*DISCLAIMER: THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS WITHIN THIS REVIEW ARE MY OWN. I PURCHASED THIS GAME FOR MY OWN USE. THIS REVIEW COMES FROM A LONG TIME FAN OF THE ZELDA SERIES.*
Cadence of Hyrule is a title where, "As Link—or even as Princess Zelda—you’ll explore the randomly generated overworld and procedurally generated dungeons on a quest to save Hyrule. Every beat of each remixed Legend of Zelda tune is a chance to move, attack, defend, and more, so stay one step ahead of each enemy and boss…or face the music." - eShop Page
Bum bum! Badananana! Badananana! DA NA NANA!
Ok, so you can’t tell, but that’s my horrible off-key singing of the Zelda theme. Deal with it. Everyone around me had to actually hear me do that out loud. You all are the lucky ones.
Hold on to your cap’s, Hyruleans, because we’re about to go Old-School. Way back in 1986, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda. Credited by some as the first truly open-world, nonlinear RPG, The Legend of Zelda was a huge feat of game design of the era. The game was difficult, it didn’t hold your hand, it never answered your questions, and you could even completely miss the weapon at the beginning, cuz 8-bit doors - that’s why.
I adore this franchise. The music is iconic and it takes me back to when I was about 4 years old, watching my father beat Ganon all over again. It has proven capable of surviving the test of time and I even built a Mini-NES clone for my father’s birthday two years ago, just so he could experience all that 8-bit glory on the big screen.
While I have never beaten the original Zelda, I began my adventure with Link in Ocarina of Time. No matter what naysayers gonna say about it, the N64 was my jam. I loved that crazy system more than anything, and I loved the entire 3D open-world design of Hyrule. The framerates may have been low, but that wasn’t the case for my love of the world. It was my first time experiencing the demise of Ganon by my own hand, and I would never look back.
I won’t claim to have played every Zelda title, as I missed so many over the years. But every one I have touched has been an experience that I cherished and thoroughly enjoyed. The series has so much nostalgia for me, but they are more than that too. I would honestly find it hard to believe if anyone tried to tell me that The Legend of Zelda series was not objectively good as a whole.
But this isn’t a write-up of the entire series. I don’t have that kind of time in my life (but do I wish for it? Yes. That answer is YES.) Instead, I’m going to break down the newest instalment in the franchise: Cadence of Hyrule ~ Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda ~. The minute, and I mean THE MINUTE, Nintendo announced that they were allowing Brace Yourself Games to make a rhythm game based on Zelda, I was Philip J. Fry screaming, “Take my money!” I am a huge sucker for rhythm games in general, and especially ones that are unconventional and hit me in the musical nostalgia. I had to play this game. Nintendo gave me no other choice. It’s their fault, I tell you.
Since the dawn of Hyrule and the Goddess Hylia herself, there have been the Heroes of Legend. Tales passed down from elders have told of the Hero, Link as he has been named, the one who has saved the Princess time and time again. The Princess herself has evolved across the generations, becoming a warrior standing beside the Hero in times of peril, called to protect her people and land from threats new and old.
The time has come, however, for a new warrior to arise, answering the beats of Hyrule in defence of the kingdom. Her name alone commands fear in the hearts of all those who serve the side of Evil. Cadence. She alone will be able to harness the beat and awaken the Princess and Hero, both thrown into slumber by minions of Ganon himself. The world of Hyrule transforms around them, familiar regions of Legend feeling strange and anomalous. Together with the Hero and the Princess, Cadence will defend her new home from villains old and new. Ganon will be no match for the power of the Triforce.
The story here isn’t deep. It won’t move you to tears or make you take a stand. But I’ll be damned if someone thinks that’s what they will find in any title in The Legend of Zelda series as a whole (bits and pieces of the series, notwithstanding). The first game in 1986 didn’t even give us an exposition, no story to tell us what we were doing. It was literally an open-world exploration of crazy that had a surprising amount of lore hidden away. I really still question how people even figured out that they needed to save Princess Zelda.
The games have evolved over the last THREE DECADES (let’s just take a moment to appreciate that, my fellow Hyruleans), and while this story was not as deep as Breath of the Wild, I believe it was successful. It reminded me of the Old-School Zelda titles of my childhood and that was a wonderful journey to take.
