The land was shrouded in twilight.
Few game series carry as much prestige as The Legend of Zelda. One of Nintendo’s flagships, Zelda has continually enthralled gamers since its inception on the Nintendo Entertainment System. For me, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was easily one of my favorite childhood games, and its sequel – A Link between Worlds – was nearly as excellent. Yet even though my nostalgia and love for the franchise exists, I hadn’t played any of the games from the GameCube to the Wii. I mean, my Wii U was the limited edition Windwaker version, so I fiddled with that for a while, but Twilight Princess is the first true Zelda game I have finished in quite some time.
Twilight Princess finds Link in a world that has submerged into darkness – or twilight – by the Twilight King. Originally tasked to bring a gift to Princess Zelda at Hyrule castle, Link and the children of the village are kidnapped by the beings of twilight. While each of the children went missing, Link finds himself transformed into a wolf, led by the mischievous Midna. In this form, Link can traverse the twilight with ease, allowing him to restore the light of spirits and, hoping, restore Hyrule to its regular state.
Gameplay in Twilight Princess is split in to two segments – Link and the wolf. As the wolf, you travel through twilight infested areas and dispatch twilight bugs to reclaim each area’s spirit’s light. Once all twelve pieces of light are collected, the spirit regains its strength and the land emerges from darkness. Of course, throughout your efforts to return the light, you must battle the twilight fiends only visible within the shade. As Link, you explore dungeons, journey through towns, and venture through the large, open field maps between locations. Eventually, you can transform into the wolf freely, and use each form as you see necessary.
The real gold of Twilight Princess, for those of us who haven’t had the luxury of playing it before, comes in the exploring of the dungeons. It’s easy to see how much time and care the developers originally placed in the creation of the dungeons. Each dungeon is massive and requires multiple visits to different chambers. Each dungeon finds you searching for a large, boss key (as the Zelda’s of old once did) – whether that be visiting all of the Gorons or saving all seven monkeys, etc. And each dungeon has a fresh boss battle at its terminus. I’ve always said that boss battles allow even the worst games to shine; Twilight Princess shines (and it certainly isn’t a bad game).
Speaking of effort, the HD remaster of Twilight Princess is gorgeous. From what I’ve seen, the game wasn’t ugly before; the character models have always had uniqueness of style to each individual (which is cool in itself), but with the touchups of the remaster, the game nearly compares to brand new Wii U titles. In fact, nothing in Twilight Princess feels dated except for its save system. Indeed, the save system is so rough that it inspires anxiety every time I save in a dungeon. Why? In Twilight Princess, you can save anywhere. This particular feature is fantastic. I believe all games should allow free saves. The problem is, like Zelda and many Nintendo games of old, the game asks if you want to continue. If you select no, the game reroutes you to the title screen. Again, this in itself isn’t necessarily an issue (it’s an inconvenience if you accidentally exit the game out of habit like I do). The real concern is when you accidentally back out of the save amidst dungeon exploration. If the game is shut off or exited, Link is automatically sent to the outside entrance of the dungeon. I imagine there was a reason for this – I hope – but if you accidentally backed out of a later dungeon (really, from the second dungeon onward), it could be a real hassle to make your way back to where you departed from – especially if you saved outside of the boss chamber.
With that said, I found very little else to gripe about in Twilight Princess. The soundtrack is wonderful, and the remastered visuals are pleasing. Even the simple, patented gameplay of hack ‘n slash (and batman-esque gadgets) works well. Twilight Princess offers a slight deviation from the cliché save the princess story, and the incorporation of wolf Link contributes a new avenue to explore. As far as RPG length, Twilight Princess is about average, clocking in at approximately 40+ hours for full completion (and adding a little extra should you utilize the Midna and wolf Link amiibo). In summation, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is easily one of the best RPG experiences on the Wii U.