Cadence of Hyrule First DLC Pack Offers a Compelling Reason to Hop Back In
The addition of five new characters to Cadence of Hyrule is more than welcome, but not all of them quite find their rhythm.
Cadence of Hyrule was one of my favourite games of 2019. The unique gameplay of Crypt of the NecroDancer coupled with one of gaming’s most iconic, and one of my favourite franchises, was a match made in heaven. So when DLC was announced during the most recent Nintendo Direct Mini, I was incredibly excited.
The first of the three announced DLC packs is out now and consists of three new playable characters from the Legend of Zelda franchise – Impa, Shadow Link, and Shadow Zelda – and two characters from Crypt of the NecroDancer – Aria and Frederick. Each character plays slightly differently to the last and adds another layer of replayability to an already very replayable game.
I jumped straight back into the game after a few months away and by chance, went with Impa as my first character. This was a wise, but somewhat fortunate move. Impa felt like a perfect character for beginners to Cadence of Hyrule, or people who, like me, had been away from the game for some time. Rather than starting with the dagger, Impa starts with a spear, giving her that extra range against enemies. Impa also gets an ability unseen in the game so far. When her stamina is full she can teleport out of the way of an attack, dropping a decoy and avoiding taking damage. This again cements her as a great character for beginners.
Now, Impa’s a great addition, but she’s not perfect. As I mentioned, she starts off with the spear and that’s the only weapon type she can use. One of the beauties of Link and Zelda is they can alternate between swords, spears, and flails to suit the situation or playstyle. Impa unfortunately doesn’t allow this. While the length of the spear helps tackle enemies from a distance, it can almost make things feel a little too easy, with no option to change things up.
I then played as Shadow Link and followed that with Shadow Zelda. These are, sadly in my eyes, the two most disappointing characters in the pack. They play exactly the same way as Link and Zelda from the main story, only with slightly buffed special abilities and a grayscale colour scheme. That’s by no means to say they’re not fun, because they are, – they’re just not different enough to warrant being “brand new” characters. The developers had a huge supporting cast of characters from the Zelda series they could have pulled from, many of whom would have made great additions, but what we got instead was slightly buffed clones with a different skin.
Like Cadence of Hyrule, I loved Crypt of the NecroDancer. One character I avoided in that game however is Aria, who now makes her way across in the DLC pack. Aria is known for being incredibly difficult to play and nothing’s changed as she’s transitioned games. She starts with only half a heart, so any damage will kill her and, if she misses a beat, she also dies. Alongside that, she can’t use any weapon other than the starting dagger.
If you’re a glutton for punishment, Aria is the perfect character for you. You’ll need impeccable timing, knowledge of every enemy’s movement pattern, and an incredible amount of skill. For someone like myself though, who is still half-decent at the game, Aria presented too much of a challenge. The time I spent with her did force me to think about the game differently, though. Rather than hopping along exploring everywhere, it was a mad dash to reach the next Sheikah Stone, so that when I inevitably died, I could respawn further in. In the end, this method of play broke me, especially with the difficulty of some of the enemies. Despite Aria’s trickiness, however, I appreciated the fact that she offered a completely fresh way to play.
The final character included is Frederick, the singing shopkeeper. Probably the most unique of the new characters, in both playstyle and look, Frederick uses both his singing voice and rupees to his advantage. He damages enemies by throwing blue rupees at them and can stun them by singing. His operatic singing voice has always been one of the funnier parts of the series, and not only does he use it as a weapon, but he also sings along to the famous Zelda tune when he grabs an item, which is a nice touch. Frederick also turns into a ghost when out of rupees or hearts, offering a chance of survival when other characters would have ultimately perished.
While the first Cadence of Hyrule DLC pack doesn’t do anything substantial, it offers a compelling reason to jump back into an already fantastic game. The five characters each offer something a little different with their varying playstyles. When thrown back into Brace Yourself Games’ musical rendition of Hyrule, this DLC Pack shows, for the most part, the same love and care they crafted into the main game and gives a strong insight into what’s to come with their next pieces of content.