35 Games Zelda Fans Should Try
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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then The Legend of Zelda must be getting tired of all the compliments thrown its way over the years. With decades of games and spin-off titles to its name, Nintendo's Zelda series has had a huge influence on the industry, one that can be found in dozens of other games that run wild with familiar gameplay mechanics centered around exploration, clever secrets, and collecting a magical arsenal of weapons to move forward.
Even if you've clocked a hundred hours in Breath of the Wild or have kept a Wii U around just to play the best version of Wind Waker, these Zelda-likes from other studios are worth diving headfirst into for a fresh spin on classic gameplay formulas.
A Short Hike
Zelda games at their best aren't just a gripping exploration of the world around Link, but also of what you the player are capable of as you inhabit the body of the legendary hero. A Short Hike captures that idea brilliantly, boiling it down to a simple task of climbing a mountain to get a decent smartphone signal and attempting to avoid any distraction on that hike upwards. It's a deceptively simple setup that steadily becomes more complex as you ascend higher and discover a game that consistently gives back and rewards you for your effort. Low-poly visuals and endearing character interactions only sweeten the deal in this wonderful interactive metaphor about conquering your own personal mountain.
A Short Hike is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Read our A Short Hike review.
It may have cute and simple visuals, but beneath Anodyne's retro surface lies a game that shines a spotlight on the psychology of gamers and how video games can often disconnect us from the real world. Anodyne packages up those heavy themes with clever puzzles, chunky combat, and challenging boss fights, all of which was designed by a two-person team to deliver an intriguing exploration of gaming through some meta-commentary.
Anodyne is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, PC, and mobile.
Read our Anodyne review.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King
Another entry for the pile of retro Zelda-influenced games, Blossom Tales wouldn't look out of place in an SNES library thanks to its pixelated visuals and familiar gameplay mechanics. Clearly inspired by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Blossom Tales packs exploration, combat, and the quest to acquire better gear into a good-looking package. It's the new takes on familiar puzzle sequences and boss fights that elevate Blossom Tales' appeal, and if you're looking to relive the past with this colorful homage to one of the best games of all time, then Blossom Tales is an absolute joy to dive into.
Blossom Tales is available on Switch and PC.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Zelda-like games regularly inject a sense of pressure into their design, but Chicory: A Colorful Tale is an exception to that rule. A laidback journey across monochrome lands that can only be saved by the power of art, Chicory keeps the peril to a minimum and prefers to challenge your puzzle-solving abilities instead of your reflexes. It's a forgiving game that comes with a few emotionally hard-hitting lessons about life and meeting your heroes, but the whimsical world, heartwarming story, and adorable characters makes Chicory an unforgettable adventure.
Chicory is available on PlayStation, Switch, and PC.
Read our Chicory: A Colorful Tale review.
Take beautifully designed post-apocalyptic landscapes and fantasy realms, throw in some of the coolest art direction in the industry, and mix it all up with fast-paced action, and you've got a thrilling formula that puts a stylish spin on The Legend of Zelda format. The Darksiders trilogy is a glorious ode to classic Zelda games, but it's the more action-packed focus that set these games apart. Caught between the forces of Heaven and Hell, each game has a unique flavor of combat, puzzles, and mystery to delve into, with the core three games being a pulse-pounding blast of dungeon-crawling and monster-slaying.
One of the best games of 2021, Death's Door takes plenty of inspiration from The Legend of Zelda to craft wonderful dungeons that feel consistently rewarding as you explore them and dive deep into its tale of the ultimate end that awaits us all. Life, death, and a little bit of Soulslike attitude only add to its appeal, and with its high-quality production making the game a visual and an audio treat, it's an essential purchase for any fan of the Zelda genre.
Death's Door is available on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC.
Read our Death’s Door review.
What sets Eastward apart is a focus on providing a lo-fi exploration of the post-apocalypse through the eyes of a scruffy pair of characters. Between John's ability to throw fists and Sam's budding psychic powers, the duo are a force to be reckoned with on their journey to the east, all set against a backdrop of delightful pixel art and vibrant landscapes. Combat is easy but satisfying and the puzzles aren't too much of a cerebral barrier in this charming hike at the end of the world.
Eastward is available on Switch and PC.
Genshin Impact may have been criticized for looking like a thinly disguised Breath of the Wild clone when it was first revealed, but more than a year after it first landed, the game has proven to be an entirely different experience altogether. That's not to say that you won't find some Zelda influences within its design, as it has snappy combat and labyrinthine dungeons to explore, but Genshin Impact adds enough originality to the mix with its gacha systems and a roster of unique characters to explore its world with. All that, and there's no price of admission to give it a try.
