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The Reason Link Stays Silent: Insights from ‘Breath of the Wild’

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In a groundbreaking departure for Nintendo’s enduring fantasy series, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers an explanation for the enigmatic silence of its protagonist, Link, a character who, throughout over three decades of Zelda games, has maintained an unspoken persona—a defining trait of his identity. BOTW is the inaugural game in the series to directly confront this aspect, although its rationale for Link’s silence remains somewhat incomplete, even accentuating a significant misunderstanding regarding the leading Hylian in The Legend of Zelda lore.

Notably, “Link” is a name that encompasses multiple characters, a consequence of The Legend of Zelda typically being an anthology series where each installment is intricately linked to the others but does not seamlessly continue an identical storyline. Notwithstanding, certain exceptions exist, such as Breath of the Wild’s forthcoming direct sequel, Tears of the Kingdom. While many Zelda games allow the player to bestow a name upon the protagonist, these iterations all align within the canonical legacy of Link. They inherit the heroic essence, destined to confront Ganon, the embodiment of Demise’s malevolence, eternally joined by the mortal descendants of the Goddess Hylia—numerous incarnations of Princess Zelda.

Zelda’s Revelation: Unveiling Link’s Silence in Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild introduces a distinctive link between its narrative and the incarnations of Link and Zelda in Tears of the Kingdom. As BOTW’s Link rediscovers scattered Memories across Hyrule, he recollects his pre-Second Great Calamity days as a Knight of Hyrule, recalling his role in escorting Princess Zelda on a quest to awaken her divine powers. Notably, each Memory cutscene showcases fully voiced characters, marking a pioneering inclusion in the Zelda series, yet Link remains steadfastly silent.

This installment offers poignant insights into The Legend of Zelda’s protagonist, particularly in the context of this specific iteration. BOTW’s rendition of Link stands out within the series as he encounters the imminent peril faced by Hyrule—preparing to thwart Calamity Ganon’s resurgence and safeguard the Princess, enabling her to halt the Second Great Calamity. This portrayal contrasts with his predecessors who were often abruptly confronted with their destiny. Link’s understandable reservation in the face of this monumental duty is discernible, yet this diary entry uncovers a misconception surrounding the perception of Link as merely a silent protagonist.

Link: Beyond the Silence – The Myth of a Voiceless Protagonist

While Link has never explicitly articulated words in any Zelda game (barring the occasional interjection during actions like rolling or attacking), he isn’t devoid of speech within the game universe. This aspect is prominently showcased in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. Throughout both games, Link frequently engages in conversations with non-playable characters (NPCs), employing both player-selected dialog options and implicit communication—often gesturing as the screen transitions to black. Though this aspect is particularly conspicuous in BOTW and TOTK, Link has perpetually inhabited the role of an unspoken, yet not entirely silent protagonist across The Legend of Zelda series.

The series’ protagonist has historically functioned as a surrogate for the player, especially evident in the earliest Zelda games. While furnishing Link with a voice might enrich his characterization, it could significantly undermine the series’ immersive nature, which endeavors to immerse the player into the role of Hyrule’s hero. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild might present the first rationale for Link’s silence, yet this most recent portrayal of the iconic character remains largely consistent with previous iterations.

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