Review: Hyrule Warriors

Who knew that a hack-and-slash style “Warriors” game could be so much fun?!

Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations for this game, at all.  I’ve played a couple of titles, a little bit, from the “warriors” games, and never really thought much of them.  I enjoy the power trip of taking out swarm of enemy troops, but it was always just a little dull.

Give it a Legend of Zelda theme, however, and I’m completely taken by it!

What is it?

Simply put, it’s a “hack-and-slash” game, where you have to assert your dominance over a map, taking rooms and outposts, to increase the influence of your supporting army.  This all takes place whilst you’re given objectives and bosses to deal with.

You’re on a total power trip, ploughing through hundreds of enemy minions and taking them out with simple-input combos that look fantastic.

It’s a little stressful on occasion.  You’re being pulled-around by all the action and the unfolding objectives, but it’s the fun of it.  Almost micro-managing on the go, and being the most impactful character on the map.

These levels and maps are tied together loosely with a story, giving you purpose to visit a locale, and to use different warriors.

Where it sets itself apart, to someone like me, is by making all the playable characters come from the Legend of Zelda universe, across many games.  And having the maps be themed, based on the Zelda game they relate to.

Honestly, it gave me a renewed outlook for the “Warriors” series of games, and at the same time, I’ve had an absolute blast playing through it, seeing characters I never thought I’d see again, playing as Darunia and Sheik et al.  It is truly a really good time, from start to finish.

What’s good?

The cast of characters, the story line looping between different Zelda universes and timelines, the music, and most of all the character-themed abilities.

Working with Princess Zelda to free an area of enemies, and then dashing over to help Darunia with a boss, as Link or as Impa.  It’s so laden with nostalgia and it fulfills a fantasy that I didn’t know I needed fulfilling.

The music harkens back to all of the popular themes from the games over the years.  Fairy Fountain music? Check! Chest Opening music? Check!  Honestly, it covers all of the popular themes and really gives it that familiar feel.

Alongside the themes, there is the “classic” pop-metal style music that has been with the “Warriors” series since day one.  I thought it would ruin it, against the iconic themes, but it works.  It works because it’s used in the right situations, and really adds to that sense of drama and pace.  I’m fairly sure it contributed heavily to the more stressful moments.

The story was fine, a standard “battle for the Triforce”, seeing some of the Zelda series bosses like Zant and Girahim, and of course Ganondorf.  Fighting against some of the iconic bad guys from the series, alongside the good guys, is a real treat.  It’s all explained by time gates opening and taking different heroes to different worlds, where they meet new heroes that join them along the way.  It’s not complex, but it works, and because it involves so many things that I already love, I cared almost immediately.

What’s not good?

Whilst not an ugly game by any stretch, it’s not anything that is pushing the hardware limits of the Wii U.  That’s understandable, seeing as though it’s built on a classic engine, designed to seemingly churn these games out.

You also have to remember that there are potentially a massive amount of enemies on the screen at any one time.  The frame rate didn’t really dip and it was pretty solid throughout……..until co-op……

Co-op is an excellent addition to this game, playing with my brother and dividing up the tasks made it even more fun, and even less stressful.  However, it really killed the pixel count and the framerate.

Playing co-op is well thought-out, in that the second player uses the Wii U tablet as their controller and screen, so there’s no distracting split-screen chaos to contend with.  That does mean that the console is pushing out the game to two different screens at a time, and you can tell.  It becomes a little rough around the edges, and a little slow on occasion.

It’s not game breaking, and it’s not permanently slow.  But it is noticeable and detrimental to the game.

The other thing that I never full got to grips with, was using items.  You’re given specific (Zelda-themed) items like bombs, the boomerang, arrows and of course, the hookshot.  Which is great, and when you get them, you’ve got a purpose to use them……..however, after that initial “must use” they become a little moot.  I only really used bombs and arrows for the duration, and whilst I may have missed a few hidden treats and secrets, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out at all.

The d-pad selection, whilst simple, and pretty standard, just didn’t work, for me.  Not at the pace of the battles you’re in.

 

Overall

Playing this game solo was a treat, a real unexpected gem that I would have never considered.  The Zelda theme really works well and the story, albeit a little generic, was a nice jaunt into the Zelda universes, with characters, worlds, items and music to match.

It’s really fun, and something I’ll be re-visiting.  Especially in co-op, where you can co-ordinate with a friend and really take the fight to the enemy.

One thing: I felt really guilty bashing the crap out of Gorons……

Rating: Must play!

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