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?
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? (1,215 votes)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)15%
- 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.
TotK seems to have a great deal more variety in its shrine puzzles. Unless you just absolutely detest using Ultrahand, I don't see an argument for BotW's shrines being better.
Haven't encountered any motion controlled ones yet, either. Keeping my fingers crossed!
I wouldn't say the shrines are easier to solve than the ones in BoTW, but rather have different methods to solving the puzzles. It's not if you do it the way they set it up to be done but if you can think outside the box. Theree was a shrine with a plate and wheel and block on a track and some slats in the ground going upward. I couldn't figure out what to do so I just attached the ball to open the door to a bunch of stuff and leaned it against the wall, climbed the ladder and pulled the ball off. I did the same in the next room with a bunch of flowing water in it. That's the best part of the puzzles in these games is that there really isn't a right way to do a lot of them.
I'm not even doing the temples as intended. Nintendo's got these intricately crafted puzzles and I'm like nah, I'm just climbing to the top and gliding. Worked like a charm in the Fire Temple. It's just as fun to "break" this game as it is to play it normally.
@Bret thats what's great about it. There isn't a right way to do anything. Sure there's an intended path but if there's a better solution than do it
I would love to see some really complicated puzzles, nowadays most of them are like kids' toys that solve themselves
Felt this way about A Fixed Device. Not a clue how that was meant to be done, but sticking everything together and using the Ultra hand and Recall worked which meant I didn't have to give up with it.
As with most things in TotK, the shrines are a clear improvement on what was created in BotW
95% for totk shrine, lol.
Botw shrines so much better.
Yep, Kids toys Shrines.
The great thing about the shrines in this game is the insane amount of options to solve them. I love seeing what other people did to solve a shrine, whether it’s the intended way or some random, insane solution that you would never think should work. But it does! And that’s the magic of this game.
I don't remember the BotW shrines being hard (maybe there were a few exceptions?) but I am having a lot of fun with the TotK shrines. I probably prefer them, at least so far.
@Bret I'm on the fire temple now and I hate it. I have cheesed at least two of the locks.
Just one more to go!
The flexibility of TotK is just more fun to be honest and this extends to way more than the shrines.
The fact that this game is basically 'broken' in every conceivable way possible and still works is just a miracle to me and the creations online are insane.
People are going to be playing this game forever!
Fully agree. Despite having enjoyed them in Breath of the Wild I find the new shrines a huge improvement. I'm glad they sticked to them.
They are now even more fun to play, and there are many more possibilities to solve them this time, thanks to the abilities.
The aesthetic and background music are also much better. Love 'em!
I love both types of shrines since they use wildly different movesets and can both be broken. But am I the only one who feels like many of the new ones are just like: "Go in there, do one pretty obvious thing, get the jingle (kinda unearned), shrine done"? Often the shrines don't even have an evolution to their ideas, which I would have really enjoyed. Well, BotW had those too, but I'd hoped they would be more fleshed out this time.
Also, why are the the endings of the shrines still so long? I like letting animations and such playing out, but who in their right mind doesn't press x after having seen the first one taking 30 seconds for long text with a moaning sound effect? This time the statues are even the same all the time, where before the monks were at least positioned differently sometimes.
I'm obviously just being nitpicky with a fantastic game. I just can't understand why they chose to end their shrines this way again.
I am also an idiot. I will say it every time, I can't stand puzzles I try and avoid games with them in, even if they are only a small fraction of the gameplay. But this game? I absolutely love them and I've been having a blast clearing them.
There’s a few I spent so much time on, then finally looked up the solution to realize that I am indeed, stupid.
@Aninok this is a legitimate criticism but I actually love the music and the colors so much that I always let it play out
Puzzles are so much more fun with the new abilities. Also like that they are short. Some of the BotW puzzles were unbelievably long. I absolutely hated the elephant Divine Beast Vah Ruta thing, for example.
I’m not a big puzzle person so it really affected my enjoyment of BoTW. But as other have said, I’ve come to enjoy the TotK puzzles.
I am not good at puzzles but am enjoying the TotK shrines. They feel more organic to me. My brain just works better with them.
@Mbawa the lack of motion controlled shrine puzzles (so far at least) makes TotK shrines better by default. I don’t hate motion controls in general like many do, but in the shrines when you had to use it to move a device in a particular way it just didn’t work, especially if you were playing in handheld where you would have to turn it to the point you can’t see the screen, or the ones where you had to use it to navigate an orb. It wasn’t even that these were difficult puzzles to figure out, they were just difficult to complete due to the controls. Only thing I will say as a negative for TotK shrines is they seem to sway on the easier side (I’ve only found one shrine so far that the final puzzle I just can’t seem to figure out)
Even when I succeed I still feel like an idiot.
I feel personally attacked by this article title
Eh, I have to disagree with the majority here. The TOTK shrines are just too obvious and simple.
I have done ~70 so far and it is mostly just monotonous after the first few. I don't look forward to it because they aren't even really puzzles to solve. They just need to be trudged through in some obvious manner.
That is the target audience, after all
Tears of the Kingdom for sure, I hated the shrines in BotW and considered them to be one of the weakest aspects of the game.
The puzzles are way more fun in general and I love how you can cheese so much of it, I find they're also visually more pleasing and the music isn't so dready either.
I should note that I'm not a fan of puzzles just in general.
I can thoroughly say I enjoy seeking out, and doing every possible shrine in totk. So far, it's been the best part of totk being able to use the abilities inside shrines in unique ways. In botw, more than anything I looked at them as just a way to boost my health or stamina.
@Ralizah I think there aren't any. Those shrines were built with Wii U on mind, long before they removed dual-screen gameplay due to "giving the same experience on Switch and Wii U", which they actually showed in one of the first trailers, where the map showed in the gamepad while everything else in the TV.
