'Cadence of Hyrule' Looks and Sounds Like Zelda
I've played a bit over an hour of Cadence of Hyrule, the new Zelda game that released today after receiving a release date during Nintendos E3 2019 Direct. It looks like Zelda, sounds like Zelda and probably smells like Zelda, but it's worth warning the wary, it does not play like Zelda at all.
Cadence of Hyrles full title is 'Cadence of Hyrule — Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda' and the featuring Zelda in the full title there is very important. Although you can play as both Zelda and Link, and wander Hyrule slaying creatures Zelda fans will all recognise, this is not a new 2D Zelda game with a twist, it is a new Crypt of the Necromancer game.
Crypt of the Necromancer is, as of writing, currently on sale on Nintendo Switch and I'd suggest you pick that up before Cadence of Hyrule to get an understand of the gameplay and if you'll like it. Cadence is nearly $35 and at that price, worth making sure you know what you’re getting.
I hadn't played Crypt before, but had seen enough videos to understand the general gist of the gameplay. Still, it took me a good hour to feel like I somewhat knew what I was doing.
Cadence of Hyrule will at times let you wander the screens your on and pick-up items, look for secret entrances to bomb and so on as the more Zelda aspects of the game shine through aside from the music, which is amazing, and the look which is Zelda in style without the design finesse. Combat though will have you performing something of a ballet with the enemies on the screen. You have to move to the beat to perform well and not moving in time with the beat will punish your movement speed and overall score. There is a beats-per-second bar at the bottom at the screen though so getting into tune isn't reliant on your musically adapt ears.
Link, Cadence or Zelda (whoever you're playing as after picking between Zelda or Link early in the game) will automatically attack enemies in your way as you move into them, so it's on you to just think about where your enemies will be moving and where you should move to meet or dodge them. All enemies have their own movement pattern to the beat and you can learn some pretty fast as they're simple enough. A certain enemy may only move on every second beat, another may let off a bomb every fourth. For that last example, you'd want to attack the first three beats before they let off the bomb.
Players of Crypt of the Necromancer will probably feel right at home with Cadence of Hyrule, whereas those picking Cadence up as a Zelda game like I was, may be left hitting a difficulty wall early. There is an option to turn off moving-to-the-beat in the game's options if you want an easier option however.
At one stage I died nearly ten times in a row trying to clear a screen and then suddenly the games rhythmic mechanics seemed to click into place for me. I'm in no means a pro now, but it was a hurdle I had to overcome to feel comfortable playing the game and I cleared that screen only taking one damage and missing a couple beats next try, for which I was pretty happy.
I'm really enjoying my time with Cadence of Hyrule overall. It looks great and the remixed Zelda tracks are sure to appear on a lot of peoples Spotify ques on repeat in the future, it's just worth going in knowing there may be a learning curve.