Best Metroidvania games to explore to absolute completion

The best Metroidvania games are all about perseverance. This genre was built on the backs of classic Metroid and Castlevania experience, although it has largely taken on a life of its own in the modern era. The best Metroidvanias will have you crawling through desolate worlds to locate new weapons, equipment, and abilities which will in turn gradually give you access to new areas of a map to explore – not to mention more challenging combat encounters. 

The best Metroidvania games work as well as they do because they take a simple premise and layer on increasingly intricate mechanics. If you’re looking for a challenge to overcome, and if you’re looking to test your reaction times with some truly puzzling platforming, then you’ll surely find something to enjoy here. So keep reading to find our pick of the 25 best Metroidvania games available today. 

Best Metroidvania games

25. Dandara

best metroidvania games - dandara

(Image credit: Raw Fury)

Developer: Long Hat House
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS

Brazilian studio Long Hat House tried something a little different – a Metroidvania in which you teleport instead of jumping. New abilities unlock throughout the story, and by defeating enemies and using the salt they drop as currency.

Steeped in Brazilian mythology, Dandara takes place in a beautiful world that shifts around the map, another interesting concept that in practice can take time to get used to. It’s a challenge, as many of its genre colleagues often are, but it offers a genuinely new approach in a genre that can otherwise often feel slightly static.

24. Record of Lodoss War-Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth

best metroidvania games - Record of Lodoss War-Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth

(Image credit: Why So Serious?)

Developer: Team Ladybug
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5 Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch

This game may have flown under your radar, as the Record of Lodoss War franchise of games, animes and light novels isn’t particularly well-known outside Japan. Currently in early access, Record of Lodoss War is going for that old-school Symphony of the Night feel. The currently available version is very short and slightly lacks in responsiveness, but this is a safe bet for everyone who can’t get enough of the classic Metroidvania experience.

23. The Mummy Demastered

best metroidvania games - the mummy demastered

(Image credit: Universal)

Developer: WayForward
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

The Mummy Demastered is a licensed video game for the 2017 Mummy reboot with Tom Cruise, a game much better than the film it originated from. Looking as 16-bit as they come, this is the one to play if you enjoy shooting in Metroidvanias over melee combat.

Beyond that, it comes with a crucial twist – if you die, you don’t simply respawn somewhere and leave your stuff behind, but start as a new character. If you want your stuff back, you have to fight for it – with your former self. The map could’ve done with a bit more detail, and it’s not really about unlocking new skills as it is about finding new weapons, but it’s a good-looking, uncomplicated (but difficult!) advocate of its genre.

22. Aggelos

best metroidvania games - aggelos

(Image credit: Stonybird)

Developer: Storybird Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Aggelos can feel more like a light Metroidvania such as Zelda, a game that doesn’t box you in too much but still has many secrets to offer. It’s the right fit if you like your games colourful and fun, with chubby enemies and Super Mario-esque backgrounds. 

While it doesn’t play like the ‘modern-day marvel’ it’s advertised as, and instead pretty much exactly like those 16-bit era platformers it’s inspired by, it’s one of few Metroidvanias for players looking for something that doesn’t come with hardcore base difficulty. If you’d like things to be more difficult, there’s still a hard mode for you to try. With a cute soundtrack and a reasonable playtime of around 10 hours, it’s the perfect Metroidvania snack for a wide variety of players.

21. Alwa’s Awakening

best metroidvania games - alwa's awakening

(Image credit: Elden Pixels)

Developer: Elden Pixels
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Boasting 400 interconnected rooms, Alwa’s Awakening is a game about a sorcerer trying to save the kingdom of Alwa by finally giving all the ne’er do wells a good whacking and collecting the four crystals that used to protect the land. 

Look, you’re not going to play this for the story, and it’s perhaps a bit bland-looking, but it’s one of those games that don’t have you relying on speed. If you’ve ever played NES-style Metroidvanias that had to make do with fewer frames and liked that, this will be more for you than a game where frame by frame precision is the name of the game.

20. La-Mulana 2

best metroidvania games - la-mulana 2

(Image credit: Nigoro)

Developer: Nigoro
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Some games are notoriously difficult, and some may be overdoing it a little. Both La Mulana entries are punishingly difficult, but if you can crack them, they are lovely homages to Indiana Jones-style treasure hunting, complete with a feisty hero who cracks a whip.

