The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Is Perfect, Full of Queer Vibes

This The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review contains mild spoilers.

On Saturday morning, my dear friend Meg Jones Wall texted me to ask how far along I was in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. I wasn’t too far, to be honest; these games take me forever to play because I love them but am also terrible at puzzles, especially ones requiring spatial awareness and the ability to reorient objects in your mind. So I asked Meg to tell me something awesome, which I knew meant they’d tell me something gay, and they did: “Sidon is back!” they texted. “There is KNEELING and a VOW.” And so I hardly put the game down for the rest of the weekend.

One of my favorite things about Breath of the Wild was watching so many queer and trans friends imprint onto Link. Trans guys and trans gals, nonbinary gamers, butch lesbians, and on and on. I think it’s because of Link’s general androgyny and also the fact that Link never says a single word, but also there’s just a vibe. One of those if you know, you know ones about Link. That elf just feels queer. Our own Niko Stratis has written about how Link held a mirror up to her life as a trans woman. I also loved this piece at Gizmodo called “A Link Between Genders” about The Legend of Zelda’s trans joy. And I’m happy to say that the vibe is back and queerer than ever in Tears of the Kingdom.

Link flys through the air.

It’s hard to write an actual review of this game because the only thing to compare it to is the massively successful Breath of the Wild, but it surpasses even that masterpiece, going places no video game has gone before. So here are just a few of the things I love:

Link’s new powers. In Breath of the Wild, there was a very clear way the game wanted you to solve all its puzzles and riddles, but Tears of the Kingdom almost invites you to break it to try out new and creative ways to make things happen. Pick stuff up, stick it together, teleport through it, set it on fire, tear it down, build a bridge, merge your weapons. I have, more than once, been so overwhelmed with options that I just stopped and picked apples for a while! All these options make the giant world map even more exciting because there’s infinite ways to traverse it. I even saw a critic say that playing this game has cured them of their to-do list obsession; they’re just free.

The quality of life improvements, especially cooking and inventory management, make gameplay much more seamless.

Link blasts a new weapon.

The story starts off like always: Link naked and unarmed! After a little subzero Hyrule Castle explanation with Zelda, Link gets blasted by a new big bad and wakes up in the sky (kind of). When he finds his way back to Hyrule, there’s been an Upeaval, so he’s got to solve that while also finding Zelda who’s gone missing (surprise!). It’s kinda spooky, the apparitions of Zelda that Link runs into, but it’s hard to get too emotional about it, because Link unlocks even more cool gear and abilities when he’s back in Hyrule.

Link and Sidon basically getting married.

I’ve only put in about 20 hours, and I honestly feel like I’ll get 100 out of it before it’s all said and done! How are you feeling about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. I’m really sorry to hijack this lovely review, but I’d really love to see some transparency around the elimination of the 3 subject editor roles. Autostraddle just came out of a funding round where we were encouraged to give in the name of community during a time of pretty much global recession. The unexpected eliminations mean one of two things:
    – the transparent breakdown of AS’s financial plans and where our funding goes is not in fact all that transparent, or
    – the exec board knew these layoffs were coming and waited until after the fundraising round to let the affected editors (and therefore the readers) know.
    Idk about other readers, but these three were responsible for some of my absolute favourite AS content. Seeing them lose their roles in these circumstances feels really grim, especially as they’ve published a lot of pretty radical stuff during such a scary phase of backlash. I’m hoping for some transparency for community’s sake, since transparency in fundraising is something AS has always prided itself on and at the moment that feels very much in doubt.

    (Also sorry again Heather, thank you for this lovely review!!!)

    • Yes, thank you for posting this comment. I saw that the AS IG account reposted stories from two of those editors and came to the site immediately looking for an explanation. We exceeded the fundraising goal, so I am left with the same questions you have about how we got to this point so soon after a successful fundraiser. I am so sorry to Ro, Vanessa, and Shelli — your wonderful contributions to this site will be sorely missed.

    • Thank you for this comment, this is absolutely devastating and really shocking and upsetting, as someone who is also a loyal reader and donated to the fundraiser….

      thank you heather for the review and I am excited for this game!

