Back at Rito village, I decide to take a quick trip to Gerudo Tower, and see if I can figure out the solution to Kass’s puzzle. The last time I was there, I couldn’t figure it out. Something about waiting at the Tower until the sun was in the Northwest, casting a shadow to reveal the location of a hidden Shrine, and shooting an arrow into the light to reveal it.
I return and this time I solve it easily. Kass himself is looking out in the direction where the tower is casting its shadow in the early part of the afternoon, and down below on a standstone rock ledge beneath us, I see a circular dais exactly like the one at Washa’s Bluff. I glide down to it, and stand on it. It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon, and the shadow of Gerudo Tower is swiftly extending toward this exact position. I look back up to it, and the sun is directly behind the top of the tower. I aim at it, and fire and arrow. The ground rumbles, and the shrine pops up next to me.
I enter the shrine, and this one is another Modest Test of Strength combat trial. I easily take care of this shrine Guardian, breaking a Dragonbone Moblin Club, and collect its weapons, although this time its spear is not worth the space it takes up my inventory.
Recalling another rumored shrine location, I travel back to the oasis in Gerudo Desert, where I had last spoken with a man who was keeping an eye on a sandstorm off in the distance. He said that when the sandstorm clears up, a way to a secret treasure would be revealed, but the storm hasn’t let up.
I stand by his watch post for a while, but this soon grows tedious and I decide to just chance going out into the desert with the sandstorm going. I basically head straight out in the direction he’s watching, and before very long I lose my Sheikah slate map, and visibility is cut down to almost nothing. But I can see just far enough ahead of me. Up ahead, a natural rock column comes out of the ground. Not far past it, there’s a small rise, and then I come upon a skull cave populated by lizals — and there are a lot of them.
I back off, not wanting to get into a fight with them right now, and head back to the stone column, and use it to glide past. I come to a tall rock formation, and climb it, and find what I am seeking — a shrine. When I activate it, the desert sandstorm side quest is solved.
I enter the shrine, and make my way through. It’s an electrical puzzle, I just need to activate circuits to make platforms move that will take me to the end. There are a couple of weak guardians who I am able to take out with a single arrow hit. I accidentally shock myself with the battery object. I get the sense that there must be more to this shrine than I realize, because it all seems a little too easy. Perhaps there are more secrets that are optional that I skipped over. But in any case, I reach the monk’s chamber and claim my spirit orb.
Next, I head back to Gerudo town, to re-interrogate the women of the guard to get my notes straight on the stolen Thunderhelm. The thieves are from the Yiga Clan, and I’ve actually been right where they were, when I went up to investigate a way to reach the top of Gerudo Tower. Only, I couldn’t figure out how to enter. They had a giant stone door, and I couldn’t get it to open. I wonder if I return there now if I’ll be able to see something that wasn’t apparent on my first trip. With my weapons and expanded heart bar, I don’t think there’s much to fear from these Yiga now. I already defeated several of them.
I try warping into the Gerudo Highlands to get as close to the top of the valley as I possibly can, but end up getting lost and wandering a bit. After wasting some time fighting monsters for no good reason other than that they’re along the way, I decide to try the route I originally came when I went up through the valley, and transport to the shrine at the north end of the Gerudo desert, where the sword lady statues pointed the way, and hike up from the bottom.
As I come up, this time I encounter Yiga ninjas sooner than I did on my first trip. I’m going along the valley floor this time, not trying to go as high as possible as quickly as possible. Because of this, I encounter enemies I skipped the first time, but I also discover a new shrine. This one I have to uncover by placing a Luminous Stone on a dais. This triggers the shrine to come out of the ground. I notice that these shrines are harder to find because they do not seem to trigger my Sheikah sensor at all, so I can’t just blunder about and hope that my alarm will start pinging and alert me to their presence. This makes me wonder how many I might have missed along the way in other parts of the world, particularly in the regions where I didn’t find very many shrines.
I enter the shrine, and it’s a bomb-switch puzzle. I’ve got plenty of experience with bombs, so I know exactly what I need to do. It’s not too difficult, a little bit of timing, but it’s actually quite simple. I find 100 Rupees in a chest, and claim a spirit orb.
Onward I go.
Somehow, this trip takes much less time than it did the first time I made it. I hardly walk a few hundred yards when already I’m at the chamber where I encounter the three Yiga archers and have to take them on all together. I make quick work of them using the electric spear and ice spear. It’s not hard to dodge their arrow fire if you’re moving, and so you don’t need a shield, and the reach and speed of the spears gives you the greatest advantage. These spears, although only middle-powered, do more than enough damage to these opponents to take them down in 2-3 hits, which can be landed quite quickly if you’re able to close to within striking distance before they teleport.
This time, after I’ve defeated them, that doorway that was blocked with stone is open. I wonder if this is something that I triggered by advancing other points in the story line? Or if it’s simply due to the time of day, or what it could be.
