PLATFORM: WII U
GENRE: HACK AND SLASH & ACTION
RELEASE: OUT NOW IN EUROPE & 26th SEPTEMBER IN NORTH AMERICA
DEVELOPER(S): OMEGA FORCE & TEAM NINJA
PUBLISHER: NINTENDO & KOEI TECMO
PLAYERS: TWO (local only)
THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE
The Unpredictable Future
In December 2013, Nintendo revealed Hyrule Warriors. It was a surprise collaboration between Nintendo and Koei Tecmo which nobody really expected. Hyrule Warriors combines elements from the Dynasty Warriors and The Legend of Zelda games, making it is a hack and slash action game. These two game series coming together sounds quite a weird yet interesting setting: Experimenting and taking a series forwards is something I have always appreciated from game developers. Alongside this, Square Enix announced their Koei Tecmo collaboration game, Dragon Quest Heroes. Therefore, I was very excited to see what these Warrior games are and how well a cross-over works. It’s time to share my story of killing thousands of enemies in more than thousand words.
Straight to the Point!
Hyrule Warriors follows the story of multiple heroes who are trying to fight their way out of the the war that’s raging between the dark sorceress Cia and the ruler of Hyrule, the princess Zelda. Cia is planning to capture all three pieces of Triforce that hold the power to open the Gates of Souls: portals between different timelines of Hyrule. From each timeline, Cia wants to find a hidden soul fragment in order to resurrect an ancient evil power and use it to take over the world and consume it into the chaos.
The story is very straightforward: it quickly proceeds forwards, making it difficult to create a good connection between the player and the characters. This is disappointing because all characters seem to have interesting backstories and I found myself wanting to know more about them. This makes the story feel more like old buddies coming together and saving the day. It may not be the best approach possible for the newcomers. However, there are a few emotional moments and interesting plot twists that kept me interested in following the story until the very end.
Although the setting and characters are from The Legend of Zelda series, the gameplay elements come from the Dynasty Warriors series. The gameplay is very character-based: your weapons, fighting styles and abilities change as you choose a new character. They also included some role-playing elements such as weapon collecting, stats, leveling up and badges. The badge system allows the player to customize the characters’ abilities by spending materials which can be collected from the battlefield. This way, more combos are unlocked and the characters become stronger and more elementally resistant. Weapons, materials and other items can be found from from the treasure chests or enemy loot.
The fighting itself is built on creating combos by combining normal and heavy attacks. Each character also has its signature special and magic attacks, which allow the player to take down many targets at once. Some stronger enemies also have a weak point gauge which becomes visible after they try to attack the player. When the player evades or blocks enemies’ attacks at the right moment, it’s easier to counter-attack and break the weak point gauge. This will also make the character to perform a powerful special attack. Breaking the enemies’ defenses and weak point gauges brings some strategical elements to normal fighting which helps the system to become a bit deeper. Sometimes it’s also useful to use equipment such as a bow, bombs, a boomerang or a hookshot to overcome the challenges.
Taking down hundreds of enemies is surprisingly fun. I could even say the combat feels like an interactive stress ball where you can dismantle all of your anger on the monsters. This is the aspect that makes the game feel relaxing and satisfying. I was also happy to see the battle system was extremely stylish, especially when the characters are more developed, more epic combos are unlocked. The signature special and magic attacks bring a nice touch to the action and can save you from the bad looking situations. Seeing Zelda shooting huge golden arrows, Midna throwing a huge darkness bomb or Link doing his iconic spin attack with a Dynasty Warriors twist, makes Hyrule Warriors seem a refreshing take from the Legend of Zelda series.
Though, if you only play as a few characters through the whole game, the battle system could get repetitive after a while. That’s why I found it very important to play as all characters to keep the gameplay fresh. Another problem I faced with the game, was the camera. In narrow spaces it could be a bit troublesome, because it was hard to see where the character was heading with his/her attacks, making it harder to avoid the possible enemy attacks. I found it a bit annoying during the most challenging fights where the failure was related to the fact the camera was showing me outside areas, not my character and the enemies. As said, it was only an issue when fighting near the walls or in narrow places.
An Echo Cancellation, Please!
The environments in Hyrule Warriors tend to be quite large and empty. All the areas are designed with huge fights against hundreds of enemies in mind, making them feel more like a battle arenas that are drawn with a ruler. After completing the mission, the areas seem very wide and empty that you could easily hear your voice echoing, if you shouted really loud! Even though the game’s biggest weakness are the lagging details in the surroundings, it was great to see variety between locations. During the journey, the player will be able to visit places such as forests, fields, towns and magma caves.
Hyrule Warriors may not be the best looking game available for Wii U, but the art direction is really pleasant when it comes to the enemy and character designs. The characters and their outfits are beautifully rendered, and the color usage is versatile. This is one of the reasons why I have always loved playing Nintendo’s games: they are full of vivid colors and joy.
It’s A Musō, Baby!
A few graphical or camera flaws aside, Hyrule Warriors is a great game. It provided me with many great moments where I could just laugh and enjoy the over the top action. When I thought it couldn’t surprise me anymore, it did something unexpected and hilarious. The battle system was very stylish and killing tons of monsters was satisfying and fun. The stronger enemies also showed the more strategical side of the game, which was very visible on the hard mode.
The story could have proceeded a bit slower and open the backstories for the characters, but it wasn’t a deal breaker. The challenge and the adventure modes also add more to the package, but I wish the special missions were more diverse and more unique compared to the story mode. There’s always a risk the gameplay will become repetitive, if you don’t find the basis awe-worthy. Luckily, there are many playable characters with different fighting styles,making the experience feel a bit fresher as you choose a new character to play with.
Altogether, Hyrule Warriors really caught me off guard since I didn’t honestly expect the gameplay to be as satisfying, relaxing and fun as it turned out to be. This kind of surprises makes the game very memorable experience to me, and I am looking forward to Dragon Quest Heroes more than ever. Meanwhile I will be feeding my murderous needs on Hyrule Warriors while raving to the great soundtrack.
We would like to thank Bergsala for providing us with a review copy of the game.