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The best Metroidvania games on PC

Castleprime, now freshly updated for 2024

Artwork from Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown, Hollow Knight, Ori And The Blind Forest and SteamWorld Dig 2
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

There's no shortage of great Metroidvanias out there these days, so to help narrow your search for what to play next, we've put together this list of the very best Metroidvania games to play on PC right now. Metroidvanias can be a little tricky to define at times. Most have big, knotty worlds to explore that often require the use of specific abilities to access its farthest corners, but while some put a greater emphasis on slow and methodical combat, others stuff every pixel with rock hard platforming challenges to test their players' mettle. We like to keep an open mind when it comes to these things, but that does mean our list of the best Metroidvanias may include the odd controversial choice or two. What's important, though, is that all of these games are brilliant, and come with our seal of approval.

The best Metroidvania games

Since the Metroidvania is such a jumble of different genres a lot of the time, you could argue that a lot of these games might also fit other genre descriptions equally well. We've done our best to keep off straight platforming games, for example, but whereas previous iterations of this list also ruled out roguelikes from appearing here, we've decided that it's high time to relax that particular rule, because really, there are just too many interesting roguelike Metroidvanias around these days to ignore them completely. You may think differently, of course, but hey, that's what the comments are for. And if we miss a game you think should be on this list, then tell us about them below. We love hearing about new games to play, and your suggestion might just be the push we need to go away and play it, and maybe include it in a future update. For now, though, here are the best Metroidvania games you can play on PC right now.

15. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

Several enemies stand on platforms above a pool of lava with a large skeleton in the background in Guacamelee
Image credit: Drinbox Studios

Guacamelee is an absolute riot of a Metroidvania. Bright, colourful and joyfully chaotic with its luchador wrestling brawls, this is a game where your uppercuts, dodge rolls and slams are just as vital to fighting off baddies as they are for getting around the environment. Your wrestling skills are your upgrades here, and as your moveset expands, so does your ability to dig deeper into the world to save your childhood friend Lupita from the evil undead skeleton Carlos Calaca. Sure, it's not the subtlest of Metroidvanias out there, what with its colour-coded doors and what not, but there's no denying it's bursting with charm and character. You also transform into a rooster at one point, which is just delightful in and of itself. With the Super Turbo Championship Edition, you also get bonus levels, bosses and all its previous DLC, making this the ultimate version of this excellent brawler.

14. Owlboy

An owlboy stands on a floating island in the sky in Owlboy
Image credit: D-Pad Studios

After so, so many years of delays, Owlboy finally appeared and did something very important: be lovely. It's funny, smart, sad and novel, and all of these aspects are infused with loveliness. That may sound twee, and perhaps it is, but it's a special treat in gaming land. But it's very funny as well, a sense of humour similar to Nintendo's stunning Mario & Luigi games. Also, good lord it packs an emotional punch. There's a moment in the game that, when you meet it, you'll be compelled to find someone else who's played to discuss it with them. It's superbly crafted, the deftness in design so strong that you don't notice it until you realise how it didn't make mistakes in hindsight, and it's just, well, completely lovely.

13. Salt And Sanctuary

A warrior jumpkicks onto a platform in Salt And Sanctuary
Image credit: Ska Studios

Sitting firmly at the Castlevania end of this genre, with quite a heavy dollop of Dark Souls thrown in, Salt And Sanctuary is a super-tough game about exploring a castle and fighting lots of horrible things within it. Oddly enough, you don't need a background in Dark Souls to get the most out of it. Sure, it borrows a lot of the same bones as FromSoftware's games - a stamina bar for fighting, returning to your death point to retrieve XP and weight-based equipment stats - but it never feels quite as gruelling, or like you're constantly bashing your skull against the flagstones of its pathways. Forget the comparisons, and just enjoy this rather splendid 2D brawler.

12. Cave Story+

A small robot flies across a spiky pit in Cave Story+
Image credit: Nicalis

A grand passion project by self-taught developer Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya, Cave Story shares a few aspects with classic Metroid designs, most notably a handful of key items providing access to new areas, but its strengths lie outside the familiar template. Intuitively weighty character movement, satisfying combat (especially the bosses), a fantastic soundtrack and a simple story told well - all these make it hard not to feel for the plight of the adorable rabbit-like Mimiga tribe, friendly denizens of an otherwise hostile land. There are some notable rewards for exploration and experimentation. Few will see it on their first playthrough, but Cave Story+'s real end-game escalates to near-Super Meat Boy levels of challenge, more fantastic music, a final plot twist and a spectacular boss all culminating in an ending that delivers catharsis in proportion to the pain endured to reach it.

