The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is almost here, but every day before its release feels like an eternity. The best method to kill time and make time fly by is to play high-quality titles that take Hyrule out of your mind for a while.
To help you on this mission, we have a list of games with a Zelda flavor that can entertain you for a good while. Zelda is an extremely influential franchise, so there are everything from big productions to small indie gems that have a similar style and a lot of quality. These are recommendations that cover the evolution of the series, so don't just expect open worlds and complete freedom.
Video: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Trailer
- Available on: Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC.
- Recommended if: you love The Legend of Zelda and miss games with manuals.
Indie video games are wonderful because they bet on ideas that large productions overlook. Such is the case with TUNIC, not necessarily because it's a game about an adventurous little fox that clearly draws inspiration from the early Zeldas, but because more than a tribute, it wants to act as a time machine.
What's magical about TUNIC is that it transports us to that moment when we first put the golden cartridge of The Legend of Zelda into our NES. It makes us feel lost in a world that offers much more than meets the eye. Luckily, we're not alone: in its levels are hidden pages of a manual that will be our best friend, helping us understand this mysterious world and its language.
- Available on: PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC.
- Recommended if: you love The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
If there's one thing that has made The Legend of Zelda a legendary franchise, it's its games with different styles for varied audiences but that retain the essence of the original. Most satisfyingly adapt the Zelda formula and are based on their 2D releases, but some managed to take the best of releases like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess to make them something of their own.
One of them is Okami. This legendary Capcom game takes inspiration from Zelda to take us to a beautiful world full of dangers and puzzles that's based on Japanese mythology. It's a beautiful experience that many consider a better Zelda than many Zeldas made by Nintendo. You owe it to your gaming history if you haven't tried Okami yet.
Immortals: Phoenix Rising
- Available on: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC.
- Recommended if: you loved the freedom that Breath of the Wild offers.
Did The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild invent open worlds? Of course not! But saying that it's not highly influential is as big a lie as the hills Link sees on his cover. In fact, there are plenty of games that miles away want to be like Breath of the Wild, and that's wonderful.
One of the first titles that proudly wore the medal of being inspired by BOTW was Immortals: Phoenix Rising, which draws inspiration from the exploration and clever freedom of the Nintendo Switch game. Is it a gem? It carries classic design decisions from Ubisoft that dilute the sense of adventure, so no. It's in no way a substitute for Tears of the Kingdom, but it's good enough to have fun with while you wait for your copy.
Super Dungeon Maker
- Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch
- Recommended if: you always thought Nintendo should release a Zelda Maker
The release of Super Mario Maker and its sequel left us with a huge question: why the heck hasn't Nintendo done the same with The Legend of Zelda? Maybe they find it too complicated or simply don't see the market for it. Fortunately, where Nintendo ignores fan requests, indies step in to fulfill them.
Super Dungeon Maker has an extremely honest name. It's a game about making dungeons, that simple. What catches the attention of many is that its dungeon styles are clearly based on games like A Link to The Past, Oracles of Seasons/Ages, and A Link Between Worlds. In this way, you can create your dream puzzle-filled dungeon or play the gems that the community has already created.
- Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Recommended if: you sent letters to Club Nintendo asking for a darker and more violent Zelda
Back in the early 2000s, many gamers who felt too mature for their own good were screaming for an adult Zelda. I don't know if their perpetual adolescence prevented them from understanding how depressing and desolate Majora's Mask is, or if by mature they meant showing blood and scenes with passion from a late-night soap opera. What was Nintendo's response? Troll everyone with Wind Waker, the most caricatured and childlike-looking Zelda ever released.
Just because Nintendo is too concerned with getting nothing higher than a T rating from the ESRB doesn't mean we'll never see a dark and violent Zelda. For years, Darksiders has delivered just that, with brutal combat, lots of puzzles, and the brutality that many want to see in an adventure game. All of its installments are of quality, but we recommend starting with the first and taking advantage of its availability on almost all modern platforms.
- Available on: PlayStation 4,PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Recommended if: you think Majora's Mask is the best Zelda and love Metroid Prime
In many ways, Outer Wilds is far from The Legend of Zelda. You travel through various planets, it's in first-person... what does this have to do with Nintendo's franchise? Maybe its trailers don't let you see it, but it's a unique experience that reminds us of Wind Waker because it feels like a journey; Skyward Sword for the structure of its levels, and Majora's Mask for its time loops.
Aside from that, Outer Wilds can be considered a Zelda game for one simple reason: it has an unparalleled sense of adventure. Like TUNIC, Outer Wilds is a game full of mysteries that you have to discover little by little. It's an independent gem that you'll love if you consider yourself a fan of The Legend of Zelda.
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
- Available on: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (backward compatibility)
- Recommended if: you want to give Tears of the Kingdom's construction a try
Okay, okay. Look, I'm not stupid or crazy. I know Banjo Kazooie isn't even close to being a game similar to The Legend of Zelda, but our beloved Nuts & Bolts could be the perfect option to warm up before Tears of the Kingdom. If you want, consider it a kind of bonus on the list, but its presence makes sense.
I don't believe I'm a genius for saying this (in fact, it's a joke that has been repeated so much that it's like kicking a dead horse), but the construction mechanics in Tears of the Kingdom are reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Several of its elements are fundamentally different, but if there's a game that can help you get your brain into vehicle-building mode, it's Nuts & Bolts. I don't consider it a great game, but maybe now it will have its second chance.
And you, which games will you kill time with before the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will arrive on May 12th for Nintendo Switch.