From the day it was introduced, The Legend of Zelda: A Hyperlink Between Worlds has been weighed down by practically insurmountable expectations. It’s a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Hyperlink to the Previous, the sport that outlined most of what we count on from a Zelda sport. Now, virtually ten years after its launch, A Hyperlink Between Worlds is in contrast not solely to its predecessor but additionally to its successor, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which expands on a few of A Hyperlink Between Worlds‘ gameplay experiments. However even burdened with the load of two all-time greats, A Hyperlink Between Worlds supplies an expertise you’ll not discover in some other Zelda sport.

The comparisons to A Hyperlink to the Previous are fast and inevitable. A Hyperlink Between Worlds begins with Hyperlink asleep in a home positioned in the identical place because the earlier sport. You then instantly journey to the Kakariko Village blacksmith, additionally in the identical location, after which to the Sanctuary after which Hyrule Fortress. One look at your map, which is all the time displayed on the underside display screen of the 3DS, and anybody with even a passing familiarity with A Hyperlink to the Previous will understand that this sport takes place in the identical world as its predecessor.

And that isn’t a nasty factor. Seeing the identical world once more delighted me. A Hyperlink to the Previous was one in every of my first video video games, and exploring its acquainted areas delivered to life on new {hardware} nonetheless makes me smile, even after a number of replays. Nevertheless, the acquainted world can generally make A Hyperlink Between Worlds really feel extra like a remake than a brand new sport. Remakes all the time have extra expectations thrust upon them by followers of the unique releases, and I’ve generally felt the identical manner about A Hyperlink Between Worlds even understanding it’s a sequel slightly than a remake.

Regardless that it takes you to acquainted locations, the story of A Hyperlink Between Worlds rapidly deviates from A Hyperlink to the Previous. Storytelling in Zelda has come a good distance since 1991, and A Hyperlink Between Worlds spends the primary few hours introducing characters that may proceed to play a task all through the sport. Some characters initially appear to be designed for one aspect quest or to provide an in-universe clarification for a sport mechanic, however then unexpectedly play a bigger position within the story. That story spans two worlds and consists of large surprises and heartfelt moments. I’m not exaggerating in saying that the ending all the time makes me tear up — and never simply because the sport is over and I need one other dungeon.

From the start, it’s clear that Hyrule just isn’t a spot that Hyperlink is visiting; it’s a place the place he lives. Unusually for a Zelda sport, many characters already know Hyperlink and acknowledge him because the blacksmith’s apprentice. The identical can’t be stated of the characters within the second world you go to. Entry to Lorule is unlocked because the story progresses. Lorule fills the identical position because the Darkish World in A Hyperlink to the Previous. Hyperlink is a stranger to the townsfolk of Lorule, they usually deal with him as such.

Lorule is an alternate, darker model of Hyrule that, in contrast to A Hyperlink to the Previous‘s Darkish World, you journey to at set factors within the overworld. In A Hyperlink to the Previous, the Magic Mirror means that you can go away the Darkish World at any time to achieve new areas within the Gentle World. A Hyperlink Between Worlds takes a distinct method. Lorule is split into distinct areas. You entry every space by discovering a portal within the corresponding space in Hyrule. There are nonetheless some puzzles that require switching forwards and backwards between the 2 worlds, however they’re strictly restricted to particular situations and designed to showcase one other key function of A Hyperlink Between Worlds: Merging.

If you recognize something about A Hyperlink Between Worlds, it’s most likely that Hyperlink can stroll on partitions. The wall merging means, merely referred to as Merge, is the first new puzzle-solving and exploration mechanic of A Hyperlink Between Worlds. It means that you can stroll as much as any flat vertical floor, flatten Hyperlink into the wall as a drawing, after which stroll left or proper alongside the wall to achieve new areas.

Merging is used to achieve portals to Lorule and to traverse all of the areas of the 2 overworlds. Almost each aspect quest requires intensive use of Merging, and in case you are ever caught in a dungeon rule of thumb is “have you ever tried Merging?” Merging allows you to discover the surface partitions of dungeons, discover hidden again doorways to homes, and dodge enemy assaults. It’s a capability that rewards intelligent gamers; you’ll really feel good each time you discover a hidden treasure by strolling alongside a random wall or leaping out of a wall on the proper second.

Plenty of these hidden treasures are chests full of cash and for good cause. In one other departure from the remainder of the collection, the entire key gadgets are bought from a store. You gained’t discover the Hookshot in a elaborate chest midway by the dungeon; you’ll discover it in a store close to the start of the sport.

Early in your journey, you meet Ravio, a person sporting an superior purple bunny outfit, and he units up a store inside your home. Initially, he solely affords to lease gadgets out to you. His total inventory is out there from the very starting, so if in case you have the money, you’ll be able to lease out your entire favourite basic Zelda gadgets from the get-go. However there’s a catch: in the event you die, Ravio’s bird-like good friend Sheerow will take again the entire gadgets you rented, forcing you to pay to lease them once more.

Finally, Ravio affords to allow you to purchase gadgets completely, so shedding your entire gadgets if you die is usually a priority for the primary third of the sport. However gaining access to all of those key gadgets signifies that, with a couple of exceptions, your complete world is open to you. For those who discover a place you can not attain, it’s often not as a result of it’s good to progress additional by the story. As an alternative, you merely must pay for the best merchandise.

