The release of new consoles always causes the same effect: that people take stock of the best games that have come out on current systems. It is difficult to stay with one exclusively, not only because of the variety of proposals, but also because it depends on the taste of the player. What is undoubted is that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild marked a before and after, built an organic open world, in which any of its corners, to the furthest point on the map, could be visited. Now that Nintendo is working on the sequel, it’s a good time to continue delving into its story with the help of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Cataclysm (Nintendo Switch), an action game that works as a kind of spin-off of the title.
Omega Force, the studio behind this project, is known for creating numerous video games musou, a subgenre of action devised by themselves and popularized thanks to the saga Dinasty warriors and to other projects based on world-renowned intellectual properties. It is Hyrule Warriors: Age of Cataclysm a musou outright? The answer is a resounding yes, although with some qualifications.
The argument is not canon
History tells us what happened 100 years ago, a dark period for the kingdom, as Ganon’s threat began to take shape. Bokoblins, moblins, summoners, yigas and other creatures form their armies, invade the lands of Hyrule and threaten to bring back perpetual darkness. On the other side of the board, King Rhoam summons his best warriors to face the bloody war that is coming. The situation is critical, so Link, Zelda, Impa, and a small Guardian set out on a journey to search for the Chosen, the representatives of the different peoples who will have the responsibility of controlling the Divine Beasts. It is the first time that we can handle characters like Urbosa, Revali, Mipha or Daruk, from the Gerudo, Orni, Zora and Goron tribes, respectively.
When the title was announced, some expected it to be a canon product. All in all, Omega Force has outlined a what if that does not strictly follow the events of the true past. The jarring point is the Guardian, Zelda’s friendly ally who takes care of her. We witness his vision, which does introduce familiar aspects, but at the same time, reinterprets the events with new sequences.
We can look forward to epic and impressive moments, combined with some not always lucky comic relief. The effort to reach the fan base is perceived, in a way, a laudable attempt that can at times be somewhat strident due to the cliché and redundancy, as well as some inconsistent and credible plot twists. I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed its story and its characters, its conversations, but it lacks a little more packaging.
With the Breath of the Wild outfit
The first thing that catches your eye is his artistic style, taken directly from Breath of the Wild. The appearance of Link, Zelda, the King of Hyrule, Urbosa and other characters is very similar to the original game, while the scenarios take us directly to the landscapes of the Nintendo title. On a visual level, it performs very well in the cinematics, where we forget for a moment that we are not facing a title from the main saga. The elements of this installment permeate all the menus, even the title screen, as the characters are in one of the Sheikah Towers, where the map of the kingdom is displayed.
The magic breaks a bit when the game really moves, because beyond the artistic style, the huge maps in which the massive battles take place do not preserve the finishes of the 2017 product. They are recognizable places, since we traveled to La Death Mountain, the home of the Zora, even Hyrule Castle itself. But after the initial spell, you start to spot the inconsistencies: scenery elements that take time to load and a more sloppy level of detail. For misfortune, he framerate It is another of the big victims: playing in laptop mode or on television you will find frequent slowdowns and a performance below what is expected from a product of this caliber.
One of the attractions of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Cataclysm it is the possibility of incarnating the Chosen, and not only to manage them on the battlefield, which is already an incentive, but also to control the Divine Beasts. Perhaps these phases are the ones that most reflect the problems of the game, since in addition to being somewhat crude to handle, the gigantic creatures invade the entire screen and make the inconsistent rate of images per second even more visible.
The battle system, deeper than it seems
Beyond the graphics and the story, this is a musou. This means that combat is the crux of the gameplay. No one should expect a game with great exploration elements. Unlike the previous Hyrule warriors, everything we can do in the game is shown on the map, so it will soon be filled with points of interest. In most cases, we are asked to collect certain objects in order to help the town and thus obtain rewards, new movements for the character and so on. Blacksmiths, meanwhile, provide us with the ability to fuse and upgrade weapons. The kitchen, very present in Breath of the Wild, is channeled here through recipes, through which we can cook dishes that will later help us improve attributes such as speed and evasion when we are on the battlefield.
Both the main and secondary missions are featured on this map. While the structure of the additional tasks always responds to similar objectives, there is a certain variety in the history tasks, although always within simple frameworks that usually go through conquering and defending outposts.
The protagonists’ movement contrasts with Link’s in The Legend of Zelda, as in other games musou, it gives the impression that the characters do not weigh, that they are very light and that they walk and run as if floating. Without being the most experienced person in the genre, I have seen attempts to enhance the battle system. The ingredients that come from the saga on which it is based, specifically from the original Nintendo Switch game, help in that.
As in others musou, we have a combination of strong and weak attacks, a button to dodge and the option to perform combos (which can be improved with each of the characters). We also attack with our bows and fire a burst of arrows at our targets. The special bar fills up as we defeat the multiple enemies that appear on the screen, allowing us to perform a very visually impressive special final blow.
The parasail and the powers of the Sheikah Stone (magnet, bombs, ice, paralysis) have been successfully integrated into combat. The system invites you to play with the times, to dodge at the precise moment to achieve a perfect dodge and thus unleash a storm of attacks against the enemy. For bosses or more powerful monsters, the ability to lock onto the target is very effective, although the camera can play tricks at any time, especially in more confined environments. In the fight against these most powerful foes, using the powers of the Stone at the right moment can break its guard and make it easier for us. The game itself warns us with a specific icon, so it is necessary to be quick with the buttons so as not to miss the opportunity.
My fear before testing the game was that the playable protagonists would not differ from each other. Nothing is further from reality, since each of them has movements with their own identity, which adds variety not to the game as a whole, but also within a specific mission. Although we can use elemental wands against enemies that are weak to that element, it will always be smarter to use Mipha’s powers against fire enemies, for example.
On the whole, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Cataclysm It is an enjoyable and very funny video game. It is possible that the least lovers of the genre see it as something repetitive, but the ten hours that the main campaign lasts is at least a pleasant experience. Good product to enjoy in these final weeks of the year.