“In the latest rhythmic action-adventure from Brace Yourself Games, you can enjoy the gameplay of Crypt of the NecroDancer in the setting of The Legend of Zelda series. As Link – or even as Princess Zelda – you’ll explore the randomly generated overworld and dungeons on a quest to save Hyrule. Every beat of each remixed The Legend of Zelda tune is a chance to move, attack, defend, and more, so stay one step ahead of each enemy and boss…or face the music.“
Reviewing Cadence of Hyrule felt like a rather daunting task to someone who, in the past, has found very little joy in beat format games. These are video games that employ a mechanic that is directly tied into the melody or beat of an underlying audio track.
My aversion to this style of play doesn’t stem from any kind of negative experience, it’s more a natural dislike that I would express towards characters in a movie breaking into song and dance. It just feels forced.
So when the demo for Cadence of Hyrule hit the Nintendo eShop, I was reluctant to put my hand up. The driving factor that ultimately helped persuade me was the promise of all those exhilarating Zelda moments and revisiting Hyrule. Given that the latest exposure I had to the franchise was Breath of the Wild, it was nice to imagine going back to a top-down 2d style.
So what’s Cadence of Hyrule? Is it a Zelda game, or a Crypt of the Necrodancer game?
It’s odd, one moment you will be collecting Rupees and items that completely convince you that you’re playing Ocarina of Time, and the next you will be facing a dozen creatures in a tempo infused battle.
In these moments, it becomes very much a Necrodancer experience.
Granted, the demo only gives us a snapshot of the full game, but from what we could see, with each restart, there were different items and weapons to be found as they spawned randomly in a few cases.
To give you a bit of a play by play of the demo: you begin your adventure as Cadence, from the Necrodancer series
Cadence is teleported to Hyrule in time to stop Octavo and wake Link from his long sleep. This was an exciting occasion which led to an expectation that the gameplay would be decided between both Link and Cadence. That’s not the case for the demo at least, however, the option to play as Link or Zelda is given to players of the full game.
Immediately after waking Link, Cadence bids him farewell and you are left in control of our beloved Zelda series hero.
With nothing but your trusty shield, you set off on an adventure, exploring procedurally generated levels. Each level represents a certain tile on the main map, much the same as we’ve seen in Zelda titles.
Exploring the immediate area around Link’s home you can find items such as a shovel, bow, torch, and heart containers which will aid you in being able to explore deeper, with less concern for the strength of the enemies you encounter.
There is an element of randomness that means with each attempt, items might not necessarily be found in the same location, likewise, the enemies may vary in each area.
For the less-than-proficient dungeon crawler, you have the option to turn off some of the permadeath features, and for those that find the Necrodancer aspect a little too difficult, the beat mechanic can be disabled.
But, to truly experience Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer, you should keep these settings as they are. Or not. Live and let live, I guess.
The aim of the game is to defeat Octavo, however, the demo will only see you come face to face with him for a rather minor battle, which doesn’t create a sense of overwhelming difficulty for the main game. From what we have heard, and read about Cadence of Hyrule, in particular, the later battles, this difficulty rises incrementally but never becomes something game-breaking. This is probably due, in part, to the few items that don’t disappear when you are killed and have to restart.
For instance, you will never lose your shield, that’s something that stays with you from the first time you pick it up along with the bow, spear, and heart containers.
There are variations to each of these items that can grant specific buffs, but those types will eventually break, making them less handy to have in the long run. Basically, because you are allowed to keep certain items, and your maximum health continues to increase, by the time you have finished off the first dozen levels, you’re abilities should have been boosted enough to make the following challenges bearable.
Playing Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer just feels right, and it’s quite amazing to think that this is an indie developed game, that managed to pull off an absolute cracker of a spin-off. Hats off to Nintendo for allowing Brace Yourself to have such full reign over the assets and licensed material from Zelda.