Tears of the Kingdom has been out over a weekend, and y’all, it’s getting grim out there. While I expected players to get wild and weird with their creations and was totally delighted to see that it only took about 24 hours before the first flame-spouting phallus hit my timeline, players’ creations have taken a decidedly unexpected and concerning dark turn.
It’s about the Koroks, you see.
As in Breath of the Wild, the twee forest spirits litter the land in remote places and in odd configurations. Lift a conspicuously placed boulder here or chase a moving leaf there to reveal a cheerful little creature who is delighted that you took the time to play its cute little game of hide and seek. You’re also rewarded for your time and cleverness with a Korok seed that you can turn in to increase your weapon inventory. But in this game, there are additional quests you can complete wherein you reunite Koroks, burdened with cumbersome backpacks, who’ve gotten separated from their friends.
The challenges make use of TotK’s new powers allowing you to craft planes, trains, and automobiles to help the beleaguered travelers get from point A to point B. But some players don’t want to help the Koroks, choosing instead to, well...
Search “korok” on TikTok and you’ll get lots of videos of players killing these small, helpless creatures. Some of these instances of horrific abuse are accidents, of course, the Koroks falling victim to the precocious whims of physics and user error.
But intentionally abusing Koroks has morphed into its own emergent activity in Tears of the Kingdom, with players outdoing themselves to craft the most heinous torture contraptions. I’ve seen horrors beyond comprehension. I’ve seen them burned, blasted, dragged, and crucified.
Thankfully, being immortal, good-natured spirits, Koroks cannot truly be killed. If you yeet them off into an abyss, they pop right back to the nearest solid surface. And they seem to feel no pain, spouting soft “Oofs” and “I need to get to my friend!” when you roast them alive. Still, these are Koroks, you monsters! They are baby! They don’t know anything, and they’ve never hurt anyone! Maybe Ganon has a point. Maybe we should hear him out. Because I’ve seen the face of evil, and it is not not him.