In my first playthrough, I thought that I had somehow failed Ocarina, or that I had gotten 'the bad ending'. I barely had a few moments of a blank screen, all the while reflecting on what I had done wrong, before the game continued. I was stunned. I couldn't reload and fix things, I now had to deal with the aftermath of what would've been a 'game over' in other games.
Link woke up in a body not his own and didn't recognize himself. Similarly, I too was changed beyond my control - how could I trust anything in Ocarina now that I was dealing with the consequences of simply following the plot? Leaving the Temple of Time gives no reprieve as it throws you immediately into a desolate Castle Town, overrun by the screaming, clinging dead. You can't run away from what you've done, the world has changed because of it.
Nowadays, it's the small things in Zelda that make me stop and pause. It’s the heartbreaking beat of hesitation in 'Age of Calamity' when Sidon agrees with Mipha that he'll see her again, the way Anju is so calm in 'Majora's Mask' as she waits for Kafei in the Stock Pot Inn. It's finding out that Link still knows the password to the Big Bad Bazz Brigade in ‘Breath of the Wild’, seeing the way that Link smiles at Zelda in 'Skyward Sword', or hugging every cat in 'Twilight Princess's Castle Town.
I don't think I'll ever have a repeat experience of something like the pure terror of the initial last six minutes atop Termina Clock Tower, or the stunned anger at Ganondorf's backstory in Twilight, but I've come to learn that that's okay.
The beautiful thing about The Legends of Zelda is that no matter how well you know the gameplay or how many times you've started a new file, the games will find a way to touch your heart. The events that stick in my head have changed since I was eleven, betrayed by the Demon King, and I expect will continue to change when I am an older millennial rebuilding (hopefully!) Hyrule in 'Tears of the Kingdom'.
Whatever the next adventure brings, I look forward to it.