While most of us are likely used to barrelling forwards whenever a new video game world presents itself, there’s one genre out there that likes to do things a bit differently. The Metroidvania – named as such due to the play-style originating in Metroid and Castlevania – with its emphasis on exploration, useful item power-ups, and backtracking which has become increasingly more popular in recent years, hence why we think it worth looking at 10 of the best Metroidvania games you can play right now. There are so many to choose from, but we at Gaming Deals have made it our mission to highlight the top tier genre entries.
From steampunk westerners that task you to dig underground to fairytale style stories about the bonds of friendship, these are 10 of the best Metroidvania games you can play right now, available to play on modern consoles. Whether you play on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation or Xbox, these 2D treats will have you immersed in an interconnected world where you’re encouraged to open it up as much as possible.
With its 8-bit pixel art aesthetic and emphasis on a dark, twisted world, Axiom Verge would have been already impressive enough on its own, but it’s even more so when you consider that it was developed by just one person. Thomas Happ pays excellent tribute to the Sci-Fi Metroidvanias of yesteryear in this deeply evocative adventure where, as a scientist pulled into another reality, it’s up to you to get at the heart of the world’s mystery. It’s one of the best Metroidvania games because it’s available on almost every platform, and strikes the correct balance between traversal, unique weaponry and appropriately otherworldly visuals.
The original SteamWorld Dig was heavily inspired by, you’ve guessed it, Dig Dug. However, while its underground mining exploits proved satisfyingly addictive, levels being procedurally generated meant there was always a danger of you quite literally digging yourself in a hole. Thankfully, SteamWorld Dig 2 is a sequel that expertly remedies that, still encouraging you to mine for resources using your pickaxe in order to acquire new upgrades but placing you within handcrafted dungeons. The result is not only one of the best Metroidvania games, but also one of the most charming to be found in the entire genre. It’s a short but sweet 6- to 8-hour adventure that’s a true treasure.
Backup by painterly visuals and a haunting soundtrack, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a 2D action-platformer that improves upon the 2015 in almost every way. The titular forest spirit is as nimble and sprightly as she’s ever been, yet this sequel adventure challenges players to navigate an even more ferocious world. Ori must do so in the effort to rescue her fallen owl friend. Combat is much improved in this souped-up sequel, with more weapons to use, new methods of traversal and even more platforming challenges. It’s easily one of the best Metroidvania games found on Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
Top deals for: Ori and The Will of the Wisps
Xbox One + Series X|S
Xbox One + Series X|S
Xbox One + Series X|S
A clear harken back to the days when Castlevania games were on an annual release cycle, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a faithful spiritual successor to the classic Konami series of gothic Metroidvanias. Adding to Bloodstained’s authenticity is the fact that original creator, Koji Igarash, served as lead designer. That’s why everything no doubt will look, sound, and feel familiar to diehard Metroidvania fans. True, it does swap pixel art for a more modern 2.5D approach, but nine of this takes away from bloodstained’s inherently mysterious world. Couple this with a suite of different monsters to defeat and weapons to use, and you have one of the most faithful genre entries.
Top deals for: Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Xbox One + Series X
Want something a bit more colourful? Both Guacamelee! games will help fulfill this desire, but it’s the super-powered second installment we’ve gone for on this list. Picking up several years after the first game, hero Juan is quickly called upon to save the entirety of the Mexi-verse by once again donning his powerful luchador costume and powers. Every area you visit is brimming with humor and popularity, all of which makes bashing, hopping and wall jumping through these spicy hot realms a delight. Plus, Guacamelee! is the only Metroidvania out there that lets you transform into a chicken in order to reach small spaces. Check it out if you’re after a 2D explorathon with plenty of personality.
Top deals for: Guacamelee! One-Two Punch Collection
5% off all software at The Game Collection including pre-orders when you use code GOLDEGG5 at checkout. Offer ends Sunday 23:59PM
Moving on to one of the grand daddies of them all… there’s a reason why Nintendo’s Metroid series is often attributed with spawning the genre. Luckily, modern players got a taste of its exploratory delights last year, thanks to the launch of Metroid Dread on Nintendo Switch – the first new Metroid installment in 19 years. Picking up directly from where 2002’s Zero Mission left off, it sees bounty hunter Samas Aran trace back the history of the Chozo, all as part of one final mission that sees her trying to eradicate the Metroid race for good. With silky smooth motion and lots of fun power-ups, Metroid Dread ranks highly here for a reason.
Top deals for: Metroid Dread
For Metroidvania fans there exists two moments in time: the period before Hollow Knight was released, and then the period after. This darkly distinct underground adventure shrinks you down into an insect-laden world, casting you as the titular critter as they try to bring piece back to the ancient kingdom of Hallownest. Hollow Knight’s hand-drawn art style contributes to a noticeably moody atmosphere; it might appear intimidating at first, but the more you dive into it the easier it is to find beauty in the locations and characters. Equipped with your trusty nail sword, Hollow Knight is one of the best Metroidvanias for how well it modernizes the back-and-forth traversal concept.
One of the earliest examples of the Metroidvania being shined up and polished for the modern age, this 2D adventure takes all the genre’s usual hallmarks and infuses it with themes of spying and espionage. Admittedly it’s showing some age in terms of its visuals, but luckily the 2016 remaster helps even out the rough graphical edges. What makes Shadow Complex stand out from the crowd is its uniquely serious tone and setting, placing just as much emphasis on cover-based shootouts in addition to the usual gamut of exploration and character upgrades. It remains one of the best Metroidvania games to launch in recent years.
Those seeking a kookier style of Metroidvania will find exactly what they’re looking for in Headlander, a 70s-themed Sci-Fi adventure where you play as a floating head controlling several bodies to get around. It comes from Double Fine, the same studio behind Grim Fandango and Psychonauts, which will tell you all you need to know about its style of humor. It’s a psychedelic love letter to the days when campy TV shows dominated the screen, being one of the best Metroidvania games for players wanting a laugh as well as a great time.
Gory, atmospheric and brutally hard, Blasphemous is a 2D pixelated Metroidvania game that does a lot with very little. You explore the forbidden lands of Cvstodia as a lone wanderer, undertaking a pilgrimage in the name of faith as you try to free yourself from eternal damnation. Combat is always intense and challenging, forcing you to get up close and personal with foes while dodging their equally dangerous attacks. If you faint at the sight of blood this one won’t be an exploratory adventure for you. However, for everyone else, Blasphemous is one of the best Metroidvania games with its own grizzly style.
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