The Zelda name has always been associated with adventures and puzzle-solving. While iconic protagonist Link has saved the world numerous times before, he has always achieved this through a combination of wit and action.
Hyrule Warriors sends the characters of the Zelda universe into the other end of the spectrum, throwing them into a chaotic battlefield which pits a single hero against hundreds of enemies at once in the style of Dynasty Warriors. Once again there is much saving to be done, but this time around, the methods through which this is achieved are dramatically different.
Curious if this new approach would be as enjoyable as it was strange to me, I picked up the Wii U GamePad to single-handedly face off against the enemy armies of Hyrule Warriors.
As Link, I was pit against an invading army of moblins that stood in the way of recapturing Hyrule Castle. Numbers alone were not a concern, however, as I quickly discovered that I was more than capable of taking out entire squads at a time with a few swings of my chosen weapon. Building combos was simply a matter of tapping one of the two attack buttons in quick succession. Combining and alternating the order of button presses would lead to different combos that were as flashy as they were destructive.
Carving through large groups of enemies with naught but a few button presses left me as satisfied as I was incredulous. Here, in the world of Hyrule Warriors, Link was an untouchable and overwhelming force who could not be stopped.
If the use of combos was not enough, I could also build up my special meter. When it was filled, I had the option to unleash a powerful, one-off attack that was effective at quickly clearing groups of enemies. The ability also served as a means of dealing a high amount of damage to tougher enemies, such as bosses.
Physical damage could also be supplemented by the use of items. Acquiring bombs allowed me to destroy boulders that had previously obstructed my path towards objective points, and the effectiveness of items could be temporarily boosted by a power-up.
Like the mechanics of combat, objectives were straightforward. The colour-coded minimap would flag the locations which required my aid, making it easy to simply rush past the hundreds of enemies that stood between my next objective and me.
My fight was both hampered and aided by several familiar faces, with Impa and Zelda clashing with the forces of the evil Wizro. Indeed, the sight of Princess Zelda slicing up several moblins was especially entertaining.
The battle of Hyrule Castle culminated with a fight against the familiar beast Dodongo, who sported the same weakness for eating bombs. Despite not claiming most of the map territory, defeating Dodongo proved to be devastating enough to enemy forces to claim Hyrule Castle as my own. Not exactly what I'd call tactically sound, but rewarding nonetheless.
The simplicity of combat in Hyrule Warriors was both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. Executing combos started off as feeling punchy and enjoyable, but quickly devolved into monotony. With the stage broken up by similarly themed objectives and a final boss battle, I can only hope that Hyrule Warriors offers up more variety upon its release.