Nintendo has been getting more collaborative with outside publishers in recent years, and this initiative has brought with it some genuinely great games. Ubisoft delivered Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Koei Tecmo created Hyrule Warriors and Namco Bandai shipped Pokken Tournament. It was inevitable that more companies would follow suit, but an indie developer getting its hands on a Nintendo-owned franchise as large as The Legend of Zelda wasn’t something many would have expected.
Enter, Cadence of Hyrule.
Spearheaded by Brace Yourself Games, this crossover meshes the musically-inclined mechanics of the developer’s previous title, Crypt of the NecroDancer, and gives it a Zelda twist. The gameplay itself will appear familiar for anyone that’s played through dungeon crawlers, as the immediate goal is to gather up the appropriate items during a playthrough to survive as long as you can. Yes, you’ll die a lot, but the gameplay is designed to immediately throw you back in as you continue through a rhythm-filled version of Hyrule.
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Crypt of the NecroDancer kept many of those same mechanics intact but added music as the backbone of your character–this title is no different. When enemies are on-screen, the music will turn up in order to grab your attention. In order to move, attack, or do anything you have to sync up your movements with the rhythm being played. If it sounds trippy, that’s because it is. Admittedly, it took a little bit of time to get the hang of the movements, but as the game progressed I quickly came to terms with how it functioned.
At this point, I knew Cadence of Hyrule had me hooked.
Hopping around the map and searching for weapons, tools and upgrades to enter dungeons or secure essential items that carry over into your next life is the name of the game. But being thrown right back into the first area of the adventure every time means that you jump right back on the horse and ride out into Hyrule. Memorizing enemy movements and attack patterns are essential bits of the game, and they come easily enough in time. Still, each new area poses a new challenge with new enemies, both of which only adds to the challenge.
It is a brief romp, however, as it only takes about eight or nine hours to trek through all four dungeons and put a bow on this bad boy. But the thrill of Cadence of Hyrule comes in the randomization of the main world which shuffles with every new game. It’s not a randomly generated domain per se, but the tiles do shift to add further replayability to the game.
When it comes to dungeons, though, get ready for some serious randomness because they are absolutely randomly generated. Other than that, these play out more like standard Zelda dungeons, where keys are necessary to progress and tools help make the endeavour a little easier–namely, torches which become incredibly more valuable. They’re still a lot of fun though, and they kept me on my toes whenever I entered one.
This isn’t a game that I thought would ever exist, and I’m sure many others share a similar mindset. The truth is that we are all much better for this partnership between Brace Yourself Games and Nintendo happening because Cadence of Hyrule is a wonderful eShop game that more than warrants its price tag. If you’ve ever wanted a different take on The Legend of Zelda, this Crypt of the NecroDancer spin on the classic series is a stupendous romp that’ll leave you longing to shake your groove thang long after you put it down.
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Cadence of Hyrule is now available, exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Nintendo of Canada provided Okay, Cool with a copy of the game for review purposes.
You can find Riley on Twitter at @TheRileyLittle for any and all Nintendo-related news. He likes to think that he’s on the ball for such discussions.