By now you will have heard of Cadence Hyrule Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda, 1) because you’re a Zelda fan 2) you have your finger on the pulse and know what’s hot and what’s not and 3) there are just too many games on sale, and this was a recent(ish) one. It would be wrong of you if you didn’t snap them up. Think of the children!
Now that’s done and dusted; there’s a reason why Cadence of Hyrule (shortening the title, sorry) was one of the top games on the Nintendo Switch in the summer of 2019 (sorry Mr Adams, 50 years too late). It’s innovative, and there’s nothing else like it. Well, there is: Crypt of the NecroDancer. This was the title that prompted a few tweaks, make things a bit more pretty and then add Link and Princess Whatever-Her-Name-Is to the mix and watch the money roll in. It worked, but more so because it’s a fun game too.
You start with Link or Zelda (and can later play Cadence), travelling through the lands of Hyrule, visiting familiar places like the woods, villages and local convenience stores. It’s kind of like a reimagining of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, only much more vibrant and animated literally and figuratively. It’s also in the same mould of a typical top-down RPG adventure; only the controls aren’t as fluid as you move to the beat of the soundtrack and characters move as if they were pawns on a chessboard.
Though it’s hardly JRPG meets Just Dance, to be successful at the game, you need to be patient and be able to flow with the grooves. Just moving around without any form of threats means moving at the right tempo. Of course, you can gung-ho it and dash through each area, but don’t expect to come out unscathed as you will encounter enemies, and they have much more rhythm than you. They’ve been practising.
The plot isn’t all that important, but in a nutshell, Octavo, the game’s villain, enslaves Hyrule. Rather than oppress them by stealing their money, revoking their rights and being darn right rubbish, he engulfs them with mediocre music. Think emo, country and western and Billy Joel records. The last one is to get a rise out of the boss, I ain’t mad atcha, BJ. This theme of music is throughout the game, and it works pretty nicely and further extends the world of Zelda. I believe you could class Cadence of Hyrule as a spin-off, but you wouldn’t know that’s it’s not a Zelda game unless you look it up to see that Brace Yourself Games, not Nintendo, developed the game. They capture the mood perfectly.
As cool as it is to weave in and out of enemies to the rhythm, it’s not particularly easy. You see, Cadence of Hyrule is a rogue-like and pretty unforgiving. Upon death, you will lose everything except unbreakable items and the diamonds you can collect, used to exchange for ‘cool stuff’. I’ll get as much hate for saying cats are dicks, but I wasn’t a fan of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild because of the durability of weapons; use them so many times and that’s it. The same with Cadence of Hyrule, with an exception for a few choice weapons, they all just magically fade away making it even more difficult. Not that it isn’t enjoyable, but I’ve always liked being able to hold on to favourite items for the majority of the game. While I can handle the mechanics of games like Borderlands 3 where you can’t stick with the same weapon for long as there will always be a better one, I’d at least like to be able to decide if I keep it. That said, you lose your stash upon death. Rats!
Of the available characters, I opted for Link who utilises a dagger, then longsword plus a shield. The shield was my choice of weapon in the early stages as it takes some getting used to, and the enemies can be quite tough. With the shield, you can deflect attacks, but later on, with the longsword, Link can poke enemies as he moves, which is useful for crowd control. Zelda, on the other hand, uses magic for her defence option as well as a throwable bomb. With all of the characters, they each consume stamina when using these special moves, so it’s another thing to factor in, while also trying to evade enemies to the sound of the beat.
Though I have my favourites, there aren’t many gaming soundtracks that I would listen to outside of playing the actual game. An exception or two may be Oxenfree or perhaps Katana Zero, but generally speaking, they aren’t my thing. I didn’t get into the series until the last decade or so but ever since my first experience of the NES games back in the day, the music has stuck with me. In Cadence of Hyrule, there are remixes of classic titles – don’t go expecting Skrillex or something with DJ Khaled, but I’d say subtle reimaginings that do the originals justice. If like me (bless you, child), you’ll be humming these up and down the stairs, perhaps even backtracking a little bit as you go, replicating the nifty footwork of Cadence, Link or Zelda.
Right, so should you get this game right now? Yes, without a doubt, but what I will recommend is getting the demo first of all. The reason being is I played the demo and hated it. Granted, I didn’t have the time to learn a new style of play, so I didn’t give it the time it deserved. Although I knew it was a rhythm game before playing it, playing a Zelda game in this manner was like having those moments where you sip something that you think is milk, but it’s orange juice. It’s an initial sense of disorientation as you were pre-wired for something else, but when you’re brain kicks in, you readjust. I haven’t explained that well, but experiment your self, just remember to wash your hands.
The control system is very good, but it does take some getting used to and if you’re used to running up to enemies and pummeling, or using ranged attacks, which you can do here, you have to time it in a way that you aren’t perhaps used to. For that reason, try the demo as it was borderline a full-priced game when it came out – as in, what you would expect to pay for a physical game by Nintendo. It’s since dropped in price again, and it’s worth it, but just make sure you’re ok with the controls as it’s not going to change.
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Switch Review
Not just for Zelda fans but for anyone up for a rhythm-type game who doesn’t have to stand up looking like a goon, swinging their hips. Unless you usually do that, of course. It’s worth trialling the demo first of all as the controls do take some getting used to, but once you’re into it, Cadence of Hyrule is a great game worthy of a space in your Switch library.
- Great vibrant graphics.
- Lots to explore and unlock.
- The reimagined score is fantastic.
- Controls take some getting used to.
- Somewhat tricky – especially in the early stages.
- As a rogue-like, expect to lose items on death.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using Nintendo Switch.