Review by talostheundying
"It has been 15 years since a Zelda game this good!"
The 17th installment in the core Zelda franchise (not counting remakes/spinoffs) is simply outstanding. Released during the 15th anniversary of what is hailed as the best Zelda game ever (Ocarina of Time) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a fantastic entry in The Legend of Zelda series. This is my first, and possibly only, review that I have written. The first Zelda game I ever played was Ocarina of Time, so my standards were set pretty high for the Zelda franchise on day one. I've enjoyed every Zelda game I've played, but none have grabbed me the way Ocarina of Time did, 15 years ago. Enough of what I think of previous games I've played, let's get into telling you what I think of this game.
Gameplay - 9/10
This game is easily enjoyable by novices and expert players alike. The core game is not impossible for those with limited adventure game experience, but there are plenty of side quests and challenges to keep even the most advanced players intrigued. The controls themselves are relatively simple, adhering to most Zelda games. You have a primary attack with multiple item slots for secondary attack or support items. A new feature, and one this game is based around, is the ability to merge into walls. This adds a new facet to puzzle solving unlike anything a Zelda game has offered before. This game mixes up the standard dungeon diving method, as well. Rather than giving you an order to beat dungeons it offers an item rental system to allow you to take the items you think you need for the next dungeon. With that, you could just rent all the items at once and take on the dungeons in any order you choose. Unfortunately, you lose all rented items you're carrying should you fall in battle. This makes for some tense moments if you're on the verge of death carrying every item available.
Story - 8/10
The plot follows the standard Zelda formula. A bad guy kidnaps the Princess and it's up to the hero to save her. That being said, this game does a good job of telling that story. There are some interesting plot devices to keep things fresh, and lots of lightbulb moments that bring everything together. There aren't very many points at which any emotional attachment seems to bring you closer to any characters, but the ending seems to want to evoke an emotional response. I enjoyed the story for the most part. A few clichés and homages make it fun for series fans, and non-series fans can still enjoy a true hero story.
Graphics - 10/10
The game is designed from a top down perspective similar to the 2D entries in the Zelda series, even though this game does have 3D character and world models. This make for an interesting art style and actually makes the 3D functionality of the 3DS worth using at certain points. The enemy sprites have a high level of variety, and very few NPC's share similar features. There are two separate overworlds which have very different landscapes, both of which are very well crafted. Overall, this game makes top notch use of the capabilities of the 3DS.
Sound - 10/10
This category is the reason I decided to write this review, and I felt it should be separated from Graphics because of this. This game's soundtrack is simply astonishing. From the sounds of a sword slicing through a pot, to the epic final boss theme, every sound is masterfully executed. The iconic overworld theme is just as inspiring as ever, and the quality is very crisp and clear for a handheld system. Each dungeon seems to feature a remixed version of the same track, which mixes the sound up, but also tethers each dungeon together. There are even different sounds for footsteps depending on the type of material you're walking on. While this is fairly standard in most games today, there are a lot of materials and a lot of sounds for footsteps, which I find very good for a handheld system. Each item features a unique sound, and each NPC seems to have their own "voice."
Play Time/Replayability - 9/10
While this game does feature a lot of dungeons, and several optional sidequests, getting the credits to roll does not take too long for an intermediate level gamer. From start to finish, an average play time of about 14 hours seems to be all it takes. Those who like to explore and gather all the secrets could be looking at well over 50 hours of gameplay, while those with expert skills and a need for speed could see it through in as few as 5. Luckily, completing the game opens you up to a new mode, Hero Mode. This gives a fair amount of replayability, as the new mode offers a few new collectibles. For those who are completionists, this game will keep you busy for quite a while, considering one of the more taxing tasks is collecting 100 hiding creatures, akin to the Golden Skulltula quest from Ocarina of Time. And for those who are true sadists, the Endless Cucco Challenge can keep you enthralled for hours, considering it requires a minimum of 16 minutes to complete, and there is absolutely no margin for error.
Final Recommendation - 9/10
This game is a definite must have for any 3DS owners. It's one of the few titles which actually make the 3D effect worth turning on, if only to see yourself dropping 100's of feet. It's also a must have for any Zelda fan, as it is the best Zelda released since Ocarina of Time (even though to most that's not saying much). There are several options to obtain a copy: Physical, Digital, and even bundled with the special edition Legend of Zelda 3DS. If you don't own this game yet, definitely push it to the top of your next shopping list.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/18/13
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (US, 11/22/13)
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