written by Salazar S. (@NoviceSalazar)
Before I begin this review I would like to start with a few short points:
1) I have never played a Dynasty Warriors game
2) I have never in my life wanted to play a Dynasty Warriors game
3) I love Zelda so gosh darned much I would buy literally anything with a Triforce on it. A pad that scrubs all the skin off my face? Slap a Triforce on it and I will happily terrify everybody on the bus.
4) You now know why I own Hyrule Warriors
Okay let's begin the review for real now.
Hyrule Warriors was released in NA on September 26th, 2014 and developed by Omega Force and Team Ninja. Published by Koei Tecmo and, obviously, Nintendo, the game is your standard Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slash game. You play as one of many Zelda characters to frantically chop your way through hoards of enemies to take over enemy bases and defeat bosses unique to each level. I sure hope you enjoy playing the exact same thing over and over because that's all you do in this game.
Not to say that's a bad thing, there is something extremely therapeutic about slicing through a huge group of enemies all at once, watching their sad lifeless bodies rain down around you as you strike a classic anime pose, giant glistening eyes staring emotionlessly into the camera. But you'd better enjoy it a whole heck of a lot because this makes up about 80% of the game. 10% is fighting the bosses and the other 10% is painstakingly upgrading and combining weapons, crafting “badges” that give you bonuses, or paying hard earned rupees to level up the characters you never play with until the game forces you to.
I can hear you now, “Okay that's game play, but what about the story? Does it have the classic epic Zelda storyline?” Well...it certainly has... A storyline. The basic story is this: Enemy forces attack Hyrule Castle. Zelda is walking the parapets with Impa and speaking about how they have to find the LEGENDARY HERO. She looks down into the courtyard, meets eyes with Link, and spontaneously decides for no reason at all that HE'S THE ONE. Link is given the required green tunic and a blue scarf and sent off to fight evil.
Evil takes form in Cia, a sorceress whose job it was to protect the balance of the Triforce. The only thing it takes for her to turn evil is to get the jinglings for Link and then Ganondorf uses that IMPURITY to purge the light of goodness out of her body so she unlocks the Gate of Souls, opening pathways to different Zelda timelines (but not the adorable cartoony ones, just the ones where Link is an adult. I guess so Cia doesn't look like a child molester). Lana shows up and claims to be the White Sorceress from Cia's clan of witches or whatever. Zelda gets kidnapped once Hyrule Castle is overrun and it is up to Link, Impa, Lana, and the MYSTERIOUS SHIEK (NO ONE KNOWS WHO THIS YOUNG MAN IS, WHO IS HE? IF ONLY THIS WAS COMMON KNOWLEDGE) to close the Gate of Souls and defeat Cia. As well as all the villains from every time line: Zant, Ghirahim, and the big bad, the man behind it all Ganondorf.
I found my enjoyment of this game depended on who the game let me play as. If I was playing as Link I enjoyed myself quite thoroughly, even if doing the same basic thing over and over can get kind of tedious. If the game forced me to be Lana I found myself unbelievably frustrated. She is the worst, her basic special of ice shooting from the ground hardly hits anyone and forces her to stand perfectly still so whatever enemy is behind her can stab her in the back.
But let's not kid ourselves any further. Story? Gameplay? All of these things don't even matter, do they? Hyrule Warriors was made for only two kind of people. 1) Those who enjoy Dynasty Warriors gameplay and 2) Those who love Zelda. If you're a fan of either of these things you don't need my review, you have already bought the game. As if to drive home the fact that the game takes second place to the idea, Nintendo has already rolled out about a billion skin packs so you can play as whatever version of the various characters you want. You can play as Ocarina of Time Link, as Twilight Princess Link, as Dark Link. You can play as OOT Ganondorf and TP Ganondorf. Want to change Zeldas? Go right ahead.
As a game, Hyrule Warriors is nothing special, but I doubt it was ever intended to be. I got it because I love Zelda and boy does it sure satisfy me in that way. Does it make me want to play the Dynasty Warrior games? Probably not, I am lukewarm about the samey gameplay and tedious missions. Did I have fun playing Hyrule Warriors? Yeah! But let me bring you to point three of my first four points: I would literally scrub my face clean off if it was related to Zelda. So take my opinion of the game as you will, I am not exactly objective when it comes to the Zelda franchise.
Now if you will excuse me I have to roll around in these glass shards with Hylian Crests on them.
+ Play as so many different Legend of Zelda characters you won't know what do do with yourself
+ Game looks bright and colorful
+ Plowing through hundreds of knee-high skeletons feels therapeutic
- Every level is basically the exact same thing
- Grunting from characters was annoying
- Combining weapons, bade-making, level grinding, and everything else gets tedious having to keep up with the large cast
-Story: 2/5 the story plays second fiddle to the concept of Zelda characters in Dynasty Warriors. It barely makes any sense and is told almost entirely by your mom in the loading screens.
-Graphics: 4/5 the game looks gorgeous, the colors are bright, the characters are a joy to watch. Though everyone is suitably “anime expressionless”.
-Audio: 3/5 Classic Zelda music, can't go wrong there, but the grunting from the characters makes me want to stab myself in the ears. Hearing Lana chirp one more time would have sent me over the edge.
-Level Design: 5/5 Though the gameplay may be the same thing over and over, every level is unique in its design. Sure they all have bases and outposts, but arrangement differs and there are events unique to each level.
-Set pieces: 1/5 It's Zelda characters in Dynasty Warriors, I am not sure this even applies. Everything is ridiculous and no one says anything important. Don't play it for moving speeches or heart stopping drama.
-Polish: 5/5 Yeah it sure is pretty, I didn't run into any glitches and everything seems to work the way it needs to.
-Controls: 4/5 I played with the Wiimote+nunchuck and didn't have any control issues. My little sister played with the Wii U gamepad and had no problems either. I have not had a chance to try it with a pro controller. I imagine that would actually be the best way to go. Wiimote is standard random flailing interspersed with button pressing and it always got me where I needed to go without frustration.
-Overall gameplay: 4/5 I mean... the gameplay is Dynasty Warriors. This score is going to entirely depend on whether or not you like that kind of gameplay. I give it a 4 personally because while the levels and gameplay were repetitious they were working exactly as designed, any enjoyment you lose while playing isn't due to design, just opinion.
-Extras: 3/5 Aside from hacking and slashing thousands of enemies you can also collect gold skulltulas, items for crafting, weapons, and upgrades. If you are the kind of person who enjoys endless crafting for a ton of different characters than you will enjoy it. Me, I prefer games that let me only focus on a couple characters.
TL;DR: If you like Zelda or hack-and-slash hoard of enemies base capturing Dynasty Warriors gameplay then you will have fun. If you don't then the game has nothing for you and it doesn't even care.