With the recent influx of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games to Nintendo’s online subscription service, it’s easier than ever to play most of the major Zelda games. We here at Polygon are sifting through our classic catalog of series in the run-up The Legend of Zelda: Kingdom’s Tears in May. It’s a joy to play games way back in time and watch the series evolve in miniature between each subsequent entry.
In the year 2023, Polygon embarks on the Zeldathon. Join us on our journey through The Legend of Zelda series, from the original 1986 game to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and beyond.
But sometimes, it’s just as fun, if not more so, to play the games that were Inspired By Zelda – to see how different studios have interpreted the pillars of Nintendo’s action-adventure franchise.
Because, really: what makes a Zelda game a Zelda game? Is it the characters? Is it puzzle-based dungeons? Is it a bunch of cool new gadgets, which you’ll need to master in order to take down the next boss? For every new Zelda game that has strengthened these pillars, many have come to refute it. (I myself am partial to Majora’s Maskperhaps the most subversive chapter in the “let’s shake things up” line of thinking.) It’s the malleability that has led to such a diverse group of Zelda-like games.
So if, like us, you’re running out of steam over the number of Zelda games you still have to replay in the run-up to… Breath of the WildA direct complement, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite alternatives that embody the term “Zelda-like.” some focus on puzzles; others embrace the manipulation of time; One gives us our strongest glimpse yet of a Zelda game focused entirely on combat. We kept the criteria vague because the criteria were vague to begin with. This is why it is so much fun.
Photo: Pixpil/Chucklefish via Polygon
influence of the legend of zelda on eastward clear the moment you load the game; Its gameplay and style Zelda filters down to a heart meter to indicate your hit points. From Chinese developer Pixpil, eastward is a 2021 role-playing game that takes the player, well, east to a mysterious post-apocalyptic world with a gruff guy named John and a magical child named Sam. The world’s puzzles require the player to use both John and Sam in different ways; John has a good frying pan for hitting enemies, while Sam’s magic powers stun enemies. They can be controlled simultaneously, using the console trigger to bring one or the other to the fore. part my land and part zelda, eastward A must-have for anyone interested in pixel art RPGs. Nicole Carpenter
eastward Available on Mac, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC and Xbox One.
Photo: Acid Nerve/Devolver Digital
if eastward He is my land Meet The Legend of Zelda, then death door It’s a combination of Dark Souls and Zelda. death door It has the top-down exploration of many Zelda games, with players collecting upgrades and tools as they navigate through puzzles and dungeons, but pairs that with a dark world and challenging boss battles akin to Dark Souls. It is about a raven, named Crow, who is a Reaper – their journey takes them from the bureaucracy of the afterlife to the world where souls dwell. It’s a simple game that does almost everything perfectly, and a nicer “hard” game with a difficulty level that increases as the game goes on. Nicole Carpenter
death door Available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Photo: Clover Studio/Capcom
Okami He became known for his apparent resemblance to Twilight princess A Zelda title that features Link in the shape of a thermos. But the similarities go beyond this superficial character comparison – so much so that fans consider it one of the best casual Zelda games. It’s riddled with puzzles, and clearing areas adds to the protagonist’s toolkit: a series of celestial brush powers that let you modify the environment around you. The game seems to have Zelda in its DNA, even in its smallest moments, which I’ve broken down into another piece:
As in the Zelda games, the dungeons had elemental themes: you used levers to lower the waterline of a cursed pirate ship, and shooting powers in a lava-themed dungeon. althoug OkamiThe open puzzles are fewer than those in Breath of the Wild – It’s pretty obvious what brushstrokes you use to solve things – I’m still amazed by the powers I’ve collected, and how they’ve allowed me to modify the world.
– Nicole Clark
Okami HD Available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.
