Title: Cadence of Hyrule
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Brace Yourself Games
Genre: Rhythm-Based Action Adventure
Official Site: https://cadenceofhyrule.nintendo.com/
Release Date: June 13th, 2019
Where to Buy: Nintendo Switch eShop
A lot of the hype surrounding the Legend of Zelda series right now started off with the release of the spin-off game; Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer. It was a game that very few people saw coming. I remember scrolling through my Instagram feed and coming across several pictures of a pixelated Zelda casting Din’s Fire at some unsuspecting bokoblins. “That’s some dope fanart,” I remember thinking. Then went on scrolling away. After passing several other pictures of Link and Zelda with the same graphics, I did some quick research to find the intriguing trailer for Cadence of Hyrule.
This review is coming from someone who has never played Crypt of the Necrodancer but is a huge Legend of Zelda fan. This review will also be centered around the two things that are important to any other game: Story, and Gameplay. We will also focus on some of the things that are important to all Zelda games like dungeons, music, and if there is a sense of adventure present. So put on your dancing shoes, and let’s go over Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer.
The plot of Cadence of Hyrule is not all that deep, but it is important to remember that the story is aided by the unique gameplay (which we will get to momentarily). This game takes place in the Kingdom of Hyrule (duh), where a devious little musician named Octavo uses his magical lute to invade Hyrule. He uses said lute to put the King, Princess Zelda, and Link to sleep. Then he steals the Triforce of Power to make his lute golden (assumingly more powerful).
Fortunately for our beloved Hyrule, Cadence (the main character in the original Crypt of the Necrodancer), is mysteriously teleported into Hyrule during this dark time. Because why not, right? These things make sense. Anyways, Cadence is met by a fairy who gives her the down-low on what’s been happening in Hyrule. After a very brief tutorial on the unique rhythm-based gameplay, Cadence finds two different portals which she can jump through. One that leads to Link and the other to Princess Zelda. After choosing which hero you wish to start your adventure with, Cadence leaps through the portal, and you awaken whichever hero you picked.
This is when I was met with a pleasant surprise. Cadence takes off in search of a way back to her own world, therefore leaving your party. While the character of Cadence intrigues me, I bought the game strictly because of the Zelda theme attached to it. From this moment on, you play as whichever character you chose to wake up. You will eventually find and recruit the other hero, whose portal you did not choose to go through, and Cadence will eventually return as well. For the majority of this game though, you will be playing through a good ol’ Zelda game with Zelda characters.
Upon waking up, you will learn that Octavo has four champions which reside in four dungeons across the land of Hyrule. These four champions possess enchanted musical instruments which will be necessary for defeating Octavo. In true Zelda fashion, only Princess Zelda/Link both have the ability to slay said champions, collect these vital instruments of power, and rid the land of Octavo. As I said, there really isn’t that much of a story to this game, and certainly not a unique one. While I will say that the ending is, as Detective Pikachu would say, “… Very twisty”. It is not all that surprising if you’ve played Twilight Princess or any other main Zelda title. It may sound like I am being a tad too harsh on the game, and to an extent I am. The reason being is that as even a Zelda spin-off, it carries the torch of the Zelda franchise name. Meaning that expectations are high, but let me repeat that the story is not why you play this game.
Cadence of Hyrule is completely unique in how it’s played in comparison to all other Zelda games. It has rhythm-based gameplay, (the format is borrowed from Crypt of the Necrodancer) but is played to the beat of classic Legend of Zelda music. Each area square in the game plays different remixed Zelda music. Whenever you enter an area of the game which has enemies (practically every area of the game) you must move, attack, and collect items to the beat of the music. At the bottom of the screen, there is a meter tracking the musical beat, with a giant Triforce in the center. I have to say that while it took me near an hour or so to get the hang of it, this gaming mechanic is amazing. The music is unbelievable, the overworld theme, song of storms, Gerudo Valley theme all sound fantastic. In fact, I’m listening to these songs as I write this review.
When you start off the game, you have very little items, the classic 3 hearts, and a mostly shaded map. The overworld plays out similar to the original Legend of Zelda, with several square areas which you move between. All you know is that somewhere out in the large map are four dungeons, four bosses, and a crazy purple musician threatening our beloved Hyrule.
Like any Zelda game, and the most recent Breath of the Wild. There are a plethora of items to collect, you have your basic ones such as Rupees, bombs, and arrows. Although there are lots of other things you will need such as shovels and torches in order to solve puzzles and progress (Necrodancer mechanic). We also cannot discount the large assortment of weapons and spells Link, Zelda, and Cadence can acquire. As if all this wasn’t enough, we also have lots of special items return such as the hookshot, and some more obscure ones like the Tingle Tuner. (Yes, rejoice true Zelda fans. Tingle is in this game.)
Most Zelda games are heavily puzzle based, others can be more combat oriented. While the combination of the two is present in this game, combat definitely has a bigger slice of pie. Each section of the map is filled with enemies, and it can become overwhelming at first considering the limited rhythm movement. If you focus and examine the battlefield, you will soon notice that each type of enemy moves in very specific patterns. After a little experience under your belt, you should be able to memorize these enemies movements and work your way flawlessly from section to section. Each time that you purge an area screen of every enemy, you will be rewarded with rupees, hearts, but most importantly, diamonds (which you can spend at rare special shops).
Many people claim that this game is extremely difficult. But in my experience, while admittedly dying quite often in the first hour, I completed the game with zero deaths after that. Ya boy was practically swimming in Rupees. Although dying is not all that bad. In fact, it is necessary for you to complete the game. You will be transported to a limbo looking area, and a fairy will have an assortment of items which you can buy. This is one of the handful of special shops in the game where you can spend diamonds. She has up to three full heart containers which you can buy, so spending the first hour of gaming grinding to get diamonds, and end up with 6 hearts is a good strategy.
It is important to note that dying has consequences, not seen in any other Zelda game. You will lose all of your small items such as power-up buffs, rupees, and potions. You will then be sent to the fairy shop, and afterward transported back to Hyrule. Although you do not necessarily get to respawn wherever you want. Throughout the overworld, there will be Sheikah stones which you can activate, which serve as fast travel points. You can only respawn in areas where you found and activated said stones. It is nice to see a combination of classic Zelda gameplay and this unique Necrodancer formula.
Verdict: Cadence of Hyrule is a fantastic Zelda spin-off game. Its music and gameplay have entranced even the most hardcore Zelda fans (Including myself). Even without a compelling story, this game finds a way to hook you in from start to finish. You will find yourself wanting to master this game the second you first die, and once you do, the game becomes even more fun. While it is definitely not perfect, this game is worth a look from every Zelda or Necrodancer fan.
- Excellent rhythm-based gameplay
- Amazing music
- Great visuals
- Short game
- Lackluster storyline