Metroidvania-style games have been around since the late 80s – early 90s, starting with the Metroid and Castlevania franchises releasing in 1986. The gameplay is a culmination of action-adventure platforming with a strong emphasis on exploration and experimentation with non-linear story elements encouraging revisitation and backtracking so the player can become more invested in the world and lore.
The popularity of this Metroidvania genre has skyrocketed over the years because it encourages elements of free-roaming, discovery, and unpredictability. These styles of games are commonly known for having gameplay features such as secret environments, power-ups, and locked doors.
Additionally, they have an unfixed difficulty that adds a new layer of challenge for players determined to test their skills. Many different style games take different spins and twists on the action-adventure Metroidvania formula, so here is a top 10 list of games with a unique flair of style.
10. Dandara: Trials Of Fear – “Unique Enjoyable Platforming Gameplay With A Mythological Adventure”
“Brazillian Mythology Rules”
Dandara immerses you into the world of Brazilian mythology created by the Brazilian studio Long Hat House encourages strong vibes and knowledge of Brazilian culture presented through a beautiful world in a pixelated style alongside a gripping and educational story that will leave you desired to learn more about Brazilian mythology.
Adding a unique and interesting take on platforming because instead of letting you jump around, you have the interdimensional power of teleportation. So as you progress through the story, you unlock a variety of gun enhancements as well as new traversal abilities adding a layer of flair and style and enjoyment to exploration like being able to bounce off of walls or being able to reorientate the camera angle.
The developers of Long Hat House are not afraid to try new things, attempting a very rare approach to the Metroidvania formula and action-adventure platforming mechanics by presenting players with a suitable challenge while also playing strongly on the concept of fast reflexes and thinking quickly on your feet.
Dandara keeps you on edge from beginning to end and experiments perfectly with a movement style that is easy to learn but challenging to master, providing the player with the ideal balance of gameplay.
If you have a fascination with mythology, have a look at the Chinese mythology DLC that has been announced for Fenyx Rising, releasing on March 25th –Immortals Fenyx Rising Chinese Mythology-Inspired DLC Arrives March 25 (thenerdstash.com)
Want a video game inspired by Norse mythology Spirit Of The North has you covered? Check out the details for the enhanced edition and prepare to pick up a physical copy – Spirit of The North: Enhanced Edition is Coming to PS5 | The Nerd Stash
Dandara is a 2D platformer released on the 6th of February 2018 on IOS, Android, PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
9. Blasphemous – “A Supernatural Platformer”
“Dark Souls Meets Castlevania“
Blasphemous is a Metroidvania presented with a Dark Souls theme, flair, and style sharing similar mechanics from the popular franchise like a bonfire saving system and inspired combat.
Taking place in the region of Cvstodia, where players take control of the penitent one, a silent knight wielding a sword reborn by a miracle and departing on a pilgrimage to stop the brotherhood of the silent sorrow, adding a supernatural sinister twist on the action and adventure and enhancing the Metroidvania formula.
This is brought to life through the environments in uncanny, mysterious, and eerie ways, and because it is themed around the cursed undead and religion, it is strongly emphasized and correlates powerfully in the world and level design. The gameplay is a mixture of hack and slash and platforming with RPG elements like a health and magic bar, taking potions, and using power-ups.
The art style and soundtrack of the game really immerse you in the world and strongly connects you to the character, truly a phenomenal gaming experience, and a world you love to visit and never want to leave.
Blasphemous is a unique adventure that will make your bones chill and skin crawl from beginning to end. Definitely, a must-have for fans of horror, suspense, and mystery.
If this game appeals to you, check out the upcoming survival horror dungeon crawler called The Caretaker – Survival Horror Dungeon Crawler The Caretaker Launching April 30 (thenerdstash.com)
Want a demon souls themed RPG action, Thymesia is definitely the game for you – Thymesia, an Action-RPG, Hits Steam New Year’s Eve | The Nerd Stash
Release Notes + Developer Details
Blasphemous released on 10th September 2019 on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 and eventually developed by a Spanish studio called The Game Kitchen and published by Team17 in 2019.
