The best modern Metroidvania games
Strider screenshot

It’s not often a game comes along and is so influential that it lends its name to a brand new subgenre

But that’s exactly what the original Metroid did 30 years ago this weekend (August 6), hitting the NES back in 1986 and, along with Castlevania, quickly defining a sub-genre of adventure gaming known as “Metroidvania”.

Metroidvania games generally featured large interconnected world maps for players to explore, with access to certain parts of the world limited by doors that can only be opened after the player has acquired special items, tools, weapons or abilities within the game.

Original metroid screenshot

But while the genre was much more prominent between the mid-80s and early-90s, it has far from died out completely. Indeed, many indie games employ the mechanics to this day.

Here are 10 of the best modern Metroidvania games you can play on current platforms.

Elliot Quest

Elliot Quest screenshot

Dungeon questing, unique boss battles and multiple endings have led many to describe this 2014 adventure as “a love letter to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.”

You play as Elliot, the victim of a rare curse who must find a cure before he’s transformed into a demon.

Available on: PC, Ouya, Amazon Fire TV, 3DS, Wii U, PS Vita

Strider

Strider screenshot

A reboot of the 1989 arcade game of the same name, Strider sees players take control of Strider Hiryu – an assassin sent to take down the villainous Grandmaster Meio.

Aiming to mix elements from the first arcade game, and the NES console game, Strider 2, the environment is freely explorable as you search for upgrades for Hiryu’s Cypher, a multi-purpose plasma weapon.

Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Apotheon

Apotheon screenshot

Utilising a unique art style based on ancient Greek pottery, Apotheon‘s action platforming mixes in RPG elements for that true Metroidvania feel.

As fast as it is brutal, the 2D game puts players in control of Nikandreos, a young warrior who must fight against the Olympian gods.

Available on: PC, PS4

Song of the Deep

Song of the Deep screenshot

This Metroidvania comes from Insomniac Games, the creative geniuses behind the Ratchet and Clank series, as well as a whole host of other modern classics.

Players controls Merryn, a young girl who crafts a makeshift submarine to search for her father who went missing while fishing.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus

Chronicles of Teddy screenshot

For those who like a bit of retro pixelated 2D glory with their Metroidvanias, Chronicles of Teddy fuses its action-adventure and RPG with a nostalgic world realised through some pretty lavish visuals.

All the massive boss battles you’d expect are present, as are myriad puzzles, as you try to restore hope to the once peaceful Exidus.

Available on: PC, PS4, Wii U

Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge screenshot

Axiom Verge took the indie-gaming world by storm when it was originally released back in 2015, being notably produced by just one man: Thomas Happ.

It’s a side-scrolling action-adventure game, with players controlling Trace, a scientist who wakes up in an ancient and high-tech world after suffering a crippling injury. In classic Metroidvania style, Axiom Verge focuses equally on action and exploration.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PS Vita

Salt and Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary screenshot

Salt and Sanctuary will appeal not just to fans of Metroidvanias, but those who enjoy the dark RPG elements and crippling difficulty of the Souls series of games, with gameplay mechanics ripped straight from the franchise.

Visually, the game features hand drawn graphics, and its gameplay is a stunning, polished 2D take on the obsessive challenge made famous by the Souls titles.

Available on: PS4, PC

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse screenshot

The most recent game in the Shantae series, 2014’s Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse follows the adventures of an eponymous half-genie as she once again has to save Sequin Land from a new foe, the Pirate Master, with help from her nemesis Risky Boots.

While it may sound silly, that’s part of its charm, and the game has been met with critical acclaim. A fourth entry in the series is already in development.

Available on: 3DS, PC, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, Wii U, PS4

Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest screenshot

One of the recent success stories of the Xbox One’s digital library of games, the Metroidvania mechanics are rife in Ori… as players assume control of the titular white guardian spirit.

Platforming and puzzle solving is key to progressing through the game, with an upgrade system that gives players the ability to strengthen Ori’s skills unlocking new areas for the player to explore.

Available on: PC, Xbox One

Shovel Knight

shovel knight screenshot

Another 2D side-scrolling platform game with a Metroidvania twist, Shovel Knight‘s distinctive art style and gameplay inspired by old NES games achieved critical acclaim and various award wins upon its release in 2014.

8-bit graphics deliver the story of the eponymous protagonist as he collects treasure and fights against the Order of No Quarter. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, 3DS, Wii U

More:

15 best indie games on PS4

9 best indie games on Xbox One

10 amazing Wii U indie games you didn’t know existed