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Cadence of Hyrule Is Secretly One of the Best-Ever Zelda Games

If you’re looking for something to hold you over until the massive release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and you’ve already played the shit out of surprise indie Hi-Fi Rush, one Zelda game that you may have missed — and should definitely check out if you did — is 2019’s Cadence of Hyrule.

From the team behind Crypt of the NecroDancer, Cadence of Hyrule is a rhythm-based throwback to old Zelda games with roguelike elements and multiple playable characters. That probably sounds like a bunch of buzzwords, but it’s basically a bunch of Zelda screens, filled with enemies, that you have to hop around killing to the beat of remixes of Zelda songs.

You mostly play as Link and Zelda, but you can unlock a few other characters and a handful of weapons and tools that makes each room feel like a cool puzzle where you need to figure out how to eliminate everything. The rhythm element isn’t super hard to get the hang of, but it’s a really cool way to force you to always be on the move, shuffling around the screen without a chance to sit around and think for too long. Not to mention, Zelda songs are fucking dope.

Seriously, listen to how good the menu theme (a remix of the Ocarina of Time theme) is:

And Nintendo is so good at making games that feel great to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, whether you’re on the bus commuting or playing on the roof at a party that only exists in a commercial. The different screens (and dungeons) are randomly ordered, so you can replay the game multiple times (I personally have played through this game like 5 times since it came out) and it even has couch co-op. Couch co-op! In this day and age! And even better, it’s the kind where someone can just jump in any time they want without interrupting your progress or forcing you to start a new save file.

Cadence of Hyrule really feels like a throwback to the older games, with top-down combat, cool pixel-art sprites, and emphasis on exploration. But obviously, with its rhythm-based gameplay and overall musical aesthetic (a lot of the enemies have specific music-based attacks and designs), it feels totally unique to other Zelda games. 

Ultimately, Cadence of Hyrule is a really fun indie game with a ton of surprises that you can beat in just 6 hours. On the other hand, the game has a ton of content that you can replay over and over until Tears of the Kingdom comes out and absolutely takes over your life and ruins all of your relationships.

Cadence of Hyrule is probably for you if:

  • You like Zelda games.
  • You like rhythm-games.
  • You like indie games.
  • You don’t have a ton of time to game.

It may not be for you if:

  • You have absolutely no sense of rhythm and you are too ashamed to turn on the “no rhythm” option even though no one would ever know — but you would know, and at the end of the day, that’s who counts the most.

You can buy Cadence of Hyrule in either a digital or physical format on Nintendo Switch. Just keep in mind that if you want the physical cartridge, you’ll have to pay a bit of a premium.