Cadence of Hyrule Review

Cadence of Hyrule Review

Can you dig it, suckah?

What a difference a single Nintendo Direct makes. Nobody was expecting anything mind-blowing out of the March 20 Nintendo Direct "Nindies" showcase. By the end of the presentation, however, social media lit up with excited jabbering about Crypt of the NecroDancer's imminent mating with The Legend of Zelda. The fruit of the union, Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda, sounds like a concept that could only exist in a rhythm game fan's fever dream. It's real, though, and even though it's a crossover I'd never think of myself, I'm happy it exists.

Cadence of Hyrule takes place directly after the events of Crypt of the NecroDancer. The eponymous Cadence is zapped into (the also-eponymous) Hyrule, where she finds the realm under the spell of a music-loving wizard named Octavo. Cadence quickly joins forces with either Link or Zelda (you can recruit the left-behind hero later in the game), and the curtain truly rises on this lovely adventure-roguelite.

If you've played Crypt of the NecroDancer, then you already have a good idea of how Cadence of Hyrule's core concept works. You hop to the music's rhythm and build up your score multiplier while avoiding enemy attacks, analyzing their patterns, then jumping in for the kill. "Stick and move" is the key to survival, as is "dig, dig, dig." Soft soil is in plentiful supply in both Crypt of the NecroDancer and Cadence of Hyrule. Once you're armed with a shovel, you can plunge through earthen walls and uncover items and secret passages.

Cadence of Hyrule is hardly a re-skinning of Crypt of the NecroDancer, though. Some key differences between the games celebrates its Zelda heritage, and even makes Cadence of Hyrule a more accessible game than Crypt of the NecroDancer.

Though Cadence of Hyrule has a few roguelite elements, Link (or your hero of choice) isn't severely punished for dying. While he loses all his Rupees and some of his items when he dies, he holds onto his weapons, shields, heart pieces, and relics. Checkpoints in the form of Sheikah Stones dot the landscape. Diamonds, which stay on Link's person after he dies, are plentiful. When Link does croak, he's allowed to purchase some of the items he lost for a few paltry diamonds before he strikes out again. Link can even move unencumbered by the beat after he defeats all the enemies on-screen. Cadence of Hyrule is ultimately a more forgiving experience than Crypt of the NecroDancer, which is something to consider if you're not a huge fan of the latter's roguelike elements.

Still, don't mistake Cadence of Hyrule for an easy game: I died a hefty 30-something times during my playthrough. While you score a bow and arrows, a hookshot, the Fire Rod, and other tools that help you navigate through traditional Zelda games, using them effectively in Cadence of Hyrule takes some practice. It's one thing to fire an arrow in The Legend of Zelda; it's another thing to fire it in time to a thumping remix of "Tal Tal Heights."

Sax on the Beach. | Brace Yourself Games/Nintendo

It's remarkable how expertly Brace Yourself Games melded its own mechanics with the Zelda series'. The studio could've gotten away with giving us a merger that plays very closely to Crypt of the NecroDancer, and we still would've celebrated it for its incredible soundtrack and for paying tribute to the criminally under-appreciated art style used in 2004's The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap. Instead, we have a rhythm-adventure title that takes us across Hyrule's beloved biomes before plunging us into "dungeons" seething with enemies and lorded over by bosses with names that make you laugh out loud. (My life is richer for meeting "Gleeokenspiel.") Brace Yourself's careful handling of the Zelda franchise speaks to its love for Link and Zelda's legacy.

It's just a bit of a shame that it's over so quickly. I wrapped everything up in about 11 hours and was on my feet for an encore. I don't expect anything on par with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's 100-hour trek across Hyrule (just thinking about Link making that trip in little hops makes my legs ache) but Brace Yourself only explores a tiny corner of Link's home in Cadence of Hyrule. Granted, a powerful two-minute song is preferable to a drippy ten-minute ballad padded with four-cord guitar solos. I'm just saying I'll be over here holding my credit card in the air like a lighter until Brace Yourself gives us some DLC.