Cautiously, I advance down a tall corridor and ahead of me I see a large round chamber, with tapestries hanging down, covering entrances that radiate from the room like spokes on a wheel hub. I have a foreboding sense of ambush, and being locked in the room with an enemy who will probably wish that they hadn’t messed with me while I have such good armaments. I only hope that I’m not underestimating them.
I enter the chamber, and it’s too quiet. Surely the Yiga must know I am here if I just fought several of their warriors outside. I expect at any second, warriors will come streaming at me from all sides. But nothing comes. I quietly approach the room, very cautious, and still, nothing.
There are numerous torches in the room, and it’s obvious I’m meant to light one and use it to set fire to the tapestries to reveal what’s behind them. I go to each one in turn, one at a time. Most of them are dead ends, with a couple of keese behind them, and I take care of them easily. A few have items behind them, but they’re of no consequence.
The last one I torch reveals a stairway up. I enter, and quietly ascend, ready for anything.
I enter the Yiga clan’s stronghold. Immediately, I see in front of me a prison cell, with a Gerudo woman held captive. There’s been mention of one of their warriors missing, and this must be her. I try to figure out how to release her, but when I talk to her she says it’s too dangerous and I shouldn’t try to fight them all by myself. She suggests distracting them somehow, but doesn’t have any ideas.
I do. Off to the left, I see a guard patrolling. He looks bigger than the other Yiga I’ve fought so far, and more imposing. I get the sense that he’s stronger and will not go down easily. This life bar pops up over his head, and he’s got 600 hit points. Yep, that’s a tough guy.
He doesn’t see me, I guess the masks they wear don’t afford good vision. It’s dim, and he’s carrying a torch, but the light doesn’t reach up to the walkway I’m standing on.
I sneak down and he turns a corner, his back to me, and marches slowly away. I take the initiative, and hit him with the Stasis power from my Sheikah slate, to time-stop him, and while he’s frozen I hit him as much as I can with my strongest and fastest weapon. He comes out of stasis and all the hits take effect on him at once, 7 or 8 blows from a strong sword. It staggers him greatly, but he’s still up. I quick-switch to my ice spear, and hit him with it, and he’s frozen again. I switch back to my hardest hitting two-handed weapon, and hit him one last time. This does him in, and he drops without so much as getting an attack in, or sounding an alarm.
He drops a weapon, a two-handed katana-like sword that has an attack rating of 40. If I get hit with that thing even once, it’s going to be tough to survive it. I need to have excellent defense and timing if I’m going to take another guard like that out.
Past this guard, there’s another one, standing in front of a doorway. I try the same tactic on him, but this time he gets off a whistle, which summons two more Yiga bowmen, who appear out of nowhere and begin teleporting around the room, attacking me. I switch to ice spear and take them down, but the warrior gets an attack in on me, and one-shots me, and I die.
I respawn, and attempt this same assault numerous times. Most of the time, I nearly kill the first guard only to have him sound the alarm. When the first guard alerts, the second one by the door comes to his aid, in addition to the two bowmen, and it’s really tough to defeat them all. I manage to do it sometimes. And sometimes I manage to take down both guards without them sounding the alarm.This is tough, but best. I find that if I take the first guard out quickly enough, I can nail the second with an ice arrow head shot, and then run up, use Statis again, and finish him off with the sword. If I sprint up quickly and pull off my attack flurry with perfect timing, I can manage to get in 8-10 hits before he can manage to do anything, and kill him.
Through the door, there’s a hallway leading to another room, to the right, and further ahead, a ladder going up.
I switch my armor for my stealth suit, figuring this is exactly what it was meant for, and go up the ladder. The ladder leads to a catwalk running along the top of the room, near the ceiling. Ducking, I walk quietly along the room, and look down, and see three, maybe four Yiga guards patrolling around boxes and pallets of supplies of some sort.
I don’t think I can fight them all. They’re too near each other and even if I can take one down quickly, the others are sure to notice and sound the alarm. I think I can probably take on one of those guards one-on-one, but 2- or 3-on one, it won’t be pretty, especially since they have the same teleport ability as the bowmen do, as I’ve found out through many trials attempting to get this far.
At the far end of the catwalk, there’s a small storage room, where there’s a huge amount of bananas, and a chest with a gem in it. I consider that these might be a trap, but as an experiment I try taking them, and nothing happens. From the storage room, I can see down into the main room through windows. There are four guards, one patrolling each corner of the room. At the far end of the room, there’s a guard standing in the middle of a doorway, blocking the exit to a hallway.
What I need to do is drop down from the catwalk, without getting noticed, and sneak past the guards. I see another ladder leading to a second catwalk that goes along the wall adjacent to the one I’m on, and it leads directly overhead the guard blocking the doorway.
If I can get to him without being noticed, maybe I can time-stop him and just run past him. If I try to kill him, it’ll make too much noise and take too much time, and I’m sure to be noticed. But if I don’t do anything but time stop him, maybe he won’t realize anything has happened to him after the stasis effect wears off, and I can just sneak past him.