Here, it’s not so much the enemies who are deadly (although they too of course are plenty deadly), but also the environment – you’re going into a tomb with all sorts of nasty surprises that no artificial skill acquisition is able to overcome. You have to learn by doing- again and again and again.

19. Gato Roboto

best metroidvania games - gato roboto

(Image credit: doinksoft)

Developer: Doinksoft
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch

Gato Roboto isn’t only short and sweet, you also play a cat. Are you sold on this yet? This game isn’t all about combat, although that works well thanks to its precise control scheme – sometimes you quite literally have to be a nimble feline, who has to find ways around stuff rather than through it by brute force. It’s also unashamedly Metroidvania in the way your pelt-clad protagonist usually gets around in armour, and needs to find different weapons to proceed through an environment mostly made of caves. 

18. Blasphemous

best metroidvania games - blasphemous

(Image credit: Team 17)

Developer: The Game Kitchen
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Every time you think Metroidvanias have used just about everything feasible as a theme, a game like Blasphemous comes along. It brings a Dark Souls-esque touch to the Metroidvania genre, complete with cursed undead, religious iconography and the bonfire mechanic as central element. 

The art direction is fantastic, and the gameplay is solid, if a little lacking in anything to make it stand out among the mass of Metroidvanias available – a central problem for most newer titles. If you’re looking for a game where in terms of environment, you’ll always see something new, including some amazing boss design, Blasphemous still rises above much of its competition.

17. Dust: An Elysian Tail 

best metroidvania games - dust: an elysian tail

(Image credit: Humble Hearts)

Developer: Humble Hearts
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

This is a great game for anyone who wants to play a Metroidvana that’s more about story than mastery. There are plenty of secrets to find and you will have to backtrack quite a bit at times to find everything, but you have the option of simply concentrating on the story. Since that’s slightly cheesy however, you’re better off exploring every nook and cranny of the Asia-inspired 2D world. 

Dust uses fun beat em’ up-style sidescrolling combat that’s never frustrating, think Japanese games such as Odin Sphere. As such it’s a great game for those who are bit tired of Metroidvanias set in caves or castles, and another good title for genre beginners.

16. Touhou Luna Nights

best metroidvania games - touhou luna nights

(Image credit: Why So Serious?)

Developer: Team Ladybug
Platform(s): PC

You don’t have to know the Touhou series to enjoy Luna Nights, a short Metroidvania with some really cool skills, including the abilities to freeze and slow time, which are absolutely central to making it through in one piece. This is also a game that offers more in the puzzle department than “use skill to open the path”, and to top it all off it doesn’t hurt that this game is gorgeous, boasting marvellously smooth pixel art throughout.

15. Sundered

best metroidvania games - sundered

(Image credit: Thunder Lotus Games)

Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Sundered stands out, not only due to its incredibly gorgeous art, a trademark for developer Thunder Lotus Games, but also for how chaotic it is. At any given time the screen is absolutely filled with enemies, and you have to be both quick and calm to make it through. 

At the same time, the difficulty is forgiving enough (use the Metroidvania definition of forgiving) to accommodate such combat without being punishing – you rarely have to walk far and you don’t lose your items. The focus is very firmly on combat so Sundered may feel repetitive at times, but in a genre all about trying again and again, it’s very good at offering palpable, satisfying progress. 

14. The Messenger

best metroidvania games - the messenger

(Image credit: Sabotage Studio)

Developer: Sabotage Studio
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch

The Messenger isn’t a Metroidvania, first and foremost – it’s an action platformer that turns into one halfway through. Meant as a modern take on Ninja Gaiden, it’s all about becoming the ultimate ninja, using your sword, grappling hook and, most important of all, the cloud step ability. With it you can not only double jump, but also gain height if you hit something with your sword in mid-jump. It’s difficult, of course it is, but it’s also so much fun thanks to the amazingly responsive controls. 

Each dungeon comes in a present version that has 8bit visuals and music, while the future is fittingly in 16bits. It’s a cool gimmick, but one the game could perhaps have done without, as it leads to quite a bit of dungeon recycling. The story is far more than a gimmick though, and actually captures the feeling of being a hero fighting an ancient curse quite well.

Available on PC, PS4, Switch

13.  Iconoclasts

best metroidvania games - iconoclasts

(Image credit: Joakim Sanberg)

Developer: Joakim Sandberg
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Inventive boss fights and multipurpose tools are the highlights of this gorgeous adventure. With a story darker than its looks might suggest, and gentle tweaks to the established formula, Iconoclasts stays continuously entertaining throughout.

