Tears of the Kingdom the Zelda Enjoys Playing

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With the recent influx of Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games on Nintendo’s online subscription service, it’s easier than ever to play most of the major Zelda games. At Polygon, we went through the classic catalog of the series before The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom In May. It’s a pleasure to play the games back to back and see the series unfold between each subsequent entry into the microcosm.

But sometimes it’s just as fun, if not more, to play the Zelda-inspired games — 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 the puzzle-based dungeons? Is it a collection of cool new tools that you need to master to defeat the next Boss? For each new Zelda game that has strengthened these pillars, as many have come to refute them. (I am in Majora’s mask myself, perhaps the most subversive chapter of the “let’s make things happen” mindset.) It is this malleability that has led to such a diverse selection of “Zelda-esque” games.

So if you, like us, are once again exhausting the number of Zelda games that you have not yet revisited before the direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, we have put together a List of our favorite alternatives that embody the term “Zelda-like”.”Some focus on puzzles; others rely on the manipulation of time; one gives us the strongest overview yet of a Zelda game entirely focused on action. We kept the criteria vague because the criteria were vague from the beginning. And that’s why it’s so much fun. – Mike Mahardy

Extension to The East

The influence of The Legend of Zelda on Eastward becomes obvious the moment you load the game. Its gameplay and style seep into Zelda right down to the heart gauge, which displays your health points. Eastward is a role-playing game from the Chinese developer Pixpil from 2021 that takes the player east into a secret post-apocalyptic world with a gruff guy named John and a magical child named Sam. The puzzles of the world require the player to use John and Sam in different ways. John has a frying pan that he can use to hit enemies, while Sam’s magical powers will stun enemies. They are controllable at the same time, using the trigger of a controller to advance one or the other. Part earth-related and part Zelda, towards the East is a must-see for anyone interested in Pixel art RPGs. – Nicole Zimmermann

Eastward is available for Mac, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC and Xbox One.

DEATH GATE

If Eastward is Earthbound meets The Legend of Zelda, then Death’s Door is a mix of Dark Souls and Zelda. Death’s Door features the top-down exploration of many Zelda games, where players collect upgrades and tools as they move through puzzles and dungeons, but combines this with a dark world and challenging boss fights that are more like Dark Souls. It’s about a crow named Crow, who is a Soul Reaper — his journey takes him from the bureaucracy of the afterlife to the world where souls reside. It is a simple game that does almost everything perfectly, a more user-friendly “difficult” game with a difficulty level that increases as the game progresses. – Nicole Zimmermann

Death’s Door is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

OKAMI HD

Okami is known for his apparent resemblance to Twilight Princess, the Zelda title that features Link in lupine form. But the similarities go beyond this superficial comparison of the characters-to the extent that Fans consider it one of the best unofficial Zelda games. It is peppered with puzzles, and clearing the regions adds to the protagonist’s toolbox: a set of celestial brush powers that allow you to modify the environment around you. The game seems to have Zelda in its DNA, even in its smallest moments that I unpacked in another room:

As in the Zelda games, the dungeons had elementary themes: I used levers to lower the waterline in a cursed pirate ship and fire powers in a lava-themed dungeon. Although Okami’s puzzles are less open-ended than those of Breath of the Wild — it’s pretty obvious with which brushstrokes they solve things — I was always excited about the powers I accumulated and the way they made me change the world.

– Katrin Schneider

Okami HD is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.

NO ONE SAVES THE WORLD

The descendant dungeon crawler from Drinkbox Studios is Zelda for a new generation, from crazy experience with The Overworld to procedurally generated caves below. Its Mix-and-Match progression allows players to deviate in the direction of their favorite style of play while having the opportunity to see and unlock everything. Most importantly, no one takes place in a once cheerful fairyland that deserves to be saved, whose NPCs who give a crazy mission always cause at least a dry laugh. – Owen Good

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