Roam huge world maps & dive into top-notch adventure with games like Hollow Knight.
No doubt, Hollow Knight has a massive fan base. Its gorgeous graphics, challenging gameplay, and subtle storytelling really struck a chord with players. As it gave the classic genre a fresh spin, it’s often hailed as one of the best metroidvanias out there.
So, it’s no wonder many are searching for more titles like it. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of other great representatives of the sub-genre. But before diving in, let’s ensure we’re all on the same page about what the term means.
This article was updated on February 9, 2024. We’ve added two titles, including the recently released Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.
What is a metroidvania game?
The first metroidvania game is none other than the classic Metroid, released on the NES in 1986. Inspired by its success, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night took the genre to the next level with large open worlds and RPG elements. The name itself is a nod to these two legends.
The gameplay revolves around exploring realms that often hide secret spots and treasures to keep you coming back for more. Also, some map areas are blocked until you acquire the right ability to progress.
What are the best metroidvania games?
Alright, enough with the introduction. Let’s jump into our recommendations. We’ve got a list of the best metroidvania games that’ll sweep you into intriguing worlds. Let’s dive right in!
Axiom Verge and Axiom Verge 2
Before it even hit the shelves, Axiom Verge was hailed as not only a great metroidvania game but also a spiritual successor to Metroid. It certainly delivered on that promise, offering fantastic gameplay.
The game throws a ton of guns at you, so you’ll find yourself searching every nook and cranny of the map to collect them. Just when you’re about to pull your hair out in frustration, you’ll stumble upon a new weapon or ability upgrade that feels like a godsend and helps you overcome your challenges.
The sequel, Axiom Verge 2, is also worth mentioning. It takes players to an alternative version of Earth with even more dangers. If you missed the original, don’t worry, the second is a standalone adventure. Either way, if you’re a fan of games like Hollow Knight, you’re in for a real treat.
Blasphemous and Blasphemous 2
Blasphemous immerses you in a dark, gothic world plagued by religious extremism and superstition. The majority of Orthodoxia’s inhabitants, burdened by their sins, have turned into menacing creatures that the protagonist must confront while navigating eerie landscapes. The game is known for its high level of difficulty, which lies not only in combat but also in enemy placements and a variety of obstacles similar to the toughest platformers.
In August 2023, Blasphemous 2 was released, enhancing the variety of weapons and traversal mechanics. With that being said, the challenging combat, breathtaking boss encounters, and nightmarish aesthetics remained intact, solidifying it as a remarkable sequel.
If you’re looking for more demanding gameplay, check out our compilation of the best souls-like games.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
The reviews for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night often begin with the phrase ‘One of the top games like Castlevania in years’. But, it had a rather rocky start. Despite raising ten times its Kickstarter goal, the demo provided to supporters was criticized, resulting in a postponed release. However, the delay turned out to be beneficial, demonstrating the dedication of the developers.
The game features dark and stylish anime-inspired visuals that pay homage to timeless classics. The map design and combat mechanics evoke a sense of nostalgia, while an array of weapons and abilities allow players to customize their play style. It’s a must-try for die-hard fans of metroidvania games.
F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch (Included with PC Game Pass)
What would come out of combining steampunk aesthetics, talking animals, and a story about fighting off the robotic invasion? The answer is F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch. Not everyone would put it on the list of the best metroidvania games on Steam, but it won us over with its compelling narrative.
The gameplay, however, is nothing to sneeze at, either. As can be guessed from the promotional materials that feature a rabbit with a robotic arm, the game is quite action-packed. Smooth and dynamic combat blends seamlessly with other classic metroidvania activities, i.e. exploration, puzzle solving, and platforming.
Do you feel like checking out F.I.S.T.? If so, we have good news: you’ll find it in the Game Pass library. Check out the best deals for a 1-month membership below. To discover similar titles available with the subscription, browse the list of the top platformers on XGP.
Dead Cells (Included with PC Game Pass)
Many players might argue that Dead Cells breaks the typical metroidvania mold and is more of a platformer with roguelike elements. This viewpoint isn’t entirely unfounded. The gameplay is geared towards quick stage completion, sometimes skipping encounters.
Still, it incorporates some of the elements found in the best metroidvania games, such as unlocking alternate routes with different enemies. And its vibrant pixel-art graphics are certainly a feast for the eyes.
Notably, this game runs smoothly even on budget laptops. For more low-end PC game recommendations, check out our article.
Ori and the Blind Forest + Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Included with PC Game Pass)
These enchanting games follow the adventures of Ori, a young forest spirit. They provide a good starting point for the genre, especially the first installment. Ori and the Blind Forest is accessible to newcomers as long as they avoid the highest difficulty setting. Its sequel, though, delivers a more challenging experience.
With captivating, fairytale-inspired visuals, an orchestral soundtrack, and a heartwarming story, these titles are hard to put down. Moreover, the gameplay is extremely demanding yet well-balanced. All things considered, the Ori series ranks among the best metroidvania games on Steam.
