ICYMI: 'Cadence Of Hyrule' Is The Zelda Game I Never Knew I Needed
ICYMI is GAMINGbible's simple way of highlighting a game that's not quite brand new, maybe as much as a few months old, but that we've been playing and loving, and we really want to tell you about it.
I feel like I can trust you, so I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I love The Legend of Zelda. It is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, my favourite video game franchise. I fell in love with Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker when I was ten (they came in a bundle for GameCube), and I never looked back.
Since then, I've had something of a tendency to happily gobble up anything Zelda related. Hell, I went out and bought Link's Crossbow Training on launch day. I picked up Hyrule Warriors for Wii U, 3DS, and Switch, and that's basically the same bloody game three times. I've even been known to defend the old animated series after I've had too many drinks.
Despite this, I always have always will hold the Zelda franchise to a higher standard. I'm like a proud parent who knows their kid can do better in school. So, when it was announced that indie studio Brace Yourself Games were making a Zelda-themed spinoff based on their fantastic rhythm action game Crypt of the Necrodancer, I was incredibly happy, sure. But I was also a little nervous.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't really think Cadence Of Hyrule was going to be a bad game. Quite the opposite, in fact. It was super unusual - and unexpected - for Nintendo to give arguably its most prestigious franchise to an indie developer, so that on its own was enough to make me think the studio must have come up with something special.
Plus, Crypt of the Necrodancer is a genuinely fantastic piece of work with a great soundtrack. I was super excited to see what Brace Yourself Games would do with my favourite IP, but my own personal expectations were also at massively unfair heights, it has to be said.
I downloaded it the day it came to the Nintendo Switch eShop, obviously, and was completely blown away. Cadence of Hyrule - Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda obliterated my sky-high expectations and instantly became one of my favourite games of 2019. Hell, I honestly think I'd now count it among my top five Zelda games of all time.
Everything about it just feels so right. It is, amazingly, still a Zelda game at its core. Link and Zelda explore a large 2D map packed with secrets, caves, dungeons, and enemies. There are bosses to fight, items that gain access to new areas, and heart pieces to collect. If you've been pining after an old school Zelda experience, Cadence of Hyrule comes pretty damn close.
Obviously, the major area where it differs from standard Zelda is in its rhythm-based action. in Cadence of Hyrule, Link moves around and fights to the beat of a truly exquisite soundtrack made up of dance remixes of classic Zelda tracks. This can take some getting used to, but when it clicks? Hoo boy, it just feels incredible.
In fact, I would argue that it's a vast improvement over the relatively mundane combat of a typical 2D Zelda game. Instead of just walking around stabbing at things with a sword, you have to consider the beat, where your enemies are on the map, and what items you have to use.
When you really get into a groove, hopping around the world to the beat and taking out enemies with ease, you feel properly unstoppable. Again, the epic music helps that feeling no end. It really is just way more engaging, and surprisingly more challenging than I expected. You can turn the off the requirement that you move to the beat and play it like a "normal" Zelda if you really want, but I'd argue you'd be missing out on what makes Cadence Of Hyrule truly sing.
I say this without the merest whiff of hyperbole: every Zelda fan owes it to themselves to check out Cadence Of Hyrule. It's a gorgeous, faithful piece of work that takes the beloved series in a completely unexpected - and entirely funky - new direction. It's the Zelda game I never knew I needed, but I am so, so grateful that it's one we now have.
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo