With the advent of Nintendo’s latest epic Zelda adventure, it feels like the open-world rulebook has been re-written once again. Indeed, continuing in the footsteps of its hugely acclaimed predecessor, Tears of the Kingdom somehow manages to expand upon its forebear’s blueprint in meaningful and engrossing ways.
But what if you’re hankering for more experiences that scratch the ol’ Zelda: TOTK itch? Well, we’ve compiled a selection of top-notch titles that could prove to be your next Hyrule-esque voyage. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the best games like Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Let’s do it!
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Ember Lab’s debut is undoubtedly an unabashed love letter to Nintendo’s iconic franchise. Set in a whimsical fantasy world that’s gradually succumbing to the corruption of a nefarious force (sound familiar?), the titular hero must join forces with a bunch of super cute critters known as the Rot. Yes, they may not sound all that cute, but when you lay your eyes on them, we promise you’ll be taken with the wee blighters.
Featuring fast-paced combat, environmental puzzles a la the Shrines from Zelda: Tears of The Kingdom, a myriad of nail-biting boss battles, and animation that feels ripped straight out of Studio Ghibli’s textbook, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a wonderfully satisfying Zelda-like, all wrapped up in a lush, painterly aesthetic.
Imagine working a soul-crushing job in an office, but said office is a bureaucratic, pencil pushing organization that collects… souls. Yep, that’s what Death’s Doors’ pint-sized protagonist has to contend with as he works his 9 to 5 as a
debt-collector soul-collector in the afterlife. While things kick off tickety-boo, with our loveable crow tasked with bringing in the soul of a mysterious monster, it soon becomes clear that the critter in question doesn’t want to give up the ghost. Figures, right?
This sets into motion an adventure that sees our avian hero journeying to three dungeons to collect three giant souls from a trio of very important creatures. Blending Souls-like game design with the combat and exploration of the 2D Zelda titles of yore, Death’s Door is a terrific Zelda-like experience, especially for those with a reverence for the original classic titles from back in the day.
Tchia is an open-world Zelda-like and the debut project from Bordeaux-based studio Awaceb. Set in the jaw-droppingly stunning tropical archipelago of New Caledonia and inspired by real world fables and steeped in real-life history, players must step into the shoes of the titular protagonist. From the off, Tchia goes through the stressful ordeal of seeing her father being kidnapped by the island’s ruler Meavora, which establishes the premise of the story.
With a multitude of abilities at her disposal, like soul jumping — which allows our heroine to assume control of animals and inanimate objects to solve puzzles — Tchia must strike out on an adventure to rescue and reunite with her father, while making a bunch of friends on her journey. While it may look like a lighthearted trip on the surface, themes of identity and cultural heritage help to imbue the experience with some additional depth.
If you’re after a short and sweet 3D Zelda-like, then Cococucumber’s enchanting action-RPG may well fit the bill. Loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice in Wonderland fable, players assume the role of Kira who accidentally falls through a mirror into a mystical world known as Dunia. Talking rabbits, an Evil Queen and even the dopey duo Tweedledum and Tweedledee make an appearance.
While it doesn’t have the gigantic budget of Nintendo’s acclaimed open-world magnum opus, it does feature a surprisingly intriguing twist on the classic fairytale, and offers some solid real-time combat, exploration, and quirky, whimsical adventure, which the Zelda series is so well-known for.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Even though Zelda didn’t originally launch as a straight-up RPG back in 1986, it’s fair to say that — over time — the series has evolved into an RPG-like experience. As a result, for those who’re yearning for a deeper and more traditional role-playing adventure, we have a few suggestions on this list, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is our first recommendation.
High fantasy, political unrest, a host of mythical beasties, combined with one of the most cartoonishly stoic heroes in the RPG genre all coalesce in an enchanting world inspired by the fiction of Polish fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski. While it may not boast the pick up and play feel of Zelda: TOTK, those on the
wild hunt for a more complex and challenging expedition may find CD Projekt RED’s offering to be just what the doctor ordered.
If a cutesy art-style is what you’re after, then Andrew Shouldice’s ode to the old-school 2D Zelda titles of yesteryear may be right up your alley. Yes, it may be a little on the nose with its inspirations — I mean, just look at that green tunic; remind you of anything? Nevertheless, that still doesn’t take anything away from the lovingly crafted isometric fantasy world of Tunic.
Players assume the role of a dinky fox who awakens on the shores of a mysterious island brimming with post-apocalyptic ruins, pesky monsters, and remnants of an instruction manual that appears to be written in a completely different language. Interestingly, the core experience challenges players with finding and piecing together the different pages of the instruction manual leading to one of two potential endings within the game. Much akin to Death’s Door, this endearing adventure is best for those longing for a return to simpler times, and it looks phenomenal to boot. In fact, speaking of cutesy art-styles…
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Okay, so this colorful puzzle adventure may be the most un-Zelda game on the list, but hear us out. While Greg Lobanov’s artsy paint ’em up transplants the moment-to-moment combat Zelda devotees may be accustomed to with the power of coloring and art, there’s a magnetic flare and a thoughtfulness to the entire experience that will really tap into your creative sensibilities and your sense of discovery.
See, the whole world of Chicory: A Colorful Tale is overflowing with secrets to discover, interesting characters to meet, and imaginative puzzles to solve. It’s also a surprisingly mature game with deep and wholesome themes centered around wellbeing, the relationship between art and artist, and depression. As you unlock new abilities, defeat dastardly bosses, and unravel its touching story, you’ll be enamored with its arrestingly charming world.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
What can be said about Skyrim that hasn’t already been said? After all, Bethesda Studios’ open-world fantasy RPG is available on almost every piece of hardware known to man. I mean, the company even put out a satirical ad with the game running on Alexa, a Motorola pager, and a Samsung fridge. Seriously, we shit you not.
But, for the three people out there who’ve never heard of the game, it’s basically an epic power fantasy that emphasizes freedom, exploration and role playing, with deep character customization, an endless array of dynamic quests, and a bestiary bursting at the seams with dragons, werewolves, and draugr. Oh, and the realm of Tamriel is absolutely mahoosive and — much like Zelda: TOTK — you can pretty much go wherever your heart takes you.
For those who’re craving a more challenging experience, then From Software’s magnum opus wants to introduce itself and say hi. Yes, while PS3’s overlooked 2009 exclusive Demon’s Souls was the true progenitor of the Souls-like formula, it’s safe to say that the success of 2011’s Dark Souls was what helped popularize the sub-genre.
Fast forward to today, and it’s hard to swing a cat without bumping into another Souls-like. That being said, while the imitators run the gamut between super awesome and pretty meh, they still can’t quite hold a candle to the Japanese studio’s original titles (spoiler alert: there’s another Souls-like down below that makes the cut).
In short, if you’re yet to embark on your adventure into the kingdom of Lordran, we’d highly recommend doing so, especially if you enjoyed your time in Hyrule’s Depths, which are a clear nod to From Software’s signature dark and grimy aesthetic.
Horizon Forbidden West
Guerilla Games’ post-apocalyptic sci-fi epic is Sony’s yin to Nintendo’s Hyrulean yang. Boasting a vast open-world waiting to be explored, scores of robotic dinos to hunt, as well as an eclectic cast of interesting characters to meet, the follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed debut is a gorgeous and well-written adventure that leans into its science-fantasy source material.
Players assume the role of Aloy, a tribal hunter cut from the same cloth as other iconic female heroines like, say, Ellen Ripley or Sarah Connor. Continuing on from the narrative of its predecessor, Horizon Forbidden West sees our charming protagonist unravelling a mystery pertaining to a deadly plague that is corrupting the world. (Anyone else got déjà vu?)
While the game’s stellar writing and excellent moment-to-moment gameplay shines brightly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention its phenomenal visuals, too. Is it the best looking game ever made? It could well be, folks!
Immortals Fenyx Rising
Aside from its slightly cringey title and occasionally ham-fisted storytelling, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a riveting Zelda-like that feels — from a genetic perspective — like Zelda: TOTK’s long, lost Greek brother. In fact, in some ways, it probably hits a little too close to home for some as its likeness is, well… uncanny.
Shrine-like puzzles? Check. Vast open-world? You betcha. Climbable cliffs? Yep. The power of flight? Yeah, we know, it’s a bit of dead ringer if you ask us. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Taking on the role of the titular Fenyx, players must journey through a vibrant world inspired by Greek mythology. Minotaurs, Cyclops, and Harpies are all hell-bent on raining on your parade, but it’s the engaging exploration and its fascinating mythical world that are its strongest assets. At its worst, it feels a bit like a Zelda clone, but at its best, it really zings with charm and spectacle in spades.
And with that, we come to the granddaddy of modern Zelda-like experiences. Indeed, it’s no secret that From Software borrowed liberally from Breath of the Wild‘s blueprint as it implemented a huge and liberating open-world bursting at the seams with mystery and intrigue in its newest IP, Elden Ring. That being said, it’s lovely to see the creative toing and froing of two of some of Japan’s most influential developers.
Really, at its core, this is Dark Souls’ signature risk-and-reward template imbued with new life. Not only does it open up the claustrophobic hallways of Lordran, giving way to the open fields of the Lands Between, but it also adds Torrent, your fellow spirit steed into the mix for the first time in a Souls experience.
In all, Elden Ring felt like a culmination of everything the illustrious studio had learnt so far: exacting combat, terrifying bosses, an amazing sense of discovery, and an addictive core gameplay loop. But the icing on the bloody cake? All these things fit seamlessly into an enormous open-world begging to be explored. No small feat!
But what say you? Did we miss anything? And do you have any recommendations of your own? Sound off in the usual place down below and let us know.