The 14 Best Metroidvania Games On PC

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The Metroidvania is perhaps one of the more tricky genres to nail down. With its very name coming from an amalgamation of two actually quite different Nintendo-based game series – Metroid and Castlevania – quite what qualifies is always up for debate. Hence, we suspect this could be one of the more controversial lists, when it leaves out a favourite game that someone else might argue fits the remit, but we decided did not. The important thing to remember is that we’re right. And all of these games are brilliant.

It’s fair to say we’ve gone for a fairly conservative interpretation of the genre, sticking to games that represent the classic model of a large game world to explore, with areas unlocked and returned to as new abilities are gained. We’ve done our best not to conflate things too much with games that better fit into the “roguelike/lite” category, nor indeed those that are better described as simply “platform games”. It’s a minefield, we tell you. And we’ve not yet unlocked the mine-dodging ability.

So no, Dark Souls and its compatriots are not in here, and nor is Batman and his Arkham adventures. You disagree? You’re welcome to. Although by far the most controversial non-inclusion inside the RPS Treehouse is Dead Cells. Some passionately argue it’s a Metroidvania, others – correctly – point out that it’s a roguelite platformer, with a growing skillset. There were tears.

These aren’t ranked, they’re in a random order. And if there’s anything you think is outrageously forgotten, make your case for it in the comments below.

Right, let’s go!

You can navigate the list by clicking the arrows above or below the header image on each page or by using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

199 Comments

  1. KaiUno says:

    You kinda missed the best one of all… Hollow Knight. You better hand in your metroidvania-card at the door and bow your head in shame.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Yes – but he’s got Ori on the list, which is “just better in every element”.

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      Play Ori, or any of the others on the list.

      • KaiUno says:

        Oh, I have played Ori (and most of the titles on the list). Loved it quite a bit. I just feel that Hollow Knight belongs in this selection. Especially when the author is going for a an arbitrary number in an article that feels like somebody needs to fill a page-view quota.

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          John Walker says:

          Hi. I wrote this article because I love MVs, and wanted to write about a bunch of them on the site. I couldn’t give a wobbling toss how many pageviews it gets, as it makes no difference to me either way.

          I’ve given my reasons for not including Hollow Knight in another comment, and indeed in the article to which you were linked. As the above article says, we encourage you to disagree with our selection, and to say why you think other games should be included. Unfortunately you’ve chosen to just make spurious accusations, rather than the far more useful contribution of saying why you think Hollow Knight is so good.

      • mitrovarr says:

        I like Ori, but I thought Hollow Knight was better on basically every level. In particular, the combat. Ori combat is pretty bad (the reliance on the weird sparking light attack was not good) while Hollow Knight had extremely tight controls and good combat. But really, the world in Hollow Knight is just far more interesting, the story is deeper, and I was actually interested in the world it made. Ori never made me care about the characters or the world… it was just so obviously video-gamey, and designed to manipulate emotions.

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      John Walker says:

      I consider Hollow Knight to be far too derivative of too many games, while actively taking away from what made them great.

      It’s a fun game, but falls short for me.

      But imagine, everyone whinging, if the text above had repeatedly implored people to write why a game should be on the list, rather than complain it isn’t!

      • Sgt_Plops says:

        I’ve just read your review of Hollow Knight for the first time — and I’m very appreciative of your take on it. I purchased Hollow Knight when it first came out with great excitement… only to start into the game and feel like it was an unfriendly slog in which I was trying (with ever more force) to maintain my interest.

        I’ll add to your critiques the needlessly punishing platforming sections of the game. Granted, I’m not very good at pure platforming games, but Hollow Knight’s movements felt restrictive and the required jumps needlessly touchy.

        The game overall seems to reward those that like to demonstrate that they can execute the required jump move dozens of times in a row without fail — because that is what the game demands. It was very easy to fail a room over and over until you got it right, but there’s little reward for progression.

        Boss fights I found were interesting but also frustrating. Your character does such little damage that many fights just went on too long. Perfect execution over several minutes with easy failure modes is just irritating, not inspiring.

        Ultimately, I found that it was a game that I kept wanting to fall in love with — until I got distracted by other, better, more interesting games and never looked back.

      • Shazbut says:

        I’m not a writer and haven’t played enough games to make a solid case as to why Hollow Knight should be on this list. I’m also not skilled at rhetoric and am not looking for fights, so I mention it not because I want to engage in some kind of verbal sparring match or write four paragraphs of carefully thought out argument but because I want it to be recognised for the brilliant game it is, and maybe some part of me feels that if the creators of the game are passing that they ought to see that their achievement has been acknowledged.

        I don’t understand why your post is hostile.

        • Hans says:

          Because Walker is a bitter, touchy little twat who cries SUBJECTIVITY out of one side of his mouth while on the other side he lashes out at anyone that disagrees with anything he says. This was actually a pretty tame response from him compared to usual.

          Uh oh, I can hear him coming now, most likely to make some kind of imposing internet tough guy comment about how I better stop OR ELSE!

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            John Walker says:

            I am repeatedly inviting people to explain why they think I’m wrong and to say why they like any game not included.

          • N'Al says:

            Regardless of Mr. Walker’s general demeanor he’s absolutely right; KaiUno’s original post contributed nothing. Whilst Shazbut’s and Colby’s posts below aren’t much more than Hollow Knight name drops, at least they aren’t needlessly aggressive towards missing a particular item off a list on the internet.

          • australopithecus says:

            Oh, I don’t know. I think John does pretty well, especially considering how many years he’s been putting up with internet idiots and keyboard warriors becoming indignant about every little thing.

            Thanks for the write up John. I enjoyed it. :)

        • mmandthetat says:

          I don’t think he asked for four paragraphs or an ongoing debate. They’re just trying (in vain, inevitably) to curb the most annoying trend in every online list ever: the comment section full of people saying “What about ______?” With this list in particular, it’s painfully obvious what the most controversial exclusion will be, since Hollow Knight is brand new and very popular. Simply saying “This list doesn’t have Hollow Knight” on it is completely unnecessary. We know.

          • Shazbut says:

            I actually figured he’d forgotten and was hoping for “Oh damn, that was a mistake!” or something along those lines. I didn’t think he’d actually considered it and found it unworthy.

        • welverin says:

          You don’t need to be a skilled wrter or have wide ranging gaming to share your thoughts about why you like a game left off the list.

          He’s also not encouraging people to do so to get in an argument over, but for people to help expand the list so when others read they have more recommendations to explore if they come across something that sounds intriguing.

          A comment that not obly adds nothing constructive, i.e. explains why the person thinks the excluded game is worth mentioning, boils down to you are wrong and don’t know what you’re talking about, not only misses the point but starts the combat argumentativeness.

          That is exactly how this comment chain started.

      • castle says:

        John, I’m a long-time reader and I love ya, but you really did miss the mark on Hollow Knight (which is no excuse for people acting so belligerent).

