Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
It’s hard to imagine playing The Legend Of Zelda without the now-iconic music—a hero’s ballad trumpeting the arrival of perpetual underdog Link to slay another nefarious foe. Yet here we are, with a Zelda homage scored entirely with the electronic house music of Skrillex. Once upon a time, Link was motivated by honor; now he’s motivated by a thumping beat.
Skrillex Quest plays up this dichotomy and adds even more dissonance. As the brief story goes, the hero—known merely in the game as “P1”—is summoned to save his kingdom from a sickness that’s plaguing its citizens. We see this take the form of a dusk speck on an old Nintendo cartridge, which unleashes menacing glitches in the game. You must swing your sword at the hulking, dark glitch-bombs and rescue the princess, aided only by the vague sense that your actions are leading somewhere. There’s a timer, after all, so they must.
The game is a well-groomed mess. The tempo never changes, but the scenery folds and explodes with ease, transporting P1 from a dungeon to a desert before you realize what’s going on. There are old men who offer unhelpful clues, some who provide bits of map, and some who allow you to spend the night, earning nonsensical bonuses like more damage against worms (there are zero worms). There’s more than just a different soundtrack: The world is entirely unpredictable, with only Skrillex to ground you. Skrillex Quest starts with an odd soundtrack choice, but the music becomes your only conduit toward sanity—a fitting substitute for heroism.