[Impressions] Cadence of Hyrule DLC Pack One – Character Pack

Written by Richard Strachan

Way back in June 2019 we took a look at Cadence of Hyrule, in what was my first ever review for Nintendad! I gave the game full marks, having really enjoyed the unique spin on the traditional 2D Zelda template. What I was most blown away by was that the experience actually offered something very close to a fully-fledged Zelda game rather than a traditional roguelike such as Crypt of the Necrodancer.

Nintendo and Brace Yourself Games have announced a three-part Season Pass, with Part 1, the character pack, available now. Parts 2 and 3 will apparently launch before the end of October, but I won’t be holding my breath for those in these current, crazy times!

A Link to your bank

The pack includes five new characters and two new modes. First up is Impa, who we’ve seen in various guises throughout the Zelda series. Here the game really plays up on her Sheikah abilities by arming you with a spear for longer range attacks and an auto-dodge ability which can sometimes save you from being hit. When enemies attack, the dodge triggers, leaving a small Impa doll where you were and teleporting you behind said baddie, ripe for a stab up the jacksie. Impa is fun to play as and in some ways acts a bit like an easy mode. Given the length of time between the release of the game and the DLC I’m a bit rusty, so I found Impa a nice gentle way to ease me back into the game.

Next up is Frederick, who some of you might recognise as the hilarious singing shopkeeper from Crypt of the Necrodancer. Naturally, as a shopkeeper, Cash rules everything around him, so rather than a traditional health meter Frederick starts with a stash of 100 Rupees which gradually tick away. Should these reduce to zero you become the Phantom of the Shopera, a ghost with half a heart piece. Collecting a heart piece or some more rupees allow you to return to human form and continue your run. 

Playing as Frederick really changes up the gameplay as you rush to collect rupees and cheat death. It can be quite challenging, but also very fun as you try to scan areas for collectibles without hesitating too long, lest you meet the big bank manager in the sky.

The third character is Aria, the main character from the original Crypt of the Necrodancer. Aria is a bit of a nightmare to be honest. She’s got half a heart piece, can’t extend or refill her health, and can’t miss a beat without dying. I’ve literally had runs with her where I died before making it out of the first screen. There will be some masochists out there who enjoy this kind of thing and can master it, but I’ve got too many other games to be playing to lose days of my life to this torture-fest!

The next two characters are Shadow Link and Shadow Zelda, which act more as skins than new characters in their own right. They don’t add a lot to the game, but thankfully the other three are worth the price of admission alone.

New Ways to Play

The pack also adds two modes. The first, Mystery Mode, replaces enemies and items with giant question marks. Mystery mode can be pretty confusing, as it can sometimes be hard to tell whether an object is an enemy or a collectible, and even once you realise the object is a threat it can be hard to understand how to approach it. Much of the combat is based around pattern recognition, which goes out the window completely when you remove the ability to recognise what type of enemy you are facing.

The final mode, Dungeon Mode, removes the overworld and provides a more streamlined and combat-heavy experience akin to the original Necrodancer. It’s a fun way to experience the music and sights of Cadence of Hyrule, but loses the charm of the full game and the fun exploration-based elements. This mode will be great for those who haven’t played the original, as it gives the same experience without the need to purchase another game (and the music is much better!).

A Link to the Future

Overall, Pack 1 offers some fun changes which help freshen up the core game. The next two packs are apparently due before the end of October. Pack 2, the Melody Pack, will apparently add some new music and allow you to chose what plays and when. That itself doesn’t sound like it will add a lot, but I’m definitely keen to hear more music as the base game has some amazing remixes of classic Zelda tunes. More of the same is definitely a good thing, but I’d prefer to see more gameplay features.

Pack 3 is the one that really excites me! Titled Symphony of the Mask, this DLC will include Skull Kid as the main protagonist and will include a whole new map and story mode. They didn’t give a lot away in the reveal video, but I’m hoping for the ability to change into Deku Scrubs and a Zora in a Majora’s Mask style adventure. I’d love to hear some remixes of the Majora’s Mask music as well, as I really felt that game managed to capture a pretty spooky vibe that could work well with the gameplay of Cadence.

We’ll have more to say about the next two packs when they release, so keep your eyes peeled for our verdict.

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