The Legend of Zelda: Return of the Hylian

a.k.a. Zelda ROTH

published by author in 2008-12-18, running on Linux
type: adventure, action/reflex
genre: Action-Adventure
perspective: bird's-eye
player options: single player
game engine: Return of the Hylian Engine
languages: eng fre

Personal review

This is such high quality for a fan game, I find it difficult to criticize. But such a great effort earns a comparison to the series its based on. There were a few additions not from the official games that make this fan game a stand out. Such as deflecting fireballs and freezing surface water. I found myself satisfied at completing each challenge and looking forward to the next. There's a surprising amount to do and see for a fan game. Records and speedrun tools provide some replay value. But official Zelda games will last longer. This is worth a few weeks enjoyment.

Graphically, its like A Link to the Past or perhaps Link's Awakening (in color). But, its lacking in the visual diversity of those games and merely manages to top the original Legend of Zelda.

The story sounds fine but the result is Ganon is raised from the dead and all the bosses persist as ghosts. Perhaps if the details were perused in the game though story or gameplay it would be passable or perhaps even good. As the game actually does reveal a small amount of backstory, I'll say its a step up from the original Zelda. But more importantly, the look and feel and quality of some parts of the game had me expecting a presentation at least equitable with LttP. But, its a step down from Link to the Past.

The sound effects are comparable to LttP. In fact they are from it. Music is remixes taken from the official series and Star Ocean. Of course the graphics, sound and music is used without the permission of the original artists nor copyright holders.

My biggest complaint is some seemingly arbitrary game design the requires the player to figure out they must abandon the current primary objective and return to it later. No reasons or clues are given to aid in this realization. The NPC characters don't provide enough help here. This is different from official Zelda games. Also, many essential paths are blocked by multiple layers of tricky secrets, while once again, no clues are provided for solving these puzzles. The player can make their way to the final battle while lacking several required items that must be retrieve from the other side of the game world. There is no indication where to get these items, nor that they are even needed, nor that they even exist. The player simply fails without them, no lesson given. Effectively the difficulty of the game is increased by these flaws. The player in these cases ends up fighting the game design rather that evil characters, their minions, their traps, or their fortresses.

Not much freely explorable area is provided compared to most official games in the series. RotH has about the same player freedom as Adventure of Link. Of course the RoTH world is much smaller than AoL. Acquiring object provides ways to explore new areas. But with so little area, everything seems densely packed. With a new skill/object, one can suddenly find 4 heart pieces within 20 seconds. A lot of gain from getting a new object is simply a different way to move through the same areas, this time moving through more nooks and crannies to find extras,

The controls are bad. There is no gamepad or mouse control options. Its keyboard only and not configurable. Talk, lift, continue dialog, and attack are all separate keys. There are 3 map/status screens each with there own key.

LoZ has better objective progression. RotH objective progression is worse than any of the official games.

AI is a matter of the enemies simply move toward Link in a straight line. Dumb. I wish there was a rating worse than bad. There's some variation in the bosses but most of them do the same straight-line charge. This is really the game's weakest point.

Saving can be done virtually anytime. Completing a primary objective offers a save also. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes at a non-speedrun pace to complete a primary objective.

This doesn't feel like a Zelda game. Like the original LOZ, Link doesn't recoil when striking enemies. Since recoil happens in all subsequent official games, I expected it here. Pixel perfect terrain from LttP had me expecting I could interact with it the same way. But it functions much more simply, and objects react in different ways. I would rate this game better were it a stand-alone original rather than a 'Zelda game'. But as a self proclaimed sequel of of the third game in the series, it fails short of a good game.

UPDATE: On viewing the source code, it seems a few the needed clues do exist. But triggering these clues is not intuitive and essential clues are still absent.

As this is an open source game. I would hope someone would take on the following features:
Varied enemy behavior/AI. So different enemies, especially bosses, don't feel like continually fighting the same enemy in different numbers and with different hit-points.
Control improvement and Gamepad support. The control design is clearly has more to do with the author's design choice rather than a lack of skill. But it is just no good. There's just too many buttons for every action. A 'Zelda' game needs contextual controls for actions. It is acceptable to associate actions to using items only if buttons are general use/assignable as they are in LA & TP. But note that these still use contextual actions.
Just a little more guidance for essential gameplay. There needs to be environmental or NPC hints when a player needs to stop mid-dungeon, or whatever tasks they are in the middle of because they were told to do it or given the means too with no further instruction. Use dumb-luck/trial-and-error gameplay for side-quests and extras, not the main quest.

# 2012-01-28 01:22:19


At the end of Link to the Past, Link's wish (whatever it was) united the Light World and Dark World (formally the Golden Land) into one and resurrected the 7 ancient sages. Other side effects unfortunately also occurred. Mainly, Gannon and his minions were brought back to life. Gannon not only wants 'his' triforce back,he also desires revenge.

Story and gameplay start right where LttP left off.
zerothis # 2011-10-24 00:43:23

Technical specs

additional hardware: x86-64 CPU,
display: raster

Authors / Staff

Vincent Jouillat



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