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The Best Metroidvania Games for Fans of the Genre

Axiom Verge
Photo Credit: Thomas Happ Games

Metroidvania games are an interesting genre for those who love a challenge and coming face to face with all sorts of puzzles while trying to stay alive. Certain games are dubbed as Metroidvania for being an interesting combination of Metroid and Castlevania – two iconic franchises with innovative gameplay for their time. 

Elements were taken from both games and spawned the Metroidvania genre you see today!

Here are the best Metroidvania games available. We’ll keep adding to this list as more become available.

Dead Cells

Dead Cells
Photo Credit: Motion Twin

We’re going to get the most controversial game on our list out of the way first. Dead Cells does fall under the roguelike games genre as well, but it combines its roguelike gameplay with Metroidvania mechanics. In this sense, it does fall under the Metroidvania genre.

You’ll be playing as a mute protagonist trying to escape and break free of the prison you are in. Much of the world and who you are is pretty much unknown at the beginning, but things will slowly unveil themselves. The only painful part of this experience is the permadeath, as you’ll have to start from scratch each time you die (which will be a lot).

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained: Ritual of The Night
Photo Credit: ArtPlay

As a game created by one of the founding fathers of Metroidvania, Bloodstained: Ritual of The Night would naturally have a designated spot on this list. If you’re a fan of Castlevania, then you will likely enjoy having a run of this game. It’s gothic, dark and as tough as ever.

You’ll be running around as an orphan named Miriam that was cursed by an alchemist in a creepy castle. Your task is to find the alchemist and somehow end the curse that is slowly crystallizing you. As all castles tend to be, there are all sorts of hidden areas and enemies to block your path and make everything a pain for you to go through.

Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights

Ender Lilies: Quietus of The Knight
Photo Credit: Binary Haze Interactive

As a newer game to make our list of the best Metroidvania games, but very well deserved, Ender Lilies has you in the shoes of a priestess named Lily waking up in a church where everyone has turned into monsters. Your task is to vanquish the monsters and enemies in your way as you locate the source of the rain that seems to turn everything into the immortal undead.

It is a beautiful game, to say the least, and you’ll be enamored by the 2D side-scrolling gameplay. Lily uses the purified spirits of deceased knights to fight as she doesn’t wield any weapons herself. This brings a unique and fresh experience into play when it comes to battles. 

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight
Photo Credit: Team Cherry

While waiting for Hollow Knight: Silksong to be released (hopefully, soon), you might as well get into the original Hollow Knight first. Hollow Knight is adorable and murderous at the same time, at least in my opinion. You’ll get drawn in trying to figure out its world of interconnected tunnels.

While most of its boss fights are deadly, they do have certain move sets that you can commit to memory to win. It’s a good thing that Hollow Knight doesn’t have a permadeath feature because you’re going to need to sacrifice yourself several times to fully beat the game. It’s a Metroidvania game with platforming mechanics, so you’ll always be occupied with something to do. 

Guacamelee! (1 & 2)

Guacamelee
Photo Credit: DrinkBox Studios

If you’re looking for a more colourful and fun experience, Guacamelee is here to save the day while making you laugh. It’s a Metroidvania game infused with Mexican culture, and we’d encourage you to play the first game and its sequel right after. Honestly, you’ll probably be eager to pick the second game up after finishing the first title.

You get to play as a luchador by the name of Juan Aguacate as he dies and comes back to life to save the love of his life and the world from being merged with the land of the dead. The game itself is a pretty whacked out experience, and the difficulty spikes when it comes to boss battles can be a little daunting at first. Either way, you’ll have an explosive time!

Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and The Blind Forest
Photo Credit: Moon Studios

Enveloped into a beautiful world to explore, Ori and The Blind Forest has expanded quite a bit since its release. Originally, it was a game focused on exploration and achievements rather than hardcore boss battles and challenges. However, to satisfy parts of the Metroidvania fanbase, they’ve decided to amp it up a bit with new abilities, higher difficulty levels and newer areas.

Its sequel Ori and The Will of The Wisps is a great experience to explore as well as you continue playing as Ori in a story that you will not soon forget. Ori is a woodland spirit accompanied by an orb in his journey to discover why the world is overflowing with corruption, with the goal of putting an end to it.

Steamworld Dig 2

Steamworld Dig 2
Photo Credit: Image & Form Games

A different take on the Metroidvania games genre, Steamworld Dig 2 allows you to take charge of a steam-driven robot named Dorothy, the main protagonist. You are on the search for Rusty, the protagonist of the previous game that has now gone missing. As predicted by its name, you will be digging underground through destructible environments.

