Game Info:

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
Published By: Nintendo
Released: May 18, 2018
Available On: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fighting
ESRB Rating: Teen (Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes)
Number of Players: Up to 2 players
Price: $59.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

When Hyrule Warriors released for the Wii U, Zelda fans got the classic one-man army gameplay of Dynasty Warriors fused with the world and gameplay of the Legend of Zelda franchise. HW Legends for the Nintendo 3DS added a lot more content, but on a weaker system. The Switch combines the best of both ports on better hardware for the ultimate Hyrule Warriors experience.

Hyrule Warriors has a simple but effective story of how the various worlds of the Zelda franchise become snarled together due to the machination of a rogue guardian of the dimensional order named Cia, who starts a multi-versal war for initially unknown reasons. These soon become secondary to the even greater threat of unsealing a greater evil in the process that must be stopped, lest all the worlds and timelines of the Zelda franchise be plunged into darkness and misery.

The overall gameplay is the hack and slash format of running across battlefield maps in 3D third-person view, taking down various Zelda monsters and enemies with the various aspects of the Warriors franchise of the Koei Tecmo games fused with classic Zelda gameplay. In effect, while you spend a lot of time using various characters and their weapons to take down most foes, you must use sub-weapons like the bombs or Hookshot from the Zelda games to defeat certain bosses or traverse certain level areas.

There are several gameplay modes. Legends Mode is the "canon" storyline, in which you must follow the plot and use the characters allowed for each map to finish the entire storyline, and also serves to teach the basic mechanics of both the Warriors-style gameplay and Zelda specific additions as you complete levels. Free Mode allows replaying maps with any characters you wish aside from the plot mandated ones.

Adventure Mode is a pseudo-recreation of the various maps of the other Zelda games in an 8-bit overhead style like the original Zelda for the NES, in which you must beat battle challenges with certain modifiers to earn extra rewards for use in the other modes like alternate costumes and new weapons. Challenge Mode has unorthodox bonus challenges like boss rushes and even levels where you can play as certain giant bosses and stomp around the map using their skills. The Gallery has various art to look at as well as a music player. Finally, the "My Fairy" unlockable menu allows you to find and raise fairies who can help you in combat. You can feed them food items you find to raise their levels and accessorize them with cute outfits that provide battle bonuses as well.

The graphics are a colorful blend of assets taken from most of the other games in the series, all reflecting their signature style, such as the Twilight Princess assets having a subdued, slightly gothic look and the Wind Waker ones their cartoony flair. The character models remain largely unique to the games they hail from, though some received some modification for height and scale consistency, the Wind Waker assets especially. All game levels remain quite true to the games they hail from, though some minor clipping is noticeable at times as well as some shadow and light flickering. The game action remains rather smooth in terms of framerate, especially compared to the earlier ports. As I played this on a handheld Switch, it has a hard cap of 720p resolution for reasons of performance, though using a docked Switch will allow for 1080p resolution.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Strong Points: Excellent fusion of Koei Temco's Warriors franchise gameplay with story and gameplay elements of the Zelda franchise
Weak Points: Some visual clipping and shadow issues; rare crashes at times
Moral Warnings: Action-RPG style violence; some risque female outfits; mildly flirtatious dialogue; necromancy and tampering with supernatural forces; villain campaigns with war crimes

Sound and music are again largely cribbed from other Zelda titles, only filtered through the "techno-rock" the Dynasty Warriors series is known for, resulting in some great remixes of classic themes, like the Hyrule Field theme of the classic Zelda games getting a stirring rock remix. Voice acting is not present, though character voice effects are rendered via the effect of distorted words, which is consistent with a similar effect used in Twilight Princess. Other sound effects remain exactly as they were in other games like the classic rupee pick up sound and the heart container filling noises.

Controls are available in two forms, one tailored for veterans of other Koei Temco games, and one more familiar to those who have played other Zelda titles. Both are easy to adapt to and there are options to tune this however you please later on. In-game, one can seamlessly switch between more than one character on maps with multiple playable characters, and the player can even pause the game and give orders to head to specific areas to other playable characters to cover more ground.

Stability is generally excellent. Load times are great compared to earlier ports and while there are a few minor glitches, most are merely harmless visual weirdness, though the game will occasionally crash at rare intervals if it encounters a loading error. This appears to be a sanity checking measure to avoid loading corrupted data, and the autosave feature prevents this from harming save files. This game can be a huge consumer of battery power, so it may be advised to play this with the power cord in, especially on the handheld Switch.