Music is the weapon. | Brace Yourself Games/Nintendo

If you're a big fan of Crypt of the NecroDancer's penchant for punishment, you should still be able to get quite a bit of value from Cadence of Hyrule after the credits roll. The overworld is re-rolled every time you start a new game, so no two playthroughs are exactly alike. There are tons of challenges to take on as well, including the option to climb leaderboards. (Good luck.) You can also increase the game's difficulty, limit which weapons you use, pass up on heart containers, and so on. There's even a secret playable character who just wants a chance to prove themselves, gee golly gee wiz. If you're starving for a struggle, you'll find a way to win with this plucky mystery hero. I don't believe there are any playable characters beyond Link, Zelda, Cadence, and our little friend, but that's another problem that's easily remedied with some good DLC.

Everything about Cadence of Hyrule, including its very existence, is a nice surprise. It looks good, it sounds great, and its combination of Zelda-style adventuring with roguelite rhythm-hopping make it a one-of-a-kind experience that reminds us why it's cool to own a Switch. Some good DLC to pad out the character selection and core adventure wouldn't come amiss, but despite tiny criticisms, Cadence of Hyrule is a hot ticket.

Cadence of Hyrule is the Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer crossover we never knew we needed, but now that it's here, we want the song to go on forever. Brace Yourself Games' expert handling of the Zelda property is commendable. Here's hoping we get an encore with some DLC.

4.5/5

Tagged with Action Adventure, Brace Yourself Games, Crypt of the NecroDancer, Nintendo, Reviews, Switch.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Read this next

Candence of Hyrule Castle Statue Puzzle - How to Solve the Hyrule Castle Puzzle in Cadence of Hyrule

This is our guide to the Cadence of Hyrule, Hyrule Castle statue puzzle, and how to solve the puzzle with the statue easily.

Cadence of Hyrule Fast Travel - How to Fast Travel Using the Lute in Cadence of Hyrule

Here's how you can fast travel in Cadence of Hyrule by unlocking the Lute.

Cadence of Hyrule Diamonds - How to Earn Diamonds in Cadence of Hyrule

This is our guide on earning Diamonds as easily as possible in Cadence of Hyrule.

Cadence of Hyrule Flippers - How to Swim in Cadence of Hyrule

Here's where you can find the Flippers in Cadence of Hyrule, which allow Link or Zelda to swim in deep water.

Candence of Hyrule Deku Seeds - How to Trade Deku Seeds With Tingle

Here's our guide on finding Deku Seeds in Cadence of Hyrule, as well as how you can trade them with Tingle.

Cadence of Hyrule is a Musical Adventure That Doubles as a Tribute to Zelda's Greatest Hits

Another unexpected Nintendo crossover seems to be a winner.

Zelda Crossover Rhythm Game Cadence of Hyrule is Coming in June

Save Hyrule to the beat of your own drum.

More Reviews

Elsinore Review

What a piece of work is a man.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order Review

After a decade, a new alliance is here.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review

With these hands we will destroy, and with these hands we will rebuild.

Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers Review

Now, this is a story all about how, our life got flipped—turned upside down.

More on Switch

The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Is Drifting Into a Class-Action Lawsuit

Trials and tribulations ahead for Nintendo.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Snags The Headliner Spot At Evo 2019

Street Fighter will be a little bit earlier this year.

Stardew Valley Fish Guide

Fishing is one of the best ways to make money in Stardew Valley. Here’s all of the info you need to know.

Chaos Reigns In Splatoon 2's Final Splatfest

But the world isn't ending quite yet.

Fortnite Season 10 Start Date - Mecha Versus Monster Battle, When Does Season 10 in Fortnite Start?

Fortnite is set to change once again. Here’s what we know about Fortnite Season 10 so far, including a start date, and more.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 DLC - Marvel Knights Release Date, Fantastic 4, X-Men

There’s a ton of DLC on the way for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. Here’s what you need to know.

More Action Adventure Games

"Eventually, All of Our Games Will Be Safely in the Cloud Too and We'll Feel Great About It"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Google responds to legitimate concerns about Stadia by talking to would-be customers like they are toddlers.

New Switch Joy-Con Colors are Coming but Fans Wonder if Nintendo's Fixed the Notorious "Joy-Con Drift"

Joy-Cons are like cars in racing anime: They're snazzy and they're good at drifting.