If you are in the US and fancy going against the grain for your Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom pre-ordering, GameStop is giving away a free wooden plaque if you shop with them.
Admittedly, this in itself isn't really all that interesting. If you, like me, live in the UK then this deal is out of reach (for now at least, I will keep an eye out for it appearing at any local retailers). However, being the Zelda fan that I am, I have been taking a closer look at the plaque to see if it gives us any more clues about Tears of the Kingdom's story.
On further investigation, I noticed the artwork depicted on the plaque is the same that can be seen adorning the Tears of the Kingdom artbook that comes with the game's collectors edition, and can also be found on the game's Japanese website. So, it is clearly important.
Before we dive into my theories about what it all means (and I must stress, these really are just my theories), here is a closer look at the Tears of the Kingdom artwork in question.
The first thing that caught my eye about this design was, well, the eyes.
The eye in the middle of the design looks like a variation of the Crest of the Sheikah. This crest is a recurring motif in Zelda games, and shows an open eye looking forward with a teardrop falling from it. The open eye represents the Sheikah's quest for truth, while the teardrop represents the tribe's willingness to go to great lengths to achieve any given goal.
In this Tears of the Kingdom's artwork, the middle eye is looking down and appears to be shedding far more than a single tear, however. The near flood cascading down from it perhaps resembles the tribe's extreme sacrifices in the upcoming Zelda game.
That being said, the fact it is looking down rather than forward could mean the eye's owner (and I have a theory on who that might be in a moment) is from the sky islands above Tears of the Kingdom's version of Hyrule.
Additionally, the lower lid on this eye has seven 'eyelashes' (I do not think these are actually eyelashes, but for the sake of this description I am calling them that for now). These could represent seven sages, perhaps, and their corresponding dungeons.
If you cast your mind back to September's title reveal trailer, you will recall the carving of an ethereal, long-eared figure surrounded by seven symbols. One theory I have is that the eye in the artwork belongs to this figure, and those seven symbols are the game's titular tears being shed by the sages and their 'deity'.
In the middle of this 'tear cascade' we can also see a claw-like hand.
This hand looks very much like the hand we saw holding Ganon in place underneath Hyrule all the way back in the game's very first teaser. It also looks like Link's hand after he has been imbued with (what we assume is) the sealing hand's mystical powers.
Perhaps these powers came from the above ethereal figure, and the flow of tears is also showing the transfer of this power to Hyrule's protector.
We now come to the other eyes shown on this artwork, along with the markings depicted below them. These are almost mirror images of each other, and I believe one eye is looking into the past and one to the future.
There have been theories that Tears of the Kingdom will feature some sort of time split for a while now, and this artwork further solidifies the idea for me.
Additionally, the curved lines beneath each eye could represent the two ouroboros dragons from Tears of the Kingdom's logo.
These dragons can also be seen adorning the doors of the shrine in the sky from the title reveal trailer, although in this case they were facing towards each other.
Lastly, there's the mysterious text that encircles the entire artwork.
This text seems to repeat itself, and I wish I knew what it says but alas I have no idea. Maybe it is some kind of sealing chant...
This text seems to be made up of the same symbols we saw around Ganon's subterranean tomb in the sequel's announcement trailer, and we saw something similar again etched into the floor in footage shared last year announcing the game's delay. So, perhaps it is the language of the sages tasked with sealing away Ganon?
Like I said, these are all theories. Hopefully we will hear more from Nintendo about its upcoming release soon (needless to say, I am eager to know more). In the meantime, are there any theories you have about where Link and Zelda's next story will lead us?