Metroidvania has become a huge genre, one that’s constantly evolving with new innovative combat and art styles. Getting lost in the abyss proves to be invigorating as opposed to frustrating due to the discoveries made and items hidden throughout the intricate mazes. Bosses can be treacherous yet exhilarating to battle when discovered in the vast labyrinths these titles have to offer. Since they are one of Vibe’s favorite genres, we decided to compile a list of our top 10 metroidvania games!
10. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Players follow main protagonist Miriam, a shardbinder that survived being sacrificed during a time in 18th century England. Shadbinders were created by alchemists and used to summon demons by sacrifice. Miriam fell into a slumber, which led her to survive. The game takes place 10 years later, when she awakens from her slumber. You traverse a castle belonging to a revenge obsessed shardbinder named Gebel.
The reason we picked this title is that, aside from its Castlevania roots, the exploration and late combat are unique and unmatched. Exploring the demon infested gothic castle filled us with excitement not only due to the gorgeous labyrinth style map, but also due to the grind for materials to stock up on for the next battle. The huge map is one of the pinnacles for the game, as well as the insane eight-bit monsters. The only downside is that combat has extremely slow progression to really show its colors, and abilities come slowly throughout the course of the game.
Blasphemous is a wonderful metroidvania for players who love Souls-like games. The world is riddled with sorrow paired with fun, action-packed gameplay. You play as the Penitent One who awakens by his slain comrades in Cvstodia. The realm is led by religion and plagued by the Sorrowful Miracle, which manifests itself in the way of punishment. These lands only know sorrow and pain, so the Penitent One sets on a journey to the Cradle of Affliction to complete the Ultimate Penance.
The best parts of the game are the gorgeous 2D animation and art style with amazing character design. The combat is challenging but extremely gratifying, paired with memorable bosses. Sadly, the narration is lacking, leaving players a bit lost when it comes to the story. It also gets a bit too repetitive at times.
8. Rogue Legacy
Rogue Legacy had to make our list because, not only is it a classic staple for the franchise, but the story is also insanely deep. A brave knight known as Johannes ventures to a castle filled with death at every turn, all in order to find a cure for his father and find the reason behind the doom cast upon your family line. This game did so much for the genre and deserves so much more love.
What sets this game apart from others is that the game is built upon death. Every time you die, you gain some new illness and a new character. Permadeath is the staple of the game. It’s also filled with fun gameplay (for its time) and challenging obstacles. There is also the light humor that adds to the overall enjoyment of the experience. Sadly, nowadays, there are better options to play since during its time, weapon variety was non existent. It is a classic that helped pave the way to what we experience today.
7. Ender Lillies
This new age gem came out of the left field with a home run. Words can’t express the enjoyment this game brings with its amazing storytelling and joyous atmosphere. Lilly, as the last surviving priestess, embarks on a deadly journey to end the blight that plagues Lands End. The knight aids her mission by fighting enemies and bosses so she can purify them to free them from their blight.
It was hard to find anything majorly wrong with this game. The story was powerful paired with a gorgeous art style and a phenomenal soundtrack. Exploring the massive labyrinth felt exciting rather than a chore, and enemies were laid out perfectly to keep the game from falling into repetition. The game did suffer from some balancing issues with the spirits, however, due to some of them being almost overpowered and others mostly useless.
6. Axiom Verge
Trace, an injured scientist, discovers a breach and traverses it to a new world known as Sudra. Sudra is supposed to act as a bridge between worlds, but the civilization has collapsed. Trace, along with Dr. Hammond, explore the world in order to gather information about their history and technology. This great title fulfills the need for a scifi-fantasy thriller and platformer in one package.
This game nails the curiosity and dread with its strong atmosphere and soundtrack. The aliens feel well designed in aiding the collapse of society feel. There is also great weapon variety to cycle through for combat to add to the pleasure. The only downside is that the story takes a long time to develop.
5. Shante Half Genie Hero
Shantae is a fan favorite, and it is no surprise at all. This half genie becomes tasked with protecting her home of Scuttle Town from the nuisance that is Risky, a mischievous pirate that wreaks havoc everywhere she goes. The game is a light hearted and fun tale that proves to be a great addition to the Shante series.
The game features a lot of replayability with levels to help gain new transformations. There’s variety of weapons and power-ups that feel unique in their own way, and exciting to discover. The soundtrack was one of the biggest features to stand out for the game, as well as the newer graphics that probably ate a good chunk of the budget. The game does feel a bit more linear, probably due to the odd lack of leveling system.
4. Salt and Sanctuary
This is another great buy for Souls-fans, and definitely a more difficult one to beat. You play as a passenger on a ship which also happens to ironically be carrying a princess. The princess is to be wed to an opposing country’s king, however she is captured by a group of marauders. Even more ironically, you’re tasked with finding her by a man that you discover after landing ashore. You also get to fight a bunch of terrifying and brutal bosses along the way.
This story excels at amazing world designs that strongly encourages exploration. The art design is very unique but helps create a Souls-like atmosphere. The bosses can be very unpredictable, but prove to be very rewarding. Sadly there is a lot of poor explanation for a lot of mechanics in the game, but nothing to keep players from continuing onward.
3. Dead Cells
While the plot is hardly explained, it is fed through your environment and progress. You essentially play as a weird gelatinous monster that can take control of corpses. Your main goal is to essentially try and escape the island, but you obviously have many obstacles in the way. This game was very brave and innovative, blending many genres into something almost entirely new.
The combat is fun due to great button mapping and a variety of weapons to utilize. The gameplay feels endless and invigorating. The weapon selection however, is a bit unbalanced at times, but still the game overall fun to play.
2. Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori feels like the pinnacle of feelings smashed into a game. The story is so heartbreaking, yet filled with hope and love. As you play as Ori, you are a fallen guardian spirit who was orphaned by a storm. Ori becomes adopted by Naru, a creature of the forest. After Naru passes from a cataclysm, you traverse the forest and eventually collapse by a Spirit Tree who revives you. Ori then sets out on a new mission to help aid the forest.
Ori offers the best story telling of any metroidvania game, and boosted by great gameplay and exploration. The map is filled with intricate puzzles and powers to discover. The only downside to the game is the uneven difficulty, but even then the game is still a masterpiece.
1. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight tells a sad tale of a ruined ancient kingdom known as Hollownest, which is below the town of Dirtmouth. The vast kingdom is overrun by the infection that drove all of the citizens to chaos. You play as a brave knight who ventures through the kingdom and becomes tasked with killing the three dreamers. These dreamers are acting as locks to a failing seal the Pale King used to try and contain the infection.
Hollow Knight is filled with deep and hidden lore through the maze of Hollownest. The environments are breathtaking with strong sound effects that aid the feeling of hopelessness. There are many strong, challenging bosses riddled throughout the labyrinth, which is matched by tight, satisfying platforming and crisp combat. Hollow Knight is by far the best of this genre.
These were our top ten metroidvania choices at Vibe. We felt this selection made the best impact on the genre, and has the best to offer in terms of gameplay, story, and content. Let us know your list and thoughts, and if this proved helpful to aid you in your search for a new metroidvania game.