Throughout the epic adventures in The Legend of Zelda franchise, Link has always remained silent, only ever uttering sounds of exertion whilst he fights enemies, performs his athletic forward rolls or falls to his death. Falling to his death produces a scream which is probably the most emotion portrayed by Link, the voiceless protagonist.
In a recent interview with GamesMaster, Eiji Aonuma suggests that he is actually considering supplying Link with a voice, however, he does seem very unsure as to whether to make that decision or not. The full quote is as follows:
We’ve had a lot of requests from fans to hear [Link’s] voice, and while in some ways I do feel that it could be good to have a game where he speaks, part of me also feels that that air of proud independence he has because he doesn’t speak is a precious part of the individuality of his character. I want to think long and hard about whether changing that would be for the better or not before I make any decision.
The Legend of Zelda has been around for thirty years and Link has been silent throughout so why change that now? The series has been highly successful and I believe that giving Link a voice will not affect this either way, however, it may remove the personal connection each individual fan has to Link’s character. Due to the fact that Link has no voice, players are much more easily able to picture themselves as Link as he has no annoying lines (Navi I am looking at you).
Having said this, it would be very interesting to hear what Link would actually sound like when having a conversation and the interaction between Link and Zelda would be highly entertaining. Furthermore, poor Link has no freedom of speech and so players have no idea what he is thinking or feeling, maybe sometimes our much loved protagonist just wants to be able to stay in bed and not be awoken by Navi’s incessant shouting of ‘HEY’.
Moreover, the lack of Link’s voice causes The Legend of Zelda as a franchise appear to be stuck in the past a little. Most triple-A titles these days contain voice acting which defines the characters and gives them each their own personalities and traits. The fact that Link is silent suggests that the franchise is reluctant to let go of the past where few games had voice acting, perhaps giving Link a voice is the breath of fresh air that The Legend of Zelda requires to bring Link into the 21st century.
Although, I do wholeheartedly agree with Eiji Aonuma’s suggestion that giving Link a voice would remove his ‘proud independence’ as Link’s lack of narrative makes him seem separate from the other characters within the game as if he is almost otherworldly and does not feel the need to use words to get his point across. After all, actions do speak louder than words. Link’s silence causes his character to seem at one with nature and the animals surrounding him, which makes his connection with the forest much more evident.
Furthermore, if our silent protagonist become vocal we could have a situation similar to that of Detective Pikachu on our hands in which Link would end up with a disturbingly deep voice that is just quite frankly terrifying and completely opposite to that of his appearance. However, Nintendo could get it right and Link could come across as intelligent and witty, although I believe he comes across this way without the need for a voice.
Giving Link a voice is a risk that I do not think is worth taking, we each have our own idea of who Link is and the connection we have to his character. To give him a voice could entirely alter our perceptions of his personality and perhaps ruin what he is to each of us.