As an exercise in creating great adventure stories, A Link Between Worlds shows that sometimes the biggest adventures come in the smallest packages. This incredible gaming experience pulls at the strings of nostalgia for series veterans, while also creating a fun-filled and accessible adventure for newcomers.
Story-wise, A Link between Worlds is quite predictable. You play as young apprentice blacksmith, Link, who has to save the Princess of Hyrule, Zelda. It’s nothing that reinvents the wheel of the series, but new additions such as the ability to merge with the walls of the world, as well as the new area of Lorule to explore, creates some great new gameplay mechanics and puzzles.
While initially it may seem as though there is nothing different here, A Link Between Worlds borrows heavily from A Link to the Past, the game’s canonical predecessor and this allows for the game to play on the nostalgia of veterans. Its use of similar straightforward mechanics prevents anything convoluted getting in the way of simply enjoying the game.
This strength that A Link Between Worlds plays on effectively adds to its simplistic, but enjoyable, sense of gameplay. But what A Link Between Worlds probably does best is highlight the pressing problems within the series. Previous series staples that have grown stale such as dungeon-specific items and the overreliance on the in-game currency, rupees, are addressed through the games’ item rental system.
All secondary items are only accessible through this rental system and can only be purchased permanently for an excessively high price, which also gives the player the incentive to still want to collect rupees, but the overall importance of hording is lessened.
Another problem addressed regarding the Zelda series, and indeed modern gaming in general, is the idea of a strictly linear gaming experience. Excluding a very small handful of dungeons in the game, all can easily be explored in any order. This ultimately grants the player a greater sense of freedom within the game, which in turn allows for a much more engrossing and liberating experience.
The only gripe to be found is the fact that there isn’t much challenge for those familiar with this series and the adventure is quite short lived. However, the addition of a “hero mode” difficulty setting somewhat rectifies these issues by adding both replay value and increasing the difficulty.
The latest edition to this monolithic franchise deserves nothing more than your undivided attention. For existing fans, it is a must have and for those who have wanted to try the series, it is a promisingly enjoyable entry in a franchise that needed this kind of reinvigoration.