This is exactly what I do, and it only takes me about 4 hours of trying to pull it off. I nearly succeed in my very first attempt, and slip past him, run down the hallway, and into a back room, another storage room. Looking around, there’s a few chests and some that are partially buried in the floor and need to be pulled up with Magnesis. Each time I do this, it makes noise and draws the guard’s attention, but I am able to duck down and hide and he checks the room, finds nothing and goes back. But after the third time, I accidentally hit Down on the D-pad, which is the control Link uses to whistle for his horse. This attracts the guard’s attention a bit more, and he comes further into the room than he has on other searches, and this time he finds me. I almost take him, but he gets his alarm off just before I finish him off, and the rest of the guards come, bowmen come, and I actually did pretty good, managing to kill three or four of them, but eventually the big guys with the powerful swords hit me one time and I go down.
I try again, but much to my annoyance once I get past him, I get hung up on a wall and start climbing it, and when he wakes back up from stasis, I’m clinging to the fucking wall like Spider-Man, he whistles the alarm, and I’m quickly dogpiled.
A bunch of other times, I don’t even make it that far, and screw up on other parts. There’s no saving allowed, so I can’t do it step by step and save and restore from my last point of progress. If I could I would be done with it in under an hour. As it is, it takes four hours. I get pretty frustrated. But it forces me to play very carefully and work on my skill.
Finally, I make it. I’m so frustrated that this time I don’t bother looting the whole room. I don’t want to take any unnecessary chances or waste time; I’m here for one thing, and that’s the Thunderhelm.
In using Magnesis, I can see that one wall is magnetically sensitive, so I pull on it, and it’s a secret door that revolves open, and I go in without any further hesitation.
The game switches to a cutscene, and I enter a large, arena-like room, with a pit in the middle that looks bottomless. I’m alone at first, but then a voice shouts “Hey!” at me, and I am found. It’s the boss of the Yiga clan.
He monologues a bit, and then we fight. I have felt like Hinox fights and Lynel fights feel like boss fights, but this one feels more like a boss fight than those. This guy isn’t nearly as tough, though, and he’s not hard to take out. This fight is also somewhat comical, he has a clownish appearance and is something of a buffoon. I use the same basic approach as I have with the rest of the Yiga, favoring quick striking weapons with decent range, switching to bow if he’s at a distance, and favoring elemental effects that disrupt or freeze him, such as electrical or freeze.
After I knock him about halfway down, he teleports to hover over the middle of the bottomless pit, where I can’t reach him anymore with melee weapons. He creates a force shield, and then summons two large round bomb-looking things, which he lobs at me. They’re not hard to dodge, and his windup is so slow that I can just nail him with an arrow before he fires them at me, and he drops them.
I hit him with arrows for like 10 minutes, before I notice that his life bar isn’t going down when I do this. This annoys me to no end, because I end up wasting about 500 rupees worth of bomb arrows for nothing. I hate it when boss fights have a specific thing that you have to do and that’s the only thing that will work, because that’s what the designers intend for the fight. This is one such boss fight.
What you are supposed to do is, wait for the bombs he generates to start circling around him, and when one is directly over his head, then hit him with an arrow, disrupting his concentration, and the bomb falls, hits him in the head, and does damage. It’s not like an arrow, even a bomb arrow could do damage, it has to be one of his own bombs. Because game designer logic. This doesn’t fit well at all with so much of the rest of the challenges in the game, where anything goes and there’s almost always several approaches that can work, some more obvious, some more difficult, but all viable.
By the time I figure out what I’m supposed to do, I’ve used up 100% of my bomb arrows, and most of my ice and electric arrows as well. I really should reset and just do the whole fucking thing over again, but I’m so annoyed with all the attempts where I didn’t pull something off perfectly, and had it screw up my run, that I just want to get it the fuck over with.
I do it. I drop the bomb on his head, and he takes two of these and then he’s done. He summons one more great big bomb, but it comically rolls the wrong way and hits him, knocking him into the pit, and he is defeated. I think, maybe we haven’t seen the last of him, but I hope so. Fucker.
A chest appears, and it has the Thunderhelm. I grab it, and I’m so ready for this to be done right now, I don’t want to figure out a way out of here, I just teleport back to Gerudo town, and switch into my girl clothes, and run straight to the Chief of Gerudo to give her the helmet.
This triggers another of Link’s lost memories, and we see a story sequence, where the champion of the Gerudo, the mother of the current chief, is talking to Link about Zelda, and it serves to narrate some tension that exists between the two. Zelda is frustrated at her lack of progress in developing her powers to bind the evil power, which is supposed to be her destiny, and she’s annoyed with Link because every time he has to come to her aid and protect her, it reminds her of her failure. She’s sleeping, exhausted, while Urbana, the Gerudo champion, explains this all to Link. Then she uses the Thunderhelm to summon a huge thunderbolt, which startles Zelda awake.
Back in the present day, Gerudo Chief Riju says she wants to go deal with the Divine Beast Vah Naboris right away, and asks Link for his help. Of course that’s what I’m going to do.