The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princessa HD Review

The factors that made The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD so exciting when it was launched alongside the Wii around ten years ago haven't aged very well, and that is not entirely a bad thing.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD now does not have the distracting zeitgeist of a hardware launch to accompany the game, and absent that, its flaws are a little bit more pronounced. Twilight Princess HD lays bare the decade-old original, but in doing so, gives it an identity beyond gimmicks.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Structurally speaking, this new Nintendo game doesn't stray too far from the franchise's time-honored path. The common routine of dungeon diving, Pieces of Heart collecting and princess rescuing still remains intact, but with a twist: Link is able to transform into a wolf when interacting with the Twilight Realm - a parallel world to Hyrule which plays host to cryptic, shadowy beings. One such Twilight inhabitant is Midna, Link's constant, smart-ass companion throughout his whole journey.

Twilight Princess is so unique among all the Zelda titles thanks to its pervasive darkness, a theme that informs the aesthetic, character design as well as the entire game’s general feel. That aesthetic is at its extreme in the Twilight Realm, but even regular old Hyrule looks kind of half-alive and ominous, and the events that transpire there are also equally unsettling.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD on WiiU

But, this art direction is not always so successful. As exploring a village illuminated by glaring the sunset light, or a dungeon that abstract neon lines cut through shifting black fog, the Twilight Princess can be a lovely game. However, while its subdued palette makes it so special in the Zelda series, many of its environments and biomes resemble the lifeless, unsaturated worlds that characterized most of the previous console generation.

One more thing that’s worth mentioning about The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is its visual enhancements, which are so impressive. A lot of textures, especially those on important character models, have been completely replaced, making Link and the cast that he comes in contact with as lively and vibrant as they deserve to be. The more essential change is to the screen itself: Twilight Princess HD's UI is pared down - the original's Wiimote-shaped interface, which took up nearly 1/4 of your TV's real estate, has been removed.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Graphical improvements of Twilight Princess HD drive home what's truly unique about the game's aesthetic: It isn't just dark, it's bizarre. Across many different Hylian races, character proportions vary from person to person. Faces drift between cartoonish and realistic, from clown-like to monstrous. Residents of the Twilight Realm are not just evil versions of franchise mainstays; they are tentacled mutants sporting ornate, gigantic black masks. Many enemies, and even some friends as well here is looking at you, Ooccoo are downright uncomfortable to look at, making them all the more memorable and striking.

That distinction really shines through in the Twilight Realm, which doesn't feel oppressive or scary as much as it feels completely alien despite what its name suggests. The soundtrack of the game, which’s solid throughout, is at its absolute best here, where every combat encounter features eerie atonal horns that shout over frantic synth arpeggios. Well, it all comes together to give the Twilight Realm a kind of strange, cohesive sense of place.

 

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