It’s very likely we have a long time to wait for the next mainline game in the Legend of Zelda series, but fear not as there are many great games out there, either inspired by, or compliment The Legend of Zelda. These range from smaller indie titles, to full blown AAA releases, but each one taps into the magic The Legend of Zelda first showed me years ago. Today I’d like to go through ten recommendations for video games that are like Zelda, and hopefully this will inspire you to try something new while we wait for the next game from Nintendo.
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Without further delay let’s dive into the recommendations.
This is an isometric Zelda-like with elements of the Souls genre, plus there’s plenty of secrets to discover too. You play as a small Crow in Death’s Door, working for the Reaper Commission by harvesting the souls of the living. Unfortunately, you’ve been sent on a task to collect a particular Soul, and then it’s stolen from you. You are led into the Undying Realm on a hunt to retrieve the stolen Soul and reach Death’s Door. To unlock the famous Death’s Door you’ll need three powerful Souls, and therein starts the adventure.
Combat in Death’s Door feels very satisfying. Our little Crow can hit, dodge and roll. It’s tricky to block incoming attacks so combat is often about understanding the patterns of your enemies and moving out of the way accordingly. As you progress through the game the waves of enemies get tougher, and this adds to the fast-paced nature of the combat and improves the overall feel of the game.
Death’s Door is a great package. The controls are tight, the gameplay is fun and varied plus the game looks & sounds great too. The puzzles work very well and strike a good balance of difficulty, the only real drawback of the game is the incentive to go back and play it again due to the lack of variety of loot. Otherwise, this is something you should play.
Developer: Acid Nerve
Release Date: 20th July 2021
Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter is an interesting one to describe as much of the delight in the game is figuring out the story, narrative and your place in the world for yourself. At the start of the game you’re given a sword, taught the basics and then it’s off you go against a series of tough enemies.
It’s similar looking to Zelda, but not in the fact you have to identify a dungeon, go there and kill a boss. There’s more to it than that. As well as taking out a boss there are four terminals which are located in their own mini-dungeons off the beaten path from the main overworld areas. Finding your way can be tricky early on, but once you get the hang of things it starts to click. There’s an element of wandering and discovery in Hyper Light Drifter which I loved, but it may not be to everyone’s tastes.
Aside from the battles and the systems to get to grips with there’s plenty to mesmerise you in the game. The artwork and audio design work so well together to create an atmospheric and magical experience. Disasterpeace is responsible for the wonderful soundtrack to the game and this further draws you into the world that Heart Machine has created, marrying fluid movement, delightful graphics and brilliant audio.
It took me far too long to get to Hyper Light Drifter, I would say is don’t sleep on this one. Yes, it can be difficult, but the reward is great and I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy your time with this one.
Developer: Heart Machine
Release date: 31st March 2016
Immortal Phoenix Rising
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a open-world adventure RPG from Ubisoft. This is inspired by Breath of the Wild and is an animated through ancient Greece mythology. There are clear similarities between this and Breath of the Wild for sure. Fenyx can climb and glide, much like Link, but there are some deeper systems at play here including levelling up weapons and armour. Puzzles and battles are around every corner as well as collectable items so Fenyx can whip up a potion or two to help out with health, stamina, attack and defence.
While the game may look similar to the latest Legend of Zelda game, the underlying systems and controls are very Assassin’s Creed. Combat is satisfying with an attack, dodges and parrying. When you defeat enemies you can pick up new themed armour, which can have their own stats and abilities. There’s a skill tree too, which is going to provide you with the ability to spec into different play styles in the full game. For the purposes of the demo, some of this skill tree has been filled out for you so you get a good feel for the different skills and abilities Fenyx will have.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is put together in a narrative package set in Ancient Greece with our adventure being narrated by Zeus and Prometheus. These gods are attempting to tell ancient legends and they’re constantly going back and forth arguing with each other providing some comic relief as the game goes on.
Nobody Saves The World
Nobody Saves The World is an action RPG, which feels similar to old school top-down Legend of Zelda games from the NES and SNES era. It’s early in 2022, but this is a game to get excited about with a combination of satisfying combat, a whole host of characters to embody, to take down the corruption and save the world.
We have quests that give us items to help us progress and unlock the road ahead, but each character also has a rating. Every character starts off as an F, and you work your way up to S tier ratings for each character. When we first start out we only have a single move, but that opens up as we play as we get more moves that can be assigned to 3 action buttons. Eventually, you get the option to unlock and swap abilities between characters, meaning you can craft a good build with a single character, or set of characters you like. It’s a really neat system, it looks simple on the surface to the player, but underneath must be super complex.
