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Zelda: Clockwork Empire FAQ

I’ve been getting a ton of questions regarding my Zelda project, so I thought I’d answer a few of the most common ones. 

Why is Zelda dressed similarly to Link?

Although there are notable differences (coloration, hood, shape of the tunic, and obviously the magic gauntlet) I’ll be the first to point out that Zelda’s outfit is more similar to a “Link outfit” than a princess’s dress. I’ve done this for a simple reason: Zelda is not a princess here, but an adventurer. A large amount of the imagery associated with Princess Zelda is the fact that she’s a princess; flowing gowns and elaborate patterns and jewelry just don’t fit with her backstory, nor are they practical for a wandering protagonist.  There’s nothing wrong with that type of dress or imagery, but in context it’s as appropriate as Link wearing a simple green tunic if he’s supposed to be a monarch.

It’s important to remember that most Zelda games star new incarnations of Link and Zelda, each with their own new backstories. Link has been everything from a farmer to a forest boy to a descendant of royal knights. Likewise, Zelda’s been a ninja, a pirate and a sorceress, each with their own distinct personalities and skills. 

My design for Zelda is meant to be similar to what knights & heroes of ancient Hyrule have worn, but suggest a slightly more wizardly sensibility. There are even a few details (like her tabard and fencing guard) that are direct references to Zelda’s dress from Twilight Princess, as well as the Sheik’s symbol from Ocarina of Time.

Why isn’t Zelda a princess?

She technically still is a princess, there’s just no Hyrule. Similarly to her incarnation in Wind Waker, Zelda was raised with no real knowledge of her heritage, and so lived a totally non-princess life, just like Tetra. Her archetypal qualities remain the same, but the circumstances of the setting are different.

Like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, my version of Zelda doesn’t have a royal upbringing, but still carries the qualities and world experiences that make her fit to rule, should the opportunity arise.

What makes the character of Zelda distinct from the character of Link?

It’s hard to answer this because the characters of Zelda and Link are usually very simple. Link, especially, has almost no personality at all by design, since he’s a stand-in for the player. However, there’s a lot of personality you can pull from the gameplay style of Link in contrast to Zelda, and it might be best summed up as Courage vs. Wisdom, the two Triforce elements Link & Zelda often represent, respectively.

Obviously both Zelda and Link possess wisdom and courage, but the play style of Link is a direct sword-and-shield approach, as he is the quintessential “heroic knight” protagonist. Solving puzzles and using your brain is essential to all of Link’s adventures, but if we were going to distinguish him from a Zelda-protagonist play style, I would say that Link stands his ground and marches into danger, while Zelda would take a more thoughtful approach.  Link is scrappy and fearless, while Zelda is cunning and patient.

Both are heroes saving the day and crawling through dungeons, but their dispositions and skills change the way their adventures play out. While Link carries a shield, Zelda has a magical gauntlet representing her connection to the more mysterious elements of the setting. While Link finds just the right tool to help him through a dungeon, Zelda works out a spell or mystery. Link isn’t there to figure out how the world works, while Zelda is. If Link is a Jedi Guardian, Zelda is a Jedi Consular. 

How does the magic work?

There are two types of magic, the Gauntlet of Gamelon’s magic and the Magic Schools.

Zelda’s gauntlet takes the place of Link’s many tools. Each of the four elemental gems can employ up to three spells: Courage, Wisdom and Power. For example Fire/Courage ignites your sword, Fire/Wisdom is a floating lantern for lighting your way, and Fire/Power is a time-release magical explosive, taking the place of bombs.

The magical schools are more about play style and combat. You can collect various items to please one of the three teachers, each of whom will grant you new spells if you specialize in their field. While the gauntlet’s abilities are more like essential tools, these spells of the different magic schools would use a traditional magic meter and could be upgraded. None of these spells would be absolutely essential to beat the game, but would open up entirely new areas and side stories if you master them.

For example, basic Twilight Magic spells allow you to turn invisible in certain shadows, and a more advanced spell allows you to “jump” from one shadow to another, allowing you to cross certain rooms and avoid hazards. A particular challenge could be trying to alter the lighting of a room so you could cast a shadow near the exist door, allowing you to bypass enemies. Additionally, Twilight mastery unlocks passive abilities in your gauntlet, so that you can run across water with your Water Gem equipped, or climb up hanging vines with your Earth Gem equipped.

Each of the three schools of magic offers active and passive benefits like these. You can try all three or focus on one for special perks and items.

Can you give more information on the general story of Clockwork Empire?

It’s set 2,000 years after Twilight Princess, with the idea being that Link’s ancestors have settled in a new land and founded the Kingdom of Calatia. Over the centuries, though, the kingdom’s grown complacent and Ganondorf Dragmire has manipulated from behind the scenes to turn Calatia into an imperial state. His problem, though, is that he knows young Prince Link has much more courage than his ancestors and would shut Ganondorf down if he knew what was going on. As such, Ganondorf has worked hard to keep Link out of the picture.

Zelda is an orphan raised by Sheika people in their traveling circus. You’d start the game with them, as your circus enters the borders of Calatia. Zelda’s chores and training in the circus could function as a tutorial for players. Ultimately, though, they are raided by Calatian troops (for a minor infraction) and imprisoned in one of Ganondorf’s towers. Zelda naturally escapes and recovers her belongings (during which she briefly meets Prince Link), and this is where she overhears Ganondorf discussing his interest in the myths of “Ancient Hyrule,” showing off his collection of Hylian artifacts. Zelda sneaks inside and one of the artifacts, the Gauntlet of Gamelon, reacts to the pendant her mother gaver her as a child. 

It turns out that Zelda’s family heirloom is the Air Gem for this gauntlet, implying that Zelda may be one of these quasi-mythical Hylians. Ganondorf walks back in and is naturally a bit shocked to find out that the myths could be true. Instinctively, Zelda puts on the gauntlet and inserts the gem. She manages to escape the castle using its magic, but with her family still locked up.

From here the stage is set: Ganondorf now suspects Hyrule was real, and with it possibly the ancient Triforce. Zelda too now knows of her heritage, and the two set out on a race to discover the ancient secrets, Ganondorf for power, and Zelda to save her family. If Zelda can acquire all four of the Gamelon Gems for her Hylian gauntlet, it may point the way to ancient Hyrule’s location.

Later on in the game, of course, she’d run into Prince Link again, who had managed to escape his own tower and see the outside world. Link would function similarly to Sheik in Ocarina of Time, appearing now and again to help Zelda out, while on his own little adventure.

Are you going to post any more content? I want more!

My comic series Dresden Codak is a full-time job, and side projects always have to take a backseat to that. I do have some more ideas for illustrations, so we’ll see!


Thanks guys, for all your questions and enthusiasm, I’m glad you like it!

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