That is the place the comparisons to Breath of the Wild start. As a result of you’ll be able to entry practically each merchandise from the start, you can even entry your complete overworld, and which means you’ll be able to entry all of the dungeons. Make no mistake: A Hyperlink Between Worlds doesn’t give you as a lot freedom as Breath of the Wild. There are nonetheless a couple of dungeons which can be stipulations for others to maintain the story making sense, and there’s no choice to problem your self and leap straight into the ultimate boss from the start. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to really feel how the Zelda builders had been experimenting with giving gamers extra freedom. In that manner, A Hyperlink Between Worlds generally looks like a stepping stone to the extra free nature of Breath of the Wild. The builders weren’t fairly able to throw out the entire playbook, however they had been rewriting it a chunk at a time.

Nevertheless, this new freedom to finish dungeons in any order comes at a value. It is not uncommon to explain Zelda-style dungeons as puzzle bins that require the usage of a particular merchandise discovered contained in the dungeon. A Hyperlink Between Worlds nonetheless follows this design besides that the merchandise just isn’t inside; you need to convey it with you. The builders didn’t go away any room for error. Early dungeons have indicators outdoors the entrance door telling you precisely what merchandise you want. Later dungeons are a little bit extra refined; they’re not possible to enter until you’ve the best merchandise geared up. For instance, the Darkish Palace has a big cracked rock blocking the entrances, so you recognize instantly that that is “the bomb dungeon.”

The dungeon designs undergo due to this determination. Whereas the puzzles and enemy encounters are as nicely designed as in some other Zelda sport, you already know the answer earlier than you arrive. The dungeons are laser targeted on Merging and the only key merchandise you introduced with you. Bringing the Twister Rod to the Tower of Hera dungeon will make enemies simpler, however you by no means want it to resolve the puzzles. There are nonetheless some “ah-ha” moments if you clear up a difficult puzzle, but it surely’s extra about executing the answer correctly and fewer about determining what to do.

The dungeon layouts, then again, are distinctive. The sport is considered from a top-down perspective like a basic 2D Zelda sport, however the areas are nonetheless three-dimensional. So in a single room, chances are you’ll discover that you’re Merging at two totally different ranges to resolve a puzzle and even sneaking out the window to seek out one thing on the surface of the dungeon. A number of dungeons make use of vertical area by having you climb a number of flooring with out the usage of stairs or falling by flooring to achieve new areas.

My solely criticism of the dungeon layouts is that they really feel much less like lived-in areas and extra like they had been designed particularly to provide gamers a collection of puzzles to resolve. The dungeons in A Hyperlink to the Previous immerse you extra on this planet of the sport. There, I really feel like I’m exploring a forgotten temple or sneaking into the hideout of a gang of thieves. A Hyperlink Between Worlds excels at making exploring the overworlds thrilling, however the dungeons don’t really feel like locations that may be explored the identical manner.

In typical Zelda style, the boss battles make use of the identical merchandise you wanted for the puzzles. A number of of them are remixed variations of A Hyperlink to the Previous bosses, however there are additionally some utterly new fights that I believe are among the many finest within the sport. The one downside with boss battles and all fight encounters is the dearth of problem.

Zelda video games usually are not identified for his or her problem, so saying {that a} Zelda sport just isn’t exhausting does probably not imply a lot. There’s a Hero Mode you can unlock for a higher problem, however it’s simply conquered with some further therapeutic gadgets and a dedication to gathering the entire hidden well being upgrades. Hero Mode in Zelda usually simply signifies that the primary few hours of the sport are more durable, and that was true for my Hero Mode expertise in A Hyperlink Between Worlds as nicely.

The shortage of problem in A Hyperlink Between Worlds may also be attributed to the supply of all of the gadgets on the retailer and in addition to the modernized management scheme. The brand new gadgets are very highly effective. The Twister Rod, for instance, is required for one of many first dungeons, and also you may use it to resolve puzzles initially, however you rapidly study that it stuns teams of enemies. Mix the Twister Rod with a Hearth Rod, Ice Rod, Bow and Arrows, and extra, and you’ve got an unstoppable arsenal that makes each enemy trivial.

A Hyperlink Between Worlds can be the primary top-down, button-controlled Zelda sport to function full 360-degree motion. Normal sword swings and the basic spin assault have had their vary elevated when in comparison with A Hyperlink to the Previous or perhaps a newer sport like The Minish Cap. The additional mobility is a contemporary quality-of-life function that’s anticipated of any sport within the style, so it’s not stunning to seek out it in A Hyperlink Between Worlds. However the problem of the sport has not been adjusted to account for it.

Sadly, saving didn’t obtain any quality-of-life enhancements and as an alternative took a step backward in A Hyperlink Between Worlds. Most Zelda video games assist you to save everytime you need, however the Zelda video games of the early 2010s took the extra outdated method of including particular save factors. This may be mitigated through the use of the Sleep Mode function of the 3DS, but it surely’s an unlucky change when earlier Zelda video games had higher saving programs and auto-saving was changing into the norm.

Fortunately, the music obtained a giant improve. Whereas Skyward Sword was the primary Zelda sport to introduce an orchestrated soundtrack, A Hyperlink Between Worlds first launched orchestrated variations of many fan-favorite Zelda tunes. A number of the re-imagined tracks are nonetheless the perfect variations practically ten years later, and a number of the new tracks, notably Lorule Fortress’s theme track, have joined the canon of basic Zelda tunes.

I usually ponder the design selections of The Legend of Zelda: A Hyperlink Between Worlds. Merging and giving gamers the liberty to finish the principle quest in virtually any order are each thrilling concepts that make the sport enjoyable to replay. I’ve performed it greater than 5 occasions and have had a distinct expertise each time. A Hyperlink Between Worlds balances being an homage to the previous and a glimpse of the long run. Whereas I don’t love the end result of each experiment, the good moments overshadow all of the dangerous and make me enthusiastic about what top-down Zelda video games might come sooner or later.