It’s been a while since I last played on my Wii U, a console I was beginning to regret buying, but then I got Hyrule Warriors and wondered if it would rekindle a friendship between me and my console. Suffice to say it has brought me a little closer to my console, but only because the game is fun and challenging.
Unlike previous games in the franchise, this isn’t a role-playing game – though there are RPG elements, such as leveling and upgrading tools, etc. – but rather a hack ‘n slash meets button masher. It’s non-canon so it has no link to the other games in the series. Like the name implies, the game is a mash-up of The Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors games. The two worlds don’t collide, it’s more like Zelda was recreated in a Dynasty Warriors’ game. It’s pretty cool and makes it feel like you’re really fighting in a large scale war as opposed to fighting 10 enemies that apparently constitutes an army. If you’ve played a Dynasty Warriors game before you’ll know what I mean, if not, here’s what to expect.
Every scene occurs on a massive – and I mean massive – battle ground. Sometimes the map is straightforward, other times it’s very labyrinthine, which makes it harder for you to control the flow of battle. You control a single hero who is capable of unleashing deadly attacks on huge amounts of enemies. In most instances, your enemies are in groups of about 10 characters – and there are many many groups on the map and they spawn quite regularly. They’re fairly weak, but considering that you can easily slaughter up to 2000 of them in one battle, you can bet your cotton socks each battle is going to be a long one. On the battlefield lies various keeps, holdings, or other buildings that you need to capture from the enemy. Some are mission related, others give you an edge in combat and some hide useful treasure chests. The enemy doesn’t give these up easily, but I’ll go into detail in just a bit. You also have your allied base, which is basically your home base – if it falls, you lose. In most instances you’re required to capture a few bases in order to unlock the final base or the one where the main boss is hiding in. It’s not always the case, but there is a pattern with the battle objectives. Defeat the end boss and you beat the scene. You also have alternative key items at your disposal which must be used to defeat bosses and move around the battlefield. For example, you can use bombs to break walls and a grapple hook to climb cliffs.
Like I said before, there is a pattern that emerges and this is very much a symptom of Dynasty Warriors. As fun as it is mindlessly hacking and slashing enemies is, it becomes very tedious three to four hours in. Fortunately, Hyrule Warriors has a saving grace, and that happens to Link and all his compatriots. The game was, and I don’t say this lightly, made for Zelda fans. It’s crammed full of Legend of Zelda love that the constant repetition won’t bother you as much as it should. Not only that, but you get to play different characters from the series, such as Link (obviously), Princess Zelda, Midna, Durania, Fi, Impa and Princess Ruto. You even get to play a baddie, but I won’t mention who.
The story, which isn’t groundbreaking at all, is decent but very obvious, even for the most unimaginative person. Many years ago a hero in a green tunic defeated a great evil and separated his soul into four fragments and hid them across time and space. The evil in question was after the power of the Tri-force, which is under the protection of Cia, a benevolent sorceress. After seeing Link’s soul in a magical crystal ball (I think you can tell where I’m going) she falls in love with him, but soon finds out about Princess Zelda and how Link and Zelda are destined to be with each other. Her jealously leaves her open to attack from the forces of evil and soon her mind is corrupted and tainted. Unknowingly, Cia has become a puppet to the very evil that once plagued the land. Cia immediately wages war with the Hyrule Kingdom in order to take the two remaining pieces of the Tri-force which is held by Link and Zelda. She also attempts to unite the four soul fragments to revive an ancient evil. Now it’s up to Link, Impa, Zelda and newcomer, Lana, to stop Cia and bring peace back to Hyrule.
As cliché as the story sounds, it’s actually a lot of fun to see everything come together. Also, there was a little plot twist, which I did not see coming (and one I saw from the very beginning), so it’s not all that bad. Although it’s not breathtakingly beautiful, the animation isn’t unpleasant to the eye and it’s very colourful. Each character gets a lovely visual upgrade and some really cool moves. One of my issues with the game is the lack of button combos. All of the characters have the same combo types even though the moves are different. Basically, you can master all the moves in no time, so the battles can become quite stagnated and repetitive. However, this may be a good thing for Zelda fans who aren’t necessarily any good at hack ‘n slash games.
Now, for the capturing of the keeps. It’s a fairly simple process: each keep has a life bar and eliminating the enemies in the keep brings the life down to zero. Once that happens the keep boss appears, and if you defeat him, the keep is yours – unless the enemies does the same thing to you. It’s simple enough to accomplish, but to make sure it stays yours can be difficult. Also, while it’s fun for the first few hours, it gets old really quick. My advice, don’t try to beat this game in a weekend, it’ll turn into a grindfest. Rather play it over a few days or attempt 2 skirmishes a night. That way it’ll feel less generic.
The good news is, the game comes with a ton of extra modes, including adventure mode, which is a massive collection of missions for you to undertake. Unlike the campaign it has many different objectives and can add hours to your game time. Plus there are plenty of things for you to collect, so you’re getting a lot of worth out of this game.
Not only was I surprised by Hyrule Warriors, I’d quite happily enjoy playing a few extra hours on the console because of it. It’s not a perfect game, but it’s a fun amalgamation of the Legend of Zelda and tons of war-like action. If you’re a fan, this is probably a game you’ll want to play.