This review is for casual gamer out there, the person who doesn’t care about ray-tracing, achievements, or collector’s editions. All you want is something fun. This review will focus less on the technical aspects and more on the playability and accessibility for people who don’t play every game that’s released.
Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: Nintendo has created a BEAUTIFUL game. Turning a 2D Gameboy game from 1993 into a game that looks right at home on a home console with bright colors and varied gameplay, it is truly impressive. I did not play the original game, being a bit too young back then, but when the game was announced during the Nintendo Direct back in February I was HYPED. It was one of my most anticipated games all year, and it definitely lived up to the hype.
This story focuses on Link who is caught in a storm at sea and is washed up on a mysterious island, with a giant egg sitting on top of a volcano. As you explore the island, your mission is to collect the 8 mystical musical instruments to awaken the Windfish. That’s basically the whole plot.
While it may seem straightforward, this game does NOT hold your hand. When you finish a dungeon, the game tells you the general area for the next one, but doesn’t guide you there, only telling you where to go, not how to get there. And it isn’t always as simple as walking in that direction. There is a lot of backtracking and dead ends. Full disclosure? I was only able to get all the way through it with the help of the IGN Walkthrough. If this is the first top-down Legend of Zelda game you’re playing (as it was for me), I strongly recommend having a guide on hand for when you get stuck, because the game does not always tell you what you need to do, and the way forward is sometimes hidden, especially when you didn’t do this one side objective that didn’t seem important. This definitely adds a level of frustration that I wasn’t expecting, and that did detract from my overall experience, but not to the point that I regretted playing it.
Putting aside the difficulty, this is a very fun game. The dungeons are all well designed, with elaborate puzzles that can have you running in circles, but is very satisfying when you figure it out. As is the case with most Zelda games, each dungeon contains a new item that helps you finish it, and also allows you to go back and get to areas you couldn’t before. This game also features several references to other Nintendo properties, with some side-scrolling sections featuring Goombas from Super Mario Bros. which was a nice addition.
It took me roughly 15 hours to finish the main story, with spending some time collecting side items that aren’t necessary to finishing but some that do help with completing the story (and some of that time was spent wandering around trying to figure out what to do next). The gameplay itself isn’t difficult. If you’re thinking about buying this game for a child, they should be able to play the game itself, but as I mentioned above, the puzzles do provide another challenge that younger or less experienced gamers may have trouble with.
Overall Recommendation: Link’s Awakening is definitely worth playing but consider looking at a walkthrough or guide if you’re having trouble
Fun Factor Score: 8/10
Accessibility Score 4/10