Review: Hyrule Warriors – Age of Calamity (Switch)

Trust Nintendo to take gilding a simple concept.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a sequel to Hyrule Warriors from 2014 to Wii U (which came in a “Definitive edition” for Switch 2018) but purely in terms of story it is most related to the saga we experienced in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But, unlike the epic adventure that launched the Switch, is Hyrule Warrios: Age of Calamity (AOC) a musougames – just like its predecessor. A simple game mechanic, where you fight your way through hundreds, sometimes thousands of enemies on a track and are the Japanese developer Omega Force’s big parade branch (which has been involved in developing this) – a genre they have mastered over the years through fifty-eleven Dynasty Warriors games such as KOEI Tecmo has released to all, Japanese game consoles. But Nintendo has not let the company manage one of its most beloved IPs completely without interference – and as usual, the touch is more than the icing on the cake.

hyrule warriors age of calamity switch
Photo: Nintendo

You do not need to have played Breath of The Wild to appreciate Age of Calamity, but it will be more fun to follow all the twists and turns and easier to appreciate all the details if you have done so. The story here turns on some plot points that we should not spoil for anyone and is basically about a mini-guardian, who is seemingly good and travels back in time to meet Princess Zelda and warn of Calamity Ganon and his age of catastrophe (calamity). You first put on the role of the silent soldier (Link), but through the game you also get to control classic characters from the franchise, including Impa and Zelda herself – all with their own special abilities, strengths and weaknesses.

In terms of presentation, that is Hyrule Warrios: Age of Calamity really nice. It is consciously reminiscent of the stylized cell shading graphics from Breath of the Wild and the aesthetics appeal to us a lot. Unfortunately, the animations and the technical part are not quite as clean. The switch has always been the weakest performance in the previous generation, and now – with the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 also here – the machine looks almost retro. The performance of the game goes up and down a bit, in step with the number of enemies and how advanced the environments are, but from time to time the image update in AOC really tired and choppy (especially in the first sequence), which also sometimes makes the controls spat (of course recommended Controller Pro, even if the Switch’s own Joy-Cons works fine even when Meat Boy precision is not required). The resolution is low, we would guess around the 720p line somewhere and not even then does the game manage to keep even 30 fps.

Now the question is no longer if there will be an updated Switch, without when it does (I guess this year). It’s high time now. Because the hybrid thinking is fantastic, but there are newer chips available.

hyrule warriors age of calamity intermediate sequence
Photo: Nintendo

In portable mode, the resolution is further reduced, but that effect is not so noticeable thanks to the smaller screen. The game flows slightly better portable, but on the other hand, the map, text and equipment feel a little too plotty for our taste. We definitely prefer to play this on a proper big screen, even if it means more, technical flaws.

The sound is a mixed bag as well. In the intermediate sequences, we are offered nice animations with recorded voices, while the voices in the game are replaced by humming and moaning that we have become accustomed to from the Zelda world. The music oscillates between captivating cinematic to slightly annoying in its places, but overall it fills its inspiring role nicely.

hyrule warriors age of calamity action
Photo: Nintendo

The Musou games are often the most fun at first: cutting through hordes of troops, like a sharp knife through butter at room temperature, is satisfying. A little while. Then it just gets very, very repetitive. Age of Calamity does not manage to completely duck this, because it is the basic mechanics – but you still manage to rise above the crowd. Nintendo’s rich storytelling culture, characters and the company’s ingenuity permeate. In addition to unique boss fighters, we are also offered very different heroes with quite varying characteristics that we can freely switch between during missions and also order the NPCs that the computer controls (where they should go). Everyone also handles the special attacks differently and it is worth learning the respective strengths and weaknesses to get the most out of the success and the action adventure.

As a whole becomes Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity maybe not a must-play for Zelda fans, but it’s still more fun than an average game in the genre thanks to the touch of maps and various missions (even if few are directly “playable”), the characters and the rich mythology that frames it all . We got stuck in it longer than we first thought when we started playing and were charmed by the graphics, but became a little hesitant about the technology. And getting that “just-a-way-to” feeling is what Nintendo is a master at. This is not a new, classic Zelda adventure, but it can entertain more than you first think while waiting for Breath of The Wild 2 (which is announced and we have to guess will come to Switch Pro, Switch 2, Switch + or whatever the next model of the machine may now be).