Delightful Zelda 2-inspired indie Sheep Lad promises "engaging close-quarters combat" in an expansive world

 Sheep Lad.
Sheep Lad.

Modern Zelda titles are all about giving the player the freedom to explore a massive open world and, in the case of Tears of the Kingdom, build anything you like by sticking together whatever objects you can find. They're revolutionary for sure but far removed from the series' roots.

So if after exploring the bright skies and darkest depths of Hyrule in Link's latest adventure, you've found yourself longing for a more old-school Zelda experience, then this upcoming indie from developer Robin Poe is definitely one you'll want to keep on your radar.

Delightfully named Sheep Lad, it's described by its creator as a "spiritual successor" to Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. Like the beloved 1987 NES game, it features 2D platforming action mixed with RPG elements and is packaged in delightful pixel art graphics.

A short video posted on Twitter shows the game's protagonist, Basil the Sheep Lad - clad in a green outfit no less - navigating a cave with some fancy flips and taking down skeletons with a few strikes of their trusty sword.

According to the developer, one of the main focuses for Sheep Lad has been to "create an engaging close-quarters combat system." Rather than a series of flashy combos, fights are considered and involve "finding gaps in your opponent's defenses before they find a gap in yours." To emerge unscathed, you'll have to maneuver around shields, parry and deflect attacks, and counter when you find an opening.

There's a lot more to do than just battle it out in dungeons as Sheep Lad also boasts "an expansive RPG-like overworld" featuring caves, forests, towns and more, with secrets waiting for those who take the time to explore.

"I'm very passionate about making a world feel like a living breathing space," Poe explains, "where every NPC, home, and village feels like a small part of a larger living, breathing world. There are secrets hidden behind every corner, people with routines and relationships, places with cultural beliefs and histories."

Poe is planning on launching a Kickstarter to get Sheep Lad off the ground, and you can sign up here to be notified when that goes live. You can also wishlist the game on Steam and keep up to date with its progress by following the developer on Twitter.

For more inspired indies coming your way in the near future, check out our guide to upcoming indie games.