With 19 main entries in the Legend of Zelda franchise, it can be hard to choose just one.
As die-hard Zelda fans, we all have differing favorite games, but one thing we can all agree on is that Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the best Zelda storylines.
Released 25 years ago, OoT is still one of the most famous and well-loved series out there. It was pivotal and changed the future of the series.
But you don’t have to take our word for it, we’ve brought the receipts with these nine reasons why Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the best Zelda game.
9) Epic Hero’s Journey
Ocarina of Time follows the classic hero’s journey narrative structure, with Link’s transformation from a young boy into the Hero of Time, battling evil forces, overcoming challenges, and growing as a character.
Call to Adventure
We first meet Link as a young kid in the Kokiri forest, He’s visited by the fairy Navi and tasked with speaking to the Great Deku Tree, presenting him with his call to adventure and starting him on his path to become the hero Hyrule needs.
Refusal of the Call
While Link doesn’t explicitly refuse the call, initially, he might not fully comprehend the scope of his task and the dangers involved.
He may be hesitant or unsure about accepting his role as the hero, but his determination drives him to move forward.
Throughout his journey, Link receives guidance, tools, and assistance from various supernatural entities, including Navi and the owl Kaepora Gaebora, the reincarnation of an ancient sage.
The Ocarina of Time itself serves as a magical instrument that aids him in various ways.
Crossing the Threshold
Link crosses into the unknown when he leaves the Kokiri Forest and enters the wider realm of Hyrule.
This marks his departure from the familiar and his entry into a world filled with challenges, allies, and adversaries.
Tests, Allies and Enemies
As he progresses, Link faces numerous trials and enemies.
He gains allies like Saria, Darunia, and Princess Ruto, while also encountering formidable foes like Ganondorf and his minions.
Approach to the Inmost Cave
Link’s journey takes him to the Temple of Time, where he gains access to the Sacred Realm.
This transition represents a significant step toward his ultimate confrontation with Ganondorf.
The pivotal moment in the game is Link’s battle with Ganondorf in the Sacred Realm.
This climactic encounter tests his abilities, resolve, and determination as he faces the embodiment of evil.
Reward (Seizing the Sword)
Link literally seizes the sword when he obtains the Blade of Evil’s Bane, The Master Sword, a symbol of his growth, and gains the power to combat Ganondorf.
However, this action also leads to unintended consequences, as he becomes sealed away for seven years.
The Road Back
After being awakened as an adult, Link must return to a transformed world to confront Ganondorf once again.
He carries the wisdom and experience gained during his absence.
Link’s final confrontation with Ganondorf in his monstrous form represents his ultimate test.
With the help of Princess Zelda, he defeats Ganon and saves Hyrule.
Return with the Elixir
Link’s successful defeat of Ganondorf and the restoration of peace to Hyrule mark the completion of his journey.
He returns to his childhood and is hailed as a hero.
8) Time Travel
The time-traveling mechanic between Young Link and Adult Link provides a dynamic shift in gameplay and environment.
This creates a sense of anticipation and curiosity as players switch between the two periods to solve puzzles and progress the story.
The game showcases the consequences of Link’s actions in both the child and adult timelines, emphasizing the impact of his choices on the world’s fate.
The unique time-travel mechanic adds depth and complexity to the story and deftly shows the differences that seven years of Ganondorf’s rule has on Hyrule.
Also, the ability to switch between young and adult Link provides a fascinating exploration of the consequences of one’s actions across different timelines.
7) Dual World Setting
The game’s world-building is exceptional, with the land of Hyrule existing in two distinct time periods.
The contrast between the vibrant and innocent world of Young Link and the dark and desolate world of Adult Link adds richness to the storytelling.
We’re able to see first-hand the desolation of a land ravaged by monsters while Link was sealed in the Sacred Realm.
The effects on the residents of Castle Town having to move to Kakariko Village, the idyllic Kokiri forest now overrun with monsters, and even Lon Lon ranch taken over by the vindictive Ingo.
6) Masterful Pacing
The game’s pacing is expertly designed, guiding players through a well-balanced mix of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat.
Ocarina of Time features a clear and well-structured narrative with distinct segments, each with its own set of objectives.
The game is divided into two main parts: Young Link and Adult Link, creating a natural progression and sense of development in the story.
The game’s initial portion, set in the Kokiri Forest, serves as a gentle introduction to the game mechanics and controls.
It helps players become familiar with the basic mechanics before diving into more complex gameplay elements.
New gameplay mechanics, abilities, and items are introduced gradually.
This prevents players from feeling overwhelmed and maintains a steady learning curve throughout the game.
As Link grows older and acquires new items, the gameplay evolves in tandem, keeping things fresh and engaging.