        Metroidvanias are my favorite genre going back to Metroid/Super Metroid/Symphony of the Knight/etc., and Hollow Knight brings many new ideas to the table. It’s the freshest metroidvania I’ve played in years.

        First, and most important, is the exploration. Hallownest is a truly mysterious and threatening place, rather than a grid to be ticked off to 100%. When you find a new area, you can’t map it at all until you find Cornifer, who is exploring somewhere nearby and will sell you a partial map. Once you’ve found the map, it doesn’t auto-complete when you enter a room. Instead, when you finish exploring and return to a bench, everything that you’ve visited will be added to the map at once. This means that every new area involves pushing into the unknown, never knowing what’s around each corner, and possibly not knowing how to return to safety. Several other elements add to this effect: when you die, all of your currency remains on your corpse and must be recovered, often from deep in unknown territory; the merchants, of which there are an impressive variety, must be found in the depths via exploration; and every corner of Hallownest hides something unique and interesting. You never simply find an ability upgrade, but rather a fascinating creature or unique ruin that may or may not be helpful, and could very well be threatening. Combined with the relatively high difficulty, these mechanics make every play session thrilling, rather falling into the routine cycle of many Metroidvanias.

        Second, in addition to the gradually-acquired Spells and Abilities that you find in any Metroidvania, you also obtain Charms. These can be swapped among a limited number of slots and offer a huge variety of play styles. As you progress, you’ll find certain loadouts work best for exploration, others for boss fights, others for specific areas/enemies and so on. The ability to modify your character on the fly isn’t a new idea, but I’ve never seen it worked into a Metroidvania with this scope for experimentation.

        Third, and I guess I’ll stop here even though I could continue, is the sheer breadth and generosity of the game. A single playthrough can take 30 to 40 hours. The wiki lists 43 NPCs and 147 types of enemies, including 29 bosses. The endgame rewards thorough exploration and observation without feeling tedious. I can think of few games that gave me 40 hours of genuinely thrilling gameplay without ever feeling tedious or routine. It’s a remarkable achievement.

        Let me ask: did you find the dream nail, a weapon that allows you to enter dreams and read the mind of any NPC or enemy, as well as many of the corpses and ruins scattered throughout the map? Did you descend to the bottom of the ancient basin at the heart of Hallownest to find the secret of the Pale King? Did you reactivate the ancient tramway that served the old city? Did you fumble through the darkness of Deepnest to find the distant village, the Husks that remain, and the creature they serve?

        It’s quite clear the answer is “no” to all of the above, because it’s unthinkable that anyone could experience these things and consider Hollow Knight to be derivative.

        • b00p says:

          very well said.

        • Entropicbydesign says:

          Eh.. well.

          So, I just bought Hollow Knight. I had absolutely zero shites to give about the game about five minutes ago.. other than looking quite beautiful nothing about it really hooked me.. until I read your response. After doing so, there was just nothing for it but to run like hell from any spoilers and pick the game up.

          Great comment.

          Also, as to the list, I have no real opinions beyond seeing Ori mentioned again with glowing praise.. making it harder for me to continue not having played it. You all need to stop this whole ‘introduce me to amazing games’ crap because damnit, Tekken is HARD and all my free time should be going to making my Josie beat up strangers successfully on the damn internet. Get your shit together people, you’re screwing up my practice regiment.

        • Xelos says:

          I second that wholeheartedly- exploration in Hollow Knight is absolutely incredible and it drips with atmosphere.

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          maenckman says:

          There is not much to add here. Hollow Knight is one of the most atmospheric games I have played. As soon as I had beaten the game I immediately started another playthrough because I couldn’t get enough of it. Which is something not very often happens to me. It is a beautiful game with an amazing soundtrack and the gameplay doesn’t fall short of the presentation.
          Everybody has the right to present his own lists, but “Best Metroidvanias” without HK is hard to agree upon. Especially if there are games like Strider and Dust on this list. Good games admittedly but not even close to Hollow Knight…

        • vahnn says:

          I love Metroid, I love Castlevania, I love metroivanias, and I love Dark Souls. I was SUPER excited for HK. Started playing it, and… I don’t know why, but after 40 minutes or so, I just wasn’t compelled to play any further. No complaints. In fact I found the scenery beautiful, enjoyed what combat I faced, and the NPCs I met were mysterious and cool.

          Not sure what the problem was. I’ll have to load it up and give it another go.

        • 1stGear says:

          Interesting that John is quick to aggressively reply to detractors and demand people explain why Hollow Knight is good, yet when someone does just that he’s suddenly speechless.

      • K_Sezegedin says:

        Hollow Knight is only deriviative in my mind of an *actual* metroid game.

        Take Ori for example, great game fun to play through but it’s not an interconnected world, it’s a hub structure whose branches you tackle in the order the game tells you to do so.

        In a real metroid game you tease out the connections between areas and discover for yourself where the brickwalls are.

        In Hollow Knight you are constantly stumbling on new areas and exploring them in a pure and undirected fashion. In Ori you are told where to go and any freeform backtracking with new abilities only leads to optional upgrades and almost never new areas or surprising connections between areas.

        In the spirit of the unknown, quality of exploration and sheer number of

        “I better remember this for when I get a movement upgrade”

        moments HK ranks up there with the original Metroid and Super Metroid for me, while something like Ori is a beautiful yet pale shadow.

        • Fade2Gray says:

          Thanks for your comments about Ori. I played it a while back and, while I did think it looked very nice, it didn’t feel much like a Metroidvania to me. I think your comments about the world structure are probably what that feeling was about.

          I only just started on Hollow Knight. Here’s hoping it clicks better for me than Ori did.

      • botdx says:

        I disagree with most of the lists RPS puts out, but hey it’s your list. However, the absence of Hollow Knight seems particularly petty and egregious. I just don’t see how you can justify it’s exclusion on the basis that it is “far too derivative of too many games, while actively taking away from what made them great.” This is essentially a list of games that copy Super Metroid and Castlevania SotN without really surpassing them, so why do they get a pass but not Hollow Knight? Hollow Knight is probably a bit overrated, but it still beats the pants off half the game listed. I mean it’s not even clear Owlboy and Aquaria should really qualify.

      • dethtoll says:

        Yes, god forbid a game mimic a successful genre.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Best 2017 MV-title.
      “derivative of too many games” as the author puts it as if being a cross between Metroid, Castlevania, Dark Souls etc. would somehow make it a bad game and the genre’s not Metroidvania for the reason of being a fixed formula.
      It has difficult but fair battles for a start, tight controls, lots of optional stuff, several routes to progress and a Dark Souls 1-like interconnected map also a dev team that keeps on adding to a huge game but yeah “opinion is opinion”.
      I’d throw out Aquaria completely.

  2. Shazbut says:

    Hollow Knight.

