Review: Hyrule Warriors
By Sean Booker
October 23, 2014 - 22:20
Studios: Omega Force and Team Ninja
Rating: T (Teen)
Platform: Nintendo WiiU
This blend of Legend of Zelda aesthetics with Dynasty Warriors gameplay allows for a good deal of fan service but ends up making Hyrule Warriors a long and boring game. The monotony will drag on you early despite minor variations throughout the modes. The additions surrounding the gameplay and the loot driven focus allow for a nice amount of customization. The game pulls from a lot of the Zelda universe throughout its presentation that, as a fan of the series, is both appreciated but also disappointing when paired with the tedium.
If you have played Dynasty Warriors the you know how the gameplay here works. You control a central figure that leads an army of lesser minions. You run around large battlefields fighting off hordes of monsters while taking control of various keeps and control points. You will be instructed to fight off certain bosses in order to progress through the stage. This format is repeated for the entirety of the game and it ends up being exceedingly boring. The enemy foot soldiers barely even attack you and might as well just be fodder for you to mow down. Without the need to defeat them to gain control points it would be more efficient to ignore everyone but the various bosses. If you are good at hitting the attack button over and over and over then you are already great at this game. Bosses will actually put up a fight for the most part since their attacks will often rob you of a huge chunk of life. The strength of their combos are incredible compared to how useless every other enemy is. At the end of the day however you will still end up just mashing the attack button until the game tells you to stop.
Hyrule Warriors constructs its story mainly using elements from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword; with several other smaller - and often smart - nods to other Zelda properties. Characters and bosses from each game will make an appearance to play as or fight against. Most named characters in the game will become playable for you in other modes which allows for a good variety. It’s quite funny to see Ganandorf opening a chest to the usual theme you would expect for Link. Your favorite music from each game will make an appearance when you fight on its respective stage and you can even customize which unlocked songs play when you enter a new level in order to help alleviate some of the repetition that exists throughout this game. Fans of the franchise will find a lot for them in this game as there is a good deal of respect and fun to be found in its referential presentation.
The best part of the game is the amount of customization and focus on loot. You are constantly picking up new material and weapons to equip on your characters. Fusing weapons together will combine their skills and allow for more powerful items. There is also a badge crafting system that gets quite extensive and acts as a skill tree for each character. You can level up and upgrade weapon combos, special skill slots, attack damage and even aspects like how fast a control point will get overtaken. There is a really good amount of character upgrading throughout the game and it can easily get you excited to use them.
Though the levels you play in will nicely pull from their corresponding game they end up feeling largely dull. The stages are quite large which makes running from point to point irritating. Many times you will have to save an ally or collect a control point on the far side of the map in order to proceed. A lot of your time will be spent running around. It doesn’t help that the game also doesn’t respond very quickly to your actions. Finishing an objective before the game assumes you will can cause a good deal of waiting around for the checkpoints to read. As if the game plays smoother if you go slowly. Seeing as how the game ended up being quite boring, moving through it at a slow pace was that much more irritating.
There are also pacing issues with the main campaign. It’s structured into almost two different parts with weirdly timed climaxes. The second half almost feels more tacked on just in order to have more content. This is especially relevant when you see that all the bosses in the second half are exactly the same as the first. This leaves the game feeling like it was just trying to pad out the content in order to keep the story going; with air of monotony already so present it ends up bringing the whole thing down further.
The game does try to add more in subsequent modes outside the story. These can range from defeating a certain number of enemies within the time limit to taking out certain enemies waves together. These do unlock more equipment for your characters to use in any mode which is great. These act as challenge rooms basically so if you are enjoying the gameplay then this will be great for you since there is a lot of it to go through.
Hyrule Warriors is a slow and monotonous journey down a Zelda themed memory. Fans of the series will appreciate all the references found in the characters, special attacks, visuals and music. There is a lot around the core gameplay to dive into in terms of customization and loot. It’s a shame that the main game isn’t very fun and gets old extremely quickly. Battles become tedious and slow and I found myself struggling to want to come back for more. Hyrule Warriors is repetitive and lackluster despite mining the great Legend of Zelda franchise.