5) Memorable Characters
Ocarina of Time is our first introduction to Ganondorf. In previous games we fought against the dark beast Ganon, but this is the first time we’re introduced to the king of the Gerudo as he plots to steal the Triforce.
Ganondorf is a mastermind, he orchestrates the events of OoT from having Link gather the Spiritual Stones for him, kidnapping Zelda so she leaves the Ocarina of Time for her chosen hero.
Ganondorf is portrayed as a complex and formidable villain, driven by power and ambition.
His manipulation and eventual transformation into the monstrous Ganon create a compelling antagonist for Link to face.
All with the end effect of having Link open the Sacred Realm for him and allowing him to waltz in and take the Triforce.
As Adult Link, we’re introduced to Sheik, our mysterious guide to the various temples.
Sheik wears the emblem of the Sheika, the stylized eye, and directs Link on his path to awakening the sages.
We later find out that Sheik is the adult Princess Zelda in hiding, which makes the princess more intriguing, as this is the first game she has a role larger than damsel in distress… though we do have to rescue her.
4) Tragic Backstory
The game’s backstory is tragic, we find out the Link, while raised with the Kokiri children, is in fact a Hylian, whose mother fled the Hylian civil war and left Link in the care of the Great Deku Tree before she passed.
We meet Link’s childhood friend Saria early on in the game, they’re shown to be very close.
As Link leaves the forest she gifts him with his first ocarina and watches forlornly as he leaves.
Due to his destiny as the Hero of Time and hers as the Sage of the Forest, they are forever parted, adding a layer of bittersweet emotion to the narrative.
Link is sealed away in the Sacred Realm for seven years, missing the rest of his childhood and awakening to a land overrun with monsters and tasked with saving Hyrule.
So, his childhood is literally stolen away from him.
In one timeline he does get a second chance at that childhood, but that leads to the events of Majora’s Mask and that’s not any happier.
3) Spiritual Themes
Ocarina of Time incorporates spiritual and mythological elements, with themes of destiny, courage, and the balance between light and darkness.
The Triforce, a central symbol in the Zelda series, consists of three triangles representing Power, Wisdom, and Courage.
This triad can be seen as a representation of the balance that many spiritual traditions emphasize, reflecting the interplay between different aspects of existence.
There are various sacred locations throughout the game, such as the Temple of Time, where Link obtains the Master Sword, and the Sacred Forest Meadow, where the Forest Temple is located.
The lore of the temples adds to the expansive storyline, we learn of the significance of the Fire Temple to the Gorons, the shadowy past of the Spirit Temple as a torture chamber.
The temple is filled with various torture devices and one of the voices that we hear says, “Here is gathered Hyrule’s bloody history of greed and hatred.”
These areas are treated with reverence by the different races in Hyrule and are central to the game’s storyline.
2) Musical Integration
The game’s main character, Link, carries an ocarina, a musical instrument, which is central to gameplay.
Players use the ocarina to play various melodies that have magical effects on the game world.
These effects include changing the time of day, summoning rain, opening doors, and more.
The ocarina itself then becomes a storytelling tool, allowing players to learn and play songs that influence the game world and progress the plot.
The game’s music enhances the emotional impact of various scenes.
From serene melodies in the Kokiri Forest to the haunting tones of the Temple of Time, the music helps set the tone for each area and situation.
Moments of tension, triumph, mystery, and nostalgia are all underscored by the game’s music, contributing to a deeper connection with the game’s world and characters.
The music adds emotional weight to key moments.
1) Impact on the Series
Ocarina of Time set a benchmark for storytelling in the Zelda series, influencing subsequent games’ narratives.
It was also the first game in the series to be presented in 3D graphics, moving from the top-down or 2D perspective of previous games to a fully realized 3D world.
This shift was a significant technical achievement and set the standard for how 3D action-adventure games would be designed in the years to come.
Many elements introduced in Ocarina of Time became staples in the Zelda series and beyond.
The targeting system, time-travel mechanics, and dungeon design philosophy were carried forward into subsequent Zelda titles, shaping the identity of the series.
Its success helped establish the series’ core elements and contributed to the enduring legacy of the franchise.
And let’s not forget that the events of Ocarina of Time were the nexus for the timeline split.
In one ending Link is sent back in time to a child where he tells Zelda what Ganondorf has planned and he is sealed into the Twilight Realm after a failed execution, leading to the events of Twilight Princess.
In the adult timeline, Link is still sent back in time, but Zelda stays to rebuild Hyrule. Ganondorf eventually breaks free of his prison and when no Hero of Time appears the Golden Goddesses flood the land, which leads us to The Wind Waker.
And of course, there’s the fallen hero timeline, where Link is bested by Ganondorf in the final battle. Ganondorf was sealed in the Sacred Realm by the seven sages.