Hyrule Warriors has a new challenger for ‘best Zelda spin-off ever’

Ready for a mouthful? Nintendo’s latest Zelda spin-off title might have the longest name in gaming history: Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda. Whew! Now that we have that behind us, let’s delve in to see what this game is all about.

It’s rare that Nintendo allows third-party developers to use IPs, but when they do the results tend to be good—just look at Hyrule Warriors or Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Both great games and excellent uses of Nintendo’s iconic characters. Cadence of Hyrule continues this tradition of excellence with its stellar combination of Crypt of the NecroDancer mechanics mixed with The Legend of Zelda characters, locations and lore. Vancouver-based developer Brace Yourself Games looks to have another hit on its hands.

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda info:

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Brace Yourself Games
  • Genre: Roguelike, Rhthym
  • Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Do the Hyrule hustle

Octavo

Cadence of Hyrule begins with a very Zelda-esque intro: a villain named Octavo uses his magical lute to put the king to sleep, kickstarting his plans to take over Hyrule. Octavo then uses the Triforce of Power to craft a Golden Lute, which he uses to summon monsters all across Hyrule. He also hides four musical instruments with his four champions, deep inside dungeons across Hyrule.

As you can probably guess, your job is to travel around Hyrule to defeat the champions possessing enchanted instruments, then stop their leader Octavo. In an interesting twist, you can play as Link or Zelda who each have their own special abilities. Cadence, the heroine of Crypt of the NecroDancer, is also playable after reaching a certain point in the story.

Dance your way to victory

Boogie

Much like Crypt of The NecroDancer, in Cadence of Hyrule, your movements are performed to the rhythm of the music. Every action from moving to attacking to using special items must all be done to the soundtrack’s beat. That means individual map screens are tile-based and you have the ability to shuffle up, down, left or right—just make sure to keep with the rhythm. Should you miss a beat, your character won’t take an action that “turn” and momentarily freezes up.

Like you, all enemies also move to the rhythm of the music. Each of them have their own movement and attack patterns, so it’s imperative you study opponents to figure out how to out-dance them. This is especially important during the early-going when you don’t have many hearts or useful items. Expect to die often but don’t get discouraged: some of your items carry over to your next life so it’s not a total loss. As you progress, you’ll survive longer and longer and the feeling of accomplishment is very rewarding.

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Dynamic maps, tons of items

Overworld

What’s cool about Cadence of Hyrule is the map is procedurally generated: meaning it changes every time you start a new game. Dungeons are also procedurally generated, only they change up every time you enter or revisit one. So if you perish midway through completing a dungeon, the next time you enter it expect to see the entire layout and enemy placements rearranged.

To help you progress, all three playable characters have unique special abilities. As examples, Link has a shield to deflect projectiles while Zelda can wield Nayru’s Love and Din’s Fire, used to block and deal damage. You’ve also got a huge list of collectible items to find and use originating from The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer series. Bombs can be used to blow up cracks in walls, spears give you extended damage range, and the Hookshot can attack objects and pull them towards you. That’s just three of the around 200 items, spells and moves you find scattered around the land of Hyrule.

Awesome soundtrack and visuals

Presentation

Visually, Cadence of Hyrule bears a strong resemblance to both A Link to the Past and The Minish Cap. Enemies and maps are presented in gorgeous pixel art giving off fond nostalgic memories of the 16-bit era. I also thoroughly enjoyed the musical spin put on familiar enemies; for instance, Armos Knights have been turned into Bass Guitarmos Knights, complete with musical instrument in-hand. Amusingly, Wizzrobes are now Wizzroboes, so props for recognizing the oboe—a seriously underrated woodwind.

Turning our ear to the game’s music, wow what a wonderful soundtrack. Cadence of Hyrule features 25 remixed classic Legend of Zelda tunes. This spans everything from Ocarina of Time‘s title music, to the familiar sounds of the Lost Woods, Kakariko Village, Gerudo Valley and Death Mountain. Of course, the iconic Overworld track is there too, this time mixed with modern-day beats. I can easily see collectors wanting to nab this soundtrack—it’s that good.

Cadence of Hyrule hits the right notes

Final

Cadence of Hyrule is a fantastic mix of two great series: The Legend Of Zelda and Crypt of The NecroDancer. It takes the best elements of both properties and marries them perfectly into what I’d consider an instant classic. The main downside really to speak of is the game’s length—it takes roughly 6-8 hours to complete. However, with dynamically generated maps and cooperative multiplayer there’s still plenty of reason to revisit after the first go-around. The game can also be challenging, at least initially, but gets easier the longer you play.

Overall, I would say this game rivals Hyrule Warriors as the best spin-off in Zelda history. It’s really that good and Nintendo Switch fans shouldn’t miss it.

Cadence of Hyrule – Pros:

  • Incredible soundtrack.
  • Great retro-inspired graphics.
  • Procedurally generated maps and dungeons.
  • So many cool gear and items to collect.
  • Original, engaging gameplay.
  • Exellent blend of Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer worlds.

Cadence of Hyrule – Cons:

  • Not a very long Zelda game: 6-8 hours to beat.
  • Starts out challenging, gets easier as you play (I prefer the opposite).

Game Score:

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 10/10
Replayability: 8.5/10

Overall Rating:

36/40 (90%)