Genshin Impact is available on PlayStation, PC, and mobile
Read our Genshin Impact review.
A gorgeous Zelda-like puzzler with a sharp edge in the combat department, the real joy of Hob is the world that you'll explore. Whether you want to stick to the golden path or meander off into unknown territory, Hob's satisfying trek across a land of hidden danger plays like Zelda's Game Boy Advance adventures crossed with indie sensation Journey. It's also a brisk game that'll take around 10 hours to complete, meaning that it won't outstay its welcome, but you'll be tempted to revisit Hob again and again just to soak in that delightful atmosphere.
Hob is available on PlayStation, Switch, and PC.
Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter's world is one that you'll fall in love with once you start exploring it. The lo-fi visuals, enchanting soundtrack, and a bounty of secrets to uncover were already winning elements in its design, but the well-balanced challenge of battling clever enemies who'll send you flying if you aren't prepared makes for an intense experience. The moments of respite, of terrible beauty in a world where technology has had a devastating effect, are worth savoring in this mesmerizing title that was inspired by classic Zelda's 2D glory days.
Hyper Light Drifter is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, PC, and iOS.
Read our Hyper Light Drifter review.
Immortals Fenyx Rising
Ubisoft's Immortals Fenyx Rising is an absolute delight to play, one that has clearly been inspired by Breath of the Wild but manages to still find its own voice in a familiar sandbox of mythical monsters and ancient gods running amok. Compared to the likes of Assassin's Creed, Immortals is a far more wholesome adventure that takes place in a colorful realm filled with dungeons, traps, and gear to collect to help you along the way. It's The Legend of Zelda with a Ubisoft twist, but it's also a well-realized game that runs like a dream and can often be snapped up for a handful of drachma on various sales.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and PC.
Read our Immortals Fenyx Rising review.
Nobody Saves the World
From the team behind the Guacamelee series, Nobody Saves the World is a frantic, charming, and hilarious action-RPG played from a to-down perspective. The strange world, which is saved by a character named Nobody, has a vibe that could be compared to The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. This dream-like world is filled with quirky characters and off-kilter story beats.
Instead of securing new gadgets as you do in Zelda, you acquire new forms. Nobody is a shapeshifter who can become a dragon, a rat, a ghost, and plenty more. Each form has its unique combat style and abilities, so you'll find yourself cycling through them on the fly to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Nobody Saves the World has more traditional role-playing elements than the Zelda series when it comes to character progression, but the wonder of discovery is quite similar. And if you've always wanted Zelda games to be more action-packed, Nobody Saves the World is a great option thanks to its fast-paced and challenging combat.
Nobody Saves the World is available on Xbox and PC, and it's included with Game Pass.
Read our Nobody Saves the World review.
Plenty of games in the rove-like genre have strong art direction, but few of them boast a style so intricate or as intrinsic to the very core of the game as Okami. Originally released in 2006 and again as Okami HD in 2012, the game combines Japanese mythology and folklore with a style that merges woodcut, watercolors, and cel-shaded environments to create a living and breathing illustration to explore. All the puzzle and platform inspiration of the Zelda series can clearly be felt in Okami, and more than a decade after it was first released, it's still a vividly colorful and visually striking adventure.
Okami HD is available on Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
Read our Okami HD review.
Games that pinch a few bits of inspiration from The Legend of Zelda usually rely on open worlds that contain some form of danger that requires a good walloping. Sable is different, as it strips its sandbox of conflict and relies on telling a story of exploration based on the strength of its visuals alone. It's a testament to the game's design that the journey is so gripping, offering a staggering amount of freedom to complete a pilgrimage through a hauntingly beautiful world. The sheer grandeur of the world of Midden and the peaceful reflection you'll uncover while traveling through it makes for a fascinating and personal odyssey in Sable.
Sable is available on Xbox and PC.
Read our Sable review.
The Swords of Ditto: Mormo's Curse
It's a tale as old as time, as Swords of Ditto casts you as the chosen hero who has to prepare for the return of a mighty witch who'll destroy the world unless your sword skills are sharp enough to defeat her. The only problem? You've only got four days to master the blade, and the clock is ticking. Swords of Ditto is a Zelda-like through and through, as familiar dungeons and collectible weapons echo the journey of Link. However, the catch here is you're never truly done saving the day. You're part of a cycle, rising up every century to weaken the wicked witch Mormo and save the day, and every failure has an actual impact on the world around you.
It's a good thing then that the eternal cycle is so compelling, as this adventure is one that you'll want to embark on again and again as the world changes and adapts to your greatest victories and worst defeats.