11. Yoku's Island Express

A small dung beetle approaches a pinball sequence in Yoku's Island Express
Image credit: Team17

A Metroidvania disguised as a pinball game, Yoku's Island Express is a veritable summer holiday compared to the cacophony of dark and gruelling jaunts that make up a large proportion of this genre, and it's all the better for it. The way you traverse its island paradise may not take the traditional form of a Metroidvania - you're a dung beetle postman ping-ponging round a world that's effectively one giant, labyrinthine pinball table, after all - but progress is still gated until you've learned special abilities, and you'll be zipping about all over the shop as you go about delivering your letters and all-important packages. The pinballing itself is utterly delightful, too - exercising all the same platforming muscles as your typical run and jumper. More Metroidvanias should follow Yoku's example if you ask me, and it's a travesty that no one's taken up its mantle in the years since its release.

10. Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night

A female warrior runs upside down inside a room full of painted portraits in Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night
Image credit: 505 Games

After helming the Castlevania series for the better part of 20 years, Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night is what Koji Igarashi did next - and perhaps unsurprisingly, it's very Castlevania. Or rather, very Castlevania if you're talking about the Symphony Of The Night era of the series, which is where Bloodstained draws most of its inspiration from - only instead of fighting vampires and Dracula, you're exorcising demons and hellspawn experiments. Despite the obvious comparisons, though, this spiritual successor to Castlevania is still a tour de force of precise platforming, maze-like exploration and intricate combat challenges. Its array of weapon types dramatically change what attacks are available to you at any given moment, but the ability to swap these out on the fly gives Bloodstained a real sense of flair and flexibility. It also looks absolutely stunning, making for an unforgettable trip through its enormous industrial castle.

9. Axiom Verge

A small man dodges laser fire from a giant insect boss in Axiom Verge
Image credit: Thomas Happ Games

There are an awful lot of not very good Metroid clones out there these days, but Axiom Verge is one of the few exceptions to the rule. While it certainly pays its respects to its Nintendo source material, it's also very much its own beast, arming you with all manner of weapons (and a grapple hook) to fight your way through its alien-stuffed corridors. The neatest unique feature is the way the game occasionally bars progress via blinking, gruesome glitches, a superb nod to the era it represents, which can later be fixed via certain tools. Did I also mention the coat that lets you teleport through walls? It's properly brilliant stuff, and it remains our favourite of solo developer Thomas Happ's games, even now that Axiom Verge 2 has arrived on the scene. The sequel is still very good in its own right, but for us, the original is tough to beat.

8. Record Of Lodoss War: Deedlit In Wonder Labyrinth

A red dragon roars at Deedlit in an underground cavern in Deedlit In Wonder Labyrinth
Image credit: WSS Playground, Playism

Don't be put off by Deedlit In Wonder Labyrinth's ties with the lauded fantasy anime series Record Of Lodoss War (or indeed it's slightly daft-sounding name). This is a gorgeous Metroidvania very much in the classic Castlevania mould, with twisty-turny corridors, magical creatures that fill each room with almost bullet-hell-style attack patterns to weave through, and even bigger, screen-filling bosses to fight - including lots and lots of deadly dragons. Made by the same devs behind the also very good Touhou Luna Nights, this is a real feast for the senses - and you don't need to know anything about Record Of Lodoss War to see why this is one of the best modern Metroidvanias around today.

7. Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow - Mirror Of Fate HD

A boss with a lion's head and skeleton legs approaches in Castlevania: Mirror Of Fate HD
Image credit: Konami

What's this? An honest to goodness Castlevania game on this list? Wonders will never cease. Sure, the pair of Lords Of Shadow games surrounding this middle entry in the series (and port of the Nintendo 3DS original) are more hot-blooded action games than anything else, but Mirror Of Fate is pure Metroidvania territory through and through. Its 3DS roots may not make it the most visually spectacular game on the planet, but its robust combat brawls imbue it with satisfying heft and grace - especially as you get to grips with its three very different protagonists (Alucard and Belmonts Trevor and Simon) as they unravel the fate of Trevor's dad Gabriel Belmont inside Dracula's castle. And man alive does this castle go places with its interior decorating. There are all sorts of weird and wonderful places to explore here, and until Konami release Dawn Of Sorrow on PC, this remains the best Castlevania Metroidvania on PC.

6. Blasphemous

A knight runs away from a giant laser in front of a giant head in Blasphemous
Image credit: Team17

Another devotee of the Dark Souls school of Metroidvania hybrids, Blasphemous puts you in the pointy hat and shoes of The Penitent One, the only survivor of a grim massacre who's now trapped in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. It sounds grim, and a lot of the time it is. But Blasphemous stands out for its gripping and visually arresting take on all manner of Catholic iconography, chucking floating cardinals and candle and incense bearing staff wielders at you, along with giant grotesque babies and so, so many crowns of thorns. It has a theme and it's sticking with it, damnit, and all the more power to it, if you ask me. You certainly won't forget it in a hurry, that's for sure, and once you're finished, there's its very good sequel Blasphemous 2 just sitting there, ripe for the taking. The first one still has the edge in our eyes, but both are must-play essentials for Soulsian Metroid-likers.

