After just revisiting The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo Switch Online service, I have been thinking about the strange atmosphere of this game. In general, I am blown away at how well this game has aged. The dungeon design is intricate, yet easily navigatable. The pacing, in my opinion, is nearly perfect. It is really satisfying to acquire each new piece of gear and all of the equipment retains its usefulness through the whole game.
But the biggest thing that stands out to me is the atmosphere… The atmosphere of every Zelda game seems to be pretty unique to that specific game, but something about the magic of Ocarina of Time sticks out to me. I still remember being a kid and watching my older brother make his way through this game for hours. When I would finally have the chance to pick up and play the game for myself I would sit in wonder as I ran across Hyrule and talked to all of the colorful characters.
One of the things about the atmosphere of Ocarina of Time is that, compared to other games in the series, there is a lot of creatures and settings that are more on the dark and macabre side of things. When I first picked up this game as a kid, whenever I would have to run across Hyrule Field I would try to get where I needed to go as quickly as possible so that I wouldn’t be caught on the field at night. Once the sun goes down, the Stalchildren rise from the ground and attack you. We don’t really know what the Stalchildren are, but the assumption is that they are the dead who were killed during the Hyrulean Civil War that is only mentioned vaguely in the game.
The Stalchildren were just the first of many grotesque creatures that I encountered playing this game as a child. Once Link retrieves the Master Sword and is transported 7 years into the future, the world of Hyrule has been mostly destroyed. After those 7 years, you encounter many more scary creatures and what was once a vibrant world has turned dark. The Redeads and Dead Hand used to terrify me.
I specifically remember that I was to afraid to play certain parts of the game while I was alone. When I had to go down the well in Kakariko Village, I would have to prepare myself. I would either have to play it with family members in the room or I would only play it during the day when the sun was out.
And then later on in the game when you have to go to the Shadow Temple, I would go into the Shadow Temple just to get the Hover Boots and then I would go straight to the Spirit Temple. I would do this to so I could put off the Shadow Temple as long as I possibly could. Everything about this dungeon creeped me out. The music, the enemies, and the design of the dungeon all terrified me.
But with all of that being said, because the story was so engaging and the game progression was so satisfying, I was able to challenge all of those fears. From the time I was 6 years old I would play this game and challenge all of the things that scared me about it. I was taught what being courageous meant. Because of Link and the Hero’s Journey that he was on, I felt compelled to face my fears and conquer his enemies. I learned at that young age that there are things that are worth fighting for. There are things that are worth sacrificing for. This is something that I have taken with me into adult hood. There are things worth facing your fears for.