Tunic and 4 other alternatives to Zelda that you cannot miss

With the arrival of Tunic last month to PC, Xbox One and Series, the list of good alternatives to zelda has increased. And although we are aware that talking about titles that stand out on their own by referring to other more famous ones is a shortcut that is not always liked, with the Nintendo saga it is quite useful to mention it. Because at this point it’s easy to talk about platform games without mentioning Mario, First Person Shooters without citing DOOM or open world games without citing Grand Theft Auto; but when it comes to adventures that combine exploration, puzzles and combatwhich lead us between meadows and dungeonsZelda is still an almost inescapable name.

And it’s not just because the NES original popularized a formula that instantly differed from both the pioneering Western RPGs and their Japanese turn-based variants. Also because outside of Nintendo it is still unusual to find efforts that compare in quality or popularity. Surely every fan of the metroidvania you can cite a handful of excellent samples that don’t have Metroid or Castlevania in the title; but beyond specific classics like Alundra or Okami, how many adventures have managed to endure in the collective memory like A Link to the Past or the Ocarina of Time? So receiving something like Tunic is cause for double celebration. And that is why we are going to recommend it along with other recent alternatives.

Tunic

  • FreeGameTips analysis
  • Platforms: PC, XBO, XBS

We start with Tunic himself for being the last, and also one of the most interesting of the group. Because at first glance it may seem like a modernized imitation of the first Zelda with the almost indispensable Dark Souls touches that guarantee more success among the overlapping public of both franchises (high difficulty, need to roll to avoid attacks, loss and recovery of “souls” after dying…). But Tunic’s genius isn’t just about bringing back familiar items like keys and dungeons, bosses and frames of invulnerability; also in the way that reimagines and reintroduces the mysteries of adventures of yore.

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In Tunic, the little fox protagonist not only find typical equipment such as swords or shields, bombs or potions; also sheets of a retro instruction manual, unequivocally inspired by the NES Zelda, which is gradually filled with information such as basic techniques, usefulness of items, maps and even solutions for some puzzles. Much of it, yes, written in a fictional languageso the player must pay attention and give context through extrapolation and experimentation. An ode to eighties games that understands that their appeal was not limited to what we saw on television, but that it was born on our side of the screen.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

  • FreeGameTips analysis
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5

We go back a little, but not much, to remember one of the most pleasant surprises of the past year. Because this was one of those games that seemed too good to be true. The project of a small first-time studio willing to offer a 3D adventure in the vein of Zelda “128 bits” u other contemporary alternatives such as Star Fox Adventures or Beyond Good & Evil, only with a technical bill to match PS4 / PS5. But just that has been Kena. Although more moderate in scale—but also in price—Ember Lab’s debut perfectly recaptures the charms of that era with the mediums of today.

The visual section, of course, is its first and great asset thanks to a very inspired art direction —with certain bits of Studio Ghibli—, lush forests as far as the eye can see and lighting at the level of the best triple A. But Kena is much more than its façade, it is a game that alternates with ease between bosses of a certain caliber -although easier than Tunic, it does not lack the demanding touch-, platform and one good range of skills thanks to a cane that as soon serves to hit enemies as launch arrows, propel us through the air or command small creatureslos Rotswho help us as we rescue them.

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Eastward

  • FreeGameTips analysis
  • Platforms: PC, Switch

Another 2021 game with certain influences from the animator Miyazaki —not the From Software designer— that enters very well through the eyes, although in his case thanks to a pixel art prodigious, it’s Eastward. This game, also the debut of his studio (the Chinese Pixpil), has a much more narrative approach than the others included in the list, with lots of dialogue, emotional moments and plot twists although the protagonist, a miner named JohnBe mute like a certain green-robed Hylian hero. Samthe talkative girl who accompanies him, is in charge of carrying the weight of the conversations and also of seasoning the gameplay with her psychic powers in front of clean pan fight that characterizes John.

While watching it is hard not to think of RPGs that turn the mundane into the extraordinary, such as EarthBound or Undertale, Eastward’s gameplay continues to steer you towards selection of adventures with Zelda roots. Not because of the fights in real time or the lack of experience to level up, but because of the design of its dungeons, the need to alternate control of the two protagonists to resolve situations outside of combat o la remarkable selection of bosses that require more use of logic than just hitting them randomly.

Death’s Door

  • FreeGameTips analysis
  • Platforms: PC, XBO, PS4, XBS, PS5, Switch

We return to 3D graphics, but from a isometric perspective like Tunic. Death’s Door shares several visual and gameplay elements with our first game today, although it is generally a faster paced experience. The main character crow —putting an animal in front is another of those parallels— moves with a little more agility and faces a larger number of enemies, although the development is also more evident than in the little fox’s adventure. This does not mean that there is still abundant exploration, moments of calm, secrets to find and backtracking since we got new objects and skills.

A key differentiator is the importance of secondaries, especially of the bosses. All they have stories and motivations worked, which contextualize each zone and the global argument; In short, our crow is in charge of harvesting souls for a company from beyond, and the encounters with these bosses, possessors of great ones that we need, are not limited to finding them and defeating them, they are preceded by conversations with room for both comedy and drama. While not as narrative-focused a game as Eastward, Death’s Door’s atmosphere and characters definitely earn it a few extra points.

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Hyper Light Drifter

  • FreeGameTips analysis
  • Platforms: PC, XBO, ps4, Switch, iOS

We end up going back a little further in time, to 2016, just in case some of you still have this little Heart Machine gem pending. The studio’s debut film (which recently released Solar Ash) was once one of the best examples of the duality that can characterize adventures, or video games in general. Because Hyper Light Drifter is a work with intense fighting, but also moments of effective contemplation. With minimalist aesthetic, but at the same time profuse in details. with a strong narrative load through its images and interactive scenes, but at the same time free of voices and texts because this medium does not need them to express itself.

Although it is not the most modern or perhaps the “most Zelda”, Hyper Light Drifter recaptures that magic that cannot always be expressed in words. Hence the reference to it as “magic.” What defines a good adventure is not just finding caves behind waterfalls, pushing blocks, getting keys or defeating bosses with some newly acquired item. It is also the ability to transport us to another world. To reward our dexterity with our hands and heads by broadening their horizons, increasing our knowledge, strengthening the bond with landscapes created through pixelthey are polygons until we forget they are there. Hyper Light Drifter is great at it, which is why it deserves to close our list of recommendations.