TotK Shrines
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, Ollie wants to share his love for Tears of the Kingdom's shrines and the newfound freedom they afford players...

I'm really not a very clever man. Okay no, that's not entirely true; when it comes to useless information like who was the second Pharaoh of the First Dynasty of Egypt or what Queen Victoria liked to eat, then I'm surprisingly clued up. Throw a reasonably tricky video game puzzle at me, however, and there's a good chance I might just wind up curled up in a corner, shaking back and forth.

This isn't to say I can't do video game puzzles at all, mind. I've gotten through Ocarina of Time's Water Temple all on my own, and I would consider the Portal games to be two of the best ever made (heck, just check out my review of the Switch collection if you don't believe me). But to say I thrive on solving puzzles would be a straight-up lie. I got through the Water Temple, sure, but not without a good deal of head scratching, muttered swear words, and the occasional thinly veiled threat to chuck my controller across the room.

Breath of the Wild was very much the same; at least in my own experience. The shrines were mercifully brief in comparison to earlier dungeons, but many of them required a good bit of brainpower to solve; brainpower that, in my case, had practically depleted thanks to an addiction to useless historical facts. I often wandered into a shrine, took a long hard look at the equipment and structures lying around, and promptly left, certain that I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to tackle the puzzle at that moment in time. Hey, at least I unlocked a fast-travel point, right?

BotW Shrine
Nightmare fuel... — Image: Nintendo

When I entered the first few shrines in Tears of the Kingdom, I experienced a similar sense of dread, but it wasn't long until I realised that these shrines were quite different. That dread quickly turned into excitement; I simply couldn't wait to see what else Nintendo had up its sleeve. But why the switch?

Well, it's all to do with the new abilities; or perhaps most crucially, the Ultrahand ability. It's no secret that Ultrahand — which, if you're unfamiliar, basically lets you manipulate objects in the environment and stick them together — has taken the freedom that Breath of the Wild afforded players and cracked it wide open, and nowhere is this more obvious than within the shrines themselves.

While Nintendo may have crafted each and every shrine with one specific solution in mind, its implementation of the Ultrahand ability has basically made it so that you can complete most shrines in whatever way you see fit, just so long as the relevant equipment is available to you. Can't reach a specific platform? No problem, just stick a couple of planks together and use it as a bridge. Still not working? Whack a couple of fans on to give it a bit of airtime. Still not working? Well just wiggle everything about a bit until it does, just like this Twitter user:

Completing a shrine by utilising a completely botched solution isn't always the most elegant tactic, but there's something unusually empowering about bypassing the 'intended' solution and coming up with one entirely on your own. Heck, even if this means you create the most hideous hodgepodge of equipment and objects to reach the final goal, you still did it.

It's gotten to the point where I now enter a shrine in Tears of the Kingdom without even an ounce of worry or anxiety. I'll try and figure out the correct solution and complete the shrine in the way that Nintendo thinks I should, but if not, then no worries. I'll come up with my own solution, thank you very much.

And you know what? It makes me feel like a genius. I'm not sure any other game has managed to achieve such a feat, to be honest.

Which game has the better shrines? (1,213 votes)

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)15%
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Switch)85%

What do you make of the shrines in Tears of the Kingdom so far? Do you think the added level of freedom makes them superior to Breath of the Wild's, or do you prefer a more focused approach? Let us know your thoughts with a comment.