As this year marks the iconic hero’s 35th anniversary, we thought we’d do something a little different. To celebrate, we want to mark a selection of fantastic alternatives that are inspired by Nintendo’s princess and her saviour Link. The formula has resulted in 35 years of incredible titles, but that doesn’t mean Xbox fans have to miss out.
With such a popular franchise, numerous alternatives unsurprisingly rear their heads and use the concept in new, unique ways – sometimes even building upon the original with fantastic new ideas. So, here are eight alternatives to the Zelda franchise, allowing you to have your very own celebration this year on your Xbox system.
Perhaps the most obvious inclusion is Immortals Fenyx Rising, which is well known for its The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild inspirations. Despite its influences, the game manages to completely hold its own by crafting a gorgeous world filled with secrets to find and puzzles to solve. You can’t go more than a few yards before being tantalised by something new and Immortals Fenyx Rising keeps finding new ways to reward the player, whether that be through unlockable items, upgrades, or just a beautiful vista. The Xbox Series X patch also increases the game’s performance and graphical capabilities, making it a must play.
Ōkami first released back in 2006, but all these years later it still manages to be an absolute visual treat and one of the best Zelda alternatives on the market. With a unique cel-shaded art style, each frame of Ōkami beams off the screen with undeniable charm. As with classic Zelda games, the game features an extensive overworld, with dungeons to explore and new items to unlock to advance further. The hook here though is the new items consist of new paint brushes for your celestial brush, which you use to advance further through the world. It’s a timeless classic and one that uses all of Zelda’s strengths to its advantage.
Publisher: Nordic Games / Developer: Vigil Games
You could pick either the first or second game, but we think Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition wins the edge, simply through how it falls into the Zelda genre trappings even further. There’s no other game on Xbox that leans so heavily into the conventions of Zelda, with a fantasy overworld that’s huge enough to warrant travel on horseback, to the intricate dungeons, filled with puzzles and chests to uncover. It’s a lengthy adventure with a vibrant, exciting visual art style that will encourage you to unearth every corner of its world.
Harkening back to the 16-bit era of Zelda goodness, CrossCode launched on Xbox Game Pass last year and has been under the radar since. Set in a futuristic world, it brings all the classic gameplay elements such as dungeons and puzzles, but has an incredibly immersive story to compliment it. Not only that, but the retro styled combat is addictive, punchy and evolves as the story goes on. It’s a fairly lengthy adventure, too, packing a lot of mileage for an independently made game. Definitely one to check out.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is a fan favourite title amongst many and Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas aims to replicate that same feeling and succeeds. Set across multiple islands, you’ll travel on a exhilarating adventure, solving dungeons on each island, earning new upgrades, and sailing your boat across the scenes – similar to Wind Waker. The sequel is expected to make its move onto consoles sometime this year, so it’s a perfect excuse to check it out before it does.
Jumping into Xbox Game Pass late last year, Supraland surprised us with how addictive it can be, and the amount of content it holds. Taking the unusual setting of being within a child’s toy box, the game acts as a love letter to Zelda and many other classic games. It trusts you to use your intuition and experiment with the world, as you encounter numerous puzzles, situations and quests that require a variety of skills to perform. The way it constantly pushes you forward and expands its world is really impressive and begs for exploration into every corner for secrets.
This massive open-world adventure has slipped under the radar for many, but is a fantastic entry if you’re looking for some Zelda vibes. Starting with your trusty sword and shield, you’ll embark on an epic adventure as you explore the world, solve puzzles, find collectibles, and unlock a bunch of new upgrades to navigate new areas. If that wasn’t enough it also boasts some fast-paced, addictive combat that evolves as the game expands. It even has the classic Zelda chest animation, that fills the nostalgia void almost perfectly.
Many people dismissed this excellent Xbox exclusive when it launched and it’s a shame, as ReCore is a great hidden gem and borrows many influences from Zelda. Set in a desolate open-world, players will explore with three robot companions, each with unique abilities to unlock and upgrade. It’s a gorgeous open hub to explore, littered with platforming challenges and devilishly challenging dungeons as you work on upgrading your character. If you haven’t dived into ReCore, honestly, check it out. It’s one of the hidden gems on Xbox and well worth your time.
If you’re looking to capture the sea faring adventure of Wind Waker, Windbound is a perfect choice. As you start out shipwrecked, you’ll begin uncovering a mystery across numerous islands, scouring for resources to survive, crafting tools and weapons to hunt and defend yourself against nature itself with its wild and fantastical creatures. The game contains the same colourful art style as Wind Waker, which is both warm and inviting. It’s an exciting adventure that any Zelda fan is undoubtedly going to be intrigued by.
For those who want to harken back to NES days of Zelda, look no further than Kamiko. The top down adventure is heavily influenced by Zelda’s adventures, as players battle monsters and solve a variety of puzzles to advance. Inspired heavily by Japanese culture, Kamiko is a gorgeous call back to the retro gaming days, when The Legend of Zelda was in its infancy and groups of friends would huddle around a single TV screen to watch it play out. This is one for players looking for something a bit more old school as a Zelda alternative.
Which other Zelda alternatives would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.