I wish to preface this by making it clear that this is simply my impression of the game, never having played the GameCube or Wii versions, and only getting into Zelda as of roughly two years ago, having first played Wind Waker HD and Skyward Sword before this. Also, it was by no means a bad game, it just wasn't everything I hoped or thought it would be. This is not intended to disrespect or invalidate anyone who enjoys this game. If you love it, that is great for you and I hope you continue to enjoy it. Now that we have that out of the way, let's get down to business!
A few months ago, I finished The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, a respectable game, but also rather underwhelming I thought, due to it being, for me, the easiest of the three Zelda games I’d played up to that point, (The other two being Wind Waker HD and Skyward Sword). I beat Ganondorf on my first try, something I had failed to do in the other titles, I didn’t even need a healing potion or anything like that, though I did use some of the spare hearts laying around. He didn’t really battle much differently than some of the more disposable enemies in the game. I think my reaction to the game stems from a few things…
The game’s low difficulty, since I thought the game was going to be much more grim and dark than it was. It was hard for me to believe that there was a real threat when so many of the enemies are easily beaten. The Twilight Realm, from what I've been given to understand, is supposed to be like the Zelda version of Hell. A dark and murky aesthetic does not Hell make, however. I will say this, though: the puzzles are the perfect combination of challenging and gratifying that they don’t feel frustrating or insultingly easy, at least for me.
These were not from a technical side—the game's performance was quite strong actually. I am referring to intentional interruptions built into the game that killed the experience for me at certain moments. During my playtime, I encountered a few events such as that mailman, who kept hurriedly running to me to deliver letters to me that, while sometimes helping to progress the story, never felt like major turning points justifying the interruption and completely ruining the mood, especially during the Hyrule Field sequences. Stopping me dead in my tracks to give me the day's mail while I ride my horse at top speed and epic music swirls around me is kind of a buzzkill. Another interruption I experienced at Hyrule Field was having to fight enemies during "Midna’s Desperate Hour," which was a weird flip-flop of desperation to get Midna to Princess Zelda before she, Midna, dies, and tense combat with enemies that kept spawning as I raced to Hyrule Castle. Listening to this melancholy piano music while my little imp companion lays on my back dying is gaming atmosphere at its best, so it really pulls you out of it when all of a sudden enemies appear and that music changes to match the tense combat. I also felt like I could have left the game at rest for hours and Midna would not have died, hence leaving me with no sense of urgency, despite the pitch perfect music. There never really felt like there was any indication of how much time I had before I lost Midna for good. I just had to let the music and night time setting make me believe that I had to get help then and there.
I know that Twilight Princess is often considered that most realistic looking Zelda title, and while I agree with that, something about the art direction slightly hampered it for me. The whole time the game appeared as though it was being looked at through a slightly foggy window for some reason.
It felt like many of the items weren’t of much use after they were used in their respective dungeons and/or levels, such as the Ball and Chain, which was needed to defeat the boss of that dungeon. Speaking of said dungeon, it felt weird for a dungeon to be someone’s house. The Spinner—it was awesome and made me feel like a cool skateboarder grinding on rails while I used it, but from what I can remember, I only used it roughly two or three more times after defeating the boss. One of the first items you get, the fishing rod, was also underused I thought, not having much point aside from a fishing side quest separate from the story, and supposedly being used as a way to distract Ganondorf in the final battle, though I tried that and it didn’t seem to work for me. The slingshot also is almost pointless when you get your bow and arrows.
5) Currency/ Health
I found I didn’t need rupees as much as I did in WW and SS, even though they were EVERYWHERE! I never exhausted my supply of 500, and hence didn’t need to get any more and never had to worry about running out, as combat was easy enough that most of my deaths came from falling or just getting cocky and/or lazy when it came to replenishing my health. I didn’t even get all 20 hearts.
6) On the Positive Side...
Midna, Link’s companion throughout the game, is undoubtedly the character with the best arc/ development I’ve ever seen in a Zelda game, going from a playful little imp creature who does not care much for Link or his mission, to a loyal friend who eventually shows real emotional maturity, especially towards the game’s end, proving to be a Twili worthy of the title "Princess." This is best exemplified by her final scene during the game's credits, when she, Link, and Zelda, acknowledge that Hyrule and her world, the Twilight Realm, or as Midna refers to them, light and shadow, cannot mix. Knowing the dangers that this situation presents, she, before returning to the Twilight Realm, destroys the mirror that would allow her or anything for that matter, to return from the Twilight Realm, so though she must say goodbye to the boy and princess she has grown so attached to, she knows it’s for the greater good. Her true form is also easy on the eyes too, so by the time the game's story is concluded, Midna is practically unrecognizable from the imp we meet at the start of the game, both physically and emotionally.
Also, unpopular opinion, I didn’t think the tutorial was all that bad. While things like the fishing rod and slingshot, as I have said, don’t serve much of a purpose past the first dungeon, I like the idea of a character going from modest farmhand to the Hero of Time, so it was nice to see Link start out as such a commoner who doesn’t seem like he will amount to much outside his village. I’m a sucker for stories like that.
I’d also like to point out that series creator Shigeru Miiyamoto himself said, “… Twilight Princess was not a bad game by any means, but, still, it felt like there was something missing.” So, I’m not alone!