Whether it’s exploring an alien landscape or a ruined kingdom, whether it’s tight movement controls in melee or ranged combat, modern Metroidvanias provide a tailored experience to those who love them. Whether you count yourself among the genre’s biggest fans, or have only played a handful, what’s your favorite Metroidvania?
Like any genre in any medium, lines can get blurry and there are many games that teeter on the edge of being a Metroidvania. But we must define our terms. For the purposes of this piece and to put a stake in the ground, a Metroidvania has some, if not all, of the following elements: A 2D side-scrolling perspective, a progression system involving upgrades, a sense of exploration, back-tracking through previously discovered areas to uncover new paths with new upgrades, attention to movement and combat mechanics and game feel.
Just as some people gravitate towards romantic comedies while others can’t stand them, Metroidvanias are not for all gamers. Some players find themselves getting lost and frustrated, and prefer a more linear game with clearer indications for progression. No one can blame someone for having their preferences. Fans of the Metroidvania genre love the core experience of these games, and developers, especially indie developers, have created a number of fan-favorites over the last decade.
In the last ten years games like Guacamelee!, Ori and the Blind Forest, Salt and Sanctuary, Hollow Knight, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Blasphemous, and so many others have released and brought joy to fans of the genre. There are, of course, the classics too, such as Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. In addition, there are a number of sequels and other similar games announced that we have to look forward to.
My personal favorite game in the Metroidvania genre is easily Hollow Knight. I immediately loved the game, and while charmed, after 20 hours or so felt stuck on a boss. I set it down, feeling unsure. But when I returned some time later, I fell right back in love and became obsessed, feeling the joy and frustration this genre promises. As such, I can’t wait for Silksong (well, actually I can, take your time Team Cherry).
How about you? Is Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow at the top on your list? Maybe Metroid Dread? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on the Boss Rush Discord.