Playdate 2D Zelda-Likes2023/08/03
Along Came A SpiderThis one is more of an adventure game, and the web-cranking action is entirely its own thing, but the game itself cites Zelda as an influence and that's easily apparent in the collecting of heart containers and the spider-coveted "Eye of Gohma". Recommended!
Dungeon Breakout Chapter 1
A fun first chapter that's just as substantial as some other full games on this list, the game starts off in the titular dungeon but soon breaks out to some outdoors adventuring with a mix of basic combat and puzzles. A little proofreading would go some way to polishing up the experience but the dialogue isn't really what you'll stay for.
Seth McPherson - itch.io
Eyeland is another adventure game, but the dreamlike premise, island setting and weird characters definitely give it enough in common with Link's Awakening that it deserves a mention. It's also just straight up one of the best games you can play on your Playdate!
The Lushes Land
The Lushes Land might call itself a spin-off from Tochi but don't be fooled, this is the much larger and more complete game. There are three dungeons hidden across an overworld that even includes a town to explore, although most locations are only there to be passed through. If you're only going to play one of SN-Studios' games you should make it this one, but be careful - you still can't save your progress!
Season one spoilers! Stealing the show at the end of the season, Ratcheteer is the largest and most polished zelda-like on the Playdate. Like Zelda it definitely is, right down to the jump animation taken straight out of the Game Boy titles. There are several dungeons and a sprawling over(under)world to explore, adding up to hours of play time. Unfortunately it comes a little too close to its inspiration in having an overly awkward menu system for changing items, actually made worse here by the near constant need to have a torch equipped, but that's not enough to stop this being one of Playdate's most notable games. In fact I was on the panel that awarded Ratcheteer Game of the Year in the 2022 Playdate Community Awards!
Shaun Inman - play.date
Before Zelda came Hydlide, and SUKIMA is certainly a Hydlide-like. If you like the original Zelda on NES, this one is for you! Currently hidden away on the Playdate devforum, which is a shame as it deserves more attention.
ambientworks.jp - devforum.play.date
A visual overhaul of the original Tochi, this is now the definitive version to play. It's a single small dungeon with simple traps, enemies and locked doors you need to find keys for. Just beware that death means starting over from the beginning.
SN-Studios - itch.io
Tochi II: Senshi
This sequel trades magic spells for swords but is mostly more of the same, including the lack of saving. Combined with the larger dungeon I unfortunately haven't managed to finish it. Here's hoping for a T.U.N.R style touch up!
SN-Studios - itch.io
Impressively made in just one week, Wood(land) packs a surprising amount in. There's a whole (tiny) island here to discover with a variety of puzzles, items and some basic combat. One of my favourites on this list and well worth a play!
thatsmaik - itch.io
Along Came A Spider: Valley of the Hollow
The upcoming sequel to Along Came A Spider looks significantly more zelda-like and all the better for it. There's an impressive amount of detail on show in the trailer, especially in the animation, and it appears to be much larger in scope than the original. The core gameplay loop isn't yet clear but it should be a fun adventure regardless!
Coming 2023 - Fat Nose Games - itch.io
With just the one trailer to work with it's unclear how zelda-like Crankblade will be, but it's for sure a top down 2D action rpg where you swing a sword around (using the crank!) to fight enemies in real time, so that counts for something! Even if it's really more of a roguelike, Crankblade is definitely one to keep an eye on.
A sci-fi setting is what sets this game apart, with an also apparent focus on puzzle solving. Visually this isn't the best game on the list, but from the trailer there are items including a sword and at least one room-spanning boss fight, so still plenty to look forward to!
Coming August 7th - KINGOFSHIBUYA Ltd. - itch.io
Solar DescentAn impressively complex fusion of Zelda and Dark Souls with some good looking visuals, that complexity also makes it quite fiddly to play. If the demo is anything to go by the full game should be quite ambitious in scope, I just hope the experience can be finessed!
You got me, I'm really just here to promote my own Playdate zelda-like Resonant Tale! Inspired in particular by Link's Awakening, Resonant Tale offers hours of low combat (and no filler) adventuring across an overworld full of quirky characters, leading the player through four dungeons each with its own boss to defeat. Equipping the player with sword, bombs and arrows, there are treasures to find, secrets to uncover, mini-games to play, and even a trading quest to complete, all of which should keep Zelda fans happy. Please check out the game when it launches later this year!