    Hollow Knight is a very good game.

  3. Culby says:

    My God, is Hollow Knight chopped liver?

  4. skyturnedred says:

    How many more of these lists are we going to get before the header image size, and thus the navigation arrow placement, stays consistent throughout the article?

    • Uncle Fass says:

      Seconding this, though arrow keys provide a workaround. Hopefully the developers patch this in before RPS:GOTY edition releases.

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      John Walker says:

      I am very sorry about this. The pagination was changed ahead of publication, so if I get a chance over the break I’ll resize the images so the arrows at least stay still.

      We are working on a better system, I promise.

  5. KDR_11k says:

    I’ll also point at Bunny Must Die and Rabi Ribi though they’re very thick with boss fights so exploration is a bit more limited.

  6. shinkshank says:

    I can’t really agree with Samus Returns being better than AM2R. Sure, it’s a good game, but between it being so hilariously easy thanks to the parry and 360 aiming and the fact it’s some alright 3D rather than crisp 2D… eh.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Yep, AM2R impressed me far more than MercurySteam’s take on it.

      Plus, as soon as the dust had settled, the source-code for AM2R leaked out and the community started work on updates. The game now has a plethora of tweaks and fixes now, several new playmodes (including a truly non-linear NG+ mode and a randomizer mode) and a higher quality soundtrack.

      New updates are posted on the AM2R Reddit every week or so.

      • shinkshank says:

        I didn’t even keep up with these updates. Where can one download these wonderful additions?

        • DrazharLn says:

          link to reddit.com

          Download v1.1 from the linked torrent and optionally also the v1.3.3 patch (google for it).

          Future versions may autoupdate.

          You have to search around a bit because Nintendo DMCA’d it, but development seems to be ongoing.

  7. Stepout says:

    Cave Story+ and Axiom Verge have two of the best. soundtracks. ever.

  8. onodera says:

    Aquaria definitely has jumping puzzles in at least two areas beyond the Veil. Or maybe three.

    • April March says:

      I was very amused that instead of annoying underwater levels, it had annoying abovewater levels. At least you couldn’t drown…

  9. bacon seeker says:

    I’ve played about half of these and hollow knight is better than all of those. But you’ve inspired me to reinstall Salt and Sanctuary, so that’s something!

  10. Tim James says:

    I don’t want to be negative but I feel like I should warn people that Dust is very long, and the combat is very repetitive. I’m a completionist and that game tested my limits.

    • Addie says:

      It suffers from the fully powered-up twirl-through-the-air move being massively superior to everything else in your repertoire, so by the time you get to the haunted woods bit, it’s the only move worth doing – anything else is just asking to take damage. On the plus side, if you’re not a completionist, you can just use the same move to fly over the top of all the enemies, and run away to the next screen without fighting them.

      On the other hand, excluding Hollow Knight (which I’ve not played) because Oni is superior in every way, makes it strange to include Dust when Guacamelee is superior in every way – better looking, more tightly focused, better mechanically, better story, and more fun to play. Eh.

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    INCSlayer says:

    Im gonna point out that shadow complex is available on PC

      • RuySan says:

        While you’re wrong on Hollow Knight, you’re spot on Shadow Complex. It’s terrible indeed.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        Agreed. I remember really enjoying it, partly because indies cranking out stellar metroidvanias wasnt as much of a thing, and partly because I was expecting a typically hollow XBLA experience, and was surprised by the depth the game offered.

        But now there are a million superior examples of the genre in existence, so the gameplay is no longer able to carry the dreadful story and hackneyed dialogue – frankly I think it would look a bit silly on this list.

  12. ThTa says:

    I started playing Axiom Verge a few days ago, and it’s been fantastic.

    But it’s not a Metroidvania game, it’s an outright Metroid game by another name, and that’s great. It absolutely nails the atmosphere, art, and balance between exploration and straightforward progress. (It was almost surprising when it outright sealed off particular areas I’d been to until later, to quell that urge to backtrack the whole map, which most Metroidvanias instill.)

    Which is not to say I don’t like Metroidvania games, I love them, SotN and the portable Castlevanias (for the GBA and DS) are some of my favourite games. And I love that there are so many to choose from nowadays. But there is a fairly straightforward distinction between them and Metroid proper, in that Metroidvania games typically include some RPG elements (such as equipment, currency and levels).

    Oh, and as a personal recommendation for another Metroid-by-another-name: Mini Ghost! It’s really short and costs pennies, but it’s a lot of fun and even has a map editor.

    • Nevard says:

      I found Aciom Verge disappointing, the glitch powers/aesthetic was neat but the fact that so many of the weapons you collected in the game were utterly useless was a real turnoff. A real Metroid game wouldn’t have so many completely pointless power ups.

      • ThTa says:

        I do agree with that. At first I rather enjoyed that no weapon seemed to be a true upgrade to the other (having me regularly switch back to my original blaster), but by now it’s clear that a number of them have started to languish. It probably could’ve done with some streamlining by making some separate weapons outright upgrades/replacements for existing ones (as is the case with most Metroid games), rather than taking up yet another slot.

    • April March says:

      Wait, if it’s a Metroid-like, and therefore isn’t a Metroidvania, does that mean Metroid (and by extension Castlevania) aren’t Metroidvanias? 🤔🤔🤔

      • ThTa says:

        Correct, Metroid games aren’t Metroidvanias, and there are plenty of Castlevania games which aren’t Metroidvanias either. Notably, many of the original Castlevania games, as well as the new 3D action ones, are decidedly not Metroidvania games.

    • welverin says:

      RPG elements are not integral components to Metroidvanias, that’s just additional guff some games tack on.

      An interconnected world with the freedom to travel to any previous area with items/abilities that allow access to new areas or allow the for acquiring previously unattainable.

      Not all Castlevania games qualify, but excluding Other M, which I haven’t played, every Metroid does. Metroid 2 might be questionable.

  13. Kefren says:

    The only ones I really enjoy are the Turrican games (I play them on PC).

    • KDR_11k says:

      Turrican doesn’t really count, the Metroidvania structure is about one big, interconnected map where you need to acquire new abilities to progress. Turrican has wide sprawling levels but your ability set doesn’t change and you always head for one exit.

  14. LennyLeonardo says:

    I need to play more of these. Dig 2 was sublime, though.

  15. RuySan says:

    The absence of Hollow Knight, specially with derivative and mediocre games like strider and Dust, is almost criminal.

    It’s not only, imo, the best of the genre on pc, but it also surpasses SOTN and super metroid. For me, only Order of Ecclesia is better.

    Valdis Story deserved a shout out also.

    • Sgt_Plops says:

      Seconding Valdis Story, what a fantastic game! There was so much variety in the different characters available.

      Man, I haven’t played this in years… I’ll have to run through it again.