Congrats have to go to the team for the onboarding process in the game and how Drinkbox teaches us to play, as in the first few hours of the game I didn’t feel overwhelmed, or confused about how to control my party of players. Once you get it down, you’ll be switching up characters quickly, dishing out various damage types, and having tens of enemies at your mercy.
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Release Date: January 2022
The Outer Wilds offers up mystery, wonder and motivation to explore the multiple worlds. It’s also a nice place just to simply hang out in, look around and enjoy your time. You can gaze out into space, or check out a beautiful sunset on a local planet. For the more adventurous you can check out the caves on a local moon with just your torch. It has something for everyone. The aesthetic of the game is quite cartoony, vibrant and friendly which adds to the pleasant experience.
The Outer Wilds was a surprise to me as it came out of nowhere. That may make the game even better. If you like exploration and discovering clues to piece them back together for a little space escapism, then this might be the game for you. I would recommend going into this game blind, it may not play like the Legend of Zelda, but it expertly delivers that sense of wonder and you’ll remember the first time you played through Outer Wilds forever.
Developer: Mobius Digital
Release date: May 2019
This is an isometic, Zelda-Souls mash up, with plenty of exploration, puzzles and surprisingly tough boss battles. When you first start out in Tunic you don’t have much. You are a cute little Fox, but surrounded by a lot of danger. As the little fox you can run, dash and dodge, all the standard actions of a hero in an action-adventure like this. There is one thing missing though, you don’t have a weapon… yet. Thankfully, that doesn’t last too long as you get a trusty stick to whack enemies with.
One surprise about Tunic is the amount of secrets in the game. They are jam-packed in, and the game is full of them. Much like Legend of Zelda games that inspired this, or specifically the original Legend of Zelda on the NES, it definitely invokes memories of playing through that. There are hidden chests, and items strategically placed on the map that just seem out of reach, there are pages from the manual dotted about the map. Similar to the original Legend of Zelda, which didn’t hold your hand in the slightest, you have to test things out. Whack things with your sword, test things out. In the original Legend of Zelda on the NES you’d have candles which would burn down bushes, or you’d have to use bombs on walls with no indication of where to actually put the bomb. This is similar, you’ll have to stress test various items and locations in the game to uncover all the secrets. As to whether this is going to be for everyone, that’s yet to be seen. It has a similar feels to Souls games too, where you’ll unlock shortcuts and secrets through trial and error.
Tunic is a great game, one that you should be checking out. It’s not easy, and it’s going to try your patience at times, but ultimately it’s a very satisfying game. You can explore for hours finding all the secrets or you can challenge yourself against the latest boss. It’s cute on the surface but Tunic has a tough interior when you scratch below the surface. I thoroughly recommend it.
Developer: Andrew Shouldice
Release date: March 2022
Elden Ring is arguably one of the best games of the last 5 years, taking that open-world to the next level, adapting the souls-like gameplay to a massive, open and flexible environment. Elden Ring was many people’s and outlets Game of the Year in 2022.
I learned very early on you have to plan and prepare for battles. Going in there and trying to take on multiple enemies at the same time is a quick way to die. In the very starting part of the game, there are the Gatefront Ruins, and this is a good microcosm of Elden Ring. There are roughly ten to twelve enemies here, with a powerful enemy patrolling the middle. If you are a skilled player you can probably roll in here, parry, dodge, and take them out pretty quickly. For me, I had to sneak in and take out enemies individually either drawing them out one by one or sneaking up behind them and stabbing them in the back. Once you have removed the danger, there are some caves to explore and loot to acquire.
The scale of the scope of this game amazes me every time I open up the game for a session. Given the lack of direction you are given, it’s up to you to make your own quest log and define your own experience. For some players, this has meant keeping notes in a pad, or you can keep digital notes, which I would recommend given you can search for keywords, plus the naming convention in Elden Ring means a few similar-sounding names. There’s a good chance you’ll speak to one character, then forget about them as you move to your next location, and there’s no in-game quest log to keep track of all these things. From a discovery point of view, this can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it makes the discovery in the game thrilling, as there are surprises around every corner. While on the other hand if you are someone who gets overwhelmed by choice, this system may well not gel with you.
Let me know in the comments what you think? Share you recommendations for games similar to The Legend of Zelda, and we can build up a nice library of content.