Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda (to give it its full, unruly title) is an excellent game that combines the classic adventure of top-down Zelda with the beat-based gameplay for Brace Yourself Games’ indie hit Crypt of the NecroDancer. It harnesses the power of music to put a unique spin on the series we know so well and we can't stop playing it.
That said, you may be struggling to get into the swing of things thanks to its unique rhythm-movement mechanic. The game has got a decent tutorial, but if you are still having trouble, we’ve put together some advice to help you get over the initial hump and start enjoying one of the most refreshing and celebratory Zelda games we’ve ever played.
Here are our beginners' tips for Cadence of Hyrule...
Stick it to the stick
First up, ditch the analogue stick. The window for hitting the beat is pretty generous, but it’s best to go digital and use the D-buttons to reduce response time. The Pro Controller's D-pad works beautifully, and we've got a natty aftermarket case for our left Joy-Con with a D-pad built in which came in very handy. Regardless of your exact gear (hey, if you're more of a GameCube dance mat gamer, go right ahead!), you'll get better response from buttons.
Calibrate for your TV's latency
Depending on your telly, you might also experience some lag which could affect your performance. We didn’t encounter any problems on our LG C7, but different TVs may introduce a delay. Head into the Options screen and go to the bottom for the appropriately titled Latency Calibration. You’ll be asked to push ‘Up’ when you hear a sound, and again when you see a Triforce flash. You can also alter the latency setting manually.
Handheld mode arguably offers the 'best' experience with absolute minimum lag, but Cadence of Hyrule really doesn’t call for the absolute precision of other rhythm games and there's no reason you can't play it on a big screen.
Clear the HUD
The visual aid at the bottom of screen (the pulsing Triforce) might help you, but we found the screen to be busy enough already and we removed it (head into the Graphics tab on the Options menu to toggle it off). There’s generally too much to take in while also keeping an eye on the beat, and the ‘disco’ floor pattern around your character provides all the visual aid you need. Your mileage may vary, of course – do what works best for you! – but we found it helpful to de-clutter the display and remove the beat HUD, relying on audio alone and giving us the best possible view of the play field.
Equip the broadsword as soon as possible
You attack automatically in Cadence of Hyrule by moving towards enemies. The default dagger or short sword will hit only the enemy directly in front of you, but the broadsword’s horizontal swing will hit anything occupying the three spaces ahead (directly ahead, plus the two adjacent 'diagonal' spaces). This gives beginners breathing space to attack packs of baddies without leaving themselves too vulnerable, giving you an extra ‘cushion’, especially at the start. Ditch the dagger as soon as possible and start attacking multiple enemies at once with the broadsword.
Study enemy patterns
Every enemy has a fixed attack pattern with ‘tells’ that indicate what they’re about to do. If a moblin raises its club, it’ll strike if you move into the space ahead of it. The lizard guys ready their weapons before charging. Tektites attack diagonally. Poison mushrooms crouch before expelling their gas. It will take time, but observing and learning how enemies move means you'll always be able to anticipate attacks.
Explore for Heart Pieces
Don't hit your head against a brick wall over and over again; many Heart Pieces sit in plain sight so take a break and explore. Nabbing a couple will build your health up and having a bit extra can make all the difference when you dive into a bunch of baddies.
Enhance your blade
At several points in the game you’ll have the opportunity to enhance your blade with a stone or other material – make sure you do this. Enhancing your weapon with ruby or titanium, for example, affects its damage output, and later on you can even get a poison effect which is a great help for whittling down the hearts of stronger late-game enemies.
Strategise with Fixed-Beat Mode
If all else fails, there’s also the option to switch to Fixed-Beat Mode in the Gameplay settings. This unties your movement from the music and you’re free to move as fast or slow as you like. Enemy movement is tied to yours now; they only move when you do. This means you can essentially ‘pause’ the game by not pressing anything and analyse movement patterns and positioning. It’s a far more strategic version of the game which relies less on instinct (and obviously jettisons the beat-based bit).
It’s a different experience, that’s for sure, but if the constant stress of the beat is getting you down, Fixed-Beat Mode gives you a chance to think, albeit while sacrificing the sync to those sick beats.
Lastly, don’t expect to ‘get it’ immediately
With the look of the game being so familiar, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the gameplay will be equally second-nature, so it’s important to set expectations accordingly to avoid disappointment. If your brain simply isn’t wired for this brand of rhythm gameplay, that’s another matter, but stick with it – practise moving around an easy area with enemies on the opposite side of the screen and just get used to the music and the beat. Anybody who’s played and enjoyed Crypt of the NecroDancer has a considerable advantage when diving into Cadence of Hyrule, but the only penalty for missing the beat is disrupted movement, so take time to experiment with its four-way movement. Go slow, nail the basics and you'll pick it up eventually.
Hopefully these tips will help you settle into and enjoy a brilliant new Zelda experience. Found anything that's worked for you (beside dogged perseverance) that you think could be added? Share your experiences below with a comment.