Daily Debate: What Game Has Out-Zelda’d The Zelda Series?
Posted on November 28 2022 by Andrew Millard
The Legend of Zelda looms large as an influence on multiple genres. With best-ever examples in gaming when it comes to exploration, puzzles, and combat, it’s one of the easiest points of reference to make in any discussion on video games. The series so gracefully and profoundly reinvented itself at each generation that other action RPGs in its wake could only mimic, pay homage, or offer counter programming.
Every once in a while, though, the student overtakes the master. My Daily Debate prompt today, then: What non-Zelda game has improved on a gameplay concept or trait that is traditionally attributed to the Zelda series?
To kick off the discussion, I would suggest a deep cut from the seventh generation of consoles: Enslaved: Odyssey to The West. As a torchbearer for Zelda‘s core gameplay loop, Enslaved did more to satisfy me than that decade’s two most-recent mainline Zelda titles. Not to detract from those games. Far from it. The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess generally outclass Enslaved. However, there’s something about the way Ninja Theory was able to merge key story beats with new unlocks in the player’s upgrade path that really showed how well they understood the assignment.
To play Enslaved is to see the best version of the very “Zelda” concept of exploring a dungeon for a key upgrade and then adding that upgrade to your strategy. Plus, Ninja Theory had a couple aces up its sleeve. Ex Machina director Alex Garland wrote and advised the game, while the king of motion capture himself, Andy Serkis, played the main character, Monkey. If you missed Enslaved back in its day, I highly recommend tracking it down, especially if you miss Twilight Princess‘ emphasis on combat.
But what is it for you? Which game or series has beaten Zelda at its own game? Even if just in one regard. Recommend it to us down in the comments!
Featured Image: Namco Bandai
Andrew is a writing teacher in the American Upper Midwest. He has been playing Zelda games since 1990.