REVIEW: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity | weapon fusing

Customizing weapons is a bit time-consuming, but worth it.

I’d be remiss not to mention the music in this game. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Whereas Breath of the Wild went for a minimalist style, favoring more natural sounds or simple, sparse melodies at key locations and story beats, Age of Calamity is just jam-packed with great tunes, some nostalgic callbacks to the Zelda series, others original pieces for this game. My favorite tune was definitely “The Champion Revali” and its variants, which play whenever engaged in battle in the Rito homeland. The music in this game is overall varied, and draws from a bunch of different styles, as well as pays homage to different Zelda games in instrumentation and theme. It’s just an overall good time and helps keep battles engaging. It’s also good listening on its own.

The game isn’t without its issues though. As I noted before, the sheer amount of battle encounters in the game can get overwhelming and end up feeling repetitive and boring. Age of Calamity also has the worst camera I’ve had to deal with in a long time. I cannot count the amount of times I’d get stuck against a wall, or on a tiny rock, and have the camera swoop either directly behind my character, obscuring the entire field with their body, or go inside my character and leave me staring at an enemy’s arm or leg while it attacked me outside my vision. This was particularly bad when it came to large monsters like Hinox and Lynels, where I often couldn’t even see what attacks they were winding up to do. While boss enemy attacks can be countered using the Sheikah Slate’s abilities, the indicator showing which ability to use pops up over an enemy’s head. Half the time, the camera would sit so low I couldn’t see a larger enemy’s head at all and would miss the Sheikah Slate queue. By the end of the game, when I had to deal with three or more large enemies at once, missing that queue was often life and death, and I died a lot. It was needlessly aggravating and actively hurt my impression of the game overall.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity | Links faces a Guardian

I mostly played the game with the Switch docked, but it runs pretty smoothly in handheld mode, as well. I did notice a lot of pop-in when it wasn’t docked, and the smaller screen does make for a more cluttered and difficult field to navigate. I also prefer the comfort of a Pro Controller when playing, since the Joy Cons feel a bit too small, and I often would hit the bumpers instead of the triggers when trying to perform special moves. And while the sound quality in handheld mode is completely adequate, as with all Switch titles, it’s best to play with headphones for the best experience.

Overall though, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a fun, engaging hack-and-slash take on the world and characters of Breath of the Wild, and I very much enjoyed my time with the game, sans fighting with the camera. While the restrictions placed on exploration and travel did occasionally make me long for the freedom of the game’s more open world counterpart, it was still beautiful in its own right, with a wonderful soundtrack, fun, memorable characters, and a predictable but sometimes surprisingly moving story. I will always be happy when I get to see Zelda’s struggles and accomplishments, and this game provided that in a delightful package.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is available on Nintendo Switch for $59.99 USD.

Review Score

Review copy provided by publisher.

About Leah McDonald

Leah's been playing video games since her brother first bought an Atari back in the 1980s and has no plans to stop playing anytime soon. She enjoys almost every genre of game, with some of her favourites being Final Fantasy Tactics, Shadow of the Colossus, Suikoden II and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Leah lives on the East Coast with her husband and son.

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