© Nintendo Invite to the first instalment of a new column, where we’re going to be doing a deep-dive into some of the most remarkable moments in video gaming– bad and great. We’re starting strong with a moment that cemented the Zelda series as one of the all-time greats, in celebration of Link’s 35th birthday or something. Happy birthday, Link. You are now old adequate to get a mortgage and stop mooching off the Kokiri.
There’s something magical about cathedrals. Perhaps it’s the method their risen architecture elicits a silence so deep you can nearly hear God. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that generations of old bones rest below your feet, waiting for you to join them. It’s no surprise that video games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne revere and fear them in almost equal procedure: they’re locations of incredible appeal, in the original meaning of the word. Truthfully, it’s not tough to make an eldritch scary out of the Christian mythos, packed as it is with blood, antiques, death and renewal.
The literal legend of Zelda has frequently centred around these places of worship, from Skyward Sword’s Goddess Statue to Link to the Past’s Sanctuary. Religion, and the awe it influences, are essential parts of Link’s numerous missions, and having churches and cathedrals in the video games is a shorthand for the method they make us feel.
From the really first minute you enter the Temple of Time, an echoing, unnerving chant fills the space. There’s a sense that this is hallowed ground, despite the Temple having no seating, no pulpit, and no tombs, as you may anticipate from a church
A lot of well-known of them all is the Temple of Time, which often stands as a sign for Hyrule’s everlasting quest to beat– or at least eradicate– the darkness that keeps returning. In Ocarina of Time, its very first appearance, it houses the Master Sword, the tool which will assist Link to restore the light as soon as more– but it likewise becomes his prison.
From the extremely first moment you go into the Temple of Time, an echoing, unnerving chant fills the room. There’s a sense that this is hallowed ground, regardless of the Temple having no seating, no pulpit, and no tombs, as you might get out of a church.
It’s reminiscent of legal offices in London, where big reception areas are left actively blank, as a program of wealth and prestige. “Look just how much space we can afford to waste,” they state, in a city where a single space filled with mice and misery will run you a grand a month. The Temple of Time, on the other hand, is not a program of wealth, however of power. You don’t require to understand anything about the faith of Hyrule to understand that something terrific dwells in the location in between things, which this is a sacred area– a literal sanctuary from the wicked exterior.
Once you position the three spiritual stones, and the Door of Time is pulled open, the style of hallowed hollowness continues: inside the space is absolutely nothing but a pedestal and a sword. It’s not the very first time we’ve seen this– Link to the Past’s Master Sword is preserved within the ethereal Lost Woods– however the very same mysticism and importance is conveyed here, whether the Sword remains in a woodland glade or an odd, octagonal stone vault, lit by a well-placed sunbeam.
Obviously, everyone understands what occurs next: Link pulls the sword, mistakenly offers Ganondorf the key to the Sacred Realm, and gets locked away in the Temple of Light for seven years, due to the fact that children can’t be the saviours of the world until at least Majora’s Mask.
As it ends up, 7 years is a long time, and Hyrule is no longer the pastoral paradise of Link’s youth (of two minutes ago). The contrast is plain: upon leaving the Temple of Time, day has actually turned to night, the sky is dominated by Death Mountain’s scary halo of storms, and Hyrule Castle Town– formerly a location filled with pleased villagers– is now overrun with moaning, screaming ReDeads, and the only staying occupant is the opportunistic Poe Collector, who is so scary that Ganondorf was most likely too terrified to evict him.
The minute of emerging from the Temple into a hellscape is an unquestionably reliable one, even regardless of the N64’s technical constraints. Sure, nowadays it looks like a huge brown smear, but at the time it was a masterpiece of visual storytelling. You do not require Navi to inform you that everything’s gone to hell– although she will anyway– since the warm, music-filled world of Hyrule has actually been changed with a simple, ominous wind track. That wind was so efficiently upsetting that we used to have problems about it.
The minute of emerging from the Temple into a hellscape is an unquestionably efficient one, even in spite of the N64’s technical limitations
Link’s exit from the Temple of Time and the change that occurred within are an oddly excellent representation of growing up. Puberty for most of us may not have actually come with zombies and megalomaniacal evil man-beasts, however the feeling of being unable to put the metaphorical genie back in the bottle is real. It’s not till you’re past youth that you come to understand that the days of no duty were the sunshine prior to the Ganondorf of hormonal agents pertained to kick you, unwilling, into the world of their adult years.
This minute, from entering the Temple as a kid to leaving it as an adult, brings with it a sense of mystery and reluctancy, of Link being required into something he didn’t even understand about, and of being the weapon for a bunch of people caught by time, duty, and powerlessness. Link has no voice, and he never ever has, so he is brought along by the currents of honour and destiny to continuously be the Hero, the Saviour, the Chosen One. It’s been said before, but the Legend of Zelda is very seldom about Zelda’s Legend– it is constantly about Link’s story, and the inexorable march of his divine fate.
We started this column talking about how Zelda draws on religious symbology to generate certain feelings in its players, and if the Temple of Time is a cathedral, then Link is Hyrule’s constantly reincarnated sacrificial lamb, the only thing that can hold back the darkness, whether he understands it or not. There are numerous brilliant minutes in Zelda’s history, but the Ocarina of Time is perhaps the very first time we ever appreciated the holy tragedy of the series.
Did the Temple of Time have a similar effect on you the very first time you experienced it, or do you have different sensations? What other crucial video gaming moments would you like to see covered in this series? Leave a comment to let us know.