Morally, Hyrule Warriors has some definite issues, some inherited from its parent franchise and some from its crossover with Koei Tecmo's Warriors franchise.

Violence is of the action RPG hack and slash variety against various enemies, humanoid and otherwise. While bloodless and devoid of gore, it is an omnipresent element. There are canon "villain mode" stages during the main plot (in the context of filling in key gaps of the plot, but you still must do all villainous acts depicted). This includes brainwashing and implied slaughter of unaligned neutrals and innocents as key plot points, so the player cannot entirely avoid doing anything unethical and immoral. Further, while the main story takes place within the context of war, and while the heroes refrain from committing war crimes, the same does not apply to the villains, who must be played at certain points to unlock the rest of the plot. All bodies disappear immediately after their defeat, leaving only items behind for the character to pick up if dropped.

Language is quite clean, generally speaking. Given the plot is oriented around a series Nintendo has tried to keep mostly child-friendly, they spent a lot of effort to avoid the hint of even the smallest curse word. One of the villains has some mildly flirtatious dialogue, but nothing worse than vague, PG-rated "I have an interest in you" level dialogue.

Sexual content is mostly absent save for some character designs. While most "naked" characters are of the Barbie doll variety (lacking any explicit details whatsoever), some women do have some rather suggestive outfits, baring midriffs, cleavage, and a fair amount of leg. Otherwise, this game stays out of the deviance gutter.

From an occult and supernatural perspective, these are profound elements, though some elaborations are required. On the positive side of the ledger, while the in-game religion centers around the veneration of the goddess Hylia, it is a generally monotheistic faith (insofar as this game depicts it) with similar values as Christianity, venerating holiness and light. Various beings such as the Great Fairy and other beings of similar power are, in some way, equivalent to angels and other things mentioned as servants of God in Christianity and only answer to those who serve Hylia. Those whom Hylia has granted power are only blessed with such to maintain peace and justice, all others are acting against her will and regarded as evil.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 52%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 9/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10 (+6 points for showing the sinfulness of lust, clear consequences for tampering with the occult and supernatural, and emphasizing the possibility of redemption from the same by forsaking tempting influences)

Due to the crossover nature of the game, the series villain Ganondorf fills the Devil role, serving as a corrupting influence who tempts the other villains into doing evil or otherwise recruits them into his service. It's shown that many villains are still capable of doing evil acts entirely of their own will outside of this and held to moral account for it.

The villains have no moral issue with brainwashing and attacks on innocents and disregard for neutrals. Necromancy and tampering with the supernatural are also not above them, condemned by the in-game religion much like it is under Christianity when done outside of explicit sanction. Since the villains are playable during the canon storyline at some point, the player must engage in these acts by proxy, though they are shown to be evil and the villains are ultimately defeated for doing so.

The moral and ethical situation in the canon story is that of a war, and while the heroes have moral restraints, the villains do not, and you must play as both sides to see all of the canon storylines. With this in mind, the plot does have several redeeming moral characteristics worthy of note.

For one, the plot has a consistent condemnation of lust. While the plot is started by the lust of a woman for a man she cannot have, the other villains and even the heroes at times are shown to be brought to folly and weakness by the lust for power. In these cases, it is condemned as moral corrosion, much as Galatians 5:16 says:

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

The one who falls prey to sexual lust in the story is thus tempted to do great evil and almost loses their mind, body, and soul as a result. They almost completely ignore the warning in-universe they should turn away from this path of sin, just as James 1:14-15 warns:

"But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."

1 Peter 5:8 also warns of another potential consequence, which the game itself reflects in a nigh identical manner, as the game's in-universe equivalent to the Devil entices several characters into following their worldly desires over anything good and righteous, as the below verse warns:

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

Redemption is also shown as a key part of the story, taking place as depicted in Romans 6:19, with the key figure who started the conflict in the game repenting of their crimes and choosing to atone, much as the below verse elucidates:

"I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification."

In short, the plot of Hyrule Warriors does present some good moral takeaways on the sinfulness of lust, selfishness, and the temptation to do evil, showing the terrible consequences of the same. It also reinforces falling to the temptation to do evil can be redeemed, so long as one leaves behind any temptation to return to it.

In regards to its technical merits, some minor visual issues aside, Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition is the most polished port of the original game that I can highly recommend for Zelda and Warriors games fans. Morally, it certainly shows some violent material, as well as lots of portrayals of supernatural and moral depravity, though it also does have the redeeming quality of showing the folly of these same depravities.



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