A Not-So-Silent Princess: What would a game starring Princess Zelda look like?

POSTED ON:  May 5, 2024

by: Kathryn

Warrior Zelda in Breath of the Wild by Benvey0

When the first trailer for Tears of the Kingdom was posted in June 2019, fans were excited about Princess Zelda’s new cropped haircut. Perhaps this meant she would be a playable character, people speculated, as it meant that no weapons or armor would have to clip through her hair. In November 2020, Zelda was indeed one of the main playable characters in Age of Calamity. Although it’s great fun to use Zelda’s magical light blasts to part seas of swarming enemies, it was also somewhat disappointing that the gameplay of Age of Calamity positioned Zelda as just another fighter, while Zelda was largely absent from the gameplay of Tears of the Kingdom.

Although no one can deny that Zelda is an important character in the games that bear her name, it’s a shame to see her sidelined. My frustration with Tears of the Kingdom made me wonder what the gameplay of a title that focused on Princess Zelda might look like.


It would be important to keep the characteristic action elements of the games in the Legend of Zelda series, of course, just as it would be important to give Zelda a range of tools that she could use to interact with her environment. Still, given that Zelda is the living avatar of wisdom, it stands to reason that she would face a different set of challenges. As the princess of Hyrule, Zelda is a political figure who lives in the public eye, as well as the reincarnation of a goddess with reality altering powers. What distinguishes Zelda from Link is a necessity to develop the wisdom to use her talents wisely.


I believe that a game starring Zelda would therefore need to ask the player to make decisions. These decisions would be embedded in conversation trees, which would require much more text than a player typically encounters in a Legend of Zelda game, as well as a much better understanding of history and politics than Link ever needs to concern himself with.


Therefore, while maintaining the action and puzzle elements of the Legend of Zelda series, a game starring Zelda could emphasize the role-playing elements of popular JRPG series like Final Fantasy and Fire Emblem. The gameplay would focus on three key elements of Zelda’s character across the series. First, Zelda has a dual personality as a princess and as a warrior. Second, as a princess, Zelda must restrict her activities to the castle and its surroundings. And third, as someone with divine powers, Zelda realizes that it is possible to travel through time.

Warrior Zelda in Twilight Princess by NarcisseArt

Zelda would therefore be the perfect star of an exploration-heavy adventure game with a linear yet malleable narrative structure resembling that of fan-favorite time travel stories like Chrono Trigger and Radiant Historia.


The setting of this game would be Hyrule Castle, an enormous and convoluted structure that contains huge labyrinthine spaces both aboveground and belowground, with a thriving city at its base. Players will explore the upper regions of the castle and certain portions of the (daytime) city as Zelda, while the lower regions of the castle and other parts of the (nighttime) city will only be accessible when Zelda disguises herself as Sheik.


As Zelda the princess, the player will talk with people and search the castle to learn more about the world as Zelda gathers clues about Hyrule’s history. As Zelda the warrior, the player will fight enemies and gain various skills while searching for songs that can serve as gateways into different eras of the past, which Zelda can visit access by playing the Ocarina of Time, the Goddess’ Harp, or any of the other magical instruments that have appeared in Hyrule.


By traveling to the past, Zelda will be able to change various aspects of the present. Doing so will be the main objective of the game and will thereby structure its progress. Each era in the past would function like a dungeon, complete with its own objectives and its own unique emphasis on a specific aspect of gameplay. Eventually Zelda will also be able to visit a dystopian future in the form of a prophetic vision of what will become of Hyrule if she fails in her quest.


Along the way, Zelda will be able to recruit various companion characters to aid her in battle and add flavor to the conversations and environmental observations. Link and Impa are obvious choices, as are representatives of the various tribes of Hyrule. Perhaps even Ganondorf might become Zelda’s ally as she attempts to sever the threads binding them both to a terrible fate.

Warrior Sheik in Ocarina of Time by Nolvini

Not only will the player be able to develop Zelda's martial prowess, but there will also be a Wisdom stat that will grow as Zelda interacts with her environment and the various people who inhabit it. An increase in Wisdom will open more conversation paths, which will in turn allow Zelda to navigate her way through a number of tricky political situations.


Sufficient development of this Wisdom stat will allow Zelda to unlock new story paths, access extra companion characters, open hidden areas, and generally see more of the game. The player will therefore be incentivized to engage in nonviolent exploration with Zelda the princess, but it will also be entirely possible for Zelda to conduct her business by night with the pointy end of her sword. It’s her legend, and her choices should matter.


Zelda’s story in Tears of the Kingdom was intriguing, but it was a shame to learn about her time in ancient Hyrule only through fractured bits and pieces of her memories. In fact, ever since I played my first Legend of Zelda game, I’ve always wanted to know more about the parts of Zelda’s adventures that aren’t directly witnessed by Link. What did Sheik do during the seven missing years of Ocarina of Time? How did Zelda spend her days while trapped in Hyrule Castle in Twilight Princess? How did Tetra establish the kingdom of New Hyrule prior to Spirit Tracks?


Zelda is clearly much more than a damsel in distress or a support character who simply fires arrows at Ganon. I want to see Zelda shine with the light of her own legend, and I think her story would make a truly fun and fascinating game.