Hey, wait a minute, this certainly doesn’t look like a boardgame! No, regular readers, this week we have been transported into the beat driven digital world of Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda! (what a mouthful). After playing through the game over the last week and having one of the best times I’ve had playing a video game in a while, I thought I’d put up a review.
Cadence, the protagonist of Crypt of the NecroDancer, has found herself transported to a mysterious kingdom – Hyrule. She soon discovers Octavio has taken over the place and she wastes no time waking up Hyrule’s existing heroes Link and Zelda, and teaming up with them to head out and make sure the world is restored to peace once again.
1-2 Players | 6+ Hours| Developed by Brace Yourself Games
Funnily enough I only heard about Cadence of Hyrule because people I follow on Boardgame Twitter were talking about it. Upon reading just a few lines about it and watching the trailer above, I was totally drawn in and knew it would be something I would enjoy. I love beat based games, and I’m increasingly warming up to retro-nostalgia-pixelart-stuff (I was recently heavily addicted to Stardew Valley). Cadence of Hyrule is quite an impressive game for a number of reasons unrelated to it’s actual gameplay! In what amounts to somewhat of a first for Nintendo, an indie developer has been granted the rights to develop a game using what is usually Nintendo first party IP. It’s great to see Nintendo, well known for being very conservative, taking steps like this. It’s a great sign for future collaboration and can only serve to improve the video gaming community for both gamers and developers alike.
How does it play?
Cadence of Hyrule is a rhythm based, roguelike, adventure game. Let’s break that down. The whole world of Hyrule has been transformed into a giant EDM dance party. Composer Danny Baranowsky has masterfully remixed the music from The Legend of Zelda series into absolute bangers that have you bopping along on a hot 120BPM nostalgia trip. As soon as I was dropped into the world I was jumping around to the beat, stabbing bad guys, dodging projectiles and … missing beats until I became one with the rhythm.
The ‘roguelike’ genre is one of tile based, procedural levels, that are different every time you play the game. I was a bit skeptical about how this aspect could be factored into a game that would ostensibly contain an adventure, but given Nintendo approved this title, I figured it couldn’t possibly be implemented in such a way to wash out the story of the game, and they pulled it off. Despite the random map, the game still successfully pulls off the Legend of Zelda dungeon based story format, building up to a big battle with Ganon at the end.
Progression is handled quite well, as you move through the game the items you gain compound to improve your ability and provide you with bigger and better tools. The game somewhat allows an open ended direction but having certain items can definitely help with those later stage battles and challenges.
The ending of the game is an end of course, but the game includes several other modes to try out. There are speed run leaderboards, daily challenges, and a daunting ‘permadeath’ mode – die once and your save is erased! And being a ‘roguelike’ game, a fresh save means a new, different world to explore and save!
What do I think?
I’ve played the game through once and mucked around a bit after beating Ganon, exploring the world looking for secrets and items. The game plays well both single player and in co-op mode, although playing with two may make the game a bit easier as I’m not sure it actually scales the difficulty at all.
The Good Stuff
- The music is absolutely superb. Since getting this game I’ve had one song or another from it stuck in my head at all times and find myself bopping along even when I’m not playing. The OST is up on Youtube. I listen to it at work. I’m listening to it now writing this!
- I really like the combination of puzzle and dexterity that the implementation of the rhythm mechanic brings. Not only do you need to time your moves to the beat (or stall your character), but working out how the monsters move and dodging and co-ordinating your attacks to take advantage of that is very satisfying and extremely fun.
- So much nostalgia. I never played a 2D Legend of Zelda game but having sunk many hours of my childhood into Ocarina of Time I recognised most of the music and a lot of the locations and characters. To see and hear them brought into the retro future was super fun and very cool.
- The Shopkeeper is just great. Hearing him trollololling along to Legend of Zelda songs is the best.
- The art is really good. The attention to detail is amazing, and for those who appreciate pixel art, it’s absolutely beautiful. The world feels alive and very much like Hyrule.
- I’m not usually one to actively crave playing a video game but this game had me. Everything is just so well put together that I wanted to keep playing and playing. I rarely play video games these days, and I even more rarely complete them. I think the somewhat casual feel, forgiving nature and short ‘levels’ combine together to make me feel like I’m really making progress and getting through the game which kept me hooked.
The Bad Stuff
- Initially, I was really not cool with the idea of losing stuff that was hard to get when I died. As I played on this issue sort of disappeared for me – I got better and died a lot less, and you learn where to get important items from so it’s less annoying when you die with them. I was very relieved to learn you don’t lose ‘special’ weapons and items upon death. I think this fact would be the difference between me liking this game vs not, so it’s good they implemented death the way they did.
- Again – I dislike the idea of ‘consumable’ weapons and items that are important. As above, this issue becomes less relevant as you play on.
- There is no legend for the map and I’m not sure I still know what all the icons mean. It took me ages to figure out how to find the shopkeeper.
- I really liked the ‘Lost Woods’ puzzle and was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t really anything similarly special for any of the other dungeons.
As I said above, this is the first video game in a while I’ve been really ‘into’. It was so much fun, especially because of the musical nature of the game. If you have any interest in The Legend of Zelda series, rhythm games at all you will absolutely love it. I’d never heard of Crypt of the NecroDancer before this game came up on my radar, but I loved Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda so much I will definitely play the original now, and I even wrote a review of it on a boardgame blog!
The Videogame Detective …. sounds cool.
(Just kidding, this won’t be a regular thing)