I’m in the hidden cave beneath the whirlpool of Lake Hylia, and there seems to be no way out apart from fast-travel. So I teleport back to Lookout Landing, cash in some Light of Blessings for a heat container, and try to figure out where to go next.
I’ve been a bit frustrated that there seems to be no way to activate the Skyview Tower in the area to the south, which I’ve now probably explored more fully than any zone in the ground level map. I gather that whatever it is I must do, there must be some other subquest linked to it in some other region that I haven’t done yet.
In all of my travels, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about Rito Village, and the next most commonly referred to place I haven’t yet visited is Lurelin Village, perhaps followed by Hateno Village.
I still haven’t made any headway in the Ring Ruins subplot in Kakariko Village, either.
I mostly waste the next few hours trying to explore the unmapped region to the South, with the only thing to show for it being a bunch more koroks found. I now have somewhere short of 60 korok seeds, and have not encountered Hestu even once yet. He seems to be missing from the game, but there were times in BOTW when I couldn’t figure out where to find him, either. So who knows, Hestu might be sitting this one out, or he might be somewhere I haven’t been to yet, which is most of the map at this point.
Random observation: I could be wrong, but I think it feels like Blood Moon happens less frequently in TOTK than it does in BOTW. If so, I think it’s probably a good idea. As I played BOTW longer and longer, it seemed to me like the lunar cycle was too rapid, resulting in a Blood Moon annoyingly too soon after the previous one.
But I also wonder why we still have blood moons. If the blood moon resurrection of defeated monsters was due to the Calamity Ganon, and I defeated Calamity Ganon in the previous game, then why are they still happening?
I guess it makes sense to have an in-game explanation for why monsters respawn in the world. But to me, it feels wrong that the explanation is the same as the cause in the previous game, which I had seemingly put an end to when I defeated Ganon.
Like, they could have just said that after a while nearby monsters wandering about nomadic ally simply repopulate an area that you have cleared previously, since you can’t be everywhere, it always happens when you’re not there to see it or do anything about it.
I decide to head into the northern lands, and hope that the conditions will not be too harsh. I have my cold weather pants, which will protect me from milder cold, and a few meals prepared that will give me some additional cold resistance; hopefully it will be enough to last me a while, enough to explore a bit and discover something.
I fast-travel to the closest point I can get to, which happens to be the underground temple hidden deep inside of the Forgotten Temple, which I had visited while working on Impa’s quest.
I have to walk around a bit in order to find a low enough ceiling to Ascend through the roof to exit the Temple efficiently, and while I’m doing that, I find a treasure chest with a weapon in it, and a korok, and a couple of forage plants and mushrooms.
But I’m not here to spend a lot of time, and as soon as I can, I Ascend through the roof of the Temple, and emerge topside. It’s a cold area, a wide, snowy field. The light is dim, and a slight snowfall starts a few moments after my emergence.
I scout around with my telescope trying to see what points of interest are nearby; I spot a Skyview Tower in the far distance, and two Shrines, and what looks like another Fairy Flower. The Fairy Flower seems to be the closest, and in order to be more effective in a fight, I’m going to need to find one that will open for me so I can begin to augment my clothing, so I hope that this will be a more easy one to get open, since that will most directly help me in all my journeys, and head in the direction of the fountain.
As I approach the mountain it sits atop, I notice a cave entrance, and decide to explore it, knowing that there will be lots of good forage in there, protection from the elements, and a quick route to the top of the mountain that is my current destination anyway.
I’m right on all three counts. I find some new items, cold-themed plants and mushrooms, some mineral deposits, and a bubbul frog deep in the cavern in a large chamber. Once I have harvested everything I can, I Ascend to the surface, and pop up directly next to the Fairy Fountain.
Unfortunately, the Fairy won’t come out. It tells me that it, too, is disgusted with the world’s state, and will not come out again unless it hears a musician’s horn playing.
I don’t have that, and wonder what I’ll need to do to get it to happen, and continue to the north, where one of the Shrines I had spotted is marked on the map with a pin.
I arrive at the shrine without incident, and enter. This one is pretty easy. It’s a couple of tests to hit a large bull’s eye target with your ultrahand abilities. I fuse a Log to a Wheel, attach a Rocket, and activate it; the rocket causes the wheel to spin, and strike the target with the log.
I emerge from the shrine, and there’s a korok who needs help getting to his friend; it’s a bit of a walk, but not too bad, so I take him there. I’m ambushed by skeletons but they’re easily dealt with, and I pick up a couple of arrows, which I’ve sorely needed.
