Ocarina’s Other Scary Temple

What place immediately comes to mind when you hear the phrase “creepy Zelda dungeon”? It’s the Shadow Temple from Ocarina of Time isn’t it? Its image probably jumped into your head before you even finished reading that phrase. It should. The Shadow Temple was designed to be the most chilling experience of the entire game, and I’d say it’s arguable that we haven’t yet seen a Zelda dungeon that’s topped it in pure creep factor. However, while the Shadow Temple is the most overtly scary place in the game, it’s not the only location in the game that exudes a sense of the sinister. In fact, in terms of being downright foreboding, I believe that the Spirit Temple can (and does) give the Shadow Temple a run for its money.

The Spirit Temple isn’t so much scary as it is overwhelming. It makes itself known as an ancient and powerful place from the very first moment that Link enters it. The very first room hosts two towering snake statues with poems telling of the relation between past and future. Beyond that, the main chamber of the temple houses a colossal statue of the Goddess of the Sand. It’s a place that makes Link seem very small and insignificant as he makes his way through the temple; as if his efforts really don’t mean anything at all to this old and gigantic place. Beyond even that, we know that there is a powerful threat lurking somewhere inside.

After the child portion of the dungeon, we witness the witch sisters Koume and Kotake sink Nabooru into shadow and then return to the temple’s interior. Child Link certainly doesn’t have the means to confront them, and what could adult Link do in the face of such powerful magic?  We know that there will be a confrontation with these witches and that knowledge changes the experience. The temple becomes a more foreboding place. It’s shadowy rooms take on a hint of the sinister, and that earlier sense of power inspires just a little bit of paranoia. We know that the confrontation with the witches won’t come until we reach the final chamber of the temple, but in the meantime we can’t help but wonder what kind of corrupting influence those witches have on such a grand place.

(Video from YouTube channel: GilvaSunner)

The Spirit Temple theme is what I think really makes this all sink in. It’s grand, but powerful. It’s reminiscent of the ancient; enduring and resolutely marching forward, uncaring in regard to the passage of time. In the latter portion of the temple, it seems to take on a hint of a lurking power, something just outside our perception. Something watching Link with passive interest, seeing him as nothing more than a curiosity. It doesn’t care about the insignificant beings that traverse its chambers. It doesn’t even care about temporary corruption and evil making a home in its spaces. It is an ancient place, one that will remain long after both the good and the evil have passed from its halls.

The Spirit temple isn’t a traditionally scary place. Its sense of menace doesn’t come from spooky visuals or a bloody history, but rather from the imaginations of those who visit it. It’s scale, song, and ancient feel are meant to overwhelm and inspire a sense of insignificance. To top it off, Twinrova’s presence builds on that feel and inspires hints of dread and paranoia in addition to anything else. It’s not the Shadow Temple, but the Spirit Temple can definitely be scary in its own right!


What sort of impression did the Spirit Temple leave you with?

Lede image is official promotional art with some adjustments made by Hatm0nster

7 thoughts on “Ocarina’s Other Scary Temple”

  1. I remember when I first played Ocarina of Time, I was overwhelmed by the Spirit Temple’s size. I was also still a little terrified from the Shadow Temple, so I definitely was more afraid of what I thought was going to happen than what actually did.

    Playing the game again as an adult, I felt in awe of the size and history of the building, like you said. It was the only temple that I actually believed people once went to worship, and I could almost imagine the weight of that kind of energy pressing in on me (like if you enter an old Church or an historical graveyard). I wanted to tip-toe and peek around corners, and apologize for trampling around on what I assumed had once been holy ground (and maybe still was). It was well-done, and is actually now one of my favorite temples to complete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, I never really liked having to walk past that giant statue. While the rest of the temple had that pressure you described, walking past that statue actually did carry a feeling of intrusion. It didn’t matter that Link was ejecting the evil from the temple.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see what you mean about the Spirit Temple. It feels like you’re in a burial ground the whole time. I actually thought that the Forest Temple was the second scariest after the Shadow Temple. The Forest Temple has an eerie soundtrack pervading it. That combined with the dark overgrown forest, the four Poes, the spinning rooms, and the Wallmasters, the Forest Temple is kind of freaky. I didn’t even mention Phantom Ganon lurking in the basement’s paintings. If Shadow Temple weren’t so intentionally spooky, I would have voted Forest Temple as scariest dungeon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a good point about the Forest Temple. It’s haunted, its space is actually distorted, and has a spooky soundtrack as well.

      There’s a sense of history there also. It would be cool if we could learn more about it somewhere. Maybe in that Hyrule Historia book?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree. There was always something unnerving about this place, and I, too, think that it’s that massive statue and the background music that accounts for much of the Spirit Temple’s foreboding feeling. It feels as if I am trespassing somewhere sacred and something terrible is going to happen to me as a result.

    Liked by 1 person

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