The best Metroidvania games are the ones that combine the elements from the brutally hard both Castlevania and exploration elements of Metroid. If you're old enough to remember the days where these two games were completely separate and well loved in their own regard.
Taking the exploration, adventure and platforming genres, throw them in a mixer and you get the non-linear gameplay of a Metroidvania. The large maps that you can explore, finding that new item that unlocks the next area to explore. This process is often rinsed and repeated as you make your way through the castle or cavern. Along the way you'll discover hidden areas or new paths that will lead to a brand new game mechanic through the process of backtracking.
Metroidvania's work well because they take a simple concept and layer them multiple times. The end result is a wonderful platforming experience filled with lots to explore and submerse yourself into the gameplay elements. Here are the top Metroidvania games of all time.
Table of Contents
- The Mummy Demastered
- Record of Lodoss War-Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth
- Metroid: Zero Mission
- La-Mulana 2
- Salt and Sanctuary
- Alwa's Awakening
- Gato Roboto
- Dust: An Elysian Tail
- Touhou Luna Nights
- Yoku's Island Express
- Guacamelee! 2
- Axiom Verge
- Steamworld Dig 2
- Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
- Metroid: Dread
- Ori and the Blind Forest
- Shantae – Half Genie Hero
- Cave Story
- Hollow Knight
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
- Dead Cells
Long Hat House gave us a unique twist on the Metroidvania genre. You're able to teleport to surfaces rather than the traditional path of pressing a button to jump. Along the way you'll be able to unlock some rather interesting abilities. Defeating enemies and picking up rocks of salt that you can later use in the game.
We highly believe that Dandara will keep you satisfied for quite some time. Coupled with the fact that it's offering such great content and a fair price, it's well worth the price of admission.
Dandara can be quite challenging and does take some getting used to the gameplay mechanics. Be prepared to grow tiresome at times, we promise it will all be worth it as you progress as this is geared towards only the most hardcore gamer.
The Mummy Demastered
If you're itching for a quality 2D action adventure platformer, look no further than The Mummy Demastered. It sets you off as a reboot of the Tom Cruise classic movie the Mummy that was released in 2017.
You'll take control as one of the members of an organization by the name of Prodigium that is set out to find and take out supernatural activity as they look to stop an Egyptian princess from taking over the world.
A mix of 8 bit and 16 bit action will come to life right before your eyes in pure retro aesthetics. The Mummy Demastered comes in with a unique twist. If you don't make it and lose your path, you'll have to start off with an entirely new character and the only way to get your old gear back is to square off in combat against your old character.
Record of Lodoss War-Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth
Considering how well the hack and slash gameplay in Record of Lodoss War feels compared to other classics like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, you'll be itching for more the moment you pick it up.
For a game that's clearly inspired by the past of the genre, the updated graphics and gameplay really pull it off. The high elf protagonist Deddlit pulls off moves so fluently within the animated art style that resembles the anime Record of Lodoss War.
It's been released on a variety of platforms since exclusively being popular in Japan on the PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch. It's safe to say you'll enjoy this if you're looking for a classic Metroidvania to sink your teeth into.
retro styled 2D action RPG games the the style of Zelda 2 are a breath of fresh air to see now a days. Aggelos takes a unique twist on the Metroidvania genre. The backgrounds will remind you of Super Mario and the gameplay fits to a tee along the lines of Zelda 2.
Even through it's a bit on the lighter side, Aggelos is still a wonderful experience for those looking to enter in and play their first Metroidvania. Considering it's only needing a mere 10 hours in order to complete the main quest, Aggelos is a perfect introductory to the genre for those looking for something a little more on the light side.
Metroid: Zero Mission
Samus Aran, the infamous bounty hunter who has to make her way over to Zebes in order to prevent the Space Pirates from making sure the Metroids aren't being used for dangerous purposes is what you'll encounter in Metroid: Zero Mission.
