Hyrule Warriors is a hack and slash action crossover between Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series, and The Legend of Zelda series. It’s quite an interesting concept that’s had a lot of people excited, but does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
The story is set in Hyrule sometime in the future. Although this game is not technically set in the official Zelda timeline, it certainly fits the part. They tell the tale of Ganondorf and how his soul was split into four different pieces and locked away. Three of which were sealed in different eras of the main Zelda titles, and one with the Master Sword. However, Ganondorf finds a vessel in a sorceress named Cia. Cia becomes fascinated with Link, the hero of legend, and Ganondorf seized this opportunity to cause Cia to give into her desires and be consumed by darkness.
She then opens the Gate of Souls, which acts as a portal of time and space. This allows Cia to set out an army of enemies from throughout the ages to attack Princess Zelda and the Hyrulian Army. This is where our heroes come in to stop them.
As someone who has never played a Dynasty Warriors game, the mechanics and objectives of Hyrule Warriors took some getting used to initially.
Basically, the story mode will have you going through scenario after scenario as the plot progresses, giving you a finite selection of playable characters. In each level, there’s your team (blue) and the opponent’s team (red). You go around the stage taking over square rooms called “keeps”, which involve you mowing your way through hordes of enemies until finally defeating what is know as the keep boss.
Not every keep is mandatory to take over, but some of them will give you special rewards for doing so such as, heart pieces or weapons.
Each scenario will have a number of different missions within it. They usually involve escorting, guarding keeps, defeating certain enemies, or saving allies. Again, not all of them are mandatory, but most are. To win, you will have to defeat the boss of that level.
The play style itself consists of wiping through enemies using swift movements or heavy blows. There are a number of different combos that can be performed for each character, and the options can be expanded in the Bazaar (to be discussed below).
(Link performing a charged strong attack)
There are a variety of playable characters that Zelda fans will be familiar with. Link, Zelda, Sheik, Impa, Ganondorf, and many more can be used, with each of them having their own unique attributes and usable weapons.
Weapons are all given a different element (fire, water, lightning, light, and dark). Each level will have a recommended element that should be used, although I didn’t notice too much of a difference when using an element that wasn’t recommended.
Classic Zelda items like the hookshot, bombs, and boomerangs make an appearance as well, but I found seldom use for them. They’re really only used to destroy certain obstacles, or defeat specific enemies.
Although the mindless action of performing combos on grunts seems appealing at first, it doesn’t take too long for the appeal to fade away. The gameplay becomes very repetitive and stale after a while. Even with all of the distinctive play-styles of the different characters, I found myself feeling like completing certain levels was more of a chore than anything.
Another thing that bothered me was the running speed. You can’t just run whenever you want. You have to start of with a light jog, and then the character will begin to run on their own. I understand the game is supposed to give you a challenge for when you’re multi-tasking and have to go from one place to another in record time, but it just made the experience feel more clunky from what I was expecting. Compare it to a game like Bayonetta or Kingdom Hearts 2. Those games both feature somewhat similar hack and slashing (albeit with a bit more strategy involved) but they feel very swift and smooth. The characters flow seamlessly. I really wanted that from this game, but it felt a bit too weighed down in my opinion.
The Bazaar is essentially where you can grow your characters. The Badge Market acts as a skill tree where you can use items you’ve found in battle to make badges, which will give your characters more combos, potions, and other abilities. In the Training Dojo, you can level characters up by trading Rupees, which allows weaker characters to catch up to the strongest. This is very convenient and saves a ton of tedious grinding time.
There’s also the Apothecary, where you can increase weapon drop rates, and the Smithy where you can transfer weapon skills.
There are also different modes outside of the story. Free Mode allows you to play through any scenario from the story with any character you choose. Adventure Mode has you go through an 8-bit map and take on different types of battles under certain conditions like: defeating a certain amount of enemies in a specific amount of time, or using a certain element. In this mode, new weapons, heart containers, and even characters can be unlocked.
While the different parameters spice things up a little bit, the gameplay is still exactly the same.
Challenge Mode isn’t much different either. They give you a list of different scenarios under specific parameters, but it’s still the same old Dynasty Warriors action.
Overall, the gameplay is solid, but repetitive and mildly clunky. I could only describe it as chewing Fruit Stripes gum. It’s full of flavor at first, but it doesn’t last very long at all, and soon begins to lack taste. While the plethora of different characters, weapons, and skills give the game a lot of replay value in theory, it falls short in execution because of its mindlessness and lack of change. There were a few parts where they switched it up enough to make it interesting, but it just didn’t happen as often as I would have liked.
There’s not much to say about the visuals. They’re nice and clean while the character models are really full of life. That being said, nothing really blew me away or anything. I felt like the visuals were just where they needed to be for this game. Their characters had a lot of personality in their facial expressions, and the stages really brought you back to the Zelda titles they were based off of. No complaints here.
Again, the audio was solid. Landing hits on an enemy was very satisfying, and I found myself whistling and humming along to the remixes of classic Zelda compositions all the way through. I will say however, that I wish they added a few alternating voice clips for certain combos. Sometimes I would do the same combo repeatedly and would have to hear the same battle-cry over and over. This was especially annoying with Lana because she has a very high pitched and energetic voice. A pretty minor complaint, but a complaint nonetheless.
So how do I feel about Hyrule Warriors? It’s pretty good. It’s a solid game, but failed to keep me interested the entire time. I feel like they missed a big opportunity for online multiplayer, and even local multiplayer. Sure there’s co-op, but I would have liked to be able to face my friend and take their base. There are still plenty of extra things to do though, so if you don’t find yourself feeling bored by the end like I did, there will be plenty to keep you occupied. I feel like unless you are a hardcore, diehard Legend of Zelda fan, or you really love Dynasty Warriors, you don’t need to buy this game right away. It’s worth checking out, but definitely not a must have. I’d wait until the price drops a bit to pick this one up if anything. Save your money for Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros for now.