Sidescroller classics like Metroid and Castlevania have defined their genre by offering the perfect mix of intense combat and far-reaching level exploration. Check out our ranking of the best Metroidvania games to see which titles follow this popular recipe par excellence and have taken it to the next level.
Metroidvanias have something nostalgic about them, as they often appear in 2D and also like to have a retro look. Nevertheless, the technical progress in game design is pleasantly noticeable, especially in the newer titles: Smooth animations, high frame rates, and impressive 2.5D graphics add visual depth to the game. The whole thing is topped by immersive-emotional storytelling. In the following, we would like to present our Top 10 candidates for the best Metroidvania games.
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10. The Messenger
If you could use a challenging ninja action platformer right now, you’ll get your money’s worth with The Messenger. Set out in a doomed world, searching for a scroll to save your clan from destruction. Use your sword, grappling hook, and your unique skill, “the cloud step ability”, with which you can shoot up tremendously. The numerous dungeons are difficult but invite you to become an even faster, deadlier ninja master.
The Messenger is available for PS4/PS5, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, and you can purchase it for PC via Steam.
If you want to try out a different Metroidvania and have a preference for the retro look, check out Owlboy. This title features beautifully detailed pixel graphics, and the game also comes with an innovative “shoot & fly” mechanic. As an owl boy, you have neither weapons nor special abilities except for your flying skills. Instead, you grab your friends, who will do the job of shooting for you. With him, you’ll explore the world above the clouds, defeat numerous enemies and solve fun riddles. However, the controls require some time to get used to. But it is a gentle alternative to the familiar thrills.
You can play Owlboy on PS4/PS5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Linux, and macOS. Get it for PC via Steam.
8. Steamworld Dig 2
In Steam World Dig, you are not only underground like in other Metroidvanias, but you also dig through the earth. The mining adventure lets you discover numerous mysterious places and find incredible treasures. In the second part of the series, you now slip into the role of the robot Dorothy and search for Rusty in a steampunk-like world. The protagonist from the predecessor. The game provides you with less equipment but all the more upgrades and skill abilities that will let you further modify your wealth. In its implementation, one of the best Metroidvania games for Nintendo Switch if you’re looking for a more leisurely gaming experience with moderate difficulty.
Steamworld Dig 2 is available for PS4/PS5, PS Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, Linux, and macOS, and you can purchase it for PC via Steam.
7. Cave Story+
This Metroidvania title is the work of a single developer whose game is offered for free on the official website. However, you can show your appreciation with the Cave Story+ version on Steam if you like. The title was released when Metroidvanias as a genre didn’t exist yet. Both the scope and the nature of the puzzles are genuinely remarkable. You play a robot soldier who has lost his memory and wants to save the creatures he wanted to destroy. A touching, lovingly crafted story awaits.
You can play Cave Story+ on Linux, macOS, and PC via Steam.
Prepare for many chaotic intense battles embedded in beautiful graphics, as you are used to from Thunder Lotus Games. Your screen will always be littered with enemies, challenging you to the fullest. At the same time, the title doesn’t overdo it with its difficulty level, so you won’t lose your items or have to run long distances. This game should definitely be included in your collection for the best Metroidvania Games on Nintendo Switch.
Sundered is available for PS4/PS5, Nintendo Switch, Linux, and Mac, and you can purchase it for PC via Steam.
5. Axiom Verge
Axiom Verge’s story is comparable to that of Super Metroid. However, that doesn’t mean this game has nothing independent and new to offer. For example, you’ll have a wide variety of weapons available when solving the many puzzles, or you’ll be able to transform into some alien mite. Thus, this title uses the benefits of a classic while offering a new, involving gameplay. An excellent title for fans of challenges and retro styles.
You can play the game on Nintendo Switch, Wii U, Xbox One, PS4/PS5, PlayStation Vita, Linux, Mac, and PC. Get it for PC via Steam.
4. Hollow Knight
Immerse yourself in the touching story of Hollow Knight, which is not only beautifully designed through elaborate animations but also challenging. Although you’ll encounter intense fights, this 2.5D sidescroller’s true greatness is exploring the world around you. , The levels you will face are exceptionally well designed. This is topped by a beautiful soundtrack that perfectly underscores the atmosphere and moods and gets far under your skin. Uncover numerous clues to find out what happened and combine all the puzzle pieces in one of the best Metroidvania games.
Hollow Knight is available for Nintendo Switch, Linux, and Mac, and you can purchase it for PC via Steam.
When you think of Metroidvania games, you probably don’t have the Spanish Inquisition in mind. In Blasphemous, you’ll live through this historical chapter of the Catholic Church, which may provide both fascination and shock. In addition to a library that offers much information about the time, combat should not be neglected either. So, of course, you can expect many remarkable and beautifully designed fighting moments, which are also brutally challenging. Some players refer to this game as 2D Souls-like, which probably stems from the dark Gothic-looking setting. A sidescroller of the historical kind embedded in fantastic 2D graphics. But please don’t get too frustrated about the difficulty level.
Play the title on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Switch, Linux, Mac, or PC. You can purchase Blasphemous for PC via Steam.
2. Ori and the Blind Forest + Will of the Wisps
Developers Moon Studios have created a masterpiece that is surely one of the most emotionally moving and beautiful Metroidvanias. Experience a game with a heartwarming story, excellent graphics, and absolute attention to detail. The game mechanics and animations harmonize perfectly, and it’s a real feast to navigate Ori through the levels. Face sinister enemies as a cute forest spirit and save your home from damnation. With Ori and the Blind Forest and the later sequel Will of the Wisps, you’ll be playing one of the best series in modern Metroidvania games.
Ori and the Blind Forest is available for Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, and you can purchase it for PC via Steam. The sequel Ori and Will of the Wisps is available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. You can also find it for PC via Steam.
1. Dead Cells
In Dead Cells, you’ll encounter a world full of procedural generation with numerous randomly generated loot. Due to the procedural creation of the levels and game contents, the title has an enormous game depth, which makes it the best Metroidvania game in this ranking. However, this title is also a roguelike. You lose all the upgrades and weapons you got in one playthrough when you die. But the permadeath also includes the appeal of starting over, again and again, giving you hours of fun with a nimble character and exciting battles. Collect items, combine weapons to create new things, and find your strategy to master this game.
Dead Cells is available for Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4/PS5, Linux, and Mac. You can buy it for PC via Steam.
If you need a little more relaxation
If your frustration threshold is a bit more delicate today, maybe we can inspire you with the Best Sandbox Games for PC. There you can let your creativity run wild with maximum freedom. However, if you prefer a relaxed building experience from an isometric perspective, you might find the suitable game in our ranking of City Building Games on PC.
Should you have your friend or partner in tow, you might also be interested in a few alternatives to Co-op Games like It Takes Two.
Did we miss an important title? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.