    • welverin says:

      Man, Order of Ecclisia was the only one of the GBA/DS series I didn’t finish. Not only that, I barely started. I got to that first giant skeleton boss, couldn’t beat and couldn’t beothered to grind to be able to.

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    Risingson says:

    I think Unepic is severely underrated. But again, the self deprecating humour was so familiar that I felt a friend was the narrator. And in any way, weapons and level design are really good.

    • TheDreamlord says:

      Unepic is brilliant, as is their next game Ghost 1.0, which is more focused and refined.
      I will also add that Hollow Knight should be in the list and leading it, too.

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        Risingson says:

        John didn’t like it because, IIRC, it features a variation of the good old homophobic joke of the rapist bear (“you did not come here for bear hunting, did you?”) and a lot of juvenile stuff as well. Somehow they did not feel enthusiasm about it though it has been the ONLY metroidvania I’ve really enjoyed in these last years.

        EDIT: I think that juvenile humour is something typical in spanish games. Pendulo Studios do that a lot too.

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        Risingson says:

        BTW, Ghost 1.0 reminds me a lot of Abuse. And that game with Mars awakening that was so beautiful, and Capsized.

      • suicicoo says:

        thanks for mentioning this(“unepic 2”) – going to buy this right now :)

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      John Walker says:

      I went back and forth on including Unepic. I played a lot of it, but never fell for it. Certainly the tone of the humour was offputting, but there’s a whole lot going on in this game and we’ve definitely never explored it enough on the site. Ghost 1.0 is installed on my machine and I plan to play it in the new year.

  17. Nietzscher says:

    I played 12 of the games on the list, I liked almost all of them and think this list does a decent roundup of Metroidvanias. Still, Hollow Knight is better, bigger and flat-out superior to them all – and that is just the base game without all the free update and DLCs.

    It’s almost like you made a list of the Top 14 dystopian sci-fi movie sequels of the last 15 years and did not put Blade Runner 2049 on it.

  18. scoopsy says:

    In the RPS writing laboratory deep beneath England, John Walker has just hit the glowing red PUBLISH! button when a portal appears on his wall, and a John Walker emerges.

    “John! We didn’t include Gateways!”

    “Oh dear,” John replies. “You’re right, John! But how will we stop the article from being published AND write a replacement before this hits the internet?”

    A glowing portal appears on the ceiling and a John Walker appears. “LEAVE THE INTERNET TO ME! START WRITING, YOU JOHN WALKERS!” he exclaims from the ceiling before running off towards the internet to stop the article.

    John Walker and John Walker 2 collaborate on writing a new, brief but brilliant essay on why Gateways qualifies as a Metroidvania. A fourth, confused John Walker shows up in the middle but that merely was an inefficient solution to this writing puzzle.

  19. stringerdell says:

    Hollow Knight absolutely deserves a place on the list

  20. Scio says:

    But, but… Sundered?!

  21. Ooops says:

    I would like to add my own suggestion in the form of a fantastic free (but still meaty robust) entry: A Mini Falafel Adventure. Adorable with its retro Gameboy-style graphics, creative boss fights and excellent chiptune/disco music. I think it’s my favorite freeware of all times. True, some will find it a little light on exploration, but all the elements of Metroidvanias are there, including the new abilities that allow you to reach other parts of the levels.

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      MajorLag says:

      That Falafel game was actually quite good until that fake-heart boss, then it suddenly very wasn’t. It’s like the developer went out of their way early on to show you that they don’t have to repeat boss intros, only to later not only repeat them, but make you repeat walking in to the room every single time.

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    MajorLag says:

    “Hey, you’ll have a blast for a good long while, until you don’t any more.”

    So, so many games I’ve tried to play recently. Some devs need to stop listening to the segment of players who demand longer and more arbitrarily difficult.

    Also recommending a game that didn’t make the list: Toki Tori 2. It’s A metroidvania gated not by upgrades, but by your understanding of the mechanics.

    • malkav11 says:

      So, explicitly not a Metroidvania by their definition.

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        MajorLag says:

        Admittedly one must stretch the definition of “ability” to make it fit the list’s criteria, but I felt it was worth mentioning for anyone reading the comments looking for something along these lines.

    • Person of Interest says:

      Toki Tori 2+ is the game I’d most want to add to this list, too. It has all the elements of a John Walker game: simple controls like the ones he praised in Necrosphere, colorful art with lovely spritework, puzzles that make you feel like a genius when you’ve conquered them, and lots of out-of-the-way places to explore. Sure, it’s a puzzle-platformer and not a Metroidvania, but I suspect John never played it or else he would have found a way to include it in this list.

  23. Baines says:

    Is Aquaria actually good? Or did it just benefit from being one of the more famous games during the big indie push?

    It certainly got (for the time) a lot of indie coverage. It looked really pretty, but a chunk of its conversation was also about it carrying a $30 price tag in an era where $15-20 was considered “high end” for the best of indie offerings.

    • nimbulan says:

      I consider Aquaria to be the best indie game ever made, and have since I played it years ago. Some of these newer games may be more polished but none of them have been able to replicate that special something Aquaria has.

    • Waltorious says:

      Yes, Aquaria is actually good. I enjoyed it immensely, and it’s a big game that deserved its original price point. Now, when it’s almost certainly cheaper, it’s worth checking out. It has a heavy emphasis on exploration through beautiful environments with beautiful music, and a bunch of secrets to find. More relaxing than a typical metroidvania (I really think we need a better term for this… Exploration platformer?) without losing the challenge, especially later on.

    • ropeladder says:

      Aquaria is an obvious labor of love (and a fair bit of hate, if what little I’ve read about it’s development is true) with an incredible world to explore. The music helps. The gameplay is pretty fun but not as fun as some others.

    • Dust and Cobwebs says:

      I’ve only scratched the surface with Aquaria, but I love it to death. It’s gorgeous, and the underwater setting is a breath of fresh air. Swimming is handled pretty poorly in a lot of games but is quite fluid in Aquaria, making it surprisingly fun just to mess around.

      The price point deterred me for quite some time, but it seems to have finally stabilized at a more reasonable level for all platforms. (The Mac price used to be positively criminal.) Plus, there’s a lengthy demo. I’d say check it out and decide for yourself!

    • hijuisuis says:

      Aquaria is fantastic. I enjoyed it right to the end and it’s greater than the sum of it’s parts, a real coherent piece of art.

    • April March says:

      Aquaria is beautiful and its gameplay is quite unlike anything else. I’m not sure I’d still give it a ‘best of’ award for anything these days (except for soundtrack!) but it’d still be a contender. It’s a game you won’t regret playing.

  24. Ejia says:

    Axiom Verge absolutely nailed the Metroid atmosphere to the point where it’s basically Metroid in all but name, but Environmental Station Alpha is more fun to play and explore. I’ve yet to complete AV, but I’ve already gotten two endings in ESA.

