It was Twilight Princess’s aesthetic that drew me to it. It isn’t as iconic as Ocarina, I will admit, but I have a soft-spot for the sepia strokes used to color the visuals and story. Midna is undeniably my favorite character in the entire franchise. She isn’t just an annoying tutorial given humanoid form. She’s manipulative and out for her own, yes, but she’s quite good at it and her association with Link is consistent food for thought. In addition to her, there’s a reliance on cutscenes which shift the story focus from simply the lore of Hyrule to the specifics of Link’s heroism in relation to a small cast of characters.
On the gameplay side, the first half forcibly alternates you between two distinct styles: as a human in Hyrule proper and as a wolf in the Twilight Realm’s shadow, which has been cast across the land. This focuses your early exploration on locations you wouldn't normally visit and prevents you from being distracted by items you can't collect until later, anyway. The game does make you put rupees back into chests if your wallet can't hold them, but this is to prevent grinding to fulfill the game's three investment schemes. Upon completion, you get a reward that indirectly remedies this problem.
The motion controls of the Wii version are admittedly slightly imprecise for the brief flight segments but this is handily outweighed by the logical movements (e.g., both types of fishing and shield bashing) and especially the chance to physically aim the bow, boomerang, and clawshot.
Quite simply, Twilight Princess is my favorite Zelda experience because it infuses the practiced puzzle-driven action-adventure gameplay of Ocarina with a highly cinematic, character-centric story. I can’t ask for much more out of a game.
Buyer’s Guide: Though it originated as a GameCube game it was released on both GC and Wii. The Wii version is far more readily available and affordable at this point, however. It should be noted that this version is completely mirrored to accommodate the right-handed populace.
5 Paths of the One, Made by the Many out of 5