Metroidvania is a peculiar genre. In fact it’s a chimera formed from taking the key gameplay elements of two games which used to rule the gaming world, but haven’t had a significant resurgence in modern gaming, even if their legacy lives on.

The genre experienced a glorious resurgence in the past decade or so, with several excellent titles having been released to a general approval of both the critics and the audiences. We’re here to introduce some of these games to you, or refresh your memory of them, but before we do that, a brief explanation of what makes a Metroidvania game is in order.

What is Metroidvania?

The name “Metroidvania” gives a good idea of what two gaming brands have come together to form this new genre. The first is Metroid, a science fiction series about the exploits of one Samus Aran, a hardcore bounty hunter. The other is Castlevania, a fantasy series dealing with the vampiric misdeeds and legacy of Count Dracula, from the perspective of monster-hunting Belmont family and Dracula’s own offspring, Alucard.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - gameplay

General characteristics

On the most basic level, most Metroidvanias are platform games with a number of twists on the formula. One of the key elements is that games of this genre eschew linear progression through discrete levels in favour of a large map linking all locations.

Usually certain locations are inaccessible until the protagonist acquires an ability or item which removes an obstacle. Since these upgrades are awarded for exploration and moving the story forward, the player is guided along the path necessary for completing the game in an organic way, without restricting their freedom to explore.

Hollow Knight - gamescreen

Castlevanias for your PC library

Now that we have discussed what is the general idea behind the genre, we can move on to discussing some examples which you could add to your PC game library immediately. We’ll also mention three titles which at the time of writing await their release, but are worth keep an eye on.

GameRelease yearDeveloperAlso Available onCheck price below

Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight - logo box2017Team CherryNintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox OneBuy now!

Guacamelee!
Quacamelee Super Turbo game box2013DrinkBox StudioPlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo SwitchBuy now!

Owlboy
Owlboy game - logo box2016D-Pad StudioNintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox OneBuy now!

Dead Cells
Dead Cells logo box2018Motion TwinPlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, AndroidBuy now!

SteamWorld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2 - logo box2017Image & FormNintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DSBuy now!

Axiom Verge
Axiom Verge - logo box2015Thomas Happ GamesPlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Xbox OneBuy now!

Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and The Blind Forest box2015Moon StudiosXbox OneBuy now!

UnEpic
unepic game box2011@unepic_franWii U, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VitaBuy now!

Sundered: Eldritch Edition
sundered eldritch edition game box cover art2017Thunder Lotus GamesPlayStation 4, Nintendo SwitchBuy now!

Hollow Knight: Silksong
Hollow Knight: Silksong - logo boxTBATeam CherryNintendo SwitchN/A

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
bloodstained ritual of the night logo2019ArtPlay, DICO, WayForward TechnologiesNintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox OneBuy now!

Ori and the Will of the Wisps
ori and the will of the wisps game box cover art2019Moon StudiosXbox OneN/A

Hollow Knight

Release year:2017
Developer:Team Cherry
Also available on:Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Hollow Knight is one of the best Castlevanias around, and since it’s launch on PC it has been ported over to consoles so that more people could experience what it has to offer.

Hollow Knight game

The story is about an insectoid people, who have taken to worshipping a being known as a Pale King. Sometime after that they started to suffer from a weird ailment necessitating the use of Vessels to contain it. The rest of the story is up to you to uncover. Mechanically, Hollow Knight is easily one of the most finely-crafted Metroidvanias of modern gaming: very responsive, with beautiful maps and animations, as well as an interesting Charm system allowing the player to customise the Knight’s abilities.

Guacamelee!

Release year:2013
Developer:DrinkBox Studio
Also available on:PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

If you thought that la lucha libre is cool, but doesn’t have nearly enough mythological monstrosities, this game is for you.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

As a peaceful farmer Juan, now transformed into a powerful luchador, you need to save El Presidente’s Daughter (who is also your old friend and a love interest) from the clutches of an evil skeleton in a charro getup. You’ll travel a 2D world inspired by Mexican culture, gather upgrades allowing you to access previously blocked locations, and fight your way through legions of weirdos. Guacamelee is colourful, energetic, and remarkably funny.

Owlboy

Release year:2016
Developer:D-Pad Studio
Also available on:Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

When a village of humanoid Owls is attacked by pirates, a boy called Otus sets on a quest to try and save them. You have to see for yourself what he discovers along the way.

Owlboy game screen

The mechanisms ruling Owlboy are defined by Otus’ ability to fly, which allowed the developers to make the world much more vertical, emphasising the ‘sky island’ vibe. Otus can also carry objects and people while in flight, and the latter can attack enemies with their diverse ranged weapons. Owlboy is designed in a gorgeous pixel art style, giving the world a lot of charm.

