Twirlbound, Heart Machine, Ludosity
Hyrule Warriors games are great, but they’re definitely not the standard Zelda formula that fans love. And with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Fresh off the press, you might just crave a more traditional Zelda experience. Fortunately, there are many great titles from other developers that take inspiration from the Zelda series.
RiME (PC / Switch / PS4 / Xbox)
RiME is a peaceful title about exploring an ancient island full of ruins and secrets to uncover. Enjoy the beautiful world while interacting with local wildlife and solving scattered puzzles. All the while, you’ll learn more about the Nameless Boy’s backstory as you play through the various collectibles you find throughout your game.
Pin (PC / switch)
Taking inspiration from Breath of the Wild, Pine immerses the player in a huge open world where humans are at the bottom of the food chain. You’ll explore a wide variety of biomes and structures, while taking on the other civilizations that inhabit the island. There are plenty of items to collect and craft and secrets to uncover, and the story unfolds in an interesting way while making sure you take an active part in it.
Hyper Light Drifter (PC / Switch / PS4 / Xbox)
In this beautifully pixelated tale, you play as a mysterious wanderer exploring a diverse world full of intrigue. The storytelling is cryptic and told only through the environment, and Zelda’s inspiration becomes clear when you see the gameplay. The combat is fast paced and based on quick sword strikes and clever dodge. It all comes together to deliver a satisfying game with some of the best pixel art in the game.
Hob (PC / Switch / PS4)
Hob follows Zelda’s formula quite faithfully, but he has enough unique flair to set himself apart. The cartoon’s 3D visuals give the world a lot of character and also open the door to more vertical movement than most top down games. In this game, you will explore, solve puzzles and fight enemies. What could be more Zelda than that?
Darksiders II (PC / Switch / PS4 / Xbox)
While the Darksiders series certainly has a different tone to Zelda’s, it still takes a lot of clues from the series, including the dungeon-based progression system that we see throughout the game. Also great combat and hack n ‘slash loot systems to keep you engaged as you progress through the game.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (PC / Switch)
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is instantly recognizable as a Zelda-inspired title, with everything from animation to the workings of combat paying homage to the series. But this is no cheap imitator – Blossom Tales has been praised for taking the classic Zelda formula and including lots of new ideas, as well as great dungeon designs.
Ittle Dew 2+ (PC / Switch / PS4)
As a sequel to the already critically acclaimed Ittle DewIt’s no surprise that Ittle Dew 2 is another faithful reinterpretation of Zelda’s formula. With new items, cute art style and excellent level of design, this game is sure to appeal to fans of the Zelda series new and old. There’s a lot of content in the game, with seven dungeons that you can tackle in any order, as well as several unlockable dungeons that increase the difficulty.
Moonlighter (PC / Switch / PS4 / Xbox)
Moonlighter is a beautifully detailed adventure with plenty to achieve – it even adds some roguelite mechanics for good measure. You run a small shop, selling loot from the procedurally generated dungeons that you explore every night. You can get a wide variety of weapons and items, whether from the townspeople or from treasure chests. Even Moonlighter’s inventory system manages to be unique, with an interesting puzzle element in which you have to be careful with how the items are stacked.
Mana Collection (Switch)
The Mana series were revolutionary titles when they were first released, featuring awesome visuals and unique action-oriented RPG combat. And now you can play the whole series through the Mana Collection on Switch. While the first game, Final Fantasy Adventure, is a bit dated, having originally released on Gameboy, it’s still a solid game. And the other two games hold up perfectly against modern top-down RPGs, so whether you’ve played these games before or not, this collection is a great choice.
If you don’t have a Switch, the remake of Trails of Mana (the third and final game in the series) is available at Pc, PS4, and Switch. It drastically changes things from the original title, turning the top-down adventure into a third-person 3D adventure, but the heart and soul of the game is still there and as great as ever.
Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Sea (PC / Switch / PS4 / Xbox / Android / iOS)
Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Sea doesn’t do much to convince you that it’s not a Zelda knockoff. Everything about the level design, perspective, and even the design of the main character shows this pretty clearly. Despite this, Oceanhorn still manages to be a game worth playing due to how efficiently it recreates Zelda’s formula. For fans of the series, this is a great title to play if you want to feel right at home.
Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Sea has a sequel in Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Kingdom that focuses on third-person action and overall brings fresher ideas to the table. However, it is only available on Switch and iOS devices.