    • Thank you for sharing this–I hadn’t heard about the cuts before now (I’m not on twitter)

      I’ve really appreciated Shelli’s work to bring the voices of more people of color to the site, along with her efforts as Culture editor such as bringing Autostraddle to film festivals so we could get first hand coverage from a queer perspective. The same goes for Vanessa’s amazing work as Community Editor, and Ro’s with Sex & Dating. They’ll definitely all be missed

      • I’m also really troubled by this news – and shocked, and upset honestly. I’m really hoping there’s a transparent statement to readers/subscribers soon. I’m seeing the comments start to pop up here and on other articles from people wanting to know what happened. When I donated and spoke up in support of the fundraiser in March, I didn’t know that the elimination of 3 subject editor positions was even in the realm of possibility for AS this year. Finding out this way just feels so out of step with the kind of transparency I’ve come to know and appreciate from AS, especially around finances. It was through the writing of Shelli, Ro, and Vanessa and their editorial voices/vision that I came to love and go to bat for Autostraddle even harder. I’m really gutted!

        • Echoing what everyone else has said here. It’s troubling to find this out via twitter and then not have any mention of it on the site. I’m really, really hoping this doesn’t turn out like the A-camp stuff a while back where it took something like a week for a response to be published. The loss of these three writers is such a massive one, surely the least we can expect is a timely, transparent explanation.

    • Oh no! I learned about this here, since I’m not on social media. I have a lot of trust in AS leadership and in Carmen and Riese but this is really devastating news. I hope they’re able to shed some light on what happened soon.

  2. So excited to dig into this game! I spent many happy hours playing through and revisiting BoTW. This is the first review I’ve read and I’m even more enthusiastic to get into the game. I always appreciate the video game recommendations and queer insight :)

  3. I’m actually pretty negative about Breath if the Wild, between how poorly it treated Zelda, the weirdness around the Gerudo, and the transphobia around the quest to get in to Gerudo town.

    Afaik, there’s no redemption for that in the new game, and it’s hard for me to be excited about a game called “Legend of Zelda” game that’s so keen on sidelining the title woman.

    • I had not considered the Gerudo quest to be transphobic. In my mind, it was cool to see Link in drag and see the gender bending of it all, especially considering most of the people who played BOTW are cis dudes. Thank you for sharing your perspective here.

      I agree that Zelda is sidelined a lot in the whole franchise. It would be awesome if they could figure out a storyline where you can play as Zelda. A co-op two player would be a dream come true, but obviously a huge deviation from the original.

    • Yeah, I will NEVER forget hearing about Legend of Zelda for the first time and asking my friend, “Oh cool, so you play as someone named Zelda?!” and she was like uhhh no, YOU NEVER DO. C’mon Nintendo :(

  4. Heather, I’m about 50 hours into BOTW (after your recommendations in the advice box!) and I’m still only through maybe like a quarter of the game map?! It’s overwhelming!! The options and the side quests and the geography, oh my! I actually put it down for a while, but then TOTK came out and everyone was talking about Zelda so I picked it back up again, and now I’m kind of addicted? But I’m also terrified of TOTK because it seems like it will be even MORE overwhelming than BOTW?! Apparently that’s possible?!

    I dunno, I’m having fun, but I think I much prefer video games with clear goals and paths. And I LIKE to-do lists, which in BOTW is a problem because I want to check off EVERYTHING and that is just literally not possible. I could easily just play this game for the rest of my life and still never really be “done”.

  5. THIS.

    I’ve been reading Autostraddle for years and became an A+ member in January. If this complete absence of transparency and accountability from senior leadership continues that stops.

    Shelli, Vanessa and Ro are incredible writers. They should not have been fired and the silence around it all is shamefulness upon shamefulness.

    No one should have to suddenly lose a significant part of their income and be left to break that news themselves on Twitter. I can’t know how they’re feeling, but the fact that workers don’t really have the space to be publically angry in these kinds of situations (at least without repercussions) makes me angry for them.

    Why does this feel like the layoffs at BuzzFeed News and Gawker and the rest of them all over again? How did the fundraiser exceed goals if the most important goal should always be getting writers (both on staff and freelancers)paid?

    Without any information it feels like something is rotten here and it smells like racism and financial mismanagement.

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