Tears of the Kingdom features the scariest enemy in Zelda history
Between solving puzzles and navigating the sky, mainland, and the depths in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, you’re bound to come face to face with some of the towering species that roam the land. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we met the likes of Lynel and Hinox which felt like a feat to face with three heart containers to your name, but before long you could take them on with a well-timed flurry rush and a pocket full of snacks.
Boss battles played a part in the general experience, but they didn’t feel as make or break as they have in previous games. You can imagine my surprise in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom being home to a number of genuinely intimidating bosses. Of course, I expected to find a few familiar faces, but there is a whole new realm of horror I wasn’t expecting to face, and frankly, it’s a welcomed addition.
Doom and gloom
While running through Hyrule on my trek to the next tower, I noticed a significantly large patch of gloom in the distance. Since the whole world is plagued at this point, you wouldn’t really think twice about it, right? Between the rolling clouds pouring out of the castle and the thick coating diving into chasms, the gloom is everywhere, but it’s pretty harmless until you step foot inside it and notice your hearts rapidly depleting.
I naively approached this new patch in an attempt to jump over and reach the next tower, but to my surprise, it was more animated than any other gloom I’d seen and a swarm of hands suddenly sprung through the ground. I’ll admit, doesn’t sound too scary at first, but when an unknown and unidentifiable mass is barrelling toward you, grasping at whatever part of your character it can in an attempt to cause serious harm, it’s pretty terrifying as you bolt in every direction you can in a frantic rush to get away.
When you’re in the moment of exploring Hyrule, you don’t really think twice about what threats will rear their heads. Sure, the odd Bokoblin is easy enough to face. Even Moblin’s don’t propose much threat once you’ve got your grips with your weapon, until a literal Eldritch horror comes hurtling in your direction. The split second of processing that you’re in danger passes, and your fight and flight really kicks in, which I think helps further cement the differences of Tears of the Kingdom compared to the lighter tone of Breath of the Wild.
The new bar of boss
I’m usually pretty brave when it comes to combat, especially in games like Tears of the Kingdom where I know I’ll be able to eat my body weight in steamed fruits and slowly chip away at the health bar of any enemy. However, I have to shamefully admit that Gloom Hands had me running as far as I could in the opposite direction, and when that still wasn’t fast enough and my real life screams weren’t deterring any attacks, I resorted to fast travel just to escape with what remained of my rapidly dwlindling hearts.
Once I’m in a position to return to face what I can only describe as hell incarnate, I’m sure I’ll be brave enough to act fast and show those hands who’s in charge. But while I’m only a few hours into gameplay and my fused weapons are more comical than they are useful, I think I’ll spend more of my time running around and solving shrines before taking on any more horrors, because I know Gloom Hands is just the beginning of what's to come, too.
Generally, I think enemy design in Tears of the Kingdom is some of the best yet. I loved Breath of the Wild and the various forms of Ganon you meet in the Divine Beasts, don’t get me wrong, but compared to stumbling into a Gleeok in the wild or facing off with what inhabits the desolate ruins across Hyrule, it pales in comparison. There definitely feels like some heavy inspiration from enemies in older games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and I’ll say now I feel the same level of childlike fear as I did back then, and I love it.