8. Dust: A Elysian Tail – “A Disney-esque Platformer”
“A Masterpiece By A Singular Designer”
Dust: A Elysian Tail, this Metroidvania has stood the test of time, releasing back in 2012 by an American independent designer called Dean Dodrill and published by Microsoft Studios.
Dust: A Elysian Tail shines through its captivating and breath-taking story and fuses that with an Asia-inspired 2D world. Presented on a 2D side-scrolling plane with elements of beat-em-up style combat.
Navigating the world of Falana, which anthropomorphic animals inhabit, you control Dust, joined by your sentient sword guardian, Fidget. On a mission to seek out your memories and remember your past. The game is RPG style incorporating abilities like power-ups, magical attacks, and a range of enhancement abilities like double jumping and even flying.
Additionally, you can also gain experience points that can be used to raise various attributes like strength, magic, defense, and health so you can tailor your attributes to your gameplay style or preference. Giving the player variety on their adventure in this action-fuelled Metroidvania.
Dean Dodrill has done an amazing job immersing you in the world using bright and prominent colors and a Disney-esque art style. Every character within the world has a personality making you feel bonded to the land of Falana. And as you explore and learn more about Dust’s journey, you will understand his story is deeper and emotional than expected.
Love RPG games with magic? check out the new RPG Fantasian made from Final Fantasy’s original creator – Fantasian is a New RPG Title From Final Fantasy Original Creator (thenerdstash.com)
Want more beat ’em up style combat? Check out this review on Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Review – A Dated Beat ‘Em Up (thenerdstash.com)
Dust: A Elysian Tail released in August 2012 on Xbox 360 through Xbox live arcade; the game is playable on PC, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One (through backward compatibility)
7. The Messenger – “A Hack And Slash Gameplay Platforming Adventure”
“Become The Ultimate Ninja”
The Messenger is not wholeheartedly or traditionally a Metroidvania, but this game is too special with its unique gameplay mechanics to not be included in this list.
The Messenger is the closest you will come to fulfilling the desire of becoming an ultimate ninja, fully equipped with a sword, a grappling hook, the ability to traverse platforms with style doing front flips, and a convenient cloud step that allows you to use your sword to jump again in mid-air.
Gameplay is a mixture, starting as an action-adventure platformer and then gradually transitioning into Metroidvania by exploring dungeons, uncovering secrets, and fighting an ancient curse. The game captures the nostalgia of 8bit visuals and retro music while putting you in the shoes of a heroic ninja aided by a mysterious blue-robed shopkeeper whose job is to save the world from the demon king.
Discover the game that heavily inspired The Messenger in the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection – NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection Announced | The Nerd Stash
Desperate for more hack and slash action – look no further than Warhammer: Chaosbane – Warhammer: Chaosbane Review: Hack and Slash Chaos | The Nerd Stash
The Messenger is developed by Sabotage Studio and published by Devolver Digital.
Initially released August 2018 for PC, March 2019 for PlayStation 4, and June 2020 for Xbox One.
6. Owlboy – “A Child-Friendly Action-Adventure Metroidvania”
“My Friends Are My Power”
Owlboy is a gentler and more laidback game, a casual, more child-friendly experience taking strong inspiration from SNES-era platformers. Developers D-Pad Studio takes an interesting, unique approach to the Metroidvania formula with simplistic and minimalistic tones making the game easy enough to pick up and play and impossible to put down with mild action but a lot of adventure.
Instead of providing the player with skills and weapons to navigate the environment and fight off enemies. The game implements a flying gameplay mechanic as you carry your friends around and they fight for you, showing the power of friendship through an emotionally driven story with breath-taking visuals and a beautiful world leaving your heart aflutter and a perfectly fitting uplifting and spiritual underscore to truly immerse you in the world.
