- You can merge into walls to solve puzzles.
Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is the sequel to the hit game Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. It is set in the same version of Hyrule, so some of the major landmarks are in the same location as the old SNES game. This game is heavily inundated with nostalgia. However, I never played Link to the Past. So the question becomes, does the game stand on its own without any nostalgia backing it up?
The evil Yuga shows off his power
The story begins with our hero, a blacksmith’s apprentice, having to deliver a sword to Hyrule Castle’s captain of the guard. The hero, named Link, chases the captain to a temple where a descendant of one of the Seven Sages—who sealed the evil Ganon away long ago—lives. Link gets to the temple just in time to watch the captain get fused into the wall by an evil sorcerer, becoming a painting. Link challenges the sorcerer, who says his name is Yuga. Yuga reveals that he is turning all of the descendants of the Seven Sages into paintings so he can use their power to resurrect Ganon, then easily knocks Link unconscious. Link wakes up in his house where a man named Ravio has decided to impose himself on Link. He decides to set up an item shop in Link’s house, and gives Link a bracelet as a down payment.
This brings us to one of two interesting mechanics in A Link Between Worlds. Rather than finding items in dungeons, you rent or buy items like the bow or hookshot from Ravio’s shop. Because of this, you have the option to play just about any dungeon in any order. The exception to this rule is the first two starter dungeons in Hyrule, and one dungeon which requires the sand rod that was being used by one of the descendants before he was turned into a painting. I was really wary of this mechanic at first, because I was worried that I would get deep into a dungeon without knowing I needed a particular item to continue on, and have to go all the way back to Ravio’s shop to pick it up. However, the game does a great job of letting you know what items you will need while on your way to the dungeon, and the major item used in the dungeon is usually displayed outside the entrance. While all rented items are returned to Ravio after you die, you have the option to continue the game from either your house or the dungeon entrance.
Ravio makes you pay for items despite him living in your house.
The other interesting mechanic is the ability to merge into the wall and navigate around. After the first two dungeons, you confront Yuga once again in Hyrule Castle, and actually put up a decent fight. He decides to simply turn you into a painting, like the captain, and takes Princess Zelda. Thanks to Ravio’s bracelet, you are able to return to the third dimension. It also allows you to merge into any wall when you want to. This forces you to think in a different light when trying to solve puzzles. This also lets you slip between cracks in reality, allowing you to chase Yuga into the kingdom of Lorule, a dark mirror version of Hyrule.
These cracks let you move between Hyrule and Lorule.
Yuga manages to resurrect Ganon and fuse with him. The new Yuga/Ganon monster scatters the portraits of the Seven Sages among Lorule, and attempts to attack Link. He is stopped by the magic of Lorule’s princess, Hilda. She teleports you out of the castle and marks the dungeon entrances on your map. In between dungeon excursions, you catch glimpses of Hilda talking to the portrait of Zelda about the history of Lorule.
I absolutely loved A Link Between Worlds. The gameplay was tight, and the level design was intuitive. The few times I got stuck, it was because of my own stupidity. Like I said earlier, I was wary about the item rental mechanic, but already having the items needed to progress through the dungeons really speeds up the flow of the game. The story is the same old Legend of Zelda story, but learning the backstory of Lorule and how it became a monster-filled kingdom is really interesting. This is a great game that you should pick up if you own a 3DS. I would argue that it is a good enough game to warrant buying the system just to play it.
Images taken from the official Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds website here.
Buy the game from Amazon here.