The Metroid and Castlevania games birthed the portmanteau game genre called Metroidvania. Metroidvania games come in 2D graphics and entail fighting and defeating villains, dungeons exploration and even picking up items that are supposed to unlock new map zones.
The availability of plenty of room for variation and the inclusion of beautiful art makes Metroidvania games very addictive and fun. Since the creation of the first hybrid over the course of a decade or so, small team game developers and individual game developers have being able to craft more intriguing games for gamers.
The list below is a round-up of the best Metroidvania games out there.
13. Dead Cells
Dead cells is a Metroidvania game in which the players gets to battle through randomized dungeons, and each time the player dies, he starts afresh.
The thrilling brandishing of swords and bows in attacking enemies and chopping them up releases cells which are channeled into the player’s character.
The player will reach new zones that haven’t being seen before in the game, that’s typical of Metroidvania exploration pattern. Dead cells are a high pressure game compared to other Metroidvania games on this round up.
12. Steamworld Dig 2
This game is pretty straight forward and not too difficult. In this game you will get to attain new levels. There are tunnels that lead to new zones and opportunity to grab new gadgets to upgrade your hero-character.
In the first game, the hero-character is a steam-powered cowboy and in the second game which is a sequel, the hero is a blue woman in flying goggles.
Furthermore, the sequel presents more different environments and a bigger world to explore. That’s lots of fun.
Iconoclast is one Metroidvania game that was created painstakingly by a solo creator by name, Joakim. The designing, animating and composing of this game took a painstaking process but the cool result in the end justified all the efforts put in.
This game involves a friendly character called Robin who happens to be the hero always getting into a gun duel with over 20 villains.
10. Cave Story
This game is about an amnesiac boy who happens to find himself in a cave rigged with rabbit folk called Mimigas. There are 15 levels in this game which entails fighting off hostile creations a crazy scientist.
It’s a game many consider to be classic owing to the fact that it belongs to the era of the 16-bit era.
9. Shadow Complex Remastered
This game comes with a futuristic touch. The player gets to blast his way through a military stronghold with the aid of machine guns.
Jason is the key character that the player has to use to perform all the badass shootings at soldiers and robots.
In this game, Jason seeks to stop a certain high-tech group that intends to start a civil war in the United States.
This game is so cool; it’s a story about a character that is regarded as an idiot by his village. In this game you will get to teleport friends into your claws as you hover around.
You and your friends will also have to fend off close adversaries with projectile attacks. Access more zones as you advance.
7. Hollow Knight
With a few upgrades requirement, hollow knight is a somewhat borrowed leaf from the dark souls.
In this game the character is taken back to where he died so as to reclaim last life achievements.
Hollow Knight Parades a group of bug characters that are supposed to sell lethal gears that will enable the player embark on more quests.
6. Axiom Verge
This game is set in a dark alien world full of mysterious gigantic monsters and some villains. New portals open as the player discovers new alien treasures such as a trench coat for phasing through walls and a device that enables you to wield control of some alien bug to sneak into new cave systems.
Combat in this game entails blasting aliens flapping around each level. Discovers loads of arsenals and unravel secrets.
5. Ori and The Blind Forest
Next on the list of best Metroidvania games is Ori and the Blind Forest, which is also available on Steam. Rayman designed this action piece for gamers to enjoy. It has a few hurdles in the chase sequences, but once you finally overcome this hurdle, you will feel accomplished.
In this game, you can also unlock abilities from the skill tree. This has three parts, one of which relates to making the game more playable from a completion standpoint.
This game has got a map which is typical of any Metroidvania games out there.
4. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
The saucer in this game flies around, fighting enemies and pulling through obstacles. At the start only a simple scanner is available as a useful tool but as the player progresses more tools will be added, allowing the player to reach new areas and backtrack for missed treasures.
The player finds his character in an organic environment and gradually the environment changes to an ice area, a mechanical area and finally a pitch black area.
This game is technically a 2D side scroller, I feel I implied that platforming gameplay was key. Well, no platforming in this game. You control a charming little flying saucer on a quest to save the planet from some mean alien influence that took over the sun.
As a result, the planet where most of the game takes place has become titularly twisted, insanely so even. This atmosphere is brought to the player perfectly, by the mostly black silhouette visuals with red eyes on enemies and background details that are constantly moving, alive.
In fact, a lot of the wildlife you encounter is the hostile looking environment that actually doesn’t harm the player, in that respect the game world is emptier (as far as gameplay is concerned) than you would at first think, but that’s not a problem.
3. Guacamelee, Super Turbo Championship Edition
Rich. That’s the word that describes this game best. From the get go, Guacamelee oozes charm. How you turn into the bad ass main character at the start of the game, the dialogue for the opening story sequences, the funny remarks and individual style of each character (not just the main villains, but also just about every NPC).
