The Legend of Zelda spin-off games have always been pretty far off and unique, often feeling like a separate universe only to share the characters from the original series, however, Cadence of Hyrule hits a sweet spot right in the middle balancing both traditional Zelda elements, as well as introducing the elements of Crypt of the NecroDancer.
Cadence of Hyrule’s story is basic. A mysterious sorcerer/musician, Octavo, took over the kingdom of Hyrule and it is up to Link, Zelda, and Cadence to stop him (surprisingly, it has a lot of parallels to Triforce Heroes). Players must journey through the procedurally generated world and dungeons to fight 4 champions, all of which are clever puns based on a combination of memorable Zelda bosses and instruments.
Gameplay feels very akin to the earlier Zelda entries, specifically Zelda 1, A Link To The Past, and Link’s Awakening. You explore the entire map while fighting enemies in a rhythm-based combat styled system, with each beat as a move or an attack. It almost feels like a lively game of chess. Although it may be a little troublesome at first, you will soon find yourself tapping your feet to the music and perfectly navigating to the beat. Along the way you can get special items to help you in your battles, some of which are a real pleasure to use, such as the Bombchus. Exploring the map is helpful in this sense as you can always find something new to get an edge on the enemies.
The main mechanic of the game is having to fight and move to the rhythm of the song during combat which is harder than it seems. Strategy is key, and even if you’re not the best at planning out your moves, you will always find a way to get out of a troublesome situation, although it might cost you a heart or two. As I’ve stated before, the music really helps a ton.
The controls are very straightforward. You can play the whole game with literally just a joystick. You may feel as though you need to press buttons to use your sword in your first playthrough, but it is automatically done for you when you move in the space of an enemy. The same can be said about some other items in the game such as the bow, fire rod, can be set up on the buttons. In the sense of music, it feels like playing a simple drum set, not a complex piano, and all relies on your sense of rhythm and strategy.
Is there replay value?
Replayability is one of the strong suits of the game. as the map and dungeons are all generated randomly with no playthrough being the same. It is very much rogue-like, but it still contains the same building blocks for each run. It’s similar to one of those Zelda Randomizers in which items and locations are mixed up for fresh experiences.
One of the obvious highlights of the game is the astounding soundtrack which remixes the classic Zelda tunes, such as Tal Tal heights or Hyrule Field, as well as some lesser known songs like the dungeon theme from A Link To The Past. Every song works well with the gameplay and it’s easily one of the best parts of the game. It also has a wide variety of music types, with the calm Kakariko Village, or the intense guitar of Gerudo Valley. Each song even has several versions depending on your circumstances, of whether it’s peaceful, or not.
Although Cadence of Hyrule is a great game, it does have its issues. The level of difficulty slightly lacked towards the end of the game. It feels like a struggle to survive with little improvements early in the game, however, after some progress is made and more items are obtained, it becomes a walk in the park. The game is also rather short, but it isn’t too much of a problem as there is high replay value.
Cadence of Hyrule is a great but short game. A culmination of the Zelda series as a whole. If you’re a Zelda fan (or not but enjoy rhythm or rogue-like video games), it’s highly recommended that you try it.
Cadence of Hyrule gets a 9/10.