    Also, ESA’s grappling hook is so much more pleasurable to use.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      Does anyone have an ESA save they could share at the savepoint right after the horrible horrible jetpack spike maze? I got the first ending, and I’d really like to see what comes after that maze, but in hundreds of tries I only managed to get through twice, and somehow bungled the following savepoint both times. (First time I fell through the hidden shortcut back to the beginning of the maze before I could save, second time I accidentally walked like five steps past the savepoint and triggered a boss fight that retracts the save terminal.)

  25. bee says:

    My list looks different than your list.

    Hollow Knight
    Dead Cells
    Seraph
    Rogue Legacy
    Axiom Verge
    Hive Jump
    Abyss Odessy
    Owlboy

    • bee says:

      Also Shovel Knight

    • Baines says:

      Games like Abyss Odyssey and Seraph aren’t Metroidvanias, they are regular level-based action games with varying hints of Roguelite (not Metroidvania) elements. Mega Man 1 on the NES was more of a Metroidvania than either of those titles, and no one would seriously argue that Mega Man 1 was a Metroidvania.

      As for Dead Cells, ingeniousclown has a pretty decent video about why (while it might be a good game) it isn’t necessarily a good Metroidvania.

      (EDIT: There is no way to prevent a video link from embedding?)

  26. Freud says:

    Toki Tori 2 is a very charming and relaxing take on the genre.

  27. MiniMatt says:

    So… I remain a little confused.

    Could someone make a stab at defining Metroidvania for me? I get that this is a list of Metroidvanias but I’m struggling to extract from that the defining characteristics. 1980s nintendo isn’t exactly within my accumulated cultural knowledge, and I’d dearly love to say that’s because it was before my time.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Now that, there, is a whole messy can o’ worms, and I think just about every writer has a different definition.

      Personally, I think a lot of these games just classify as Metroid-like. I tend to use Metroidvania to refer to games in the style of Symphony of The Night, which introduced RPG elements, levelling, stats and inventory management to the mix.

    • ThTa says:

      To add to what Dominic said, what usually defines Metroid-likes is that they’re action platformers which involve exploration through one large, interconnected map or set of maps. Where each time you unlock new abilities, parts of the map open up to you, new or existing. (The simplest version would be a weapon that allows you to break blocks you couldn’t before, allowing you to access areas you previously passed by. Though often there are story events which change the map, as well.)

      And yeah, the -vania kind added RPG elements to this formula. Which is somewhat contradictory, as Castlevania games didn’t have RPG elements either prior to Symphony of the Night.

      • Premium User Badge

        Phasma Felis says:

        Everyone forgets Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest! It was a legit Metroidvania.

        • ThTa says:

          What a horrible night to- okay, yeah, I forgot.

          For my part, I also forgot that Mini Ghost has a similar system (where currency and exp. are one and the same) while recommending it as a pure Metroid-like. So at least my brain’s consistent when it comes to incorrectly filing games as (not) having RPG elements.

        • stone1054 says:

          As they wrote above, there is a lot misuse of the Metroid-vania definition; many titles would be better classified as Metroid-like.

          I actually would somewhat object that Simon’s Quest is not even strictly a Metroid-like, since it lacks one of the foundations of the Metroid-like/vania genre – additional abilities (in S.Q., access to many zones is instead determined by possessing a certain object and/or matching a certain condition (time of the day, player position…)). Of course, belonging to a genre is not a black/white definition.

          There is an interesting discussion on StackOverflow: link to gaming.stackexchange.com, that explains exactly your question.

          Of course, the assumption above is that there is lots of misuse and confusion; based on the strict definition given, Simon’s Question is not a Metroid-vania, but even Metroid itself is not a Metroid-vania (instead, a Metroid-like).

    • BooleanBob says:

      An otherwise fine platformer ruined by an annoyance of backtracking.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Thanks folks, that helps some. So platformer seems key?

      Is 2D a requirement or can we have 3D metroidvanias? Come to think of it, if platformer is key, do we need to define that too? Is it satisfied by greater than average, um, “verticality”?

      Is Deus Ex one? Environments visited multiple times, different areas or approaches unlocked by acquiring different skills, quite vertical maps.

      • Premium User Badge

        MajorLag says:

        To me, the key element is that the world is an interconnected space that you can explore and that is gated by mechanics instead of keys… or you could say that the keys are mechanics I guess.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Metroid Prime and Arkham Asylum qualify so 3D is fine.

        • Ragnar says:

          Them’s fighting words!

          Most would argue that they would not qualify. This article specifically called out Arkham Asylum as not qualifying.

          Most agree that it has to be 2D to be a Metroidvania. Thus Metroid Prime, while a great 3D Metroid game, is not a Metroidvania. Neither is the 3D Castlevania reboot.

      • Ragnar says:

        Most, myself included, would definite it as purely 2D. So Arkham Asylum and Metroid Prime would not be Metroidvanias.

  28. ansionnach says:

    Your description of the MSX doesn’t even match what’s in the linked Wikipedia article. “MSX is a standardized home computer architecture”. Many manufacturers made computers in the various MSX generations. A couple of good MSX games that are still worth playing are the first two Metal Gears, which probably have more gameplay than their less solid successors…

    • Addie says:

      It runs on cartridges and was primarily used for playing games, and in practice behaves a great deal like a console, but yes, it had a keyboard and had a lot of business and productivity software too. It’s the Japanese equivalent of a ZX Spectrum or a C64, which are definitely early home computers, despite mostly being used to play games.

  29. nimbulan says:

    Aquaria is the best indie game ever made, and always will be.

    I have to say Owlboy really does not belong on this list. It’s more of a platformer than a Metroidvania game and despite the good storytelling (though there’s often far too much of it,) the game as a whole is just incredibly empty. Particularly for how long it was in development, I found the final result quite disappointing.

    Also personally, I don’t agree with the ridiculous praise that Axiom Verge gets. Sure it’s a good game that really nails the NES Metroid aesthetic, and extremely impressive for a one-man development team, but I found the awkward and often tedious combat really detracts from the game and prevents it from reaching greatness. Also the grappling hook is an abomination and the boss fights (all but one) were far too easy.

  30. ropeladder says:

    Opinions:
    Momodora 4 should have been on here. It’s just so well done.

    Valdis Story is really good but isn’t very accessable.

    Toki Tori 2 is metroidvania-esque but it’s too much of a puzzle game to really fit the genre.

    Aquaria is pretty amazing in terms of locales and details but the progression was kind of meh. Combat never got very interesting.

  31. LinusWP says:

    I am currently playing Hollow Knight and I was surprised that it doesn’t appear on this list. Reading through the comments, some other readers would also give a spot to Hollow Knight, and they are absolutely right.