As you progress, you’ll come across underground creatures to fight and gain new weapons and abilities that will help you in your journey. Punching through rocks and swinging around throwing bombs does sound pretty cool to me, so I would give it a shot.

Owlboy

Owlboy
Photo Credit: D-Pad Studio

Going off vibes alone, Owlboy is a pretty cute and lovely game to play. It is a Metroidvania though, so you do have some people to fight along the way, but it’s so… nice. You play as an owl boy named Otus as you journey through the land trying to save your town from being invaded by pirates whilst discovering the hidden secret behind Owls.

You’ll get to meet some cool characters along your journey, each with their special abilities and characteristics that make them lovable. Otus can carry various objects, including weapons as he flies around, but when it comes to battles, he will need the help of his friends – the most he could do is dash at his enemies or drop projectiles. 

Owlboy is definitely one the best Metroidvania games for people who want something with a dash of adorableness but still a good amount of difficulty.

Yoku’s Island Express

Yoku's Island Express
Photo Credit: Villa Gorilla

It may seem a bit novel to combine the gameplay mechanics of pinball, a platformer, and Metroidvania, but that’s exactly what happened with Yoku’s Island Express. And surprisingly, it works! In Yoku’s Island Express, you’ll be moving around as a dung beetle postmaster while transporting an egg.

There are power-ups and abilities to gain throughout the game and by the end, you’ll be able to smash through barriers and dive underwater among other options. The pinball mechanic where you get to fling your egg around, and put your flipper skills to good use just adds a little more fun to the mix.

Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge
Photo Credit: Thomas Happ Games

This game has a cold, hard presence that is truly reminiscent of the old Metroidvania games – which is probably one of the many reasons why people still flock to. Not only is its world intricately detailed in the pixel art style, but its gameplay is oddly compelling. Axiom Verge was the work of an indie developer as a tribute to the Metroid games, and it’s one of the best Metroidvania games created so far.

You play as a scientist that finds himself in a scientific lab after a horrific accident. The entire place is now overrun with all sorts of aliens and its storyline will have you questioning reality. The narrative of the game is as compelling as its gameplay, as it applies interesting power-ups like remote drones, short travel warping, and a huge arsenal of weapons to get you through.

Blasphemous

Blasphemous
Photo Credit: The Game Kitchen

Perhaps one of the creepier and gory games on this list, Blasphemous is an indie platformer-Metroidvania where you fill the shoes of ‘The Penitent One’ to clear the land of its enemies (the cursed undead). As the sole survivor of a massacre, the responsibility falls on you to end the curse of eternal damnation once and for all.

It does sound a little Soulsalike as you have to battle through waves of enemies and go through some pretty tough bosses to achieve your goal. Blasphemous employs a lot of religious depictions in its visuals, so if you are uncomfortable with that, you might want to skip it. With that said, its overall art direction is fantastic!

Sundered

Sundered
Photo Credit: Thunder Lotus Games

A game heavily influenced by Lovecraftian horror, Sundered will bring you a strange underworld filled with chaos in a world where two factions are still warring against each other. Your task is to end the war by taking control of the underworld yourself. You’ll be playing as Eshe, a woman that was wandering the desert and somehow fell to the underground world.

Sundered is challenging and punishing, as your screen becomes regularly filled with enemies and chaos in almost every instance. It’s important that you keep your wits about you as you go along because it’s easy to get lost in the chaos, but stay calm and act quickly. All of this takes practice, and everything will feel repetitive, but it’s worth it in the end!

Salt & Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary
Photo Credit: Ska Studios

Salt & Sanctuary gets compared to Dark Souls more often than not as it borrows heavily from the game. With Castlevania as a main source of inspiration for both games, it’s easy to see why they share a lot of similarities. In Salt & Sanctuary you take control of a shipwrecked sailor on a dark unknown island. 

You’ll be maneuvering traps, and dealing with creatures in the dark while exploring the island is no easy task. Pair that up with some nearly impossible boss battles and you’ll have a terribly wonderful time going through the game. With elements like weight-based equipment stats and fights based on stamina pools, Dark Souls fans might find a home right here.

Touhou Luna Nights

Touhou Luna Nights
Photo Credit: Why So Serious?

Touhou Luna Nights comes from the Touhou series and it’s probably one of the shorter titles among the best Metroidvania games. You don’t have to know much about the Touhou series of games to play. It’s a Metroidvania with some pretty cool abilities to gain along the way such as the ability to manipulate time and throw around knives with style.

