Surviving Cadence of Hyrule
Tips for beginners
You might, by now, have heard about a little game called Cadence of Hyrule (or, to be more precise, Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda. Phew!) The surprising collaboration between Nintendo and Brace Yourself Games dropped during E3 and is now available on the Nintendo Switch eShop. For those of you who haven’t yet checked out Cadence of Hyrule — and if you’re wondering exactly what it is — well, put simply, it’s based around the concept of Crypt of the NecroDancer, which was the original version of the game. If you’re like me and you never played Crypt of the NecroDancer, this might not be terribly helpful information.
I recommend checking out the Nintendo Treehouse Live video above; it’ll give you a good overview of how the game works.
I think it’s worth pointing out that Cadence of Hyrule isn’t simply a Zelda skin on another game — as far as I’m concerned, this is a Legend of Zelda game through and through. There are some unique flourishes that obviously make it different from typical Zelda titles, especially the rhythm-based mechanic that is layered across the entire experience. But so much of what makes Zelda great can be found here: you‘ll explore a large overworld full of secrets, navigate your way through cleverly-designed dungeons, and battle a wide range of enemies that each require different techniques to beat.
At the time of writing this, I’m still working my way through the game. And I’m very willing to admit that when I first started playing Cadence of Hyrule, it didn’t quite “click” for me. The premise made sense, but it took me a while to get the hang of the rhythm-based combat and some of the important nuances of the adventure. Now that I’m more comfortable, I’m thoroughly addicted — this wonderful game is already rapidly climbing up my list of the best games I’ve played so far in 2019.
If you’re coming to this game without having played Crypt of the NecroDancer, you might face a similar barrier to entry, at least early on. But I assure you that it’s worth pressing on; there are a ton of delightful surprises packed in here, and it’s very clear that the developers have a deep love and respect for Zelda, as the material is treated with such care.
Now that I’m just far enough into Cadence of Hyrule to have hit my stride, I thought I’d share a few key tips that could really benefit beginners to the game.
Slow and steady wins the race
It can be tempting to play Cadence of Hyrule like a traditional Zelda game at first. Much like the original 2D games, the world is divided into a series of single “screens”. When you enter a new screen, you’ll be presented with a series of enemies, and perhaps some environmental puzzles too — sometimes these puzzles unlock access to a secret area (such as a cave), or they enable you to nab a difficult-to-reach chest with a high-value item. It can be tempting to rush in and start swinging your sword, as you might have done in A Link to the Past. But not so fast! Your movement — and your enemies’ — is based on rhythm. This is also true of attack and defence moves.
If you rush in and start attacking, you may find yourself overwhelmed very quickly. So, my first tip is to take your time — think carefully about your approach and make sure to watch enemy movements. You’ll begin to learn how each enemy behaves; some baddies may seem highly challenging initially, but end up being a piece of cake once you’ve figured how to counter them.
Once cleared, always cleared*
When you defeat all enemies on a screen, a couple of things happen. First, your movement will no longer be locked to the rhythm — so you can move around freely within that screen. Second, you’ll nab a shiny diamond for your trouble (more about that in a moment).
Something that might not be immediately obvious, though, is that once you’ve cleared a screen, the enemies don’t return (*unless you die). However, other objects do (at least, they will if you leave the screen and return to it later). This is really useful, because if you’re exploring and you find yourself low on hearts, you can actually backtrack to previous screens and clear out the shrubs to find some hearts and other helpful items.
Diamonds are forever
Although Cadence of Hyrule isn’t as punishing as some of the roguelikes it might be compared with, there are some elements that newcomers might find challenging. One of these factors is item loss upon death. When you die, you’ll be able to quickly respawn at any Sheikah Stone you’ve unlocked — you won’t lose every item you had collected before death, but you will lose many of them (including any of the “temporary” items displayed in the boxes on the top-right of the screen).
There are some items you won’t lose, the most important of which are your diamonds. Like rupees, diamonds are a type of currency in Cadence of Hyrule — they’re a lot rarer than rupees, and you’ll be able to use them to shop for items after you recover from each death. I recommend saving up your diamonds early on and using them to buy heart containers. You will quickly find that the default three hearts won’t get you very far initially — and certain temporary items (like the torch, for example) can regularly be found as you are exploring the world on each run.
No rhythm? No problem!
I have now seen a handful of people express some concern about the rhythm-based mechanics in Cadence of Hyrule — just from the point of view that they really want to play this game, but they tend to have trouble with rhythm-based games, and may find that aspect frustrating or difficult to grapple with.
The good news is that you can turn the cadence off at any time through the game’s options menu. You can also reactivate it at any time. If you turn the cadence off, you’ll be able to move around freely — enemies will also move when you move, and will keep pace with you. This enables you to enjoy what the game has to offer without worrying about your timing in the same way.
Looting the lute
One of the nice things about Cadence of Hyrule is that you can approach its challenges in any order, really. Certain locations are gated based on particular items or skills, but you’ve really got a lot of flexibility to explore more than one location at a time. This is especially handy if you’re really struggling with a particular area — you can leave it, do something else, and come back later when you want to try again.
One key to being able to traverse the map quickly is to unlock as many Sheikah Stones as you can — when you find these and activate them, you’ll be able to use them as fast-travel points. However, you can’t initially do this at will. At first, you’ll only be able to fast-travel after death (when, upon reviving, you’ll be asked to select which Sheikah Stone to respawn at). There is a special item in the game — the lute, a fittingly musical tool — which enables you to fast-travel at will to any Sheikah Stone you’ve activated.
I came across the lute entirely by accident. But based on what I’ve read, one place it commonly appears is in a cave near Lake Hylia. Because the world is generated once you choose a character to play as, I’m not entirely sure if Lake Hylia’s physical location changes depending on whether or not you’ve selected Link or Zelda. In any case, the consensus seems to be that the lute can be found in more than one location, but Lake Hylia is always a pretty safe bet. You’ll immediately know when you’ve entered the right cave, anyway.
I found the lute invaluable for the reason mentioned above: when I’m having trouble with a certain area, I can fast-travel to a different location and push forward in another direction. This definitely helps to avoid dead-ends, and will keep you merrily exploring to your heart’s content.
The beat goes on
Right now I’m still playing through Cadence of Hyrule. I’m sure there are many more secrets to discover; Brace Yourself Games has done a wonderful job building a game that is a delight to explore and is filled with clever little nods to Nintendo’s classic franchise. If you’re a Zelda fan and you own a Switch, I definitely recommend picking this game up, and I hope my beginners’ tips help you on your adventure.