The unique spinoff of the original Metroid game released on the NES in 1986. In Metroid: Zero Mission you'll get updates such a new graphics, additional areas, even a map to help you make your way through the back tracking. No more are the days where you had to draw your own maps.
The all new prologue helps the player with the storyline that was so cryptic on the original release. Metroid: Zero Mission is for sure one of the best GBA games released, you'll be hard pressed to find a better experience on the handheld console.
The bigger, better sequel to the Japanese studio Nigoro in La-Mulana 2. Giving you a bold mix of exploration, combat and puzzle solving within the Metroidvania platforming genre.
You'll often have a tough time fighting off enemies while making sure to solve puzzles and explore the various caverns of the game. You'll also have to worry about multiple branching paths and exploring new areas at your leisure.
La-Mulana 2 is quite the difficult game. You'll be spending a ton of time replaying those levels. Still if you're looking for an Indiana Jones inspired game, you'll be hard pressed not to take a look at La-Mulana 2.
Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary is one of those games that you could classify as a mashup title. Take the overall brutal difficulty of Dark Souls and add in the exploration elements of Castlevania and you have yourself one very challenging game.
The fast paced battle combat is a great challenge. The skill tree allows your character to level up in the same way you would as Dark Souls. The graphic style of Salt and Sanctuary is one you would see pulled straight from a comic strip, similar to Comix Zone on the Sega Genesis. We loved playing through the castles as you make your way through this excellent Metroidvania.
If you're looking for more games like Zelda 2, Alwa's Awakening should be on your radar. Set off in the far away fantasy land of Alwa, you're set off to take on the evil sorcerer.
The side scrolling action is jam packed with excitement from the beginning to the very end. You'll have to make sure you figure out the solution to the various puzzles along your path. Unlocking new abilities will make sure you progress throughout the game.
Alwa's Awakening will keep you entertained for hours with it's unique retro styling of the 8-bit games released before it. You'll be thinking you're playing Zelda II the minute you pick it up until the minute you finish it. The nostalgia is strong in Alwa's Awakening.
The incredibly unique mechanics within Gato Roboto is what will draw you in. You're able to control an astronaut that's inside a cat mech suit. In order to progress, you'll have to figure out how to find your ship throughout the underground facilities.
Very similar to Blaster Master on the NES, you're able to switch between Kiki and the cat Gato Roboto any time. For tight to reach places, you'll have to use Kiki's smaller size. The unique twist on the genre and interesting art style alone should intrigue you enough to pick up Gato Roboto.
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Dust is one of the older Metroidvania games released all the way back in 2012 originally for the Xbox 360 but then brought over to a number of OS' such as Steam, Linux and Mac. The mind blowing hand drawn animation stands out and looks spectacular. You could tell that the quality of production was extremely high and each animation took a lengthy amount of time.
The storyline in Dust: An Elysian Tail is spectacular. It's safe to say the storyline is something you would read about in a fantasy novel. If you're looking for backtracking, Dust often makes you do this in true Metroidvania format. The secrets will keep you searching and bringing you added replay value and sets Dust: An Elysian Tail apart from the rest.
The hand drawn, incredibly vibrant art style is what originally brought our attention towards Iconoclasts. Everything in this Metroidvania screams high quality. From the way the storytelling is carefully narrated to the gameplay that lets you use your abilities to it's full capacity. There's no wasted space in Iconoclasts with spells or items that you'll use once to unlock a new area to never use again.
You'll take play of the character Robin who's set out to explore the various religions and uncover the secrets of the incredibly dark storyline. The insanely precise combat makes Iconoclasts a blast to play through.
Judging by the look of Blasphemous, you'll get a sense of an extremely difficult almost resembling Bloodborne or Dark souls. The religious touches to the artwork and theme give you the creepy elements when picking up the controller.
The boss battles in Blasphemous are where the gameplay really shines. Each of the unique encounters with the massive sprites with such fluid animation are executed to perfection. Everything here is above average, from the art style to the fluid gameplay mechanics. It's hard to imagine why Blasphemous gets overlooked to other games in the Metroidvania genre.
