NewsVideo Games

Tears of the Kingdom Has a Strange Theme, Devs Reveal Big Connection to Link to the Past

In an interview, the Zelda Tears of the Kingdom developers discuss the theme of hands and the Imprisoning War story from A Link to the Past.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom developers opened up about how their Breath of the Wild sequel will expand upon Link and Zelda’s story during a recent multi-part Nintendo interview. It’s a chat with all the creative leads on Tears of the Kingdom, including series producer Eiji Aonuma, Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Technical Director Takuhiro Dohta, Art Director Satoru Takizawa, and Sound Director Hajime Wakai, and it quells some fan concerns while also clueing franchise die-hards into how the title stands alone as its own adventure. Among other things in the interview, the Tears of the Kingdom developers discussed how they had decided right from the beginning to reuse Hyrule from Breath of the Wild, that the unusual theme of the game is “hands,” and that the story will tie into the Imprisoning War previously referenced in A Link to the Past.

“Although the previous title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has its own conclusion, we started to come up with new ideas that we wanted to bring to life in this already realized version of Hyrule, so our direction in making a sequel did not change,” Aonuma said.

Fujibayashi added to those thoughts, explaining that the team was always confident in the decision to build upon a Hyrule they’re already familiar with:

Just like somewhere you know inside and out, we understand where everything is in Hyrule from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and because of that, we believed it was possible to create new gameplay. For this reason, in the initial proposal, we clearly stated the setting will not change’ as an important concept. Even when I shared this with the team members here, there were no objections, and we were all aligned on that idea from that point onward.

Tears of the Kingdom will indeed stand on its own as a Zelda experience when it launches for Nintendo Switch this Friday, May 12, and Aonuma said that part of its identity lies with its new, strange theme of hands. Fujibayashi elaborated:

Titles in the Legend of Zelda series intertwine all the elements of gameplay, mechanics, and story, and combine them all into a single game. For this title, we chose “hands” as the key theme to bring them all together. For example, abilities that Link uses to solve puzzles are all released from his hand and arm. We even included this symbolically in the game’s mechanics, such as having scenes that use hands when opening special doors. This ‘hands’ theme also crops up here and there as a key element as the story develops.

Takuhiro Dohta said the “hands” theme can be found in more than Tears of the Kingdom’s mechanics. In contrast with the more lonesome journey of Breath of the Wild, this week’s new Zelda game will see players “joining hands” with other characters to complete various tasks. The hands theme goes even deeper, as Nintendo even made sure to incorporate hand claps in the game’s music.

“Well, simply put, ‘hands’ expresses the idea of ‘connecting,’” Aonuma added. “This applies to the story too, which connects to Hyrule’s past. It also talks about a major struggle called ‘The Imprisoning War,’ which until now was considered a myth even in Hyrule.”

The Imprisoning War is an event in The Legend of Zelda timeline that shares ties with Ocarina of Time and Ganon’s invasion of Hyrule. It’s also the event that led to Ganon’s capture pre-A Link to the Past, so learning how Tears of the Kingdom plays a part in the Imprisoning War will be especially exciting for fans.

Part 1 and Part 2 of today’s interview are available now, with a third part set to be published tomorrow. Stay tuned for more Tears of the Kingdom news while we wait for its release later this week.

About the author

Michael Cripe
Michael joined The Escapist team back in 2019 as a news reporter but has been covering games, movies, TV, and music since 2015. Most of his time is spent on the news team, but you’ll definitely see his name pop up in the opinion and interview sections from time to time. From the most obscure indie games to the industry’s AAA juggernauts, there’s nothing Michael isn’t interested in digging into. The vast majority of Michael’s work can be found at The Escapist, but his bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism has led him to other sites like OnlySP, Gameranx, and Kansas City’s The Pitch. When he’s not writing, Michael is probably playing Super Mario Sunshine, Dead Space, or The Binding of Isaac. If you’d like to connect and talk about the latest in pop-culture, you can follow Michael on Twitter (@MikeCripe), Instagram (mike_cripe), or LinkedIn if that’s your thing, I guess.