'Cadence of Hyrule' Review: Inspired and Fun Mashup That Feels Like a Zelda Game

8.5 - Nintendo Switch

In 2015 studio Brace Yourself Games released roguelike rhythm sensation Crypt of the Necrodancer. Fans praised it for way it took many elements of the roguelike, dungeon exploration genre and set them to an awesome soundtrack.

Four years later and the spirit of that title returns in Cadence of Hyrule for Nintendo Switch. Mashing the world of Hyrule with Crypt of the Necrodancer is an inspired choice, but it's one that works extremely well.

Cadence of Hyrule does a great job of making it accessible to anyone who may not be familiar with Crypt of the Necrodancer or the genre by being so fun and challenging you can't put it down.

cadence of hyrule review score
Nintendo/Brace Yourself Games


The story of Cadence of Hyrule has you play as Cadence - the protagonist of Crypt of the Necrodancer - when she drops into this world of Hyrule. After exploring some small areas, which act as a short tutorial, you'll need to select either Link or Zelda. This will be your character for the game - although you'll be able to unlock others later on.

Cadence will explain that Octavo has arrived in their world and put the king to sleep. It is up to you to gather the magical instruments to take out the threat and bring peace to Hyrule.

The world of Cadence of Hyrule has that classic Zelda 3DS aesthetic, like something you'd see out of Four Swords, but still looks unique. Each area is filled with enemies from The Legend of Zelda with plenty of nods to games across the series.

While the gameplay consists of rhythm and roguelike elements - more on that below - Cadence of Hyrule feels like a Zelda game as you explore areas, dungeons, and gather items to help you solve puzzles and take down your enemies.

And then there's the soundtrack. Classic Zelda tunes are remixed to make players really get into it. You'll be tapping your feet and humming to these tracks throughout your playthrough.

cadence of hyrule review story octavo
Take out Octavo and wake up the king Nintendo/Brace Yourself Games


The gameplay in Cadence of Hyrule is rather simple. There's a huge map separated into sections, with each section acting like a grid. Players move their character one space at a time but they have to sync to the beat.

A rhythm meter appears on the bottom of the screen when there are enemies around. Hop to the beat to move around and to strike enemies when they are nearby. If you miss a beat, you'll stop in your tracks allowing the enemy to get closer and hit you. This mechanic takes a lot of getting used to as you try and hop to the beat and find the rhythm. It did get frustrating at first, but once you've got it down you don't think twice about it.

You will think twice about how you move around the board. Each enemy moves differently, some move to your beat and some don't. They'll move closer and closer to you while you try to navigate each section and get close enough to them to take them out. Often times an enemy would be two spaces ahead and as I move one space closer, they did the same and I would take damage. Ideally, you'll learn how to avoid them and when to strike so they can't hit you.

cadence of hyrule review gampelay dungeon
Nintendo/Brace Yourself Games

Enemies have their own attack patterns that you'll learn as you go, with some pouncing diagonally, others charging forward and some of the bigger ones using larger area attacks that'll force you to avoid them before jumping back in to attack.

There's a lot of strategy that goes into how and where you move, and like listening to your favorite song over and over again to learn the rhythm and cadence, you'll eventually do the same exploring the world of Cadence of Hyrule.

Every world map is randomly generated so the way you experience the game is unique each time. This is also the case when you enter dungeons. Each time you leave and enter, the layout changes to give you new challenges and ways to explore.

Of course, Cadence of Hyrule has an option to make the rhythm system fixed so enemies won't move until you start moving.

The roguelike elements are great, as they are very forgiving compared to others in the genre. While the game is difficult enough that you'll lose over and over again, you won't have to start from square one each time. So it can get frustrating, but to the point where you want to jump right in and get through that dungeon or defeat the boss.

If you lose your last heart, you'll lose your rupees and some items like torches and bombs. However, key items like weapons won't disappear if you have to start again. In fact, you can use diamonds - the in-game currency - to purchase some of the items back when you respawn.

There is a permadeath mode that players can choose if they want to really test their skills but I recommend that for those looking for a challenge after defeating the game the first time.

My biggest critique of Cadence of Hyrule is that the amount of items feels superfluous. There are plenty of weapons to find and collect, but there are some that I just never used. In my playthrough, I would just stick to bombs and my sword. I never used the bow or the boomerang or even some of the character-specific skills. While the number of items and ways to fight gives player's their own experience, there just didn't seem a need to add them all in.

cadence of hyrule inventory review
There are a lot of weapons to find and use in 'Cadence of Hyrule' Nintendo/Brace Yourself Games

There's also a two-player co-op that lets two players play through the story together. If you thought getting the beat down alone was difficult, both you and your partner will have to move to the beat to solve the dungeon puzzles and take out the bosses. It's just another great way to play Cadence of Hyrule after you've finished.


Cadence of Hyrule is an amazing Zelda spin-off game. With its amazing soundtrack and rhythm gameplay, I had a great time picking it up and exploring Hyrule in a new way. The roguelike elements are much more forgiving than most and gives a sense of progression when you come back and get through bosses or dungeons that you couldn't before.

While the story itself is rather short, there are plenty of ways to dive back in to grab every item available or test your skills in more challenging modes.

If you're a fan of Zelda games or not, I recommend giving Cadence of Hyrule a shot.

Cadence of Hyrule is available now for Nintendo Switch.

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