Review – The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

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Many gamers revere A Link to the Past as not just one of the greatest Zelda games, but as one of the greatest games of all time. Talk to just about any gamer and they’ll have at least heard of the title, most will have played it. Pretty brave on Nintendo’s part then to develop a spiritual successor to the title, A Link Between Worlds. Can this game ever live up to its namesake?

This Zelda title starts the same way as they all have in the past; a relatively clueless boy finds himself caught in the middle of a massive disaster involving a villain and the princess Zelda. This hero named Link then sets out on a quest to save both the princess and the world. This game is no different. The villain this time around is a wizard called Yuga, and he has the power to turn people into paintings. In a misguided attempt at transforming Link, he accidentally gives our hero the power to become a painting at any point, something that proves to be a vital feature in the game. The plot is well written despite being rather predictable and you still find yourself engrossed in the plot, reading every line of dialogue to see what happens next.

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Links new power has much bigger ramifications in the gameplay than the plot however, as the ability is usable by the player at any point, opening up a lot of puzzle potential. In fact this game has some of my favourite puzzles from the series as a whole, with the combination of items and the ability to merge into the walls making for some really interesting gameplay. This extra layer of puzzle solving isn’t the best innovation that Between Worlds brings to the table however, it’s what it does with the standard set of Zelda items that’s really interesting. Instead of finding items in dungeons as you plod along through the adventure, Between Worlds lets you rent almost all of the items in the game from the beginning. This, for me, is the best thing that has happened to the series in a very long time. It means that every single dungeon is open to you from the beginning of the game, opening up the entire game map in one fell swoop. You can go just about anywhere in the world and still progress forwards with the plot, it’s a great idea. Renting weapons also adds another element to the experience, fear, due to the fact that your weapons are only rented. If you die they will all be taken from you, spawning you with just your sword and shield to go with. This means that there are very real consequences to actually dying in this game, something I’m really happy about. The game also handles very well, combat is really responsive and the items are all easy to use efficiently. The only big disappointment for me was the boss battles, most of them in this game feel recycled and frankly a little understated. Thankfully the final boss battle still feels epic in nature, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down by the others. The game is a little on the short side for a Zelda title too, although there are loads of hidden missions and side quests around the map that pad out the experience somewhat. Bear in mind though that short for a Zelda game is still leaps above the standard game time in most games, so you’ll still get your monies worth.

When I saw some of the first screenshots and videos of this game I have to admit, I hated the way it looked. Having played through the game however I can happily admit that I was massively wrong, this game is really pretty. Some of the lighting effects in Between Worlds are incredible, there’s even a whole dungeon based around them. But just details like the lamp’s reflection on floor tiles and some of the big 3D levels are stunning. The game follows the Zelda principle of zero voice acting once more, but I really don’t mind that. What it does do is show off the fully orchestral soundtrack which includes all the instantly recognisable music from previous Zelda titles. This time round however, they sound much richer than they ever have before, almost as if remastered (it might just be me though, don’t take that for fact!). A Link Between Worlds is, overall, a beautiful experience, and you need to play it to really see for yourself, images definitely don’t do this game justice!

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a stunning, innovative and thoroughly enjoyable game, with great puzzle design and colourful visuals it’s hard not to enjoy it. I do feel as though Nintendo are, as with Pokemon X&Y before it, using this title to bring a new generation of gamers into the world of instantly recognisable Nintendo favourites. This is an ideal I completely support, I’ve been a long standing fan of many of Nintendo’s franchises and seeing my girlfriend, who’d never played a Zelda game in her life, get completely engrossed in this title brought a smile to my face. I get the feeling that’s what this game is all about. Those of us who grew up on Link to the Past won’t experience the full magic of this game because of all the nostalgia it’ll invoke, but for people new to the series this is a title full of wonder that will absorb their time and turn them into a whole new generation of fans.

That, is Nintendo’s biggest success with this game.

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