On March 20th, Nintendo dropped a surprise announcement that they would be working with Brace Yourself Games (the team behind Crypt of the Necrodancer) to make a Legend of Zelda Rhythm spin-off featuring gameplay and some characters from Crypt of the Necrodancer. After a couple of months without much info, Cadence of Hyrule launched on June 13th with the price tag of $25USD, with a surprise date drop at the Nintendo E3 presentation. Is Cadence of Hyrule a Zora out of water or is it a soaring Rito?
Cadence of Hyrule features random overworld generation, so each time you start a new save, it will be a fresh experience. Some places aren’t affected by this such as Kakariko village and Lake Hylia. The overworld generation is fine, but it can lead to places feeling dull and unmemorable, which doesn’t happen in most Zelda games. While this may be bad to some, these moments aren’t meant to be the most memorable; they are meant to serve battles. Battles in Cadence of Hyrule are a bit different from battles in most Zelda games, you move and attack to the beat of the music and so do the other NPCs. This leads to you having to think a bit about where the enemy will move so you can know where not to hop. If you miss your hop and hit an enemy, it causes damage. This gameplay style is very fun, and instead of groaning every time I see an enemy I get excited for the fight that is about to proceed.
Fear not Zelda fans, Cadence of Hyrule features collectibles of plenty. From finding items like the bow, boomerang, hookshot, etc, and finding all twenty- eight pieces of heart (four pieces gives you a permanent new heart). These can be found in the overworld, in shops or even in dungeons. Getting all of these takes quite a bit of effort but is fun to do. I really enjoyed collecting these as it gave a purpose to the overworld so that it did not just serve as a gateway to the four dungeons. I always get excited when I see a bombable hole in the wall because that means a new item could be awaiting me. This game also features several iconic locations from the Zelda series, including Kakariko village, Gerudo town, Lost woods and the windmill (the song of storms plays here). Finding these places is a real treat, especially if you are a big Zelda fan such as myself.
Now I touched on this earlier, but the songs in this game are ear candy, which is really necessary for a rhythm game. I cannot name one bad song in this game. Every one is really catchy and helps you play to the beat of the music. These are all songs I feel like I could listen to on repeat for hours on end. Some of my favorites include the Great Fairy Fountain, Overworld and Gerudo valley.
Despite the positives, this game has it’s fair share of negatives. The game features three playable characters; Link, Cadence and Zelda. All of them just feel like costume swaps. Zelda is definitely the most unique using Din’s fire and Nayru’s love, but that’s it. Link and Cadence are exactly the same which disappointed me a bit. Them having different armor or different weapons easily could have made them all much more unique. Thankfully, the items you find can spice things up a bit. Your best friend will be the bow, which can hold four unlockable arrow types. This is easily your best long range attack as it’s quick and satisfying. The bomb also helps early on in the game dealing quite a bit of damage. Along the way you can also find chests containing new weapons and weapon types. There are five weapon types. The short sword (swings in one direction), broadsword (hits three tiles in front of you), the spear, (hits two spaces up from where you swung), ball and chain (hits in an L shape) and the long sword (hits three spaces up from where you swung at the sacrifice of your shield). Each of these weapons can be enhanced from increasing the damage to poisioning the enemies who touch it.
I won’t get into too many plot details here, but the game consists of you going to four dungeons spread out around the overworld to defeat four “champions”. These dungeons, as mentioned, are also randomly generated and have a much heavier emphasis on combat. These can easily be the trickiest sections of the game. They are never unfair though, and they rely completely on your skill as a player to make it through. The bosses at the end of each dungeon are easy but pretty fun. After you beat your fourth dungeon you are in the endgame, which sadly is pretty disappointing. It features some great fan service, but other than that it leaves much to be desired.
It’s time to talk about my biggest problem with this game, it suffers from Breath of the Wild (BOTW) syndrome. Let me rephrase that; this game gets easier as you go along, not harder just like BOTW. This makes the game pretty boring after a while. Once you find your first great fairy fountain, get the weapon upgrades and find a few pieces of heart it’s all pretty easy. What was once a challenging game is now super easy. The game tries to solve this by giving you enemies with more HP, but it does not make much of a difference in the long run. If you want a harder game, I suggest you don’t use diamonds (an alternate currency to ruppes) or the lute (this functions as a fast travel).
While I was a bit negative towards the end, Cadence of Hyrule is still a phenomenal game. The positives greatly outweigh the negatives, and I had a lot of fun with this game. The soundtrack is a banger. The exploration is fun. Brace Yourself Games put a lot of love and care into this game which makes it truly a blast to play. The random overworld generator will surely keep this a game I will keep coming back to. My final score for Cadence of Hyrule is a solid 8.5/10. I hope to see many of you picking up this great game.
(Reviewed by Masked Warriah on Nintendo Switch).