June 28, 2017 7:23 PM EDT

The protagonist of each The Legend of Zelda series installment, Link embodies the selfless hero on a transformative journey, a storytelling trope we’ve seen in countless titles from Mass Effect‘s Commander Shepherd to Halo‘s Master Chief. For most of these games he plays the taciturn chosen one, his presence established by his willingness to embark on dangerous quests to save those important to him (most notably Princess Zelda). But the Zelda games also invest heavily in forms of reincarnation: In each game, a new version of the hero emerges, thrust into crisis with no memory of the series’ prior cycles (also highly useful if you want to focus on gameplay iteration). That notion of the hero’s return, stripped of abilities, inhabits everything from Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid games, to Ubisoft’s genetic memory informed Assassin’s Creed series.

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