Link has had numerous homes over the course of 18 games: a mysterious forest where children never grow up, a quiet island on a vast sea, and a treehouse in the village of Ordon, among others. All of them have been unique, but none more so than Skyloft, Link’s home among the clouds. It’s unique for its location, certainly, but Skyloft is much more than a just a floating rock among the clouds. To me, it’s one of the first times I felt like Link actually had a home.
We’re introduced to the island via Loftwing perspective, sweeping through the clouds to give us a beautiful panoramic shot of this new world we’re meant to explore. Skyloft at first glance looks like a very typical village. The housing district sits on the eastern side of the island near a lake and stream, shopping and social areas are clustered in the middle, and to the west and north are the Skyloft Knight Academy and a towering Goddess Statue. It’s all very quaint but that’s what attracted me to it in the first place.
Link wakes at the Knight Academy, which appears to function as both school and dormitory. In his room, you find everything a stereotypical 17-year-old boy would need: a wardrobe, a bed, a bookshelf, and then in the corner is a woodcarving desk that gives us a bit of insight to what Link might do as a hobby. Out in the hall, we find peers he presumably shares the dormitories with, such as timid Fledge near the dining hall and confident Pipit near the classroom. The lower level appears to be occupied by all the male students while the upper level has instructor offices and two rooms for the two girls. It gives the academy a very home-like or college-esque feel to it; familiar and comforting. This aesthetic continues as we travel out into the village at large.
The first thing that really struck me when I set out into the village was that people know Link and appear very familiar with him. An instructor asks him to fetch the headmaster’s pet off the roof just because he knows Link will do it. A man repairing a gate asks Link how he slept last night, wondering how nervous he is before the big event that is to take place that day. The potion shop owner calls Link “the adorable boy with the golden hair!” when she first sees him. I realize many of these mechanisms are designed as gameplay tutorials, but they still give us insight to the community as a whole and Link as a person. The villagers are all familiar with him and act accordingly. They welcome him, greet him like a friend, and the entire village just allows Link into their houses without so much as a knock, and they let him crash in their bed for the night without question.
Another thing that makes Skyloft such a wonderful place to return to was the music. The background track that plays while walking around the island makes me feel like I want to lay down in the sun and just watch the clouds, something you can almost picture young Link and Zelda doing on a daily basis. It’s happy and carefree, with the main chorus of the song dropping out in the residential area for a more relaxing feel and the track quieting entirely when you approach the Goddess Statue, seemingly as a sign of reverence.
Speaking of the Goddess Statue, there’s a lovely Easter egg for anyone who takes the time to go exploring. Once you have the Clawshots, Link can scale the wall surrounding the Goddess Statue to find a field of flowers and sleepy Remlits, the little cat-like creatures that Link helped at the beginning of the game and can be seen roaming the island. At night they’re feral thanks to the influence of a demon on the island, but during the day Link can pick them up or play his harp and they will bob their heads along with the melody. If you’re looking for a bit of mischievous fun, throw them over the edge and watch what happens.
Skyloft functions the same as other villages in Zelda games, but it’s my favorite village to come back to. The colors, the atmosphere, and even the sidequests (such as finding a missing rattle, and helping two of Link’s classmates find romance) — it’s all so quaint and slice-of-life that it just makes me smile. Link has always had a place to stay in the games, but Skyward Sword and Skyloft was the first time it ever truly felt like home.