Want more SNES games in your life? Explore the list of new games that have made their way on to the switch – SNES Games Now Available on the Nintendo Switch | The Nerd Stash
Friendship is important in our everyday lives; check to see what are the top games in 2021 you can be playing with your friends – 5 Games To Play With Friends Online In 2021 | The Nerd Stash
Owlboy is a platform adventure created by Norwegian Independent Developer D-Pad Studio,
The game released in November 2016 for PC, Nintendo Switch in February 2018, and PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in April 2018
5. Steamworld Dig 2 – “Metroidvania With Creative Minecraft Action And Adventure”
“A Mine With Destructible Environments”
Steamworld dig 2 puts you in the center of a steampunk world in an underground mine, letting you control Dorothy the robot as she is searching for her companion Rusty.
A very minimalistic approach to gameplay, the game provides you with very little in terms of resources and equipment, so as you experience the game, you realize you have everything you need to freely explore at your own leisure, implementing a very creative outlook to a Metroidvania letting you freely explore and determine your own action-adventure.
The gameplay mechanics are heavily inspired by Minecraft, by having a pickaxe and a lamp to fully investigate the endless caves and dungeons, bombs to fight enemies and uncover secret passageways, a shield to protect yourself, a robotic arm that can punch through rock, and a hook shot to swing around and help you climb to higher areas.
Steamworld Dig 2 emphasizes exploration and experimentation with fully destructive environments, so if you cannot get somewhere, you can dig your way there or blow a hole in a wall. There are no limits to where you can go and what you can do, especially once you uncover numerous upgrades, enhancements, and skills.
Additionally, the game takes all the mechanics from the first Steamworld Dig, improves them, and continues on the story.
Want a mining game with a cute art style? Check this review on UnderMine – UnderMine Review – A Miner’s Dream | The Nerd Stash
Want more Steamworld in your life? Check out the collector’s items for the 10th anniversary – SteamWorld Celebrating 10 Years With Collector’s Items | The Nerd Stash
Steamworld Dig 2 was developed and published by Image & Form, released in September 2017 on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4. Nintendo 3DS and Xbox One in 2018 and Stadia in March 2020.
4. Ori And The Blind Forest – “A Uniquely Spiritual Metroidvania Action-Adventure“
“Guardian Of The Spirit Tree”
Ori And The Blind Forest is a platform adventure letting players control Ori, a guardian spirit, and Sein, the light and eyes of the forest spirit tree. The game follows the definitive Metroidvania experience by backtracking to previously inaccessible areas with a huge emphasis on exploration action as you explore different biomes with new enemy types and bosses.
There is no guidance or assistance in this game; thus, you have to find the answers on your own to who you are, having the freedom to go where you want when you want. And discover why you are left to explore a forest with only a small orb to guide you.
A very specialized saving system is included that has never been presented in a game before, allowing players at any time to create their own checkpoints as they make progress.
The developers of Moon Studios outdone themselves with the visuals creating the most beautiful, stunning, and heart-warming environments in video game history. Combine that with masterful storytelling that can you move your tears and achieve a huge spectacle of a game that is a must-play.
Check out more information on Ori And The Blind Forest by reading the review – Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition Review (thenerdstash.com)
Did you play and enjoy Ori And The Blind Forest? Check this trailer for the sequel Ori And The Will Of The Wisps E3 2018: Xbox Drops New Ori and the Will of the Wisps Trailer (thenerdstash.com)
Ori And The Blind Forest released for Xbox One and PC in March 2015 and on Nintendo Switch in September 2019
3. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero – “Explore The Realm Of The Genies”
“Dance And Shape-Shift Your Way Through This Adventure Action Metroidvania”
Shantae’s charming personality to her animal-changing ability demonstrates her half hero, half-genie title in a nutshell. Breaking out into sweet dance moves at any moment, combine that with her fabulous purple hair that she uses to whip enemies, cute animation, and art style, and you have an extraordinary kind of Metroidvania game.
