Cadence of Hyrule Review - This game Octo-ROCKS!
It’s not often that you see a team-up that involves Nintendo with another company. Sure Nintendo has had partnerships with Ubisoft for the Mario x Rabbids and Starlink: Battle for Atlas games, but it’s rare when a smaller developer gets to utilize a highly-coveted Nintendo IP such as The Legend of Zelda. But here we are, and Brace Yourself Games creators of the indie rhythm rogue-like Crypt of the Necrodancer have earned that right. If you haven’t played Crypt of the Necrodancer before, it is a highly acclaimed game that relies on the player moving to the beat. Cadence, the protagonist of the game has to search through many randomized dungeons to find her father. Along the way she can find upgrades to enhance her abilities and grow stronger.
Cadence of Hyrule an exclusive for Nintendo Switch is a spinoff of both The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the Necrodancer. When the game starts, the player feels like they are in a world similar to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past or The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. However, Cadence of Hyrule is a whole new world that has been created specifically for this game. There aren’t as many screens, but there is plenty of exploring to do and many caves and dungeons to visit. The overworld is also procedurally generated, which means every new save file will get a different game. When your hero perishes, the overworld will remain the same but dungeons will be randomized each time they are entered.
The game play seems simple at first, your character (You can choose to play as Link or as Zelda in this game) has to move to the beat of the metronome that is at the bottom of the screen. When this action is performed multiple times, the metronome meter grows and your bonus for defeating enemies increases. Enemies also move to the beat and have different patterns that need to be identified by the player, so that an attack strategy can be formed. To attack an enemy, all that is required is for you to move into a square that is occupied by the enemy. However, most enemies take multiple hits and a strategy needs to be developed to ensure success in the fight.
The music is where this tile really shines. It would be a travesty if for some reason the tunes of a rhythm game were botched, but that is definitely not the case here. The music is catchy, I would even say catchier than the original sounds of the main Zelda series games. Sound effects are similar to those found in The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The graphics are reminiscent of the aforementioned 16-bit Zelda title, but polished off for today’s high-definition gaming displays. Familiar foes will be present such as Tektites, Octoroks, Bokoblins, Wizzrobes and Poes. There are four main bosses to defeat, each guarding an instrument needed to progress to Hyrule Castle where the evil Octavo is imprisoning the King of Hyrule.
Cadence of Hyrule is really a near perfect mash-up of two series where it makes logical sense to do so. The Legend of Zelda is an exploration game at heart, so it makes sense that it could incorporate some rogue-like elements. It’s nice to see that they leaned toward the side of caution with the difficulty. When defeated the overworld stays the same, and any Sheikah Stones that had previously been activated creates an automatic warp point for your hero to traverse right away. There also is a “fixed-beat” mode that can be turned on or off at any point during the game. This mode allows the enemies to only move when your hero does so, making the rhythm component nullified. This is a great way for those that are having trouble keeping the beat to still enjoy an excellent 2-D Zelda adventure.
A Legend of Zelda game would not be complete without the charm that has been instilled in the series from day one. Familiar faces and exceptional dialogue add the “special sauce” to an already excellent gaming experience. Clever puns on boss enemies such as the GuitARMOS Knights and GOHMAracas really put a smile on the face of someone who has played the series continuously throughout the decades. This game is a must play at $24.99 and if you don’t like the rhythm mode you can always turn it off and play it like a randomized Zelda dungeon game. My only disappointment comes from a collector’s standpoint as this is a digital release only, no game cart currently exists. Cadence of Hyrule deserves the praise it is receiving due to providing a unique gaming experience combined with one of the most beloved franchises of all time.