Nobody saves the world
Photo: Drinkbox Studios
This dungeon crawler from Drinkbox Studios is the Zelda of a new generation, from its fascinating encounters in the overworld to the procedurally generated caves beneath. Mix-and-match progression allows players to veer in the direction of their preferred playstyle while still holding on to the option to see and unlock everything. the most important, no one Set in a once-delightful fantasy land worth saving, its NPCs giving out bizarre tasks always invoke at least a dry chuckle. – good
Nobody saves the world Available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Photo: Andrew Shouldice/Vengy via Polygon
Jacket It stars a little fox wielding a sword and shield, clearly a nod to The Legend of Zelda Hero Link — the fox even wears a green tunic. full of mysteries and secrets, Jacket It is a game that uses nostalgia for games and franchises like The Legend of Zelda, mostly through its core guide, which is included directly in the game. when Jacket Starting out, the guide is incomplete, which means there is a lot of information missing. The player has to navigate JacketScientist using this incomplete information to find more pages and unlock new ways to solve puzzles. It’s the secrets and mysteries of the world, which sometimes means asking friends for help Jacket Private – Fighting itself is not a draw. I feel like playing Zelda as a kid, where I can talk about secrets and strategies with my friends. Nicole Carpenter
Jacket Available on Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Photo: Pixel Punk Studio / Humble Games
minor It takes a lot of classic Zelda elements and makes them fresh with a unique (and honestly exhausting) twist. You play as a robot that requires a gem core to live. Unfortunately this substance is increasingly scarce – as such, everyone’s life (including yours) is around the clock. When the clock runs out, she becomes an eyesore and is prone to attacking friends and lovers. The game wears classic Zelda influences on its cover, with three full map layers bordered by areas that require flexible and creative problem-solving to overcome. The protagonist’s toolkit grows after completing each area, with new traversal tools and weapons ranging from a giant peak that allows you to travel through high wires to a shuriken that lights fire or turns water into ice. – Nicole Clark
minor Available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.
Photo: Polytron Corporation/Trapdoor
If you have played Axe, or at least remember when it was announced, you know the feeling you had when the 2D landscape turned around and revealed the other side of a cliff, cave, or platform for you to climb. First published in 2012 (most recent in 2021 for Nintendo Switch), Axe Worth the mantle is Zelda-like in how player discovery changes the playing space and unlocks the secrets within. —OG
Axe Available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.
Photo: Mobius Digital/Annapurna Interactive via Polygon
2021 may be the year of time-loop video games, but none have come close to the brilliance of 2019. Outer wilds. Set in a miniature galaxy in a lonely neck of a forgotten universe, this exploration-based puzzle-adventure game from Mobius Digital is as much about solving puzzles related to specific characters as it is about understanding the intricacies of entire planets. catch? The entire world ends every 22 minutes, sending you back to your home on Timber Hearth, armed only with the knowledge you gained during the previous episode. Outer wilds He is the true spiritual successor to Majora’s Maskat this time the gameplay system is complex, but so is the ghost that looms over each character caught in its net. – Mike Muhardy
Outer wilds Available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Dandelion: a colorful story
Photo: Greg Lobanov/Vengy
in dandelion: Colorful tale Fill in the world with color, one brushstroke at a time. She becomes a “player” by chance – the last worker, Chicory, collapses under the stress, and locks herself in her room. It is up to you to make the world beautiful again. The game offers sharp commentary on technical pressure, merit, and community support. It’s also an amazing Zelda-style puzzle game, with paintbrushes that let you do weird things – like travel through vines and rivers or climb walls. It was one of the contenders for our Game of the Year in 2021, and so far the game is a standout. – Nicole Clark
Dandelion: a colorful story Available on Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Windows PC.
Hyper Light Drifter
Photo: cardio machine
Another top-down adventure masterpiece, Hyper Light Drifter It is an open-ended adventure that, like The Legend of Zelda, skillfully guides the player to level up and become more powerful before facing the next boss or big bad. The cardio machine world, clearly inspired by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the PastIt is worth exploring and the discovery that awaits you will captivate you. —OG
Hyper Light Drifter Available on iOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.
Image: FromSoftware via Polygon
What is left to say Elden ring? Too much, I think. It’s as broad as it is deep, funny as it is sad, and as punishing as it is empowering. And with new DLC on the way, I suspect many of us will be returning to The Lands Between, whenever possible.
And although it is easy to compare it with Breath of the Wild — or at least, developer FromSoftware is taking over Breath of the Wild – Elden ring Thanks to the game Zelda that started it all in 1986. Elden ringThe creators refuse to hold your hand as you explore a foreboding, mysterious, and often fantastic wilderness, its dungeons, and the winding underworld that lies beneath. Boss fights are as intense as they are terrifying, and finding a boss’s weakness can mean venturing to the other side of the map to find your Achilles’ heel. Likes Breath of the WildAnd Elden ring It may look fresh, but its ideas harken back to a game about a young boy exploring caves in rural Japan. It took us decades to catch up on those daydreams. – Mike Muhardy
Elden ring Available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
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