Goddess Statues, Dragon Claws and a whole lot of traipsing back and forth across Hyrule by the command of a sentient rock. Playing with my newfound sense of inquisitiveness, I carried out the statue's orders.

The quest is no all-timer, but while ticking it off I stumbled across two more undiscovered Shrines, visited the Sky Islands and faffed about trying to fly to a particularly interesting plateau (before being immediately slapped away by the resident Gleeok), pinned another three "oooh, what's that?" locations on my map, helped out my fav boi, Addison, and picked up a plant that I had never seen before.

My time in the game is relatively short when compared to what many players have achieved, but having cleared the main story, polished off a good helping of Side Adventures and explored the world for around 100 hours, I was expecting the sense of wonder to have died down a little. In actual fact, that sense is just as strong as it was on day one.

Tears of the Kingdom is the video game equivalent of going to the supermarket for milk when you're hungry. You leave with snacks, drinks, an array of desserts, a vegan option just in case it takes your fancy, a little something to eat on the way home... and no milk. While this made things feel a little overwhelming at first, getting the story out of my way and seeing the internet spoiler talk bubble down to a small simmer has let me once again see the game for what it is: jam-flippin' packed.

Six months on from the release of Breath of the Wild, I had caved and googled the locations of all Shrines and Side Quests. I completed it, yes, but at what cost? Heading back to Tears of the Kingdom this week, I am reminded that I will probably never finish this game. And that's okay. I only dived back in for a quick once-over of the tick list, but I finished up with an awful lot seen, very little accomplished and still no milk.

How are you finding Tears of the Kingdom six months down the line? Have you taken a break, or are you still jumping back in for more? Dive down to the comments and let us know.