Cadence of Hyrule: Which character should you choose to start the game?

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Near the beginning of Cadence of Hyrule, you have a choice to make; play as Link or play as Zelda. Which one should you choose to start the game’s adventure?

There’s a lot to like in Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer feat. The Legend of Zelda. Despite its procedural generation producing randomized dungeons to explore, there’s an undeniably Nintendo coat of paint splattered across its presentation and gameplay, with players given the option to start the main (non-tutorial) game with either Link or Zelda.

However, with choices come pros and cons, especially if this is your first time playing Cadence of Hyrule. Which character do you choose to begin your first playthrough? Is there a “canon” choice? Is one better or more enjoyable to play with as you progress through a run?

We have answers to some of those questions, so let’s break down which character you should choose when starting your first Cadence of Hyrule run.

Cadence of Hyrule: The case for Link

When you start up the game, you are introduced to this rhythm-based version of Hyrule by Trill as you play Cadence; the hero of Crypt of the Necrodancer. After completing a brief tutorial, you are then provided a choice; do you wake up Link or Zelda? From strictly a storytelling perspective per the layout of these randomized maps, there’s a strong case to start with Link.

Cadence of Hyrule link's beginning
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After awakening from his slumber, he starts in a map segment that typically sits in the middle of everything on the overworld. There’s a shield to grab by testing platforming skills such as pushing a block to jump up to an elevated platform. Grabbing that will help you to learn how to block projectiles back to enemies as a necessary move to grab your sword. There’s even a Heart Piece to grab if you’re crafty enough.

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Depending on which direction you head, from the beginning, you can naturally find Kakariko Village not too far away and explore a variety of terrains from there, including the Lost Woods and the deserts of the Gerudo not too far away. With Link, the beginning of his adventure feels more like a classic game where you find a central hub to return to and options to explore from there.

When it comes to Link’s move set in Cadence of Hyrule, Link can find a power-up that allows him to perform a wide-arcing spin attack, using up substantial stamina. It’s a great option for crowd control when you’re being swarmed by monsters, which will be a constant threat when exploring dungeons.

Cadence of Hyrule: The case for Zelda

Zelda’s start in this game is a little bit different. She’s asleep in Hyrule Castle, woken up by Cadence and pushed out the door by Impa. Her adventure starts with a dagger behind boxes in the first room, granted Nayru’s Love in the next room and given a side exit escape out the castle grounds and onto the fields of Hyrule. It’s a very different kind of start.

Cadence of Hyrule zelda's start
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One thing that Nayru’s Love brings over Link’s shield is that it can also deflect melee hits in addition to reflecting projectiles, which makes Zelda a more defensive-oriented character. Additionally, she can harness the power of Din’s Fire (tied to the L-button) to launch towards enemies, which gives her a better range focus than Link.

Link and Zelda have most of the same collection of items to find per each life cycle, but Zelda’s starting path is decidedly more defensive. If you’re like me and find it hard to play to the beat for strategic purposes (I can keep a rhythm, I promise!), having Nayru’s Love which can work even a full beat early, it’s a perfect option.

Eventually, it won’t matter

Finding Kakariko Village is of the utmost importance in Cadence of Hyrule, as that’s where you’ll find the other character you didn’t choose at the beginning sleeping in bed in a house. Beside that house is Dampe’s graveyard, and by pushing back one of the gravestones, you’ll open up a dungeon underneath.

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The layout is unique to each player, but the goal is the same; to find the Hibiscus Potion underneath to wake up the second character. Once that happens, you can switch between Link and Zelda at any Sheikah Stone. That way, you have options to switch things up to face each challenge as best as possible.