    I haven’t played a lot of the titles that made it on this list, so I don’t know whether they are better or worse than Hollow Knight, but I feel like it earned a spot on the list regardless: The art style, the sound and the world are fantastic and make for an immersive experience. I even enjoyed the backtracking because of the beautiful environments and the cute little main protagonist. The combat is also fun, even if it is very basic at the beginning of the game, and there are a lot of unique enmies. I have only beaten two bosses so far, and I enjoyed these fights quite a lot. They are challenging and interesting, but not unfair or extremly hard, which I liked because I’m terrible at video games.

    But what really makes Hollow Knight an amazing game (and amazing art) is the beautiful world: Great characters and environments even manage to make backtracking a fun experience, and I’m certainly going to spend a lot more time with it. And when I’m done, I will try out some of the titles on this list, because Hollow Knight makes me want to play similar games.

    But I’m ready to forgive you. Happy 2018 everybody :D

  32. DingDongDaddio says:

    Hollow Knight is better than everything on that list other than La Mulana, which is one of my favorite games of all.

    Team Cherry must have run over Johns dog or something.

    Buy Hollow Knight.

  33. malkav11 says:

    I really didn’t care for Guacamelee. The fights are punishingly difficult (or were for me, at least) and I hit a roadblock where I appear to lack what I need to progress but I have literally no idea where to find it and it’s possible I just suck too much to proceed. In general, I feel like it’s an error for a Metroidvania-style game to have places where it’s unclear whether you need an upgrade you don’t have, or whether you just need to be better at execution with your current toolset.

    Steamworld Dig drove me away by having fixed quantities of a critical resource (cash) and then having consumables purchased with it and permanent loss of some amount of cash when you die. It’s not clear to me if it’s actually possible to enter a dead man walking state but it sure as hell feels like it is and it doesn’t make for a very fun experience. Did Dig 2 remedy this? Or is this even the problem I think it is in Dig?

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      I’m pretty sure Dig 1 doesn’t take away cash when you die, just makes you retrieve it. Dig 2 *does* take money, but there’s plenty of it to get what you need. And of course essentials in both games are separate from the cash system.

      • suicicoo says:

        …but are they?
        If i remember correct, you got the basic version of new stuff for free / via unlosable “cash” but for the upgrades you had to spend money, which you also needed for healing, i think.
        That’s what drove me away from the game – and the darkness mechanic & the short range of your pickaxe.

        • malkav11 says:

          Yes, upgrades are competing with healing. And I am reasonably certain you don’t get all of your cash back after dying, even after getting back to where you died.

    • Catterbatter says:

      I had a different experience with Guacamelee. To me, the fights and bosses seemed about right (and I usually prefer things on the easy side, which this was NOT). It’s not very forgiving of button mashing, which does a good job of training you for the bosses. Backtracking was more convenient than I’m used to, with the gated areas marked and colored on the map. I think I get what you’re saying, though, as there were a few tough platforming sections that could be passed without the intended abilities — or at least you can come close enough that it’s confusing.

      • malkav11 says:

        I freely admit I’m bad at action games. Guacamelee might not be super difficult as these things go. But as you say, it’s not friendly to button mashing and that’s pretty much my modus operandi.

        • Catterbatter says:

          I’m normally the same, and it put me off trying Guacamelee for a long time. So I totally appreciate where you’re coming from. It worked for me, but it’s not for everyone.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      Is SteamWorld Dig 2 actually a Metroidvania? I haven’t played it, but the first one definitely wasn’t, and I was disappointed because I was expecting one. The way you make your own path forward is neat, but since “forward” is always “down” and the shaft is only a few screens wide, it’s still quite linear.

      • Landiss says:

        I don’t know what exactly a game has to have to be a metroidvania, but there is quite a big difference between Steamworld Dig 2 and its predecessor. I don’t remember all details about the first game, but in the sequel the world is quite open (gated by your abilities), with a storyline that is somehow linear, but it’s possible to do some things in different order if you are determined (the game acknowledges this with some achievements as well).

        The game map is not just one shaft. There are several of them + some space on the ground, everything interconnected on one map. It definitely feels a lot bigger and more open than the first game.

  34. Tim James says:

    For freeware, Lyle in Cube Sector is also excellent. I don’t remember why.

    • sergiocornaga says:

      Lyle in Cube Sector is a tidy bundle of things I love about the metroidvania genre. It can be a little hard to get into, but hey, it’s free! John, I implore you to try it if you haven’t… and while you’re at it, 2 is another wonderful free metroidvania that really doesn’t get the appreciation it ought to.

  35. Person of Interest says:

    Strider made me do a double-take on this list. I got it in a Capcom Humble Bundle and had high hopes after reading Rich Stanton’s review, but I only made it about an hour in. It seemed like a rubbery run-and-gun platformer. Should I give it a second look? Is there more to it than that?

  36. Movac says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about Owlboy being on this list. Not because it’s bad (it’s very good), but because structurally it has little to do with Metroid and everything to do with Zelda. Its structure is hub-and-spoke, with a strict division between overworld and dungeon areas. Dungeons are linearly structured, strictly ordered, gated mainly by plot, and there’s next to no reason to return to a dungeon once it’s been beaten. There are a couple other hub-and-spoke games on this list (Ori and Guacamelee, of the ones I’ve played), but in those far more of the game is spent in the Metroidesque main world, and Guacamelee also has you return to dungeons with later abilities in order to earn the good ending.

    I know exactly how I feel about 1000 Amps being on this list. It’s certainly a Metroidvania, and the puzzle structure is unique and clever, but the actual experience of playing it closely resembles walking barefoot through a pitch-dark room where a child has recently played with Lego bricks.

    • Crafter says:

      I liked Owlboy but it was pretty weak mechanically speaking.

      It had tons of charms and very nice pixel art but when it comes to gameplay, I would be hard pressed to list any interesting mechanic.

  37. KDR_11k says:

    Oh crap, totally forgot to point out A Robot Named Fight. While that’s a roguelite Metroid it’s extremely Metroid.

  38. trjp says:

    I often think I might be the only person who thinks Ori was a terrible game – it just loves punching players in the face, lacked an actual/coherent world and mostly sold itself on ‘pretties’

    It was a massive disappointment to me – that they reissued it with ‘more pretties and fuck all else’ says a lot…

    • Movac says:

      I like my platformers with lots of spikes, so Ori’s combination of Meat Boy flow in a Metroid-like structure felt like it was made specifically for me by someone who knows my inner being. And that grab-and-throw move is the best ability in any platformer, period. People keep talking about a touching story, though, which baffles me because the game I played had some transparently manipulative pseudo-Pixar stuff instead. That seems to have tricked some people who aren’t masochistic enough into buying it, yourself included.

  39. Vanillogical says:

    That Hollow Knight isn’t here is kind of invalidates this list. These are all fantastic Metroidvanias, yes, but there’s no reason for Hollow Knight to be absent.

    As for Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham, and Devil May Cry, those are metroidvanias. Pure and simple. They’re 3D metroidvanias. Dead Cells is also a metroidvania; it’s a roguelike metroidvania. Genres can overlap. All of these games deserve to be on this list.

