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Best Metroidvania games to explore to absolute completion

10. Owlboy

best metroidvania games - owlboy

(Image credit: D-Pad Studio)

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.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

9. Supraland

best metroidvania games - supraland

(Image credit: Supra Games)

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.

Available on PC

8. Guacamelee! 

best metroidvania games - guacamelee

(Image credit: DrinkBox Studios)

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. Interesting skill mechanics and the rare but fun option of a multiplayer make this game simply a romp.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

7. Steamworld Dig 2

best metroidvania games - steamworld dig 2

(Image credit: Image & Form)

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.

Available on PC, PS4, Switch, Stadia

6. Shantae – Half Genie Hero

best metroidvania games - shantae: Half genie hero

(Image credit: WayForward)

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.

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

5. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

best metroidvania games - bloostained: Ritual of the night

(Image credit: ArtPlay)

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.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

4. Ori and the Blind Forest

best metroidvania games - ori and the blind forest

(Image credit: Microsoft / Moon Studios)

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.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

3. Cave Story

best metroidvania games - cave story

(Image credit: Pixel)

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.

Available on PC

2. Hollow Knight

best metroidvania games - hollow knight

(Image credit: Team Cherry)

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 – Soulds-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.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

1. Dead Cells

best metroidvania games - dead cells

(Image credit: Motion Twin)

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. 

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS, Android