It’s centered on exploration and action, like most Metroidvania games. Your character was sent to a parallel dimension but things went wrong as you were caught in an act of revenge between two sisters. Overall, it’s a gorgeous pixel art game with Japanese influences that are pleasing to the eyes.

The Messenger

The Messenger
Photo Credit: Sabotage Studio

Technically, The Messenger doesn’t start as a Metroidvania but switches halfway through. It was also an homage to a modernized version of Ninja Gaiden. There are crazy difficulty spikes, exhilarating sword-slashing action and more. Either way, this is your chance to become the ultimate ninja!

Its second chapter is where the game starts becoming a full-on undeniable Metroidvania . The premise of the game is simple, you are ‘The Messenger’ tasked with delivering a scroll to the top of a mountain. Along the way, you are faced with all sorts of challenges and demons, with some pretty cool upgrades when it comes to your ninja abilities.

Cave Story

Cave Story
Photo Credit: Nicalis

Waking up inside an underground cave with no idea how you got there doesn’t sound like a fun experience and that’s exactly how this game starts. You then find out that your village is being threatened by a scientist and it’s on you to save everyone (which is the premise for almost every Metroidvania game).

As you go through, you’ll be rewarded as you explore and experiment with new areas. The difficulty spikes if you have managed to unlock the true ending, with more plot twists, and a crazy boss battle that makes sense of everything you’ve experienced. A fitting ending compared to the first ending you’re treated to, but a pain to complete.

Shantae & The Pirate’s Curse

Shantae and The Pirate's Curse
Photo Credit: WayForward Technologies

This is the third game in the franchise and is less a Metroidvania than its predecessors but still a great game to play through. The game implements some changes that could be perceived as both good and bad depending on your take on the genre.

In Shantae & The Pirate’s Curse, stages are now linked together by an overworld map, with each standalone area allowing for a great deal of exploration and discovery. It feels more in-depth when compared to previous installments.

Another change that might surprise you with this game – you’ll be fighting with pirate weapons rather than Shantae’s usual magical abilities and transformations. There are guns, swords and even her very own lamp to be used in battle. Overall, Shantae & The Pirate’s Curse serves as a good game for beginners of the genre.

La Mulana (1 & 2)

La Mulana
Photo Credit: Nigoro

A sort of homage to the Indiana Jones treasure hunting style, La Mulana’s difficulty does take a little getting used to. The enemies are deadly, but the environment is deadly as well so you would have to keep your eye out on a lot of things at once – traps, enemies and puzzles. La Mulana’s protagonist stays true to the Indiana Jones spirit with her whip and adorable cowboy hat.

As you traverse into the tomb with all sorts of surprises awaiting you, make sure to pay attention to the details or else you won’t make it very far. The details provided will aid you in your journey forward, and if you have not been paying attention, you’ll find yourself stuck. Either that or double back in a frantic search for what you’ve missed.

This is one of the best Metroidvania games for anyone looking for layers of challenges that really add a new level of difficulty into the mix.

Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread
Photo Credit: MercurySteam

One of the latest additions to the Metroid franchise is Metroid Dread! If you want to experience something new, but that is reminiscent of the old Metroid, this is a good game to try. It has some new mechanics and has improved on its Metroidvania gameplay.

Metroid Dread takes place after Metroid Fusion. As expected, Samus is on another mission on an alien planet where the X Parasite might still be alive. As you progress in the game you’ll gain new abilities as you unlock new areas, this time with more stealth elements imbued into your character as well.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania: Symphony of The Night
Photo Credit: Konami

Probably the oldest and most recognizable title on this list when it comes to Metroidvania games, Castlevania is one half of the inspiration for the genre itself so it is a no-brainer to be included on the list. Plus, Castlevania: Symphony of The Night is arguably the best Castlevania title in the franchise and naturally, one of the best Metroidvania games.

The game follows the after events of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. Players fill the shoes of Alucard exploring his deceased father’s dark castle. Every turn has some sort of surprise, with puzzles to solve to unlock each area. It’s not hard to find some version of this game due to its popularity, so if you would like to pay homage, try it out!

Final Thoughts

While we believe these are the best Metroidvania games you can get your hands on right now, we’ll keep an eye out on new titles and add them to our list as they become available.

Whether you’re new to the genre or are simply looking for a new Metroidvania to roll into, hopefully, this list has aided in your journey.

Did we miss your favorite Metroidvania game? Let us know in the comments section.

Sarah Paul

Written by Sarah Paul

I dip my toes in all things nerdy. I started writing and never looked back! I'll write about anything under the sun if you give me the chance, but my loyalty currently lies with nerd culture.

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