So, take a 2D Zelda game, mix in a dash - okay, more like a bucket - of rhythm and rogue-like mechanics and BAM! You got Cadence of Hyrule.
It sounds like a very basic concept, but it is pulled off so well that I can’t even express how much I enjoyed the gameplay. You play as Cadence, Link, or Zelda - each can be switched between at the player’s discretion after unlocking them and each character gives access to different abilities.
The game itself carries many design pieces of Crypt of the Necromancer, the previous title by Brace Yourself Games on which many of this game’s mechanics are based. Many rogue-like mechanics are still present in the game. Each save game rearranges pieces of the map and dungeons are procedurally generated. Many items are lost when the player is killed, though some are more permanent. Due to the randomness of the gameplay, replay value is higher than I expected when I came into this.
The rhythm elements are done exquisitely. Each area plays a song from the Zelda series. The player must move to the beat of the song, gaining power-up energy for landing enough beats in a row. Every monster in a region moves in sync to the beat as well, each type having a different pattern of attack. It feels insanely natural to move across the battlefield.
I would have thought this was a genuine Nintendo developed title, if I had not known better. This game is a supreme effort and accomplishment from an Indie development team. The graphics feel right at home in the Zelda franchise, harkening back to titles of the SNES era, and it’s honestly surprising that no one has tried this rhythmic style before in the series. The pixel art is perfectly designed, both beautiful and crisp. There were no discernible frame skips or quality lags that I experienced during my playthrough of the game.
Difficult and Music/Sound:
The difficulty is just at the right sweet spot where I like my video games: Easy to learn; difficult to master. Many of the areas were filled with monsters and, while somewhat overwhelming in the beginning, the gameplay was approachable enough to be completely enjoyable for someone who had not played the original Crypt of the Necromancer. Some regions were more difficult than others, and some chests require exact precision to be unlocked. The game also offers an easy mode, called “fixed-beat mode”, as well as a permadeath mode, so any level of player is welcome! The difficulty is just another layer of how well this game was developed. Every piece seemed to fit together in a beautiful dance.
And as for sound, this is easy enough. Repeat after me: Zelda music. That’s all that needs to be said here.
When it comes down to some honest ‘Pros and Cons’, I really didn’t have anything I was really feeling negative about with this game. It was such a great experience. But I still wanted to give some valid arguments in that section, somewhat in the vein of a ‘devil’s advocate’. So, while I didn’t feel these particular negatives in my playthrough, they are concerns some players may need to have addressed.
This game is highly based in nostalgia for me, so that may be a downside for some players. The graphical style is pixel art, which some players find off-putting. The mechanics are not particularly true to Zelda series itself, so veterans of the series may not find the changes welcome. Which then also applies to Crypt of the Necromancer veteran players, as they may find this game too easy and therefore somewhat short in playtime.
Overall though, my honest experience with this game is just that it was simply fantastic. The story is simple, yet very much a Zelda kind of tale. The gameplay is enjoyable, yet has enough difficulty and replay value to bring players back again. The music doesn’t need explanation. It’s friggin’ Zelda tunes. There is no downside there.
So, guess what I’m going to tell you. Just try. It should be obvious by now. Trust me, it’s worth the money and is definitely a beautiful experience. I was worried that $24.99 would be a bit of a heavy price tag, but I was not disappointed.
|Price:||£22.49 | €24.99 | $24.99|
|Story Completion Time:||6-7 Hours|
|100% Completion Time:||10-15 Hours|
|BUM BUM! Badana…. NANA! (I love my Zelda music. Get over it!)||If you have no nostalgia for the music of the Zelda series, a lot of the joy in this may be lost on you. The music is still great, but it may not be as great.|
|The graphics are gorgeous. This is Old-School Zelda at it’s best.||Pixel art is not for everyone, and that’s ok. Just know what you’re getting into!|
|Changes in gameplay bring a breath of fresh air to the Zelda series.||Purists may not appreciate the rhythmic mechanics.|
|Difficulty can be adjusted for any player’s level of expertise.||Veterans of Crypt of the Necromancer may find that the gameplay too easy, and therefore find the game to be somewhat short.|
|Arbitrary Final Score|
Review by Bonnie
Cadence of Hyrule is available now for the Nintendo Switch for, £22.49/$24.99. Thank you to Brace Yourself Games for supplying the assets used in this review. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.