A Link Between Worlds is one of, if not the, finest games of 2013. Nintendo had a daunting task to deliver on a sequel to A Link To The Past. Not only has it done so, it's crafted one of the best Zeldas in recent memory.
Although interesting in their own right, Spirit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass felt like franchise offshoots, toned down to ensure they fitted the DS. ALBW is the exact opposite. It feels like an adventure bigger than the sum of its parts, modelling itself on its predecessor near perfectly, yet adding a suitable amount of fresh ideas to ensure it feels new.
The most sweeping change comes in the form of being able to rent items rather than find them in dungeons. Brought in to add a sense of exploration and choice to proceedings - you can now actively choose which areas to tackle and when - it also emphasises a very serious shift in how devastating death can be in a Zelda game.
In the past, most iterations have only ever punished you for running out of hearts by sending you back to the last doorway you entered - it never carried any serious impact. Now, dying results in any item you've rented returning to Ravio, the friendly retailer who's taken up residence in Link's house. While the ability to fast-travel means this isn't a huge problem to circumvent, that legendary beeping is now responsible for genuine dread. There's a very real consequence should you fall.
It's an addition that may divide people - initally against it, I found it grew on me as the hours passed - but it's the rest of ALBW which truly shines. Along with some of the best music I've ever heard in a game, its intelligent dungeon design, incredible use of 3D and the merge mechanic - which will constantly trick and challenge your mind - and the numerous nods to the entire series meant I thought my heart would burst from my chest in joy. This deserves its place among the great Zelda games of yesteryear.
Game finished in 12 hours. Played for an extra 5 hours in 'Hero Mode' (a harder setting unlocked on completion). Please also note: the Streetpass functionality in this game is very good. For somewhat crazy reasons, we can't tell you how it works...
10 / 10
- New item mechanic makes progression interesting.
- Fantastic dungeon design.
- So many delightful Zelda nods.
- Genuinely some of the best music in video game history.