Touhou Luna Nights
The Touhou series of games is an incredibly popular bullet hell shmups that are primarily native to the Japan audiences. It's an extremely large transition to be able to go from a shmup to an action adventure game in it's own feat. Luckily the developers at Team Ladybug were able to pull it off to Metroidvania perfection.
The elements of shmups are present like the ability to freeze time that adds a great touch to the gameplay as you make your way solving puzzles. Steam has quite a few quality Metroidvania games released in it's library and Touhou Luna Nights is one you should definetely have on your watch list.
If you're looking for something that has an insane amount of characters on the screen at any given moment, look no further than Sundered. It's one of the Metroidvania's that's a little on the simpler side, not to say that it isn't a hard game by any means.
The Art style is fantastic. Most games that are developed by Thunder Lotus Games are known for the quality of animation. Each of the hand drawn art animations will draw you in the further you progress in the game. The boss battles are extremely unique and a little on the difficult side. The game can be found on a number of different platforms such as Windows, PS4 and the Nintendo Switch.
We've felt that we've explored a world of pixel based animation in the realm of Metroidvania's. Supraland takes a different approach and lets you take over an open world sandbox with the main characters of action figures. Taking a look upwards will show a kid whos looking at playing with you in the sand.
It's almost like taking the open world elements of Zelda, the travel aspects of Portal and the backtracking elements of Metroid all fused into one amazing game. You won't have much in terms of battling within Supraland as most of the action comes from the exploration. With so many two dimensional games present on this list of the best Metroidvania games, it's nice to see that a 3d Metroidvania got a chance to shine.
Yoku's Island Express
You may not have been very excited by a game that's part platformer part pinball. The open world environment is massive and requires a ton of speed to build up massive amounts of height.
The unique puzzle solving elements are a breath of fresh air to see. We enjoyed being able to use the flippers after setting the ball up when maneuvering around the environments.
Being able to move around so fluidly as the Owl protagonist in Owlboy is such a breeze. We loved the amazing art works that feels so fresh. With the help of your friends, you're able to fight off enemies while in the air. This concept is so unique rather than the use of special abilities or weapons.
The gameplay in Owlboy will make you feel like you're playing an old school 16 bit platformer that were so popular back in the 90s. We did feel that the gameplay was intended for a lighter audience and you may want to adjust your expectations accordingly.
The first thing we've noticed when booting up Guacamelee 2 is the art style. We consider the design to be one of the best looking Metroidvania's to date. The lucha- libre theme is executed perfectly. With beautiful rich looking colors that build the atmosphere.
Guacamelee 2 adds an all new coop multiplayer experience with up to 4 players. This is an overall great improvement to the two player mode present in the original game.
If you're looking for something that takes the Metroid formula and greatly expands on it, Axiom Verge is right up your alley. The theme of being on another alien planet is almost entirely accurate as the days where Planet Zebes was the place to explore.
Axiom Verge does such a good job with the backtracking. The glitch gun was an amazing touch, giving you the ability to look out for jumbled code as if your NES game pins were dislodged by nudging the console.
We absolutely loved exploring every inch of the world map searching for new items and powerups. Axiom Verge feels like a classic experience wrapped in a shiny new plastic cover.
Steamworld Dig 2
If you're looking for another Metroidvania that allows you to dig and explore, you've come to the right place. Steamworld Dig 2 does it right within the post apocalyptic steampunk environment. The main character Dorothy is set out to find her long lost buddy after finding the key details to the abandoned world.
The art style in SteamWorld Dig 2 is an improvement over the predecessor. We loved how each way you dig is a new way to explore the different caverns. There's not many abilities to choose from which makes you have to use what you've got.
SteamWorld Dig 2 isn't too tricky, it can propose a bit of a challenge whenever you lose the oil out of your lamp and need to make sure you get it back in a frenzy.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
We were so hyped about Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night when it was first announced. It's gone through multiple revisions of the art style, from hand drawn pixel art to the pseudo 3d art style that is currently presented.