    Samus Returns is in no way definitively better than AM2R. There are tons of things AM2R does better than SR, like music, visual design, enemy & boss variety, and exploration. On the flip side, there are things SR does better than AM2R, but not so much that you could say it’s definitely the better game. I love both, but to say one is objectively better than the other is absurd.

    • Ragnar says:

      I would argue that 3D Metroidvanias and rogue-like Metroidvanias are two different genres that deserve their own list.

      I don’t consider Metroid Prime a Metroidvania, but instead a 3D Metroidvania, which is completely different because of that extra dimension.

      3D just isn’t what I think of when I think “Metroidvania”, just like First-Person-Shooter is not a description I would use for Dishonored.

      • welverin says:

        I don’t think camera perspective remotely important to whether something is a Metriodvania or not.

        The problem with Dishonored being referred to as an FPS is that many people use that term for any first person game failing to understand it’s a term referencing a specific genre with a specific type of gameplay.

  40. Halk says:

    There is one guy who has made his entire career out of crafting the perfect metroidvania, he’s done it not once, not twice, but THREE times with three games that are easily better than anything in this list (better aesthetics, better stories, better mechanics), and yet he’s forgotten.

    This is so, so wrong.

    The guy is nifflas and the games are Knytt, Knytt Stories and Knytt Underground.

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      Knytt was too walking simulator for me, but Within a Deep Forest was pretty good.

      • April March says:

        I liked Knytt, but I agree – it’s no Metroidvania. Though now you’ve made me curious about Within a Deep Forest.

      • Premium User Badge

        zapatapon says:

        I concur with this. Within a deep forest is a fantastic MV in the typical art style of Nifflas (minimal, beautiful, coherent, full of personality), and with a very original take on metroid-style upgrades.

    • SuddenSight says:

      I agree that Knytt Undergound is the best platformer of all time (of all time!) but Knytt stories is the only one of the Knytt games that is at all metroid-y (as it is the only game where you gain new abilities).

      Uurnog has some similarities to Metroid (you gain blocks, which are basically powers) but it is so puzzle-based that I am not sure the comparison really works.

    • sergiocornaga says:

      John played and loved Knytt Stories, so I was a little surprised not to see it on the list. It’s not only a metroidvania, but a game creation toolkit with a vast library of superb user-made metroidvania and non-metroidvania levels (many of which honestly exceed Nifflas’ own). Knytt and Knytt Underground fall short of typical metroidvania definitions due to a lack of power-based progression, but I think there’s a strong argument to be made for Within a Deep Forest’s inclusion here.

      Of course, Nifflas took his website down a few days ago prompted by gamer culture toxicity, which kinda calls into question how/whether to promote his games at all… so there’s that. I personally hope Nifflas’ games find an official home online again, and maybe then this list can also be updated to include them.

    • Landiss says:

      Knytt (and Knytt Stories) is definitely one of the best platformer out there, for me. I also hoped it would make the list. I have no idea if it can be considered metroidvania, I don’t really know what the genre means. But the game is just great and seem similar in some ways to other games on the list. Stunning graphics, sound effects and music that together evoke this incredible feeling of discovery matched with some kind of longing, sadness and loneliness that other games cannot evoke. All of this is done in a very minimalistic design, I really love it.

      Unfortunately Knytt Underground didn’t do it for me, at all. It seemed too big and, well, kind of ugly in comparison.

  41. mmandthetat says:

    But blah blah blah Hollow Knight wah wah wah how about Hollow Knight they even Hollow Knighted some Hollow Knight in Hollow Knight so you can Hollow Knight while you Hollow Knight!

    What is wrong with these commenters? Do y’all really need more lists that reinforce the opinions you already have and pat you on the head for having the same taste as everyone else? I read lists like this to find gems I’ve never heard of, and RPS almost always delivers (although I can’t say they’ve never led me far, far astray). The fact that they exclude painfully obvious titles is a STRENGTH. It leaves room for surprises and new discoveries. If you’re so desperate to have the consensus validated, just write “Half-Life is good” on a Post-It note and stick it to your bathroom mirror. That way I wouldn’t have to sift through all the comments whining about Hollow Knight to find further interesting new recommendations.

    • LinusWP says:

      The article encourages the readers to express their own opinions and defend their own favourites in the comments. I don’t understand why you react so negatively to people who try to express their love for a particular game they feel is missing from the list, because the article literally tells them to.

      • Premium User Badge

        MajorLag says:

        Probably because a) a bunch of people kept saying it as though no one else had mentioned it, and 2) many of those comments didn’t express why they liked Hollow Knight so much as declare that this list is invalid and we should all burn John’s house down.

      • mmandthetat says:

        The guy above me mostly covered it, but I’d like to add that most of the Hollow Knight commenters are the ones responding negatively to someone trying to express why they love particular games. Most of them are calling half the games here crap because they’re salty about not seeing Hollow Knight. I mean, sure, I think it’s weird that Dust is on here, but it’s not my list.

  42. Movac says:

    Like a lot of the commenters here, I thought Hollow Knight was a glaring omission. So I just went back and read Walker’s review. There’s a gap in taste between Walker and myself that I suspect is impossible to bridge. He played Hollow Knight and saw a rather good (but derivative) Metroidvania with an astonishingly terrible map system that actually lets the player get lost. I played it and saw a very good (but derivative) Metroidvania with an astonishingly wonderful map system that actually lets the player get lost. We agree entirely on the nature of the design, but its goal is an experience that works for me and not for him, and that’s actually not a problem.

  43. Barts says:

    Another voice in for Hollow Knight.

    In order not to have John answer “but why?” for the umptienth time and not to repeat what people have already written in comments, let me add one more reason: Ari Gibson was part of Team Cherry that made the game. And who is Ari Gibson, I hear you ask?

    A very tallented animator and artist to whom we owe:
    The Cat Piano
    or
    that video clip for The Audreys
    or
    that video clip for Gotye (no, not that one).

  44. Dust and Cobwebs says:

    Hmm, let’s see… Aquaria is lovely, Axiom Verge is great (but I can’t talk about the best, spoilery bits), Environmental Station Alpha is fun but a little hard on the eyes. Haven’t gotten far in La-Mulana, but I enjoy its confidence in the player even if I haven’t yet lived up to it. All good choices. *nods approvingly*

    The SteamWorld Dig phenomenon perplexes me. How can a game where you literally dig your own path possibly be a metroidvania??? I’ll probably pick it up someday since I liked SteamWorld Heist so much, but until then I shall no doubt remain perpetually confused.

    I love Cave Story, but it really isn’t a metroidvania. Linear levels accessed by hub-area teleporters, gated by storyline beats, a total of one (1) movement upgrade… It seems more like a platformer to me. One of the best, true, but not one of the best [i]metroidvanias[/i]. (There are a few others on this list I’ve heard the same of, but I haven’t played them and shan’t judge.)

