It’s been a little over a week since the release of the Nintendo Switch and its killer app, The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild. While the Switch hardware has been getting mixed reviews, Breath of the Wild is being universally praised as an innovation for the series.
But despite being ranked as one of the highest rated video games of all time on review aggregation website Metacritic, many people won’t be able to play it for a while. Switches are sold out at most major realtors and if past console launches are any indication, Nintendo won’t be able to keep up with demand any time soon. Sure, Nintendo also released the game on Wii U but that was a console which sold poorly and has probably already been traded in by owners wanting to upgrade to a Switch.
So, while Nintendo works on the production of more Switches, I’ve assembled a list of some of the best Zelda alternatives that can be picked up in the meantime.
The Batman Arkham Games
Superhero video games used to be a frequent punchline (za-pow!) because they were universally terrible. That was until Rocksteady Studios came and revitalized the genre with the Batman: Arkham series. Like Zelda you’ll get a game with tool based progression, creative bosses and tricky puzzles but you get to play as caped crusader himself. I know it’s a controversial opinion but I liked the prequel Arkham Origins the best and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played it. It wasn’t by the same team that made the other three main games but it offers an engaging story about a young inexperienced Batman encountering the Joker for the first time. Because Zelda games use the hero Link and villain Ganondorf (née Ganon) as archetypal stand-ins, they essentially get reintroduced to each other in every game.
When it first came out, Darksiders was criticized for borrowing heavily from games like Legend of Zelda without doing anything to evolve the gameplay. While it is true that it didn’t really do anything that hasn’t been done before, the gameplay was solid and the lore was interesting. You’ll solve puzzles, assign weapons and tools to different buttons, do some horseback riding and take on massive bosses. The first game focuses on War, the Horseman of the Apocalypse, trying clear his name after being blamed for starting the apocalypse prematurely. The second focuses on the Horseman Death and what he was up to during the events of the first game. I recommend the first because of the mystery established at the outset and it feels more like traditional Zelda games than the sequel.
One of the main selling points for the Nintendo Switch has been the ability to take your games with you on the go. If you want that classic Zelda look and feel but don’t want to do it while stuck at home, then Oceanhorn is the answer for you. In addition to being available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, it’s also on iPhone and Android. Aesthetically, Oceanhorn borrows heavily from the portable Zelda games seen on the Game Boy and the Nintendo DS. You’ll also find yourself in a boat for most of your adventure, not unlike Link in the Legend of Zelda Wind Waker. It doesn’t quite have the charm and gameplay that Nintendo seems to nail so well but works if you want to solve some puzzles on your daily commute.
Sword wielding hero? Check. Good and evil forces that continue to fight throughout time? Check. Quirky side characters? Check. Deity related relics? Check. Game within a game about a slacker fighting the Templars with a genetic history simulator? Ok so maybe that’s where the comparisons between the Zelda series and Assassins Creed series end. While the quality of Assassins Creed games have fluctuated more than the Zelda series, there are some gems worth checking out. I would recommend the recently released Ezio Collection which collects the three games about the suave Italian Assassin and Casanova, Ezio Auditore da Firenze.