We were so hyped when we found out that this was led by the main personnel from Castlevania: Symphony of The Night was at the helm. The Kickstarter that funded the project was so convincing, it blew past the numbers that needed to back the project.
We also loved the spin off platformer Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. It felt like a Castlevania release we've always wanted from Nintendo.
After so many years of being stuck in limbo, Metroid: Dread finally delivers the Metroidvania we were all looking for. Metroid: Dread does everything so well, from the fluid animations when you're zipping along each of the different areas. To the way that you unlock a new ability that you've been searching for in order to backtrack a ways out to find that new area. To the boss battles that may seem overly difficult at first buy when you finally find the way to proceed it's a breeze.
We appreciate how games like Hollow Knight or Owlboy pushed the boundaries when it comes to the overall Metroidvania experiences. Metroid is the origins of the series and it shows with how great of an experience it actually is.
Ori and the Blind Forest
The simply stunning visual design of Ori and the Blind Forest is where the gameplay shines. The atmosphere of moving around the wisp is a joy that one must experience for all Metroidvania fans. Each area has a massive amount of details that need to be seen to be felt.
Originally Microsoft was the main way to consume Ori and the Blind Forest, but since 2019 it received a Nintendo Switch port. Ori is set out to explore a series of interconnected forests in search of returning the world to it's once enlightened state.
Ori and the Blind Forest is one of those games where you could have anyone who knows the Metroidvania genre tell you how great it is, no matter who the target audience is.
Shantae – Half Genie Hero
WayForward Technologies did their absolute best to bring you one great Metroidvania experience. The animation quality is top notch when it comes to the core gameplay and visuals. The use of the hair whipping mechanic to attack enemies works quite well in a game where chains and whips are key.
The skills you'll pick up along the way are in the forms of transformations. You'll get to morph into different animals such as a mermaid or a monkey in order to explore new areas and unlock access to progress. We had a ton of fun playing Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and we'd bet you will as well.
What started out as an indie release by a single Japanese developer in his spare time, turned out to be one of the best Metroidvania games of all time. Originally released for PC way back in 2004, Cave Story has a touching story about a robot soldier who was originally sent out to kill creatures who then rescues them.
The best part about Cave Story is that it's entirely free. You can head over and download a copy right now assuming your PC meets the downright laughable minimum requirements.
The puzzles in Cave Story are really where this Metroidvania shines strong. You'll find yourself pausing in order to figure out how to progress and once you do solve the puzzle, the sense of accomplishment will shine bright.
When it comes to 2D Metroidvania experiences, there aren't much that can top the excellent gameplay that Hollow Knight has to offer. Exploring the inter twined Hallownest worlds, searching for the newest powerup is such a rewarding experience.
The use of the fast travel abilities let you jump from area to area without making the game feel stale. You'll have to of course find the train station in order to do so without dying. The sense of not feeling strong enough to be in a certain area shines bright in Hollow Knight. Something we haven't seen since the early days of Metroid.
Hollow Knight is a truly a satisfying experience. If you're looking at one Metroidvania to get your feet wet, this is the game you should be looking at.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
There's not much to hate about Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It's the game that defined a genre as a whole and inspired many games that came after it. Sure it does have some cheesy voice acting, but it's become something we've actually grown to love.
Castlevania SOTN has received many different variations to the original PSX release. The hand drawn art style is something you have to see in order to believe it. The way it really feels like Alucard moves around the castle is fantastic. Castlevania: Sympony of the Night is a bona fide classic and belongs on anyone's best games of all time list.
The fast paced action and randomized loot in Dead Cells offers a plethora of fun that can be enjoyed for hours upon end. The only real challenge is the facing of permadeath in the event you don't make it through to the end of the game in one sitting.
Dead Cells does a phenomenal job and allowing you to go through the game and every time you make it further, you feel the sense of progression. Motion Twin executed the controls and gameplay to perfection, blending a mix of Metroidvania and rogue-like elements to the gameplay. The result is a massive game that delivers on all scales.