Top 10 Metroidvania games we recommend you to try
Metroidvania games are one of the most popular types of games. These games offer huge maps to explore, a set of exciting obstacles and challenges to overcome along with non-linear progression systems during your challenging journey.
If you are not familiar with Metroidvania games, you can consider it a sub-genre of action-adventure games, while its name was inspired by the Metroid and Castlevania series as this type of game, offers the best elements of the two series while incorporating some innovative ideas from the core gameplay.
With dozens of games in this genre, it was hard to pick just 10, so we made sure the games in the list below provided a typical Metroidvania experience regardless of how unique some of the other games strayed from the basic format.
In general, Metroidvania games are based on a 2D platformer with large and interconnected maps that the player can explore. Access to these vast parts of the world must be restricted by obstacles such as portals that can only be overcome once the player has acquired something specific such as items, tools, weapons, and abilities. Obtaining these items can help the player defeat more difficult enemies and access secret areas in the game world.
Therefore, in this list, we chose games that are characterized by the integration of story and level design, as well as the presence of distinctive character controls that help exploration and experimentation.
1. Dead Cells
The extremely simplistic combat system along with the elaborate level design makes Dead Cells a friendly Metroidvania game even for people who don’t particularly like this type of game. Each round of the game is easy to digest thanks to its beautifully detailed and variable levels that instil a sense of discovery and familiarity. This game is one of the best examples of how to remix ideas from other games without losing the core strengths of the game.
Death is never fun in games of this type, but a well-designed bonus loop softens the feel of death and gives you extra hope for upcoming rounds making the experience more about exploration, while permanent upgrades add a sense of progression and give you more goals to work on.
2. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight is simply one of the best Metroidvania games we’ve played that no fan of this genre should miss. Its massive and intricate map, beautiful graphics and a great variety of enemies and bosses make it a unique game worth trying.
The game’s world is compelling and rich, full of narrative details that the developer has put in place for you to discover, and is built with branching paths that offer an absurd amount of choice in how to discover it. With such a high density of secrets laid out in the aspects of the world and elaborate gameplay, this game should be on your priority list.
This game proves that you do not need a lot of creativity and innovation to create a successful game, as it is far from being the most innovative game in its genre, but in return, it knew how to draw some ideas from similar titles with elaborate execution and controls.
3. Ori and the Blind Forest
Don’t be fooled by the looks of this game, behind the delicate and beautifully handcrafted graphics lies a truly powerful experience, built on creativity in the design of the levels and gameplay. You will scream and laugh as you progress through cleverly designed puzzles with a great soundtrack.
This game sets high standards for modern Metroidvania games, both in terms of its dazzling aesthetics and immaculately detailed environments along with engaging gameplay that is driven by an emotional plot. The game offers a journey of hearty joy accompanied by the blossoming of the forests around you, the colours that fill the trees and the beautiful clouds that are irresistible, despite knowing those deadly bloody rocks on your way.
We highly recommend trying the 2020 sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps which builds on the core experience and adds more depth and creativity to it.
4. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
This game is everything any Castlevania fan could wish for. Simply put, it is a 2D action and platform game that looks like modern Metroidvania games but is also respectful of its history and knows how to capture the best elements of the genre.
Although fans of this type of game will get a dose of nostalgia when trying the game, it remains suitable for all players even those who want to try this genre for the first time thanks to the excellent exploration elements and distinctive movement and fighting style.
The game’s battles, RPGs, and exploration intertwine in a very fluid way, which made me “extremely anxious” navigating every nook and cranny of the gigantic map with which you will spend many hours even after defeating the last boss.
A delightful game is full of interesting characters with a wonderful story that combines beautiful and bitter moments. The game has a high-quality art style combined with a high level of attention to detail in everything from the stunning visuals and soundtrack to the fun and responsive gameplay to the pixel art graphic style.
6. Axiom Verge
Throughout my time with Axiom Verge, I have been constantly excited to explore exotic worlds, gain game-changing abilities, and use a new weapon for the first time. Everything you pick up in this game seems meaningful, unlike some other games that put in your way a lot of things that you don’t need.
Simply creative, fun and challenging, this game is a must-try for fans of classic games and modern challenges. The game masterfully combines elements reminiscent of classic emblematic games with core gaming elements such as creative gameplay and a captivating atmosphere.
7. The Messenger
One of the best indie games out there, it beats the best Metroidvania games out right now thanks to its amazing looks, great soundtrack, clever writing and amazing gameplay that gives it an edge over some games of the same genre.
The game is not just a great love letter to 8-bit and 16-bit games but proof that even in the market saturated with old-fashioned platform games, there are still clever ways to approach the genre including being creative with level design and storytelling.
This game is specifically aimed at the player who is more nostalgic than the younger audience so you will find a lot of references to the classic old 8-bit games which makes the experience more satisfying for the older players.
8. Yoku’s Island Express
The game brilliantly combines two genres, Pinball and Metroidvania, and that’s enough for a unit to pay tribute to the developer and the work he’s done.
The time in this game flew by so fast because I enjoyed exploring the wonderful island and mastering some new moves while its charming story and characters made me smile throughout the gameplay. The game continues to challenge you in each of its areas while its hidden collectables keep you coming back for more.
9. Salt and Sanctuary
Although the game basically takes the Souls game formula and puts it in 2D, it is full of fun and offers great challenges along with lots of special tricks that make it an original and fun game that is far from just trying to mix Dark Souls and Castlevania.
The game succeeded in transferring the familiar gameplay of previous games to a different dimension and added a kind of depth to it with many combat options and rewards. The gameplay is solid and meticulous, but it does require you to forgive an unfair death every now and then. The game doesn’t take your hand either in terms of gameplay, story, or general mechanics, instead of rewarding courage and persistence consistently.
10. Guacamelee! 2
Thanks to the way video game history has evolved, Metroidvania Games continue to fuel the romance that surrounds the genre, and Guacamelee! 2 is one of the best games that represent this romance as it matches the demands of both old and new players who love this type of game.
The developer has succeeded in creating a 2D platform game with a textured character and includes some clever writing and a satirical look that is inspired by respect for Mexican culture and international pop culture.
If you like the original version of the game, this game will be one of the best experiences that you will love, as it adds more fun and depth, whether in terms of music, combat, or boss design.
In short, you will have an exhilarating and colourful game that puts you at the centre of various challenges from start to finish and leads you to harness your full skills to face these challenges that become real madness at certain points in the game.