Like in Sundered, you don’t so much pick up new skills as you learn to use what you’ve got – the focus this time lies on using your inventory to solve puzzles, rather than rock-hard combat. Additionally, thanks to the effort that went into the story, you’re sure to love plucky protagonist Robin by the end.

12. Axiom Verge

best metroidvania games - axiom verge

(Image credit: Thomas Happ Games)

Developer: Thomas Happ Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

It may not look particularly fancy, but with its  theme of a human being stuck on an alien planet, Axiom Verge could hardly come any closer to the original Super Metroid. Not that this is just a carbon copy, as there are tons of interesting skills to unlock, such as transforming yourself into something that looks like an alien mite or using a large array of different guns to solve all kinds of puzzles. A lot of thought went into how a classic that inspired a whole genre could be enhanced, and so you get a classic experience with many cool surprises.

11. Yoku’s Island Express

best metroidvania games - yoku's island express

(Image credit: Villa Gorilla)

Developer: Villa Gorilla
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

This platformer comes with several unique twists – the fact that you play a cute dung beetle who is also a postmaster (!), and its pinball mechanic. To get around, Yoku often needs to build up speed and height, and since he can’t jump, he pushes a ball into flippers carefully set into the environment. 

Developer Villa Gorilla got this to work on a traditional Metroidvania map with interconnected rooms, which in itself is a feat, but it’s also stunningly atmospheric, set on a sunny island inspired by no less than Studio Ghibli films and Tove Janson’s Moomins. Play Yoku’s Island Express for something different or whenever you’re in need of an island getaway.

10. Owlboy

best metroidvania games - owlboy

(Image credit: D-Pad Studio)

Developer: D-Pad Studio
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Owlboy is another Metroidvania with gorgeous pixel art that deviates from the standard formula. Instead of skills or weapons, Owlboy uses his friends to fight for him, carrying them around in mid-flight. Don’t worry, there are still puzzles and different pieces of equipment, and a great variety of enemies. 

Overall, this is a gentler game for this genre, more reminiscent of great SNES-era platformers like Donkey Kong with their lush presentation and occasionally frustrating navigation. As such this is definitely recommended for a younger audience, maybe not so much for genre diehards looking for the next thrill.

9. Supraland

best metroidvania games - supraland

(Image credit: Supra Games)

Developer: Supra Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

There is an almost endless array of pixel art Metroidvania platformers. Not Supraland! Here you take control of a stick figure-like toy exploring a literal sandbox. You can even see a kid at play when you look up. The setting accommodates  a game influenced by no less than three popular titles: Zelda, Portal and of course Metroid.  The Portal influences are actually the most pronounced,  both blocks and your ray gun are frequently necessary to move ahead. 

Combat is more of an afterthought, as Supraland is definitely focused on exploration. In order for you to see the most of the inventive world you can even hope for hints, so this is definitely not a Metroidvania you play with a map or guide open on your phone at all times. As far as we know, there’s currently no other first-person exploration game stuffed full with puzzles and secrets set in a 3D sandbox, so Supraland is pretty much without competition.

8. Guacamelee! 2

best metroidvania games - guacamelee

(Image credit: DrinkBox Studios)

Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

The Guacamelee! games are some of the best-looking Metroidvanias around. The Mexiverse is simply a riot of colour, lovingly designed with a warmth reminiscent of Rayman Legends. A good story can be hard to come by in Metroidvanias, Guacaemelee! manages not only that, but brings the right dose of humour, too. While we recommend that you start with the first game, it is almost a decade old now – so it is fine to jump straight into its 2018 sequel, Guacamelee! 2. 

DrinkBox Studios introduced some fantastic quality of life improvements, gave the visuals a refresh, and introduced four player co-operative multiplayer which is a surprisingly good time. You can’t go wrong with the Guac games. 

7. Steamworld Dig 2

best metroidvania games - steamworld dig 2

(Image credit: Image & Form)

Developer: Image & Form
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

The trick with Steamworld Dig is always that instead of uncovering the map traditionally, you basically dig it yourself. We’ve already mentioned on this list that many, many Metroidvanias are set in caves, but so far Steamworld Dig actually found the best reason for you to be there: in a Steampunk world, your protagonist Dorothy the robot not only earns her way with what she finds underground, she’s also searching for Rusty, the protagonist from the first Dig. Like Iconoclasts, Steamworld Dig does well with giving you less equipment and instead lets you use both a large number of upgrades and a well thought out skill tree of sort for additional perks, with which you can mod your possessions further.