In-game, BOTW shrines revolve on the Sheikah Slate, which is "used" for the motion control shrines. In TOTK, it's all about the Zonai devices and the new Link's arm, which makes no sense to have motion controlled shrines.
They are also good at making an idiot feel like an idiot xD
I enjoyed the shrines in BotW for the most part, but shrines in TotK are definitely a lot better. These puzzles are great and love how there's multiple solutions to each one.
I just vastly prefer the music and "vibe" of the TOTK shrines. After playing BOTW for hundreds of hours and burning myself out on it, the Sheikah shrines and music started to have like, an extremely oppressive atmosphere. I think the somewhat cold lighting and blue and dark colors in the Sheikah shrines, as well as the repetitive and weirdly angry sounding music are why. The teal, blue-green and "zen" atmosphere and main aesthetic of TOTK is vastly better IMO!
Really? All I can think of when finishing one is: "I solved it in the way that was probably not intended, therefore I'm a *****"
I just played Frogger and three hours ago I was in a heist movie dodging lasers. These shrines are amazing!
(But so was Breath of the wild's. It's just fun doing new stuff I guess!! )
They are also pretty good at making a literal "genius" feel like a complete idiot!
Shrines are the Definition of "I Is Smart!"
@Dr_Corndog Most of the BOTW shrines are great and not difficult, but you had a couple that were controlled with the gyro and these became frustrating.
@garfreek I liked the Pinball Table shrine in BOTW. That was a fun discovery.
@DwaynesGames Haha, those were some of my favorites.
Genuinely can’t choose as both games have absolutely brilliant puzzles, but so far the lack of repeated combat shrines in Tears has been a massive boon. Yes, there are combat shrine, but each teaches a different (genuinely useful) ability, rather than feeling like C&P jobs.
The shrine format in general is still completely genius. I can’t say I’m pining for the structure of the old games at all.
@Maxz I did find one combat shrine, but it was basically a quicker Eventide Island. It was actually the most fun time I've had with video game combat, a perfect mix of strategy and action.
Mannn.....now I feel bad. Because I've struggled with TotK's shrines WAY more than BotW. :/ I've legit gotten stuck a few times, I wonder if it's a creativity thing - I can logic my way through something but I'm not as good with open-ended solutions. I'm glad everyone likes them way more but I'm in the minority that liked BotW's simple conundrums compared to TotK's (at least for me) take forever to build something and hope it works type of puzzles. No shade at all if you love that though.
How I feel when playing Tears of the Kingdom:
I'm really late to the party, still playing Breath of the Wild. I gave up on it a few times due to open world fatigue, but finally gave it a chance now. Great game! Not as perfect as the internet says, but really good.
I have mixed feelings toward Shrines, though, since we're in the topic. Dungeons had a clear design that required creative or logical solutions to its puzzles. Shrines feel more like a hack. They just don't have that "got it!" moment because most of the time it feels like I'm doing something wrong to solve them (such as using optional treasure chests as weight). Hopefully TotK has shrines that feel closer to dungeons.
They removed the Test of Strength shrines and introduced the Proving Grounds shrines, that's a huuuge improvement in quality just by itself. And regarding all the puzzles, they're really good. I don't know whether the puzzle design itself is better than in Breath of the Wild, but Ultrahand alone makes it so that the shrines can have a billion different solutions, and that's something BotW doesn't have nearly as strongly.
There are still too many Blessing shrines for my liking - in my ideal world, every single shrine interior would have a unique puzzle inside. But oh well, it's still a lot of fun anyway.
I suffer with the tyranny of choice with much of this game.
I’ve only completed approx. 110/120 in BotW (85hrs+) and 25 in TotK (20hrs+) and ultimately I prefer TotK because the tools are more diverse.
Hard to compare puzzle to puzzle but when the tools and abilities offer more opportunities to experiment, I don’t see how anyone would objectively argue that the puzzles in BotW are better.
You can nearly build anything and it feels like there are countless ways to beat each shrine.
Ultimately, I’m glad they brought back shrines because I really enjoyed them in BotW. I was a bit nervous and anxious prior to May 12 but I am glad they’re back and better than ever
My go-to strategy at the moment is fuse a bunch of shields to rockets before I go in. Doesn't work will all the shrines, but it sure can help
@westman98 I laughed so hard about this one, thanks!
Breath of the Wild has some really good puzzles, but also a lot of repetitive Shrines in the combat ones as @Maxz and @EarthboundBenjy also mentioned.
From what I've heard and the relatively little I've seen by playing myself Tears of the Kingdom doesn't have those as "combat Shrines" are either tutorials or micro Eventide Islands as @sunny63 said (I've encountered one of those, too) so that alone and even more so combined with even more flexible solutions (to be fair several Shrines in BotW also allowed multiple ones) thanks to the new abilities, especially Ultrahand, is why I think overall TotK has the better Shrines!
Great read. Can't remember the name of the shrine I did last night, but you had to get a large ball across some rails. I was completely confused and finally just said to myself: "well, I have an idea. Not sure if it's right, but it's my idea." It worked and I had the thought that this is a great flexibility of the game. A sort of "there are no wrong answers" experience I had. It made me feel clever.
I bypassed this series of puzzles involving convoluted use of rails by just fusing a bunch of junk to the item I needed to transport, lifting the whole long thing to the upper area, defusing, and moving on lol "eff this noise, I ain't dealing with that"
For me i think that TOTK is more thinking than skill like in botw it felt like every shrine i had to hit a crazy arrow shot or fight overpower enemies and they just werent fun, but with TOTK i can just figure out a different way if i get stuck
Okay but what did Queen Victoria like to eat? That was such a tease!
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