Review by echoskybound
"Stunning gameplay, atmosphere, graphics and sound"
I just got this game about two hours ago and I'm already amazed. This is a different Zelda than we're used to. It's definitely more intense; when you start learning the story of the twilight realm, you're trapped in an underground water system in the form of a wolf who has a 6th sense - the ability to see spirits. They appear as floating orbs, then when you engage your extra sense, you see the ghostly image of a soldier trembling with fear. You see a cut scene of a hall in Hyrule castle with soldiers standing guard ready for battle, who are torn apart by huge black twilight creatures. Zelda drops her sword in surrender, and you see Hyrule castle in flames and the villagers vanishing into a spirit realm.
This game could be compared to the Game Cube Version of StarFox (StarFox Adventure) which was a great RPG, but hardly anything like the original game series. So far, this game seems a bit off track from the original Zelda games, but it can't be ignored that it's a GREAT rpg game in its own right.
I have to admit, although this game is addictive, it's almost too easy at some parts. When you're thrown into the game for the first time, it's a little difficult to orient yourself, but within half an hour or so, you'll find yourself making your way through an entire forest without even really knowing what happened. Combat can also be terribly easy at times, but it's sure as hell fun to watch Link dart across the screen at the push of a button and think "Whoa, what just happened?"
I can't say I know much about the plot at this point because I haven't played very far, and there are a lot of obscure references to the twilight realm itself. As far as concepts go, there are times in the game where you may find yourself saying "Now THAT is creepy." The game starts out very serene as you heard cattle on horseback and help people of the small local village, but takes a sudden unexpected turn as enemies riding on the backs of giant bores attack and harm Link's friends of the village. Link goes to find them but is swallowed by the twilight realm and the plot is sidetracked. I can't tell you how long this game is, but so far I've played for a few hours before even getting to a real temple, so I have confidence that this is a long game with a plot that takes a long time to fully develop.
The whole game has a beautiful "glow" to it. The theme of light is seen almost everywhere, where waterfalls glimmer and the sun beams shine down through every break in the canopy of a forest. Facial expressions, especially Link's, are so subtle that they're realistic. You can also see a lot of small details on Link's outfit, but I best advise not doing things like looking up at something close; you may be disappointed. I don't compliment the graphics of this game as much as I do the atmosphere. I was expecting StarFox graphics where each strand of hair is defined and every individual blade of grass on the ground sways in the wind, but this game has plenty of jaggies and pixelated textures. It gets a high rating for graphics regardless.
There are aspects of this game that are very familiar to an old Zelda fan, particularly Ocarina of Time. One of the first things you get to do in the game is ride Epona, and instead somewhat like playing the ocarina, you pick different blades of grass that produce special kinds of whistles. Old memories are brought back when you first find Zelda and hear Zelda's Lullaby, or brief parts of The Song of Time mixed in with the music somewhere. Link has taken on an appearance that is somewhere between the retro Link and the Ocarina of Time version. And of course, as always, he never speaks except to say "Yes" or "No", lol.
Although this game is overall more mature, there are still some goofy qualities from the old games like quirky characters and quaint villages. You finally get to TALK to those goddamn Coocoo's.. some of them are actually pretty smart. How weird.
It almost sounds like they got confused during the making of the game. Some of it is beautiful orchestra-sounding music that gives you chills, and some of it makes you laugh. The enemy theme is nowhere near as lame as the Ocarina of Time one, but it sounds out of place. Some music, particularly the intro screen music, is very stunning.
I'll also make a note here on sounds. They're very realistic and the things Link does like walking, using the sword, and rolling have a wide enough bank of sound effects that they don't get repetitive. Some enemies, however, sound like a broken record.
I really have to play this game more to give it a good rating, but I'm very impressed so far. Even if this game is a little on the easy side, it has its fair share of puzzles and unanswered questions that will probably lead to hours of wandering around trying to figure out where to go next. There are lost of questions of "friend or foe", such as when you first meet your companion who comes from the twilight realm but offers to help you. Not long into the game you encounter and eerie glowing wolf spirit who leaps at you and brings you to an unfamiliar world, where the wolf turns into tall skeleton warrior or some kind who offers to test your courage and teach you a valuable skill. You encounter gods of light who tell you the story of the twilight realm. Your own friends from the village don't recognize you when you return as an unfamiliar beast. It's a very "twisty" game in ways, with a lot of new ideas and concepts that haven't been seen in a Zelda game before.
Zelda fans and non-Zelda fans alike will enjoy this game. At least give it a rental, it won't be a waste of time.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 01/22/07
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