Having dropped off the korok with his friend, I head back toward the shrine I had just cleared; from atop the snowy mesa it sits upon, I could see a geoglyph in the snowy field nearby, and I want to find the Tear to unlock the cutscene and complete another part of Impa’s quest.
I trudge around, and it’s slow going because of the snow, but eventually I find what I’m looking for in the right-hand wing of the geoglyph.
The story sequence is of Zelda, with Queen Sophia, who has just been struck down by Ganondorf. Ganondorf has taken the comma-shaped object and pressed it into his forehead, and this greatly amplifies his powers. Now he seems unstoppable. King Rauru bursts in, sees his stricken Queen, and becomes enraged. Ganondorf tells Rauru that it’s too late now, that he has taken the power from him, which he had taken for granted an squandered. Ganondorf summons a horde of bokoblins and other monsters, including some Lynels, a few of whom look like they have antlers instead of a leonine appearance. Ganondorf launches an energy attack at the three, but Rauru protects them with an energy shield that resembles the Daruk’s Protection ability from BOTW. This shields them long enough for Zelda to use the Purah Pad to quick-travel them away to safety.
My next nearest goal for this region is to reach the Skyview Tower and scan the map data into my Purah Pad. To make this journey take less time, I find a falling piece of Sky Island, which has fallen nearby at the edge of the Geoglyph, and I ride it up into the sky using Recall, and then glide in the direction of the tower. This gets me all the way there, I touch down just at the base of the tower as my stamina meter runs out.
I find that this Skyview Tower is in perfect working order, and is unguarded, seemingly abandoned. There’s no one at all nearby that I can find. I activate the tower and ride up in the the air, and obtain the map data.
Once among the clouds, I spot a large chain of sky islands extending eastward, toward a larger chunk of Sky Island that I think I should check out. I glide in the direction, and find myself in the territory of some aerocudas, who spot me and swoop up at me from below, trying to knock me out of the sky. It seems that as long as I keep gliding in a forward direction that all they can do is buzz me, but their near misses are alarming. I don’t have many arrows to shoot them down with, and doing so would use up a lot of my bullet-time stamina, which would shorten my glide distance by a lot. So rather than do that, I glide toward the nearest Sky Island, which is far below me, and rather than hover and descend slowly, I dive. I drop so quickly that the Aerocudas can’t keep up with me, and I lose them. The ground is rushing up to meet me, and I re-deploy my glider, and come in for a soft landing.
This Sky Island has very little on it, a plant or two, but there’s several batteries, a control stick, and a couple of fans, and a floating platform, which I assemble with Ultrahand to turn into a sky car. I hop on and activate it, and fly in the direction that follows the chain of sky islands.
Along the way, there are some active Zonai constructs, soldiers that are armed with rockets, and when they notice me they try to shoot me down. But again, as long as I keep moving, they seem to be unable to target me, and I manage to get past them unscathed.
The first large chunk of Sky Island I come to has a rotating platform with a mechanical piston that looks like it can be used to aim me toward another nearby large Sky Island. The island is strewn with rusty broadswords and claymores, so I’m thinking there must be a big fight coming up near here, if I continue in the direction I continue exploring. I can turn the piston platform using a turning wheel , and so I do so. I get it lined up, and then stand in front of the piston, which catapults me through the air in the desired direction. I’m at the apex of my ballistic trajectory, and starting to lose velocity, and it seems I’ll come up short if I just rely on the push I received, but I use the paraglider again to slow my fall and give me more flight time, and easily reach the Sky Island. I’m expecting a fight, but there’s nothing really around here. Just another Zonai gumball machine, which I use. It yields a few new toys: Sleds, and I forget what else.
But there doesn’t seem to be anything to fight here, and I’m not sure what else I should be doing here. Looking around, off in the distance I spot the massive cube-shaped Sky Island, and it seems to be floating directly overhead a labyrinth. The corner nearest me on this sky cube is an opening, and immediately inside I spot a Shrine. I decide that’s where I want to go next. But it’s not obvious how I can get there from here. Below the level I’m on, there’s another sky island floating between the island I’m standing on and the cube labyrinth. It looks like the sky island that the painter Pikango has been painting. I’ve encountered Pikango twice in this game, and I knew him well from BOTW, where he seemed to be everywhere in Hyrule, telling me things and giving me side quests. So far, Pikango seems to be very interested in this one particular Sky Island that has a distinctive shape, and I believe I’m now looking at it from above. It seems like I could probably glide out to it, and there must surely be something interesting there if I can do so. It doesn’t look very large, and shouldn’t take long to explore.
