I finished Hyrule Warriors recently and I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the gameplay as much as I did, and I wasn’t expecting the narrative to be compelling enough to keep me hooked. Let’s face it, most Zelda games don’t have the most compelling stories compared to other video games out there. Sure, some of the story is interesting, but they aren’t really character driven or particularly deep. The interesting part of a Zelda game is the setting and the lore. Characters typically take a back seat. Keep in mind that I haven’t played through every single Zelda game. I know, I’m a huge Zelda fan that hasn’t finished Majora’s Mask or Skyward Sword, so call me a poser or a fake if you want. I still love Zelda games, and I still enjoy the stories they tell, but you can’t compare it to something like a Final Fantasy or a Dragon Age game and say the story comes close. That’s a discussion for another article.
This article will not be spoiler free, so if you don’t want to spoil the story of Hyrule Warriors, I suggest that you do not read any further.
Hyrule Warriors starts with Zelda having a nightmare about an impending doom that will overtake the kingdom. She awakens in her room and tells Impa of her dream. Impa takes Zelda to inspect the Hyrulian soldiers to look for the prophesied legendary hero who will save them. During their inspection, dark forces attack the castle. Zelda and Impa lead the army to ward off the attackers and Link rushes in to help out. Link saves a fairy named Proxi, and helps turn the tide of the battle. Impa is impressed by Link and realizes he must be the legendary hero they were looking for. Zelda disappears after the battle and Impa takes the army, along with Link, to find Zelda. Link and Impa join forces with Shiek, who we all know is Zelda in disguise, and fend off the dark forces in a hidden village in Farron woods. Lana, a sorceress, joins them in the quest to find Zelda and defeat their enemies.
Along the way, the heroes find out that the sorceress, Cia, has orchestrated the attacks in an effort to claim the Triforce, as well as Link, for her own. Lana is revealed to be the good half of Cia’s soul. When Cia is successful in collecting the Triforce, the heros each travel to different eras via the Gate of Souls to seal off Cia’s source of monsters she uses to fuel her army. The heros are successful, and enlist the aid of warriors from across time, such as Darunia, Midna, Fi, and… Agitha the Bug Girl?
After sealing the Gate of Souls and claiming the Master Sword, Link and his comrades defeat Cia, but the peace is short lived, as Ganondorf was behind the war the whole time. Ganondorf succeeds in retaking the Triforce and conquering Hyrule. Link, Zelda, Lana, and Impa rally the remaining Hyrulian forces, and with the aid of their friends from the different eras, destroy Ganondorf and restore peace to Hyrule.
The Ensemble Cast and the Silent Link
In most Zelda games, the plot very clearly focuses on Link and his quest to save Hyrule… or whatever land he is journeying through. In all official Zelda games, Link is portrayed as a silent protagonist. He’s the character that drives the plot of the story forward, but he doesn’t ever speak, save for grunts and screams. In Hyrule Warriors, Link is given a voice through the fairy, Proxi. Additionally, you have a whole party of characters and they interact with each other during cutscenes and battles. Impa, the general of the Hyrulian Army, is just, has a sense of duty, and is slow to trust. Zelda, the princess of Hyrule, is intelligent and a good tactician and warrior in her own right. Lana is a bubbly sorceress who fights for the good of the kingdom, and her friends. These are the primary protagonists of the story. Each has their role that are equally important to the end goal: restoring peace to Hyrule.
The dialogue isn’t mind blowing, by any means, but it’s fun and I really enjoyed it. It’s very satisfying to see these characters interact with each other throughout the story. Impa is not quick to trust others, as is seen when Zelda shows up as Shiek. Zelda obviously cares a great deal for Link, shown by her actions throughout the story. Lana forms a lasting friendship with all of the characters she encounters. I love the idea of Link, Zelda, and Impa traveling together in a quest to save Hyrule for once, rather than Link going it alone as he always does. It makes for a much more character driven story that I wish was present in more Zelda games. These characters are almost never fleshed out in the games they appear in, and it’s a breath of fresh air to see more of their personalities… well, except for Link.
Link is still silent in this title, and while I can certainly see where Omega Force and Team Ninja tried to remain true to the source material in having Link not speak, I kind of wish we would have seen some actual official dialogue. Sure, Link is supposed to be the player’s avatar in the world of Hyrule, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense in this game, especially when the narrator specifically says that Link is becoming over confident and headstrong due to the power of the Master Sword. Why include a personality trait in a character that is solely supposed to be a player’s avatar? The narrator also heavily implies that Link and Zelda’s souls are intertwined, making Cia’s (and by extension, Lana’s) want for Link’s love a fruitless endeavor. Seeing Link and Zelda interact with each other to further drive home the importance of their intertwined destinies would have been immensely satisfying.
Link’s fairy companion, Proxi, acts as Link’s… er… proxy during battles and cutscenes. Players can chose to control other characters during a lot of the story battles, leaving Link as a secondary character. His battlefield actions are announced by Proxi, and it just seems kind of weird to me that he doesn’t have his own voice if he’s not really the player’s avatar. In a game that strays so far from the normal Legend of Zelda formula, I don’t think it would have been wrong to have given Link his own voice. The problem here is, no matter what you do, you’re going to upset people. Link has never spoken throughout his adventures, and everyone interprets him differently. I don’t mind seeing a cocky, headstrong adventurer, like gamers of my era remember when we watched the Legend of Zelda cartoons on Friday afternoons in the early 90s. Gamers that didn’t grow up in that era may want to see something else, I dunno, maybe a brooding, angsty, Link. (Which would have sucked. Angsty characters are the absolute worst.)
All in all, Hyrule Warriors had a real fun story that hooked me. I was always interested to see what would happen next. How were the warriors going to save Hyrule? Why am I taking control of Ganondorf this late in the game? Seriously, this game can’t end on a bad note… can it? Will we actually see Link and Zelda get together? These were all questions that ran through my head while I was playing. Hyrule Warriors was an enjoyable experience, gameplay and all, and the story was a pleasant surprise that really sweetened the whole thing.