Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda is an indie-developed Zelda spin-off that takes inspiration from Crypt of the NecroDancer, a rhythm roguelike that comes from Brace Yourself Games.
The name is both very long and very literal, as you can see, so we’re just going to stick to calling it Cadence of Hyrule like everybody else.
For those not up to speed, armed with the rights to Nintendo’s precious I.P., Brace Yourself has mixed the beat-based action of NecroDancer with the world of Hyrule, creating a fantastic roguelike that feels like a fresh and exciting take on the long-running series.
Taking control of Link and/or Zelda, players explore procedurally generated dungeons and an overworld full of monsters, traps, and deadly bosses. Similar to Breath of the Wild, there are four dungeon champions that must be found and defeated in order to beat the game.
That might sound fairly straight forward on paper, but it really isn’t in practice.
The game requires you to keep on the beat while you’re fighting enemies in order to keep the rhythm going. Moving and attacking perfectly on the beat can be super challenging and it took me a few hours before I could really get used to these changes while exploring Crypt of the NecroDancer’s version of Hyrule — a place that feels familiar yet different.
There are buttons on the ground that can affect the tempo if somebody steps on them and the enemies move to their own pattern and rhythm as well, with the bulk of them having some sort of “tell” so you can predict their movements accordingly.
I died dozens of times in the beginning and begun to feel frustrated at the concept of rhythm in a Zelda game, but after my colleague, Zhiqing, praised the game so much, I felt compelled to give it another.
This time, though, with a friend by my side this time, and boy does it change the experience.
Not only did it make the game a bit more manageable and less difficult, but it also turned it into a really fun cooperative experience, which is something that wasn’t really showcased during its initial reveal.
By choosing either Zelda or Link, you can play a cooperative adventure with the both of them together for the first time ever. The most important thing that happens here when you’re playing with a second player is the ability to bring them back to life by going to a Sheikah Stone.
This way, you can keep all of your items and diamonds easily by just running away to go save your partner. Taking out all of the enemies on-screen will be done much faster as well since both of you can communicate to take out different monsters on certain parts of the map.
We were giving commands such as, “take out the ones on the left side and I’ll take out the ones on the right.” And we were also yelling things like, “shoot the arrow on the next beat”…”save that heart for me”… “dude, you are way off rhythm.”
It can really hard for both players to stay on the perfect beat but when you do sync up perfectly, the rewards are huge; you can reap way more rewards from enemies and diamonds if you stay in tempo.
I literally almost gave up on the game because it was beating me senseless over and over again, but once I found the help of another player, it just felt like it was tailor-made to be the perfect cooperative Zelda experience.
It’s really fun to argue about what directions to go in after an area is cleared or talking about what weapons/items we should spend our hard-earned diamonds on. Hint: always save your diamonds for the wide-swinging swords, not the torches and shovels.
If you find yourself having trouble keeping with the rhythm in Cadence of Hyrule, but still want a way to experience the adventure, you can actually turn off the fixed beat in the setting and just play it like a normal 2D Zelda game.
But I totally recommend playing with a second person –if that’s possible for you. You can still enjoy the NecroDancer-like rhythm-based gameplay without feeling like you’re getting your butt kicked every two minutes.
Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda is now available on the Nintendo Switch eShop; you can read our scored review right here if you want more thoughts on the title.