In Owlboy, you enter the world of Otus, a hybrid of a human and an owl. The game underwent a lengthy development process, with an extensive 9-year gap between its initial announcement and release. However, this time was put to good use, resulting in a meticulously refined product.
The outcome is indeed impressive. It’s a visually stunning experience, with its pixel-art graphics that evoke nostalgia for the ’90s. Moreover, the protagonist is silent, and dialogue is conveyed through speech bubbles, adding to the retro charm.
SteamWorld Dig 1 and SteamWorld Dig 2
Next in our roster of the best metroidvanias, we have SteamWorld Dig 1 and 2. In the first installment, you assume the role of Rusty, a steam-driven robot miner, delving into procedurally generated underground caves filled with resources and menacing creatures. The game brilliantly combines mining, exploration, and puzzle-solving elements, offering a rewarding experience.
The sequel introduces a new protagonist, Dorothy, on a quest to uncover the mystery behind Rusty’s disappearance. It builds upon the original’s formula with enhanced graphics, diverse environments, and even more intricate puzzles.
Prince of Persia The Lost Crown
The PoP franchise has been shelved for quite a while, overshadowed by the popularity of the Assassin’s Creed series and Ubisoft’s other open-world titles. To the surprise of many, Prince of Persia The Lost Crown greatly exceeded expectations, quickly becoming one of the best metroidvanias on PC!
With this entry, developers returned to the series’ roots, creating an engaging side-scrolling adventure set on a large map that is jam-packed with secrets and hidden passages. In a classic metroidvania fashion, the main character gradually unlocks new abilities that’ll allow him to explore previously inaccessible areas. Combined with really juicy combat, The Lost Crown is a very satisfying package and one of the first hits of 2024.
The Messenger is a real treat for gamers from an older generation who fondly remember classic games like Castlevania. While the plot takes a backseat, the witty dialogue is noteworthy, often referencing current gaming industry trends.
Though primarily aimed at veterans, younger players can equally enjoy the game thanks to its exceptional gameplay. The ability to switch between 8-bit and 16-bit graphics adds a unique dimension, enabling you, for example, to overcome traps that were previously impossible to avoid.
Guacameele 1 and Guacameele 2
When writing about the best games like Hollow Knight, we can’t forget the Guacamelee series. These titles are known for their colorful, Mexican-inspired world that blurs the line between the living and the dead.
They embrace the genre’s core elements, offering expansive maps brimming with secrets, exciting platforming sections, and satisfying combat. Even better, both feature co-op mode for up to 4 players, making them more enjoyable. All in all, Guacamelee 1 and 2 truly stand out among metroidvania games on Steam.
Dust: An Elysian Tale
Moving on, let’s discuss Dust: An Elysian Tale. In this game, you step into the shoes of a mysterious warrior embarking on a quest to save a village and uncover their own identity. Right from the start, you can’t help but notice the gorgeous hand-drawn graphics.
But it’s not just about the looks. While combat takes center stage, Dust also features elements commonly found in metroidvania games on PC. This includes a sprawling 2D world filled with hidden secrets waiting to be discovered. It’s a fantastic choice for players who prefer action-packed experiences.
Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary plunges you into a gloomy island crawling with dangerous enemies and formidable bosses. It’s clear that the game draws inspiration from Dark Souls, creating an atmosphere shrouded in mystery and offering extensive character customization options.
As you venture through this desolate realm, you’ll come across decaying structures and face off against adversaries using a variety of weapons. The combat is fast-paced, putting your reflexes to the test. With eight distinct classes to choose from, you can tailor your playstyle to match your preferences.
ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights
In ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights, you accompany Lily, a priestess, as she journeys through a ravaged kingdom where the inhabitants have transformed into undead creatures. Her mission is to uncover the source of this calamity and free the afflicted residents.
As you play, you’ll engage in combat, acquire new abilities, and explore the vast, interconnected world. Notably, Lily doesn’t do the fighting herself; her companions take on that role, adding an intriguing twist to the gameplay. With its captivating visuals, melancholic soundtrack, and fun mechanics, it rightfully earns its place among the best metroidvania games on Steam.
Rogue Legacy 2
Rogue Legacy 2 stays true to its predecessor’s formula but elevates both its visuals and gameplay. You’ll still explore ever-changing dungeons, battling various monsters and formidable bosses along the way.
Much like in the original, instead of encountering a game over upon death, you seamlessly carry on as your heir, retaining the upgrades you’ve unlocked. Each character possesses distinct traits and abilities, always ensuring a unique experience. Without a doubt, it’s a solid pick for newcomers and veterans alike.
Metroidvania games on PC have sure come a long way. These days, it’s pretty rare to see a title sticking to the old-school rules. Most recent releases mix things up with elements from various genres, and that’s not a bad thing at all!
So, what’s your take on our list of the best metroidvania games? Any personal favorites we forgot to mention? Tell us in the comments below!