Tuesday, March 13, 2018

From Koholint to Termina, Legend of Zelda Games that Deal with Existentialism

Temina (L) and Koholint (R)
These two games are the ones I see interconnected in the entire franchise, why? Not because the are set in parallel realms of existence, but because they deal with desolation, despair and death. It's interesting to notice that much of the games who are set away from Hyrule are the ones who usually contain darker themes and play towards some form of existentialism and nihilism.

It is not difficult to see some elements of nihilism in the games, mostly as they are related to an endless cycle of reincarnation and misery; yet the moments where those cycles seem to be broken are seen in Majora's Mask and Link's Awakening, those two games deal with the conception that life is completely futile and meaningless, almost is life is a mere fantasy or a dream.

Within the Link's Awakening plot, everything is set on a dream from a deity, which it could be considered as if our reality is just a mere simulation or only we exists within a dream. The postulate of the dream argument can be traced around Descartes, but the interpretation can be found towards different eras of humanity in which the question of a dream is just a mere extension of our sensuous experiences.

The interpretation of reality on Link's Awakening could be related an experience machine, a hypothetical idea of science fiction in which a machine can give the user the reality he desires; even so, there are no machines that can give the Wind Fish the reality he wants, he can still create the reality he desires; making the idea of his reality a mix of his own desires and an extension to bring someone else but also to put an end the simulation under certain parameters which in this case are the Siren's Instruments.

Majora's Mask play with another extension of reality, something that is beyond a mere dream but rather a cycle that we are stuck in "such as samsara" but with a twist that the ultimate end is entropy, that we are destined to repeat our existence over and over with minor twitches. At the end, the differences between the two games are minimal, the lands in which they are set face an ultimate extinction regards X or Y outcomes.

Termina as a land is probably the most wicked one, as there is not set for oblivion or death; is just a cycle that repeats over and over. The impossibility of not dying is the least of the horrid aspects of that world, but rather that the citizens couldn't care or are in denial about their ultimate end, because they know their lives aren't worth it is something that could creep an adult who plays the game and start analyzing the ontological topics that are offered in a subtle context could see that is not a game for children.

Maybe as an adult I had found myself more attracted to these two games due the themes they offer, they aren't Ocarina of Time or Breath of the Wild that are more adventure oriented, even if OoT offers the time travel paradox it fails to give an idea of the ultimate fate Link had as a person who saw the possibilities and how one person can create a difference in the planes of existences.

Yet; in these two games they are is almost as a total denial of deism; the idea of God or any deity playing a central role in the plot. On Link's Awakening, the idea of the Wind Fish as the source of existence for the inhabitants of the island seems to give them some discomfort up to the point the laugh at Link but also they explain that is just a legend; albeit the inhabitants as well everything could be extensions of the Wind Fish psyche that he doesn't want to go back to the real world and everything is created to preserve the dream.

Majora's Mask plays with the previous idea also, the Skull Kid and the Happy Mask Salesman become obsessed with the idea of preserving and destroying an idea of the illusion of life that is worth keeping repeating a cycle of endless destruction, that can essentially be described as a dream. Just trapped in a fixed point, doing the same actions over and over, knowing that even if death comes there still another day instead of resting into the oblivion.