All the little Easter eggs and references. Its heritage as a Mexican inspired product. Visually too, this game is rich. Vibrant backgrounds, lovely animation. It’s always interesting to switch between the living and dead worlds (even when the game play doesn’t ask for it) just to see what the other side looks like.
Character designs are very well done. The music is perfectly fitting and well written.
But all that’s just the start, this game’s true wealth is in its gameplay. Its core gameplay, the combat, is a lot of fun. There are many moves available, and stringing them into combos is a pleasure.
And you’re not just constantly repeating the same thing, as enemies have different strengths and weaknesses to be exploited. You need to switch your fighting style on the fly to get the most out of it.
What really makes it stand out, though, is how the special moves you acquire not only enrich your combat experience, but they are also what makes this a Metroidvania in unlocking new areas (and finding new treasures back in familiar territory) and perfectly accompany the platform gaming.
The true prize here is how it doesn’t half succeed in all these different fields; it’s a very enjoyable brawler, a competent platformer and an outstanding Metroidvania.
2. Dust: An Elysian Tail
One might call Dust a Metroidvania game with Action RPG elements, but that would be selling the ARPG side of the game short. It’s more an Action RPG that was pushed into a Metroidvania map world, but who cares, either way it fits the criteria.
This game is full of stuff you won’t see in other games on this list, like a leveling system based on EXP gained for beating enemies, side-quests, equipment and items to be bought or created through a full crafting system, the lot.
Combat is based on a combo-system, where through the right moves you can juggle groups of enemies (helped by your “Dust storm” ability and your companion-flying-cat-dragon’s magic) and keep building a combo meter for better rewards.
RPG elements don’t just shine through gameplay-wise, because in story and setting this game certainly also has RPG aspirations. This is actually a drawback here, as the story is (while good) highly traditional.
The protagonist starts out with amnesia, there’s a good bit of hero-ing going on, a twist reveal near the end (which the player sees coming a mile away), the lot. Honestly, I could have done without it.
Something else I could have done without is the character designs. While the backgrounds look really nice and there’s nothing wrong with enemy designs, the main characters and most NPC’s (those of the same race) look really stupid like a western style children’s cartoon. Some kind of humanoid bunnies, I don’t know, but it was quite off-putting for me. The music came out a lot better.
The biggest plus for this game, for me, is the map. For each distinct location it will show a completion percentage for both map coverage and treasures found. The perfect way to drag me back, trying to get the most out of it. I should add though, that a lot of the backtracking is based on key-unlocking.
Hidden among the game are several trial sections, to be finished as quickly/completely as possible without getting hit. Leaderboard scoring for these sections is included too. Oh yeah, total completion percentage goes over 100%.
1. Shantae: Risky’s Revenge
The first thing that hits you when playing this game, is the insanely charming characters and visual presentation of the game world. Enemies and characters, especially the titular one, are all well designed and lovely animated. Background visuals are bold and detailed. Of special note are the added planes on parts of the environments.
In certain sections, you can jump towards or away from the screen to move to a different plane. While you are more towards the front, so to speak, you will not only see the background of the plane you are currently one, but also of the ones behind. The charm isn’t just in the visuals as the music is perfectly fitting the desert setting.
Gameplay wise, you go around jumping and hitting enemies with your hair or one of several magic abilities you can buy. On their lowest level, these just cost regular currency, but upgrading them costs magic jams which quickly become your most desired treasure because of it.
That’s not where it ends though, as on her travels Shantae learns some transformations (monkey, elephant and mermaid) and each has their own abilities and upgrades. And if you’re wondering how she transforms into these, well by belly-dancing of course! Very nicely animated belly-dancing at that.
This game sneaks past my criteria, as there’s no map that notes your progress. Instead, you can buy a map (for cheap, so no reason not to) at the start of the game that already shows the world in full, including save points, check points and dungeon locations. While this may appear odd, it actually works really well in deciding where to go. And extra points for giving a different ending bonus based on beating the game with all items, or quickly, or a combination of these.
In a nutshell
The creation and adoption of the Metroidvania hybrid genre in the gaming world proved to be a success. Most of the games created under this hybrid genre were a commercial success. Some of these Metroidvania games are real classics that most gamers wouldn’t mind playing over and over again.
Axiom Verge to me remains the oldest and the greatest on the list above because it brought the true meaning of Metroidvania to gamers.
In nutshell, I had good fun creating this list of best Metroidvania games for other gamers who have had and appreciate hands-on experience of this genre. There are still loads of Metroidvania games out there that I could not include in my list due to limited juice.
However gamers who are very adventurous and would like to get and play other bests in the genre can only research and dig up more useful resources and have some great fun play.