I try go glide out there from the near edge of the island I’m on, but I don’t quite have the stamina to make it, running out just short of the edge, and I don’t bother with using an elixir to extend my range, I fall just a few feet short of my goal. Plummeting without any stamina left is very dangerous, so I fast-travel back to the safety of the Skyview Tower that started from, thinking it should be simple to try again, and perhaps using a Zonai sky car would be easier.
It takes me two or three more tries, but I eventually find a path that avoids the Zonai construct soldiers and also takes me in a direction where I can get to the sky island I’m interested in.
When I land there, it looks like a tiny temple, shaped like a five-petaled flower. In the center, I find some Zonai runes, which I am unable to read, but I take a photo of, hoping that this will become useful when I next run into Tauros or maybe Pikango.
From this location, I’m too low in the sky to have a hope of reaching the floating cube, but gliding in its direction will take me to the entrance of the labyrinth on the ground level, provided I manage to survive the dive at the end. As I’m approaching the landing area, a shooting star falling from the sky just barely misses me. When I land, I turn around and it’s not more than 20 feet from me! This is the closest I’ve ever been to a falling star. In the sky, it seemed like it missed me by mere feet. I run over to collect it. Then I turn my attention back to the entrance of the labyrinth. Just outside the entrance, I find a traveler must have been here already, for there is a camp site and a journal notebook for me to read.
It tells me that the person who explored the labyrinth was a Hylian who was trying to explore after Tauros, who began the investigation here, left to check out runes at another site (probably Kakariko?). The anonymous author of the notes went on to explore the labyrinth, leaving a trail of pine cones, and stacks of firewood, and occasionally a new campsite with a new notebook with some more clues.
I try to follow his trail, and for the most part it’s not too difficult, although there are spots where Gloom makes it difficult. There are numerous ice blocks in this labyrinth, which is in the cold upper corner of northeast Hebron, and when I melt some of them, they reveal Zonai arms and shields of exceptional power.
But I’m trying to find the center of the labyrinth, which contains a locked chamber. There are barred windows showing a shrine in the center, and that’s my ultimate goal. But exploring every inch of the labyrinth seems worthwhile if it’s going to turn up these high powered weapons and shields. The best I find is a shield with a defense rating of 50, and another with a defense rating of 25. I also find some powerful Zonai swords, although they are only about half as powerful as the shields. I also find a few forage plants and mushrooms, and pick those when I find them.
Eventually I get tired of trying to find my way through the maze, so I activate Ascend and use it to get up on top of the maze walls, which enables me to “cheat” a bit, and quickly get to parts of the maze that I would have to wander a long time to reach if I was on the ground level.
But due to the 3D verticality of the maze, I can’t simply jump over the walls and get to the center. There’s a barred floor when I try, and so I have to find the right way.
There’s a korok shooting gallery challenge at one corner of the labyrinth, on the top of the wall, but I have but three arrows and not enough to spare to attempt the challenge. I mark the location to return later when I have more ammo, and continue trying to find my way into the shrine chamber.
At one point, I am on the top of the wall, when I look down in a spot I haven’t yet been to from below, and I spot a Gloom enemy, the horrible thing with many arms, which I’ve encountered before only once.
I’m afraid of this thing, especially in the tight confines of a maze where I will really struggle to outrun it, and mostly blunder into walls that will cause my camera to screw up my view, as the rendering engine stops drawing the wall I’m close to, and shifts the camera angle around to show the world through Link’s eyes, without drawing Link so that I can’t see where exactly he is, and then the monster will grab me and kill me with no problem. And probably I’ll start climbing a wall that I don’t mean to climb too. I hate fighting in close quarters in this game, and I think that’s a design flaw more than it is that I suck or that I’m not powered up enough.
I feel like I need to take out this gloom creature if I’m going to solve the maze, and who knows if I can, but I decide to try to soften it up as much as I can by dropping Bomb Flowers from above. I have only about 16 of them left, and I can’t throw them, and I can’t waste arrows on them either. From this height if I throw them they’ll hit the far wall of the maze corridor too high up to do any damage to the hands, so I have to drop them.
This proves surprisingly effective, though, and when I drop a bomb I do damage to most or all of the hands, taking its health meter down an appreciable amount. I seem to wake the thing up, and I’m afraid it will climb the wall and attack me directly, but it doesn’t seem capable of looking up or climbing. All it does is slide around on the floor, moving through the maze, apparently trying to find me, but unable to do so.
This gives me quite an advantage, and I use it to maximum effect, dropping about 10 bombs altogether, which finally destroys the creature.