Since the theme is pretty upbeat and the difficulty curve is reasonable, Steamworld Dig is an almost cosy experience – until your lamp is about to run out of oil and you race to the surface to replenish it, that is.

6. Shantae – Half Genie Hero

best metroidvania games - shantae: Half genie hero

(Image credit: WayForward)

Developer: WayForward Technologies
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Animation quality often makes or breaks a Metroidvania, not only in terms of avoiding damage, but also when it comes to the overall enjoyment, seeing as you will spend a lot of time with your character being the main focus of the action.

There is likely no better character to spend a few hours with than Shantae, who is simply the most anime of characters. She attacks enemies with her bright purple hair, is always on the move and likes to bust out dance moves. It’s simply such a joy to control her. 

The skills you gather in Half-Genie Hero are transformations into different animals, all of them not only cute but essential for traversal, not unlike hat transformations in Super Mario Odyssey. If you’re looking for a few hours of uncomplicated fun, this is a good bet, if you want more of a challenge try the hardcore mode.

5. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

best metroidvania games - bloostained: Ritual of the night

(Image credit: ArtPlay)

Developer: ArtPlay
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

It’s simply a joy when one of the founding members of the Metroidvania genre sets out to make an indie game pretty much copying himself and everything just… works. Koji Igarashi, assistant director on Castlevania: Symphony of The Night, ran a successful Kickstarter that gave us Ritual of the Night and an 8bit game taking place in the same universe, called Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. It’s just as camp and gothic-chic as Castlevania, stuffed full with interesting monsters and tough bosses. A true Metroidvania must-have.

4. Ori and the Blind Forest

best metroidvania games - ori and the blind forest

(Image credit: Microsoft / Moon Studios)

Developer: Moon Studios
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Ori and the Blind Forest is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and heart-warming Metroidvanias there are. Each biome comes alive with an incredible amount of detail, and simply moving Ori around is a joy.

Developer Moon Studios also masterfully demonstrated that in a genre where story can be a bit of an afterthought, it’s absolutely possible to be moved to tears. If you haven’t played Ori and the Blind Forest yet, this is possibly the best time – the just-released sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps is in no way inferior.

3. Cave Story

best metroidvania games - cave story

(Image credit: Pixel)

Developer: Pixel
Platform(s): PC

If you’re looking for another Metroidvania with a touching story, try this one about an amnesiac robot soldier who sets out to rescue the creatures he was originally sent to kill. There isn’t a whole lot of backtracking in Cave Story, and that’s a good things, seeing as it’s absolutely massive. 

A labour of love by sole developer Daisuke Amaya, it’s available completely for free on the Cave Story website or as Cave Story+ on Steam if you’d like to show your support. Not only the size of Cave Story is astounding, but the variety in rooms and puzzles really drives home the effort that went into this game, long before Metroidvanias became a popular genre of their own.

2. Hollow Knight

best metroidvania games - hollow knight

(Image credit: Team Cherry)

Developer: Team Cherry
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

It’s hard to describe what it is about Hollow Knight that just makes you want to see more. Maybe it’s the fact it’s likely got the most beautiful caves of the genre? The mysterious atmosphere, perfectly underscored by the soundtrack by Christopher Larkin? How you take control of a cute bug who is actually a badass knight? 

Pinning down the charm of Hollow Knight is as tough as getting past its bosses. Perhaps it’s simply that it takes a lot of good stuff from other Metroidvanias – Souls-like rest stops, fighting your ghost for your equipment, using Soul cores to unleash magical skills – and simply puts them together into a really satisfying whole. Get caught up now ahead of Hollow Knight: Silksong

1. Dead Cells

best metroidvania games - dead cells

(Image credit: Motion Twin)

Developer: Motion Twin
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5 Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch

Procedural generation and randomised loot theoretically offer hours of fun here – if it weren’t for the danger of permadeath. But everyone who’s ever played a game like this knows – death is not the end, and the draw of something entirely new is often too strong to resist. Not to add that combat with your nimble character never gets boring. 

Dead Cells is very good at making you feel progression, both regarding item pickup, including the ability to combine weapons into new creations and your character becoming persistently, undeniably stronger. This balance is what makes a great Metroidvania, but really, we’re putting it at the top spot because the randomness in its systems and the slew of additional content since its initial release makes Dead Cells a game of such breadth and depth it’s absolutely unputdownable. 

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