Dead Cells

Release year:2018
Developer:Motion Twin
Also available on:PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android

You are a sentient biomass, which can attach to corpses in order to animate them. There’s an entire dungeon ahead of you before your destination. Will you manage?

Dead Cells gamescreen

Dead Cells is somewhere between a Metroidvania and a Rogue-lite, and an argument could be made for either description. The indisputable fact is that it is has tight controls and combat, excellent presentation, demanding boss fights, and possibly endless replayability thanks to a procedurally generated map. Can you get to the final boss, Prisoner?

SteamWorld Dig 2

Release year:2017
Developer:Image & Form
Also available on:Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS

A steam-powered robot looks for her friend, the protagonist of the first SteamWorld Dig. She’ll also meet new friends and discover a foul conspiracy.

SteamWorld Dig 2 - main character

SWD2 looks fantastic, like a cartoon with a distinctive visual style. Dorothy, the player character, gets to dig through the ground to navigate the mine she’s descending into. She’ll also fight enemies and look for resources which she can then trade for upgrades to become more capable.

Axiom Verge

Release year:2015
Developer:Thomas Happ Games
Also available on:PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

If you blended a Metroidvania with Contra, you’d get an approximation of what Axiom Verge feels like when you play it, but the story is far, far weirder.

Axiom Verge gamescreen

You play as Trace, a scientist who wound up on an alien world. As you explore the story, you’ll find numerous items and upgrades to help you travel and fight against whoever your enemy is at the moment. This game even lets you try and ‘break it’ and use the resulting ‘glitches’ in combat.

Ori and the Blind Forest

Release year:2015
Developer:Moon Studios
Also available on:Xbox One

If you love Metroidvanias and platforming games, you shouldn’t pass on Ori and the Blind Forest. It’s a gorgeous game with a touching story and excellent systems.

Ori and the Blind Forest game

Ori and the Blind Forest succeeds with aplomb in all the usual Metroidvania gameplay elements, and adds to it a fantastic story which wouldn’t be out of place among Disney’s or Studio Ghibli’s line-up. It deal with parental feelings, protecting the natural balance, and many more themes. It’s easily one of the top games in the genre.

UnEpic

Release year:2011
Developer:@unepic_fran
Also available on:Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita

If you’ve dreamed of being teleported into a fantasy world and owning it with modern-day knowledge…this is roughly what happened to the protagonist of UnEpic.

Unepic - fighting with the dragon

This game goes all out on mixing a Metroidvania with RPG elements, putting a lot of emphasis on skill point-based progression or collecting loot, while maintaining the two-dimensional, platform-like structure of a typical Metroidvania. IUt’s a story about a young guy who in the middle of a role-playing session with friends realizes he is in a fantasy world. Believing it’s just a delusion, he intends to press on until it ends.

Sundered: Eldritch Edition

Release year:2017
Developer:Thunder Lotus Games
Also available on:PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sundered is Metroidvania with an unsettling amount of Lovecraft mixed in, so prepare to struggle against monsters from the edge of sanity.

Sundered Eldritch Edition - game screen

Become Eshe as she explored the hand-drawn caverns stretching seemingly out to infinity under the surface of her world. Fight against horrific bosses, perchance with the aid of cursed relics? Thankfully you get to upgrade Eshe every time she meets her untimely demise, but in Lovecraftian horrors nothing ever comes without a price to pay.

Hollow Knight: Silksong

Release year:TBA
Developer:Team Cherry
Also available on:Nintendo Switch

Although the release date is not revealed at the time of writing, some things are certain about Silksong.

Hollow Knoght: Silksong - gamescreen

For example that the protagonist is going to be Hornet, whom we’ve met in the original game. The developers also claim that the game is going to feature over 150 types of enemies at launch. At the first Hollow Knight was an excellent game, Silksong is absolutely worth waiting for.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Release year:2019
Developer:ArtPlay, DICO, WayForward Technologies
Also available on:Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Developed by Koji Igarashi, who has been with the Castlevania series since Rondo of Blood in 1993 has missed a few release windows, but it’s finally coming in June 2019.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - protagonist

And it looks great, in no small part thanks to the developers who took audience’s feedback to heart and changed the graphics from the ground up. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Release year:2019
Developer:Moon Studios
Also available on:Xbox One

Who would have expected that Ori and the Blind Forest would get a sequel?

Ori and the Will of the Wisps - game screen

When it’s released at an unspecified date in 2019 Ori and the Will of the Wisps will take us beyond the Nibel forest and answer some questions you’ve never thought about.


Enough talk, have at you!

Thus concludes our list bringing some of the best and most interesting PC-available Metroidvania games to your attention. Whether you’re a fan of the genre or a newcomer, chances are you’ve found something to start or continue your journey through the genre.