This triggers a Boss Fight with a Phantom Ganon. The Phantom Ganon’s life bar appears and the music changes, the sky turns blood red and I get even more scared. I am looking frantically all around me for this Phantom Ganon, but don’t see it. Or him. I run around looking down into the labyrinth from atop the walls, hoping to spot him and at least get an idea of what I’m up against, but there is no sign of it, and I am starting to get confused. I keep looking and looking, wandering about on the top of the maze for this missing (invisible?) boss, who I cannot find.
Finally after several minutes, the boss music fades out and the life bar disappears. What happened? Did some timer run out? Or did I walk too far away from the spawn point and trigger a de-spawn? Do I have to fight that hand gloom again? Or will it come back if I jump back down into the maze?
I have little to lose so I give it a try, but the hand monster doesn’t return, and neither does Phantom Ganon.
Eventually I lose my fear and resume looking for the heart of the maze, and eventually I manage to find it.
The final bit of puzzle to this area is that in order to get into the shrine, I have to build a fire to melt some large blocks of ice that are blocking its entrance. This is easy; flint, metal sword, firewood, done.
I receive a blessing from the shrine, just for opening it.
When I emerge, I discover a new Zonai activation spot, at the far end of the chamber from where the shrine is. I examine it, and it tells me that the Spirit of the Owl, who watches over this labyrinth, has unlocked some door in the maze in the sky above.
So these two mazes are linked in at least that way.
I wonder about the Phantom Ganon, and wonder how will I get to fight it, and if I do, what tactics will I employ to survive and prevail?
Oh, and there’s a chasm to the underworld in the shrine chamber of the ground level labyrinth, which is covered by a locked grate that I don’t know how to open. So that’s rather mysterious. I wonder if the underworld is a maze at this location, as well.
My next point of interest to check out is the other shrine. This one happens to be right near the Tanantha Stable, and it’s one of the more elaborate challenges I’ve faced so far. The name of the challenge is Courage to Fail. There’s a large double door that I have to open using Ultrahand, and then a series of laser beams that trigger a trapdoor in the floor behind the great doors. There’s no way past these beams, it seems at first, and given the name of the challenge I guess I’m meant to be brave and test them out… no, I just fall to my death. Upon respawning, I discover a side path that I can walk around the more obvious way in, and avoid the beams altogether. From here, I Ascend through an overhanging ceiling and climb a ladder, then duck under a low tunnel, and find myself in a room where I have to fight a few Zonai Constructs. They’re little challenge, but I do have to be a bit careful with them, as it’s two on one. Once they’re defeated, there’s another pair further on, and some more laser beam trap doors. I easily evade the beams on the second trapdoor area, and then am puzzled by a locked room with a ball. I’m obviously meant to extract this ball and use it, but I don’t know where the key is. It takes me some time to puzzle through this, but there’s a third trapdoor where it turns out that it’s the way forward, not a pit of death. I have to discover this by testing it by breaking the laser beam trigger with an object I manipulate with Ultrahand. I grab a fallen Construct’s weapon and use it to block the beam, the trap door opens, I look down into the pit and can see solid ground, and that’s the way.
I go through and find a chest with a small key, which unlocks the room above containing the ball. From there, I have to get the ball into two bowls to unlock gates. The first gate contains a Zonai wing with fans attached to it, which I have to put on a rail, and then glue the ball to it, and use it to fly down below to the second area where the bowl unlocks the Light of Blessing.
It’s a satisfying puzzle that isn’t immediately obvious and takes some careful examination to figure out.
I proceed out of the shrine, and in the snow off in the distance away from the Stables I spot a light. Using the telescope, I can see it’s a Korok who needs help finding his friend. I pick him up and take him, taking care to walk around a nasty cold Wizzorobe, my least favorite type. After reuniting the korok buddies, I notice they’re right in front of a cave, which I enter. It turns out this cave is the same one I explored earlier, the one directly beneath the Fairy Flower.
So I return back to the stable, and talk to everyone there. They warn me of the cold and tell me of the troubles at Rito Village, where it has been so cold that everyone there is starving and they need help. I guess that’s where I’m meant to go next.
I talk to a guy sitting by a cooking fire, who mentions a well in back, and yeah I guess it seems that there’s a well at pretty much every stable. So I go to check it out, and it’s frozen over. I stand on the ice and light a fire, and break through into a cave, which has a lot of mineral deposits, but the drops from them are mostly rock salt and flint, only one amber and one sapphire.
I guess this has been a pretty productive session; I’ve accomplishes more than a few things and made progress. So it’s time to take a rest.