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Game Theory

Tears of the Kingdom theory teases the surprising return of a classic Zelda mechanic

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Nintendo

Ever since the first trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was released, theories have been stirring about how the game might handle dungeons and/or shrines. Will it return to the classic sprawling dungeons of classic games in the series or emphasis smaller puzzle-based experiences like the Shrines in Breath of the Wild. One content creator recently pointed out how seven dungeons would make sense from a thematic standpoint while also appeasing fan desires to return to a more classic approach. Commonwealth Realm digs into the Zelda series’ history with dungeons, Eastern religions, and patterns of seven in a convincingly complex argument.

It starts with seven spirals, seven regions, and seven chakras.

Seven spirals — The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom September 2022 trailer opens with a closeup of a hieroglyphic wall, decorated with what looks like a deity surrounded by seven magatama-looking spirals. If these spirals are anything like the Sheikah tapestry from Breath of the Wild, they might hint at the journey to come. The Sheikah ended up being the main tribe featured in Breath of the Wild, especially its technology like the Sheikah Slate.

Then, there’s the religious aspect.

Tears of the Kingdom director Hidemaro Fujibayashi was one of the first to break the “religious boundary” in the series with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. According to Commonwealth Realm, the fourth dungeon is typically the “first” dungeon of the main act and therefore one of the most important. Skyward Sword’s fourth dungeon Ancient Cistern and its multi-armed golden robot boss heavily reference Buddhist deities and aesthetics.

Seven regions — The Legend of Zelda world has seven provinces outside of Central Hyrule. That’s where Ganon resides, so it’s likely going to be a destination in Tears of Kingdom rather than a part of the journey. That hasn’t stopped Zelda games from pushing players into an early boss dungeon, like when Link first entered the Forsaken Fortress in Wind Waker and then revisited, but still. The point is that one of these regions isn’t like the others and might even be a moving point rather than a set dungeon to visit.

The seven spirals in the Tears of the Kingdom September 2022 trailer.Nintendo

Seven chakras — Commonwealth Realm also suggests that it could represent the “Third Eye” in the seven chakras theory: one moving point among six stationary ones. It could indicate a journey where Link unlocks different powers until he’s ready to fight Ganondorf (or whoever else is at the end of this game). There might also be dragons involved, considering the three dragons (similar to the series’ iconic three goddesses) that intersect at specific points along the map.

In short, his theory ties the seven spirals to the possible relationship to Eastern religion based on the Zelda series’ history and the current director’s style. We can’t know for sure if there’s anything there until launch, but other theorycrafters have pointed out the dragons’ striking travel patterns too.

It’s important to note that, even without all this interlinking and theory hashing, fans clamoring for dungeons in the Breath of the Wild sequel is nothing new. The development team might not even have something as complex as connections of seven in mind, even if it touches upon neglected lore. That little bit of history woven into Hyrule religious themes is something worth considering, though.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launches for the Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023.

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