Man, Majora’s Mask is a depressing game. From the main plot to simple side stories in the grand scheme of things, the Land of Termina is steeped with pain. Right from the get-go, we see the darkness seep in through Link’s quest: the location of a lost friend. It doesn’t stop there. Lovers separated. False accusation. The looming presence of destruction. One must be strong to bear what Link went through.
And Link sure went through hell. That’s really all we can call it. Hell on earth. No matter what he did, the moon would fall, and the world would end. If he went back in time, all that he accomplished was undone. The lovers would still be apart. The ranch would still be attacked. The land would still be devastated. Just thinking about it makes me depressed. Imagine living it! If Link had any emotions, I’m sure he would be screaming in his head about all his failures. A weaker mind would be torn apart, yet Link suffered it stoically.
Now, on to my next point: the land of Termina itself. Termina has been cursed, for lack of a better term. The poisoning of the swamp. The snowstorm on the mountain. The hurricane on the sea. Even the land of Ikana, decayed and fallen, is affected. This is an external showing of the corruption that affects Termina, but the corruption runs deeper than that.
There are disputes in Clock Town between the guards and workers, each ignoring the other’s points. The Gorman Brothers are willing to do anything to mess with Romani Ranch. The Deku have become suspicious of anyone entering their lands. The gorons have become listless and depressed, their lives full of nothing but sitting around due to endless snow. The zoras live in fear of both the pirates and the hurricane. Ikana has become infested with undead, from skeletons to redead.
Majora’s Mask has been seen as the darkest Zelda game, and there is no shortage of proof. The time limit of three days gives a sense of urgency, with the ever-present moon a symbol of oppression. The masks Link receives can turn him into copies of dead people, trying to keep them alive though they passed away. Even the ending is left open, with Link still searching for Navi, the reason he came to Termina in the first place.
There is also the Skull Kid, a mischievous child who is corrupted by an evil mask. As he grows more corrupt he lashes out at his friends, ruins lives, and is the one who summons the moon to crush Clock Town. He sends four spirits to keep the giants, the ones with the ability to stop him, occupied.
How, if there is all this corruption and depression, is Link able to save everyone? It is only the perseverance and caring that keeps him from giving up, and that is the true message of this game. No matter what comes up, no matter how dark and hopeless it may seem, you need to keep going. Eventually, the end will come. Eventually, the darkness will fall, the oppression will lift, the corruption will vanish, and you can move on. Unfortunately, sometimes not everyone will come out unscathed, but that is another game for another time. So if you think you can’t keep going, that you have to stop, that your burdens and responsibilities are overwhelming you, just think of Link and what he went through. Though it is only a narrative, it can still show us what we need to strive towards - perseverance and hope.