If you’ve clicked on the headline for this article, you’ve more than likely been obsessed with the fantastic Dead Cells
in recent months. The dynamically shifting levels, tough-as-nails bosses and tight gameplay give the game an incredible amount of replayability and depth -- all of which are hallmarks of classics such as the seminal Metroid
series, alongside Capcom’s vampire fantasy franchise, Castlevania
Hence the modern genre label: Metroidvania
. A label under which Dead Cells more than comfortably sits.
So, if you’re looking for something similar to play after conquering the many halls, ramparts and castles of Motion Twin’s side-scrolling roguelike, it’s hard to know where to start. Luckily, there has never been a better time to be a fan of games like Dead Cells. In fact, it wouldn’t be hyperbole to claim we’re in the midst of a new golden age for the genre as a whole.
And so here are our picks for the 20 Best Metroidvania Games
you should play after the credits roll on the brilliant Dead Cells.
Steamworld Dig 2
Windows, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS
Image & Form Games
Part of the diverse Steamworld franchise, Steamworld Dig 2
is not only a fantastic Metroidvania but the best digging simulator out there.
Tasked with finding the protagonist from the original Steamworld Dig, your journey through the earth quickly takes you from mines, to cultist temples, mutant villages and plenty more bizarre and intriguing locales.
Steamworld Dig 2
’s digging mechanics are so unbelievably satisfying, it’s actually scarily addictive.
Windows, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Those who enjoy exploring vast, unmapped labyrinths and haunted cities should look no further than Hollow Knight
This critically acclaimed Aussie-made game will take you on an epic quest through a beautiful but decrepit bug kingdom, filled with new deadly and fantastical enemies at every turn. The exotic inhabitants aren’t the only challenge you’ll face in Hollow Knight
, as each new area will test your platforming abilities like no other Metroidvania.
Although not for the faint of heart, Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight
will likely go on to become a classic for the genre.
Guacamelee! (Super Turbo Championship Edition!)
Windows, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U
A Mexican themed co-op brawler, the first Guacamelee stole many a heart with its stunning artstyle and combo-driven combat. Never taking itself too seriously, Guacamelee!
has a humorous story, colourful characters and over-the-top boss fights
Compared to other Metroidvania games, Guacamelee!
distinguishes itself through its strange and often silly mechanics (such as turning into a chicken to explore tighter areas of the world), and the ways in which it explores traditional Mexican folklore and culture.
Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
If that isn’t enough Guacamelee! for you, then you’ll be pleased to know there is a sequel out now too.
And naturally it’s filled with outrageous new combos, twice as many enemies and a whole new roster of eccentric enemies to defeat, just to one-up itself. What’s more, the sequel lets you tackle these new challenges with up to four players. Featuring bigger maps and a whole new far-flung story, Guacamelee! 2
raises the stakes but doesn’t lose the flavor that made the first game such a spicy delight.
Windows, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Wii U
Frequently praised as one of the best and most faithful Metroidvanias in recent years, Axiom Verge
is a modern classic.
Set to a tense sci-fi story in a mysterious alien world, you’ll need to break the very game to triumph; overcoming foes and puzzles with creative and mind boggling glitches. Axiom Verge
is all the more impressive knowing it was developed by one person, the incredibly talented Tom Happ
, who worked on the game for several years.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Windows, Xbox One
Platforming is often the heart of any good Metroidvania, but it takes centre stage in the gorgeous and charming Ori and the Blind Forest
Tasked with exploring the lush and hand-painted forest mentioned in the title, you’ll be jumping over thorns, bouncing off enemies and doing your best to survive the many threats the world throws at you. There are plenty of puzzles throughout the magical adventure, which help break up the pacing in your quest to save the dying forest and the cute critters who call it home.
Windows, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
There’s been plenty of Metroidvanias that let you loose within dank caverns and deep dungeons, but very few that opt for outdoor settings such as the floating islands found in Owlboy
Taking up the role of the silent-but-brave owl Otus, Owlboy
is a Metroidvania where the friends you make over the course of your journey are as important as the skills you learn. You’ll take on sky pirates, uncover lost histories and more, as you explore Owlboy’s pixel-art skyscapes.
Yoku’s Island Express
Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
As the game industry has continued to grow, developers have continued to innovate and meld genres together into fun combinations. One recent result of this practice is Yoku’s Island Express
, a fun and pleasant adventure game that pitches itself as a hybrid of the pinball and Metroidvania genres.
Although the pinball experience is normally a pretty frantic affair, Yoku’s Island Express
is a charming and easy-going adventure
about delivering mail around a tropical island. The core gameplay here is simple but satisfying and exploring Yoku’s colourful open-world is a joy from start to finish.
PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4
is a wonderful and smart
blast from the past. Directly inspired by the original Ninja Gaiden games, this Metroidvania is likely to grab the attention of players who miss the retro days of 8-bit and 16-bits graphics.
At first tasked with delivering a scroll vital to the survival of your village, the story in The Messenger
twists and turns in ways that quickly see it become a saga with its own fascinating identity. Regardless, it’s the tight platforming and unique mechanic of switching between 8-bit and 16-bit graphics, as well as audio throughout the story, that makes The Messenger
such a brilliant twist on its inspirations.
Windows, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita
Another recent Metroidvania made by a single person
is a must play for Metroidvania fans who love emotional and gripping stories.
Playing as a renegade mechanic named Robin, you’ll discover the secrets of a dying world, and thwart the dystopian society attempting to stop you every step of the way. Filled with intricate puzzles, distinctive characters and an absorbing narrative, Iconoclasts
pushes the Metroidvania genre to new heights.
Continued in Part Two