Swords of Ditto is available on PlayStation, Switch, Xbox, PC, and mobile.
Read our Swords of Ditto review.
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion
While it's advisable to not avoid paying your taxes, you can live a life of fiscal freedom in Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion. A cute action-RPG that plays like classic Legend of Zelda but with more IRS-angering mechanics, it's a breezy and adorable take on top-down adventures all in the name of paying off Turnip Boy's massive debt.
Turnip Boy is available on Switch and PC.
Read our Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion review.
Beyond Good and Evil
Ubisoft's cult-classic adventure game isn't exactly subtle when it comes to Zelda influences, but this charming game still managed to forge its own path forward. A combination of photojournalism, political upheaval, and good old-fashioned Zelda-like dungeon exploration, Beyond Good and Evil is an evergreen treasure that's still worth picking up today. Fortunately, an HD remastered version came out in 2011, and while some gameplay mechanics can feel dated, the rest of the package is worth diving into for its striking art design, catchy soundtrack, and hard-hitting action.
Some games are inspired by The Legend of Zelda, but the two Blossom Tales games have definitely copied some of Nintendo's homework when it comes to constructing pixelated worlds of danger to explore. Even with that overt inspiration, Blossom Tales still does a terrific job at telling a great story, coming off as more of a tender tribute to Nintendo's past through both games. They're classic adventure titles, and if you're looking for some comfort gaming on Switch specifically, these titles are enjoyable handheld adventures to embark on.
Blue Fire might look a Hollow Knight-inspired adventure that plays in three dimensions, but there's a very distinct Wind Waker influence to its design. Like that classic GameCube and Wii U game, Blue Fire's collection of dungeons and levels feel strongly inspired by Wind Waker, with challenging rooms and gauntlets of foes threatening to hurl you back to your last checkpoint. There's fun to be had in these dungeons, and with fast-paced combat that's a thrill to master, Blue Fire is a masterclass of perilous parkour in these environments.
A labor of love that took several years to be realized, CrossCode is a love letter to the SNES past. It's also a wildly ambitious game, building on the familiar territory of Zelda-likes with big ideas and complex combat systems. While not every idea manages to stick the landing, the more cohesive parts of this homage to the past are a blast to play. Puzzles form a key aprt of the experience, and if you're a fan of Breath of the Wild's shrines, you won't run out of head-scratching conundrums to solve.
The best game of 2022, Elden Ring has a very specific Zelda influence, one that is drawn from 2017's Breath of the Wild. Like that blockbuster Switch game, Elden Ring unleashes you upon a vast world that you're free to explore at your own leisure. Sure, you'll probably be unprepared for some of the danger out there, but that's a lesson that you'll learn at your own leisure. Elden Ring mixes the trademark elegance of a From Software RPG with an unparalleled sense of freedom, and whether you've played 10 or 100 hours of the game, there's always something more to discover in this dark fantasy realm.
One of the most iconic indie games of all time, Fez is an all-time classic mix of platforming and challenging level design that's all about changing your perspective. It's an ideal handheld game for Switch or Steam Deck, and with challenging dungeons that would feel right at home in a classic Zelda game, it takes those inspirations and boldly spins them into new ideas that served to inspire future indies. One of the best "just five more minutes" games out there, it's hard to believe that the adventures of Gomez are already more than a decade old when they still feel this fresh.
The grape escape of Zelda-likes, Garden Story is an effortlessly charming tale that checks all the boxes for a Zelda-like. There's a journey to embark on, villages to visit, and a great threat to vanquish, but the big twist here is that you'll be able to actively shape the hamlets you visit instead of treating them as supply depos between dungeons. You're not just saving the day in Garden Story, you're pitching in to protect and improve your new homes, while introducing enemies to the grapes of wrath when they come knocking on your door.
Link's mailbox must be full by now, because Hatchwell is yet another love letter to the NES era of Zelda games. A top-down RPG by Filipino solo developer Adee, Hatchwell takes place on the day of the Hatchwell Festival as you investigate strange happenings in your local village and encounter deadly beasts lurking within dungeons. There's not much here that you haven't seen before in other Zelda games or the dozens of titles inspired by the Nintendo classics, but Hatchwell still does a great job of recapturing that nostalgic magic.
Borrowing heavilyfrom the SNES Zelda games, the Ittle Dew games spruce up those classic influences with sharp art, great locations to explore, and competent combat mechanics. What sets these two games apart from the legions of other Link-imitators available right now? A surprisingly cheeky attitude, as Ittle Dew is a send-up of the Nintendo series, poking fun at the franchise with hilariously self-aware dialogue. It never does so with malice, and for all the jabs thrown at Link, Ittle Dew has its heart in the right place.
