Ahead of the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, it’s an opportune time to reflect on the remarkable presence of the Nintendo series on the Nintendo Switch. With Breath of the Wild and a multitude of classics on Switch Online, the Switch is undoubtedly the ultimate console for any fan of the Zelda series. However, there’s one exclusive Switch game that you may have overlooked but is definitely worth a try before Tears of the Kingdom arrives. That game is Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda.
Free for Nintendo Switch Online members until May 7 and available at a 50% discount on the eShop until the launch of Tears of the Kingdom, this game is a rare collaboration between Nintendo and an indie studio, expanding on the rhythm-based action formula introduced in Brace Yourself Games’ 2016 hit, Crypt of the NecroDancer.
Although Cadence of Hyrule doesn’t play like your typical Zelda game, it incorporates design choices that pay homage to the series’ most iconic titles, while also offering a refreshing rhythmic experience. This will be a welcome break from the ambitious and intricate open-world adventure that awaits in Tears of the Kingdom. If you haven’t tried it yet, give Cadence of Hyrule a shot while it’s still free.
A Unique Adventure
As a crossover between Crypt of the Necrodancer and The Legend of Zelda, the game begins with Cadence, the protagonist from NecroDancer, being whisked away to Hyrule. This occurrence swiftly compels either Link or Zelda to embark on a journey, fighting against Octavo, the individual who enchanted Hyrule’s king into an eternal slumber using a magical Lute. Players who appreciate the minimalist storytelling of earlier Zelda games will be pleased with how quickly the game immerses them in its rhythmic action. Additionally, those who yearn for Zelda to be playable in Tears of the Kingdom will be delighted to know that they can assume her role for most of the game.
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The gameplay itself in Cadence of Hyrule is where things truly become captivating. It combines both familiar and innovative concepts to create an experience that feels simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. As a rhythm game, players must move and attack enemies to the beat. This installment takes full advantage of the Zelda franchise’s renowned music, incorporating versions of some of its most beloved tracks. Until we receive a Theatrhythm-style game dedicated to Zelda music, Cadence of Hyrule is a must-play for fans who adore the iconic soundtracks of the series.
Navigating the game’s tile-based world to the rhythm might seem simple at first, but as players progress, they’ll encounter the challenge of synchronizing their movements with those of enemies who also move and attack to the beat. Acknowledging that players will likely face numerous defeats, the game adopts a roguelite structure with procedurally generated dungeons and world layouts each time a new file is started. Players can find or purchase items using Rupees to aid them during individual runs, while Diamonds collected in dungeons or by defeating a screen of enemies can be spent on permanent upgrades.
While this may seem daunting, there are gameplay options available to make the experience more manageable, such as setting the controllers to vibrate to the beat or enabling enemies to move only when the player does. Most Zelda fans will also find the other aspects of Cadence of Hyrule familiar and welcoming.
But Still Familiar-Feeling
Apart from the rhythm-based movement and combat, Cadence of Hyrule is essentially a classic top-down Zelda action-adventure game. It stays faithful to the aesthetics, presentation, and iconography that the series was once renowned for. The familiar locations, enemies, and items make it easier to embrace the distinct elements of this game. It’s also fascinating to see elements from post-2D Zelda games seamlessly integrated into this art style, such as the inclusion of Skull Kid via DLC.
This adaptation demonstrates how well-designed and adaptable the core Zelda formula is because it retains its faithfulness even with a rhythmic twist. While Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom impress with their immense open worlds and intricate gameplay systems, they also leave some fans yearning for a more classically structured Zelda experience.
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Many who share this sentiment may not be aware that beneath the roguelike structure, Cadence of Hyrule is the closest experience to classic Zelda that Nintendo has released in almost a decade. It’s a refreshing hidden gem nestled between two of Zelda’s most ambitious titles, all set to the beat of captivating music. Once players become accustomed to its rhythm, the game reveals itself as a delightful throwback.
For those seeking something new and different on the Nintendo Switch, rather than replaying Ocarina of Time or A Link to the Past for the tenth time through Nintendo Switch Online, be sure to check out Cadence of Hyrule in the days leading up to the release of Tears of the Kingdom, as it has the potential to redefine the series forever.
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda is available now for Nintendo Switch. It offers a free trial for Nintendo Switch Online until 11:59 p.m. PT on May 7, and the game and its DLC are currently on sale at a 50% discount until May 14.
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