Twilight Princess’s Poorly Lit Dawn for a Legend
For a long time up until the release of Breath of the Wild earlier this year Twilight Princess was my favorite game of the series, in spite of it having some of the weakest story writing of all the 3D Zelda games. While considered to be the spiritual sequel to Ocarina of Time as well as having some of the best dungeons and items in the series, its opening sections is what drags the experience down for most players, especially after the first play through.
Compared to most 3D Zelda games that usually have you beginning your adventure within the first twenty minutes or so, Twilight Princess takes a good two hours just to get you to the entrance of the Forest Temple, the first major dungeon of the game. This further brought to a crawl by how long and slowly the player must progress in order to get there, which is most prevalent in the opening section in Ordon Village were the player is more or less forced to go down a check list of chores before they can be allowed to play the game they want to play, and here’s how it goes about doing this.
First cut scene, we have Link and Rusl talking about the hours of twilight and how it is when their world is closest to the world of twilight and is then used to explain why one feels a sense of loneliness at those hours. It’s not particularly interesting or grabs my attention but it does sound important, moving on. Next Rusl tells Link he’ll be going to Hyrule Castle in his place to deliver a gift from the village without giving any sort of explanation why he isn’t going to do so himself, and at the same time he attempts to paint Hyrule as this mystic far off land that they are separate from. Now this opening scene isn’t terrible by any means, it’s not great either but it serves really very little purpose for the story moving forward aside from how twilight was introduced in a bit of an uninteresting way.
Now from here begins the long chore fest. First you have to retrieve your horse from Ilia, your semi-love interest whose relationship with you never gets fully fleshed out or explained throughout the rest of the game, then you need to ride all the way across to the other side of the village to the ranch before going to bed. Next day you need to preform a series of tasks that involve two unskippable tutorials, only one of which is story relevant, another day at the ranch that is longer than the first, as well as doing some menial jobs to get certain items to progress the story. It’s just all of these points in the story are so uninteresting for the player as both the village itself and the villagers themselves lack any true motive to be explored or developed. Then there’s Link’s position within the village itself, he feels like an outsider that was inserted into this village which is somehow not addressed in the least. He doesn’t appear to have any close friends his age within the village, aside from Ilia, nor does it seem like has any real connection to the village itself aside from him simply being there. All this really serves to do for the player is to plaint the village as a place that Link has little reason to stay.
Then there’s Faron Woods, a place you have to journey through and explore three separate times. The first to save the boy Talo who ran into the forest alone, the second to collect the tears of light as a wolf, and the third to make your way back to the Forest Temple after just getting there by collecting the tears of light. Not only is it repetitive and a waste of the player’s time, it ruins the pacing and enjoyment of the game and its story, were its major draw lies in its discovery and exploration. This leaves sections in Faron Woods as well as Ordon Village to feel unnecessary and easily skippable as they add very little to either the story or the gameplay of these opening sections.
Truly it’s only after you take your horse back from Ilia the second time, despite her knowing that you need to deliver the village’s present to Hyrule Castle and that it will reflect badly on the village if you are late, which is then followed by a romantic moment between the two of them that does somewhat come off as jawing. It is then when the village is attacked by monsters that the game and story truly begins, meaning everything in the game prior to this could probably have been cut out of the game play. This then lead Link to charge after the monsters who kidnapped his “friends” without even bothering to go back and grab his sword or horse, where he is then pulled into the Twilight Realm that causes him to shift into a wolf.
Link then wakes up to find himself as wolf chained to the floor of a dungeon were he then meets the fan favorite companion character Midna, a twilight imp with little initial care for Link’s well being so long as he does as she says. In truth this point would have been the best the play to begin the game from as not only would the player not know what is happening and how you got there, much like Link, but brief flashbacks or returning to the village in human form following the attack could serve even better to establish the place as his home village as well as his personal connection to the place itself. But alas that is not how the game begins and instead only get here after about forty minutes of tedious gameplay.
While many people who play Twilight Princess do not consider this section of the game to be an actual dungeon, I’ve always considered it to play much the same role that the journey inside the Deku Tree in Ocarina of Time as an introductory dungeon, despite having no boss to fight at the end of it. While this mindset may make the opening sections of the game more bearable, it still doesn’t change the under lying issues with the opening narrative that does little more than waste the player’s time as they attempt to get to the main story. And while Twilight Princess may have numerous issues in its attempts to be a second Ocarina of Time it is still very much an enjoyable game with some of the best dungeons and boss battles the series has to offer, even if the overworld and the story required to get there can at times can seem to be quite bare.
Thank you again this week for joining me citizens and immigrants of the internet. Next I’ll be covering Skyward Sword, followed by Breath of the Wild which will bring an end to this year’s edition of Zelda Month. I hope you will all join me then, until next time God bless.
Originally published at jessejtearoe.wordpress.com on November 24, 2017.