5. SteamWorld Dig 2

A small robot jet packs to a higher platform in SteamWorld Dig 2
Image credit: Image & Form Games

Whereas the first SteamWorld Dig was a bite-sized platformer that tapped into 2013's love of procedurally generated mining games, its sequel kicked things up a notch, shifting to a full-blooded Metroidvania with its own distinct (and very good) platforming challenge rooms. As robot lass Dorothy, you're once again heaving your pickaxe around to dig your own path through underground caverns in search of a new town to call home, but this time you've also got a hookshot and a bevy of other neat abilities to help you traverse and break through the increasingly tough strata standing in your way. Steamworld Dig 2 isn't a difficult game - it's very family friendly in all aspects - but it shows that great Metroidvanias don't always need to rely on big boss fights to make themselves heard. This is a game that wants you to finish it, and to have an enormous amount of fun doing so.

4. Dead Cells

A headless warrior grapples onto a platform in Dead Cells
Image credit: Motion Twin

Yes, all right, Dead Cells was the reason we relaxed our previous rule about no roguelike Metroid-likes on this list, but look, time moves on, people change, and it's obvious to anyone who's played it that Dead Cells belongs here just as much as everything else. The lay of the land may be different every time you take a run at it, but Dead Cells is grounded in very much the same philosophies as other Metroidvanias. It's all about finding upgrades that let you push further into its maze-like world, and mastering its combat system to take down its plentiful supply of nasty creatures and set piece bosses. Finding your way through to the end is all just part of the puzzle, and as you build your knowledge of how its vast world works, the more adept you become at navigating its looping, twisting and interconnected hallways. Ultimately, Dead Cells is a game that plays with the Metroidvania form spectacularly, showing exactly what's possible when you rip up the rulebook and piece it back together in a myriad of different ways.

3. Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown

Sargon strikes a wolf boss in Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Ubisoft

After showing us what their platforming chops were made of in Rayman Legends and Rayman Origins, Ubisoft's Montpellier team have now applied that winning know-how to the Metroidvania genre with the outstanding Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown. This is a rollicking adventure through a cursed, mountaintop citadel as hero Sargon attempts to save the titular prince from a mysterious kidnapping. Packed with traps, spikes, and deadly contraptions, Sargon (and the player) will need all their wits about them to navigate its treacherous districts, making for a superb action platforming experience alongside its deep and satisfying combat. But it's the modern touches that really make The Lost Crown sing, like being able to take screenshots of your surroundings and pin them to your map, equip amulets to give you handy buffs, and choose between guided and exploration difficulty modes. It moves the genre forward while also broadening its appeal to newcomers, which is no mean feat in 2024.

2. Ori And The Blind Forest: Definitive Edition

A small white woodland sprite jumps across a forest scene in Ori And The Blind Forest
Image credit: Xbox Game Studios

One of the most sublime and perfectly executed Metroidvanias, Ori And The Blind Forest emphasises exploration and achievement over difficulty. It's still rock hard in places, of course, but this Definitive Edition expands on its winning formula with new areas, abilities, and - crucially - extra difficulty levels, broadening the appeal of this most gorgeous and evocative of games. You play as Ori, a glowing woodland spirit, accompanied by a floating orb called Sein, who's attempting to discover why their world is being overrun by a withering corruption - which naturally involves jumping, dashing, upgrading and fighting your way through an ever-growing collection of locations, each more astoundingly beautiful than the last. It stands out not just for its art and animation, but also because of the complete perfection of its athletic and nimble controls.

1. Hollow Knight

A small knight unleashes a powerful blast in Hollow Knight
Image credit: Team Cherry

Hollow Knight has become the benchmark against which all Metroidvanias must be tested against, and with very good reason. A modern, 2D adventure, it brings all the classic Metroidvania concepts up to date in fresh, new ways, adding a touch of Dark Souls to the mix with its foreboding bosses and rock-hard combat. Players take on the role of an unknown, nameless knight, armed with just a small, but deadly nail to fight their way through the world. Many a menacing bug will cross your path, but you'll reap ample rewards for vanquishing them. Spells and abilities will bolster your fighting style as you traverse the stage of Hallownest, and its vast open-world encourages you to explore every last nook and cranny.

The story is also brought to life with its dark but delightful art style and animation, a robust cast of characters, and its gorgeous orchestral soundtrack really accentuates its melancholy atmosphere. Developers Team Cherry don’t stop there, either, as every aspect of Hollow Knight has buckets of detailed secrets to uncover, and sidequests aplenty to sink your teeth into. It's a stunning game considering the size of the development team, and absolutely essential for Metroidvania fans.

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