By Drew D. / December 8th, 2016
As amazing as the quests and the combat are, everything is completely brought together with the game’s audio and visuals. Visuals are beautiful, stunning, and full of purpose. As I mentioned before, locale design is very detailed and no aesthetic seems out of place. Every visual element plays a role to produce the overall tone or mood for that particular area or event. For example, the Forest Temple is filled with vined walls and crumbled stone textures, alluding to its arborous antiquity. It also has grand hallways, broad staircases, stanchions, and several meaningful paintings, implying an archival sense of importance the building possessed at one time. Nothing is added haphazardly; every detail serves purpose, whether it is for a puzzle to solve, or just to set a tone and add to the aura of your surroundings.
The audio ties it all perfectly together, further enriching the tone and delivering a level of immersion very few games could ever achieve. Each musical score is full of reason and emotion. The Deku Tree theme, for example, is soft and slow, representing the Deku Tree’s peaceful nature as the Kokiri guardian. However, this soundtrack is also somber; foreshadowing the Deku Tree’s impending passing, as well as alluding to the many other hardships to come. The Forest Temple theme has slow, drawn out measures, playing to the mysteriousness of the environment, but it also has quicker sections with notes jumping back and forth from different octaves, alluding to the abruptness of a Wallmaster’s pounce or the mischievous nature of the Poe sisters. When paired together, the visuals and audio create an even greater perceptual experience. The expanse of Hyrule field, with all of its different terrain paired with the fast-paced rhythm and adaptive melody of its soundtrack can make anyone feel like they are on a sweeping adventure. You cannot help but feel unnerved from the eerie tones and catacomb-like surroundings of the Shadow Temple, surely hiding greater terrors in its sprawling gloom. It is all incredibly clever and creative. I absolutely love that when these intricate visuals are paired with the empathic audio, they together elicit such a strong emotional gravity that is envelopes and immerses you.
Any single one of the elements I have discussed can make a game exceptional, but all together they achieve something that I find to be the ultimate, decisive reason why Ocarina of Time is the masterpiece among masterpieces. That reason is this: the poignant emotional responses it can draw from you and the strong, enduring memories it leaves with you. While writing this review, every time I mentioned Hyrule Field, I could hear that familiar fanfare when you enter it during the day. I could hear the Zora’s Domain theme and imagine young Link jumping off that waterfall to collect rupees. I can remember struggling to reel in a big catch and I can hear the spinning of the line while thinking how my controller has never rumbled like that before. I still get chills when I enter the Forest Temple and hear its theme play, as I make my way to that main room and watch the lights dim as the Poe sisters make their first appearance. I shudder when I think of that woman’s screech you hear when a ReDead freezes you. I am always amused when you enter Dark Link’s chamber and you are forced to watch your enemy materialize before you, demanding patience from you before one of the toughest fights in the game. I can even still feel the desperation of the moment as I ascend those velvet red stairs to Ganondorf’s chamber, anticipating a rush of fierceness worthy of a climactic showdown. Ocarina of Time has countless memorable moments such as these. They draw entire ranges of emotions from you and they are so strong, you simply cannot help but recall them (and I am sure many of you reading this felt a few chills, too). Ocarina of Time will naturally stay with you. Those events will live within you and those feelings will never leave you. So few other media can produce such a reaction from the player, reader, watcher, etc. Ocarina of Time does it perfectly, over and over again. It is why we talk about it with such deep affection. It is why we will continue discussing it 20, 30 years from now. It is an achievement; a celebration; a work of art.
All of it—gameplay, visuals, audio, design, story—it is all flawless. This is a masterpiece above all others. From what I have experienced, what continue to stay with me over the years are the memories I have for this game. Love, enjoyment, heartache, fear, and an abundance of challenge. This is the ultimate reason why I believe and can agree that Ocarina of Time is the greatest game ever made. Others will try to replicate it or top it, but there will only ever be one Ocarina of Time. Truly, it is perfect.
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