    I’d replace Cave Story with Sundered. I can see why others might not enjoy it as much as I did, but it is [i]gorgeous[/i] and made some daring changes to the basic metroidvania formula. Swarm combat, changing procedurally-generated maps, the resist/embrace mechanic–all together, they give Sundered one of the best Lovecraftian experiences available in games. IMHO, of course.

    Hollow Knight is not on the list. I am OK with this. Its atmosphere seemed forced, and it was so, so, slow. I bought it based on the voluminous and occasionally eloquent disagreement in the comments of John’s WOT, and while I can see the potential in it, I have too many games that I enjoy more to keep pushing until I break the fun barrier. Again, IMHO. Glad the rest of you enjoy it, have fun.

    A Robot Named Fight is also not on the list. I am also OK with this–it’s pure Metroid, no -vania at all. If it was any more Metroid, it would be AM2R! Jokes aside, I personally enjoy it quite a bit, but it needs more content and polish before it qualifies for a “Best Of” list. What we’ve got in the meantime is a bite-sized roguelite metroidvania. No, really! Each hour-long run is different: map layout, obstacles, upgrades required to pass said obstacles, which bosses you fight, even what poor Tutorial Smith tells you before he dies. And yes, permadeath for roguelike fans and unlocks for those who prefer the -lite version. A definite Runner Up, worth checking out if you find that description at all intriguing.

    Metroidvania. Metroidvania. I can’t tell if that’s even a word any more.

    • Dust and Cobwebs says:

      Blast. Only noticed the formatting errors after the edit period expired. Please pretend all those []s were like this.

  45. GeoX says:

    There was a moment in the game [Owlboy] that when you meet it, you’ll be compelled to find someone else who’s played to discuss it with them.

    So I saw this claim made in the review of the game, and now I’m seeing it again. And I was playing the game and I kept playing and I kept thinking, man. When’s this stunning moment going to COME? It doesn’t seem to be happening. And then at a certain point I realized, huh. This must mean [X], because I can’t imagine what ELSE it could mean, but this REALLY had such an impact on you? I’m sort of at a loss. And I still am. I mean JEEZ, I’m old enough to remember that time an evil clown DESTROYED THE WORLD. THAT was memorable. This? Pretty weak sauce. I mean, I liked the game (even if it isn’t a Metroidvania), but I was given False Hopes for it.

    • April March says:

      Man, it was pretty great when that clown destroyed the world. Was it the first game in which the bad guy actually wins and we have to keep playing in the post-apocalyptic ruins of the world?

      • suicicoo says:

        would you please name the game? :)

        • GeoX says:

          But if I did that, then people who recognize the reference don’t get to feel unwarrantedly clever. :( Also, it’s kind of a big spoiler for the game in question.

          But what the hell, very few people are reading this at this point anyway, it’s Final Fantasy VI.

    • Shazbut says:

      I’ve completed Owlboy and can’t think which bit you mean. Is it possible you could say more without spoiling it for people who haven’t played it? Maybe some kind of cryptic thing?

      • GeoX says:

        Well, I can only ASSUME John is referring to the part where the bad thing happens to the city, but I’m still kind of bemused that anyone would be so struck by that.

  46. Artea says:

    I find it interesting that when 3D Metroidvania’s are brought up, Metroid Prime and Arkham Asylum are always mentioned as prime example, but never games like Arx Fatalis and System Shock (1, not the more linear 2). Is it because they stem from a different branch of game design than metroidvanias usually come from (PC, as opposed to console)?

    And Ori is way too linear to qualify as a Metroidvania. You can backtrack to get health/energy boosts, but you never have to backtrack to actually progress forward. When I played Ori, I didn’t bother going back for those pickups and the game basically progressed like a linear platformer. You never have to think about where you have to go. In terms of structure and design of the game world, Ori only bears a superficial resemblance to actual metroidvanias.

    • Turkey says:

      I think one of the key ingredients to a metroidvania/Zeldalike is that they’re built around getting specific tools to make progress in different areas.

      The game worlds are more like a crossword puzzle that you have to solve exactly how the designers envisioned.

      Games from the Looking Glass lineage are more loosely designed. They’re more about player agency and emergent gameplay.

      Their worlds are usually just gated by keycards and events that happen in the game.

      I dunno. That’s how I view it anyway.

      • Artea says:

        But in those games there are upgrades that help you surpass obstacles. In Arx Fatalis you need a Levitation spell and a spell to dispel a magic wall to progress. In System Shock you get upgrades like jump boots and a hazard suit.

        • welverin says:

          Can’t speak definitively on System Shock since I missed it, but Underworld was an RPG and immersive sim where you progressed ever downward, and didn’t require going back through previous areas to get to new ones that were locked off with items acquired later on.

          In a Metroidvania you’ll come upon an obstacle you can get past or see an item you can’t reach until you find the item in another area later on that let’s do so, and that is not how the Underworld games worked. While you could go back to earlier areas there was no real need to and it certainly wasn’t require (well as well as I can recall).

  47. TrenchFoot says:

    It was nice of you all to work for free for RPS.

  48. Panthros says:

    So you are going to click bait us with the title “The 14 Best Metroidvania Games On PC” and then not even have Dead Cells or Hollow Knight on the list? As someone who played Castlevania and Metroid when they came out, both Dead Cells and Hollow Knight epitomize Metroidvania.

    • HSuke says:

      Agreed.

      “derivative of too many games” is probably one of the worst excuses I’ve heard for not including Hollow Knight in a Metroidvania game, especially when several other games on this list are far more multi-genre than HK.

      It’s something that someone who hasn’t actually played through HK would say.

      • mitrovarr says:

        Ori felt way more derivative than Hollow Knight did, at least to me. Hollow Knight felt like a game someone actually wanted to make. Ori felt like you hired a team of consultants to design a metroidvania with all of the conventions of the genre, and then borrowed a couple of guys from studio ghibli to help design the art.

  49. and its man says:

    Some people may argue that Rain World is not really a Rain World. I’d Rain World that it could definitely fit the Rain World.
    Its long, first Rain World of Rain World, how you slowly get to Rain World its Rain World until you eventually feel Rain World in its Rain World make it definitely Rain World.
    Every Rain World that reached its Rain World knows what a unique piece of Rain World Rain World is. It is the most beautiful audiovisual Rain World I’ve seen in 35 Rain World of Rain World.

  50. dethtoll says:

    This is very nearly as bad a list as the “best FPS games” entry, only where Meer invented insipid, arbitrary criteria and then didn’t follow them, you’ve listed the most obscure junk you could dredge up (seriously? 1000 Amps?) just so you didn’t have to list HK out of sheer unilateral pettiness. Did you at least consult with the other writers on this? Or is this another case of RPS using “we” in the royal rather than editorial fashion?

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