March 28, 2019
There are very few series as long-running as The Legend of Zelda, especially with such detailed mythologies to back up the ingame world. Of all the unique pieces coming together that make it great, one of them is that the lore is given in short spurts, with enough room for debate, or perhaps the designers simply want every person to have their own take on it, so it feels like an actual legend. Everybody tells stories of King Arthur with varying details, and the gaps in the story then get filled in by the next storyteller, which I believe is what makes it so compelling, allowing new storytellers to throw their own spin on it, even today. The fact that Zelda managed to capture this feeling in a video game where the story is entirely fictitious is fascinating to me.
Out of all the gaps to fill within the Hyrule Fantasy, to me, the most odd to left unexplored is the pantheon. Of course, we know that Zelda herself is the incarnate Goddess Hylia, and that the Golden Goddesses, Din, Nayru, and Farore created the world, as well as mortal life to inhabit it, but beyond that we are nigh bereft of pertinent information. They created this world, but where are they now? The only time they have seemed to acknowledge Hyrule even exists is in the Adult Timeline where they are given no choice but to intervene (flooding the world) since there is no hero to destroy Ganon.
I have heard many compelling theories regarding this topic, but that’s not why I’m here today. I want to explore the possibility of pantheon actually having a presence in a future release. There is a multitude of ways this could be implemented, so in such a series as this it almost feels odd that it never has been. This topic has been weighing strongly on my mind since I began playing God of War in December. In Kratos’s journey, he meets several divine beings, and it goes even further by referencing real-world mythologies. Knowing in his past that he has fought with the Roman Gods, supplemented by a world filled with Norse folklore, this game goes the extra mile to detail what Gods are present in the world, and introduce you to them from time to time.
In fiction, this clash of the mortal and the divine has always piqued my interest, and these elements could lend themselves well to the Zelda series. One of the most interesting parts of Wind Waker, for this reason was Link’s interaction with Zephos and Cyclos, the Gods of the Wind. This was one of the few points in the series where a deity directly interacted with Link. The two brothers were vastly different, one helping Link by teaching him the Wind’s Requiem, and the second causing chaos for sailors by hurling tornadoes all over the Great Sea. They are interesting, but in classic Zelda style, they have only the basic details required to introduce them, give Link a powerup, and leave the player curious for the rest of time.
This is not the only time this happens, either. Of course we also get a glimpse of the Fierce Deity in Majora’s Mask, though honestly there are more questions than answers, the Dragon Gods appearing in Skyward Sword serve as interesting plot devices, and a handful of other creatures of unknown origin (such as the Great Fairies and the Wind Fish) come up often, and leave you wondering.
My only problem with this presentation is that it’s sporadic enough to where it doesn’t feel like it’s an important part of the series, and often these Gods only appear to give Link a powerup. Do they interact together in the heavens? Do they all even live in heaven, or do some of them remain constantly in the mortal realm? As much as I love the room for speculation, I still think they could have more of a presence and better characterization. Treating the creators and operators of all natural things like MacGuffins seves only to dampen their impact in the overall narrative.
So where do we go from here to build on what is already present? I think the two obvious possibilities are either the Gods coming to Hyrule to lend a hand and sway the tide of war, or the opposite, with Link, Zelda, and possibly Ganon or whichever other villain the game uses, taking to the heavens for some duration. The latter seems more likely, as the key characters in the series are constantly hopping from one world to the next, be it the Dark World, Lorule, the Twilight Realm, the Silent Realm, the Sacred Realm, or whatever other realm you want to call it.
Imagine Ganon obtains the Triforce. Not just a fragment, but the full power of the divine relic. Now what’s he gonna do? He’s gonna go steal some more artifacts of indescribable power from the dwelling of the gals who made the thing. Busting into heaven would theoretically be an easy feat for one with a completed Triforce, and now who, even among the gods, can hold a candle to his power? It would likely be up to Link and Zelda to follow him through the heavens, finding other divine artifacts to battle him, or teaming up with the Gods themselves to face this threat.
Of course then there’s the possibility that the Gods might come down to Hyrule. This could be beneficial, or it could become a Ragnarok. A clash between Ganon and an army of demons versus Din, Nayru, Farore, and possibly more, would probably do more harm than good to the average citizen.
These are but two examples of the countless possibilities that to me seem like Nintendo is neglecting. There are an untold number of yarns to be spun regarding the pantheon as we know it, and to add to it and flesh out the lore behind it could not only make for a great storytelling opportunity, but strengthen the story in every Zelda game to date.
Did I hit the nail on the head? Should we ever see a Zelda game with a greater focus on the Gods and deities of Hyrule? Is this better left to other series? Hit us up on Twitter, the TGPZ Discord server, or the comments below and we can keep the conversation tripping!