Thematically, Lenna's Inception riffs very hard on the gameplay formula pioneered by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Mechanically similar to that particular game, Lenna's Inception still manages to throw a few surprises your way, distinguishing itself along the way as an inventive homage that's both lighthearted and bizarre with its level design. Thanks to procedural generation working its magic in the background, great boss battles, and weird internet humor, this game stands out from the pack with its hand-crafted chaos.
Mayhem in Single Valley
From the team that brought you, You Are Not A Banana--you're not, right?--Mayhem in Single Valley imagines what would happen if The Legend of Zelda got a hard dose of reality. The end result is something entirely different from the usual Zelda-likes out on the market, as this retro-inspired isometric adventure sprinkles in plot twists, meta-commentary, and oddball humor on top of the usual formula found in similar games. You'll still need to save the world as you dive further into this weird world, but the sharp humor makes Mayhem in Single Valley a unique oddity on this list.
Metroid Prime series
Sure, Nintendo's favorite bounty may prefer to pack a plasma blaster instead of an ancient sword when dealing with threats, but the Metroid Prime series is a great example of a first-person Zelda-like done right. Everything from various dungeons to explore to artifacts to collect are present, but with Metroid's distinct sci-fi theme. Throw in some subtle Metroidvania influences, and this one-two punch of rock-solid gameplay and good-looking graphics is a must-have on Switch.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
What if you combined the style of Breath of the Wild with the oceanic exploration of Wind Waker and the isometric viewpoint of classic Zelda games? You'd get Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas, an ambitious fusion of influences that manages to be remarkably endearing. Paying homage to the past while attempting to sail on uncharted waters, Oceanhorn largely succeeds and delivers a scenic adventure, a soundtrack that'll you want to leave on repeat, and a pleasant world to explore.
Haven't had enough of 2D Zelda adventures yet? Then check out Ocean's Heart another tribute to the series that harkens back to the formative years of the series. Ocean's Heart gives you a lovely world to venture into, looks a treat with its pixel art, and with a short runtime, it doesn't outstay its welcome.
Until today, you've probably never imagined what a Legend of Zelda dating sim would be like, but Prodigal is here to fill that void in your life. A combo of romance and adventure, Prodigal contains all the usual hallmarks of a Zelda-like circa the Game Boy Color era, and with the dating sim aspects thrown in, there's some extra incentive for all the dungeons that you'll explore as you work to win hearts and minds. Cute, charming, and short fun that provides a unique twist on the tropes of being a hero.
Shogunaria isn't justa Zelda-influenced game, as this little indie has grabbed a few other ideas from Diablo and Golden Axe Warrior. This mix creates a more action-focused RPG that still has a foot stuck in the past, but at least there are a few modern touches present. With multiple zones to explore, no shortage of traps to duck, and several characters to play as, Shogunaria embraces its influences and delivers an enjoyable voyage into danger that doesn't take itself seriously.
Self-described as a mix between Portal, Zelda and Metroid, Supraland hits the Hyrule nail on the head with its vast landscape to explore, dense amount of puzzles to solve, and chunky combat. An ingenious and adorable pair of first-person puzzle games set in a giant toybox, the Supraland series pinches just enough inspiration from The Legend of Zelda to be familiar but never reliant on Nintendo's beloved franchise to deliver its signature gameplay.
Tunic wears its Legend of Zelda influences right on its…uh…tunic, but at the same time, this adorable link to the past has plenty to add to the classic Zelda formula with its tight gameplay and enchanting level design. Clever and challenging, Tunic embodies the mantra of the journey being more important than the destination, and by the time the end credits roll, the payoff to this odyssey feels satisfying and well-earned.
Zelda and Metroid pairs almost as well as Jay-Z and Linkin Park, and in Unsighted, that tag-team of franchise influences makes for a stylish combo. Pixel art shines as you travel the land in search of five meteor shards, each weapon you collect makes a tangible difference to the game, and interlocking combat systems keep the action fresh. Unsighted feels familiar, but it also builds on nostalgic systems with original ideas that help it establish its identity in a crowded genre.
There have been a lot of Ys games over the years, with the first game in the series liberally borrowing plenty of ideas from Link's Awakening back in 1987. Since then, Ys has been one of those cult-classic niche games, action-RPGs that focus more on action over explorative elements as you guide protagonist Adol across multiple planets. Approachable action that's fast-paced and never too complex, the most recent example, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, is worth checking out if you're up for a challenge, and will be followed by Ys X: Nordics later this year.