Gameplay is non-stop fun and enjoyable and offers a significant challenge to even the most seasoned players, divided into several action stages with a lot of replayability potential. From a hero mode that gifts the player with all of Shantae’s powers from the beginning of the game and an additional hardcore mode that makes the enemies stronger and harder, a suitable challenge for the player wants to test their skills.
Shantae’s story offers quirkiness, humor, and diverse and dynamic characters, exploring a genie realm to stop an impending evil, which sounds like a job for a Shante: Half-Genie Hero.
Shantae Half-Genie Hero is getting up to her own antics in this beautiful anime opening; check it out – WayForward and Studio Trigger Reveal Shantae 5’s Anime Opening (thenerdstash.com)
The fifth installment in the Shantae franchise has finally got an official title, read about it here – Shantae 5 Officially Titled ‘Shantae and the Seven Sirens’ | The Nerd Stash
Release And Developer Notes
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was developed by WayForward Technologies. Released on PC, PlayStation 4. Xbox one in December 2016, Nintendo Switch in June 2017, and Stadia in February 2021.
2. Dead Cells – “A True Permadeath Action-Adventure Metroidvania Experience”
“The Redefined Roguevania”
The developers of Motion Twin have achieved something extraordinary with Dead Cells. After being in an early access phase for a year, they can finally marvel at the beauty of what they have accomplished, redefining Metroidvania and designing a Roguevania by combining the dungeon-crawling gameplay of rogue games alongside action exploration with the traditional Metroidvania adventure.
Putting the player in the role of a creature that takes control of a corpse in a dungeon giving the player unique abilities, unlike any other Metroidvania game, each level is randomly generated, requiring the player to be adaptable, flexible, and ready for anything, making for a very immerse and challenging gameplay experience.
The combat and gameplay take a lot of inspiration from the Demon Souls franchise and The Binding Of Isaac. All enemies have their own personality and behavior mannerisms alongside incorporating a permadeath system, emphasizing strategic and careful gameplay, truly an edge of your seat gameplay experience.
Now is the best time to get into Dead Cells; check out this new DLC trailer and the bundle pack – Dead Cells: New DLC Trailer, Release Date, Bundle, and More (thenerdstash.com)
For additional information on Dead Cells, read the review – Dead Cells Review (thenerdstash.com)
Dead Cells was released in August 2018 on PS4, Switch, PC, and Xbox One. IOS in 2019 and Android in 2020.
1. Hollow Knight – “Adventure In The Deep Dark Hallownest With Challenging Metroidvania Action”
“Platformer Gameplay With The Silent, Nameless Knight”
Making the top of the list for games to play before Hollow Knight Silksong is the spectacle that is Hollow Knight. There is no denying that Hollow Knight has charm and personality, which is perfectly underscored by the soundtrack.
Hollow Knight‘s uniqueness derives from its mysterious atmosphere and powerful lore that always leaves you desired to learn more. The gameplay mechanics shine when you are forced to face the opposition of your own ghost every time you die to recover currency back.
The story involves you controlling a nameless knight as you traverse and battle your way through an ancient plague-infested kingdom fighting the numerous varieties of bosses, each with their own mannerisms, personalities, and difficulty.
Explore Hallownest completely inhabited by insects, and as you progress, you will uncover the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom. This is a true Metroidvania experience and ideal to play to get you ready for Hollow Knight Silksong.
Check out the Hollow Knight review to discover more about why it made the top of this top 10 list – Hollow Knight Review | The Nerd Stash
Hollow Knight Started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2014, was published and developed by Team Cherry, and eventually released on PC in 2017 and 2018 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Hollow Knight Silksong is an upcoming Metroidvania developed and published by Team Cherry for PC, and Nintendo Switch originally announced in February 2019, and no confirmation on the release date as of yet.
Read more about the upcoming Hollow Knight Silksong here – Hollow Knight Sequel Announced | The Nerd Stash
Are you excited for Hollow Knight Silksong? Which game on this list was your favorite? Have you already played any of them? What did you think? Leave your opinions down in the comments and for more upcoming video game news, check out the rest of the Nerdstash website and be sure to come back for more.