Friday, July 10, 2015

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review - That Familiar Feeling

Score: 9.5 / 10
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date:November 23rd, 2013

  • More open choice in dungeon order
  • Classic dungeon crawling action holds up with added mechanics
  • Clever puzzles and boss design
  • Great use of 3D to add depth to each enemy and platform
  • World swapping can be seen as too similar to ALttP Dark World mechanic
Nolstagia can come in many forms when it comes to video games. The familiar Metroid space pirate tune bringing back your first impending battle with the foe, battling Bowser once again as Mario, or even running across a particular character you remember from the first installment of a trilogy. A Link Between Worlds is the epitome of nostalgia from those who experienced A Link to the Past, one of the best Zelda titles to date. The layout of the map, the familiar character elements, and classic dungeon feel all give nods to its older counterpart, while providing a twist to the formula for an experience all its own.

When I play a Zelda game I expect to go in the classic dungeon order, defeating a boss, and gaining a new item along the way to progress further in the world. A Link Between Worlds decided to change all of that by offering every item used in dungeons almost right off the bat. Bombs, the Ice Rod, and even the Hookshot are available for rent for a mere handful of rubies, purchased for even more rupees. This is encouraged as every enemy and action gives more than the usual amount of rupees. It changes Legend of Zelda from a structured game to one that allows you to immediately complete all the sidequests or challenge a dungeon in any order they would like.

 I'm guessing it is dangerous to go alone?

Taking place years after the events of Link to the Past, Link takes up an adventure after a mysterious figure begins to turn characters into paintings, eventually kidnapping the Princess herself. You venture forth in the expected fashion, collecting items to unlock the Master Sword, and eventually facing the evil that is seeking the triforce. It all appears cookie cutter on the surface, but the game throws a few twists in at the conclusion that helps it all come together.

The 3DS does well in incorporating a look to make the game really standout. The over the top view is often panned around for cinematic encounters seamlessly to showcase a full fledged three dimensional world. The 3D technology adds depth to the various worlds you explore, often with flame pillars popping out at you or towering bosses. The classic soundtrack has some standout new songs, along with renditions of old classics. Overall it is a look that is both familiar and cartoonish enough to give Between Worlds its own charm.

In contrast to the more open world, Link utilizes his ability to adhere and travel along the wall in 2D. This form allows you to slip through cracks in the dimensions of Hyrule and Lorule, often bouncing between worlds to reach inaccessible areas and alter terrain to enter dungeons. It feels like a mechanic similar to hopping between timelines in ALttP. There is clever use of this ability in dungeons in slipping between cracks or steel bars to move across pits or dodging boss attacks. While I would have liked to see it used for a bit of wall paint combat, it serves as another tool to consider using when tackling the dungeon puzzles.

Can I pre-order items too?

Each dungeon features an item that is required to enter it, and that item is the basis of the dungeons' mechanics and puzzles; something Zelda continues to excel at with each new title. The traps that litter your path can leave you scratching your head as you seek out a missing key or backtrack to uncover a hidden path you overlooked. Expect a few classics like the color orb floors and hookshot puzzles, and a few new additions like the creation of sand bridges that really make you stop and look over each room's task. The handy accessibility of the dungeon map on the bottom screen makes it easy to navigate floor by floor. The end bosses are also standouts, as few of them are not nearly as big of pushovers as past boss encounters. Both the dungeons and bosses are a refreshing challenge and the design is fantastic in pointing you in the right direction.

The beauty of this game is the fact that practically every corner of the map is unlocked for you early on, leaving the world of Hyrule at your disposal. If you wish to hunt down every heart piece you have the means to do so, as the game litters you with rupees to rent every available weapon and access every corner. Expect plenty of side quests, running errands for villagers, and plethora of mini games as Link interacts in both worlds. You can also upgrade your purchased items by finding adorable hermit crab children that emote an "aww" inducing retort when they chime along with the Zelda tune upon pickup. There is a big world to explore, and A Link Between Worlds welcomes you with open arms.
Jail is not a problem anymore!

A Link Between Worlds makes a subtle change that brings about a surprising difference. Sure, you can expect a similar mechanic to ALttP in swapping between worlds, but the freedom to explore Hyrule at will and the ability to load out your arsenal with items so quickly makes for a different experience all together. With no fairy at your side, this felt like a Zelda title that held your hand a lot less, similar to how it was in A Link to the Past, without completely leaving you clueless. It is a well designed, well executed, and well established game; and a must have for any 3DS owner.

No comments:

Post a Comment