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Top 10 Metroidvanias To Play Right Now

Whether you call them Metroid-likes, exploration-based action platformers, big map adventures, or simply Metroidvanias, this sub-genre has exploded in popularity. What was once a criminally underused design template has become one of the most commonly used formats in games. That’s especially true for indie developers, who seem more than happy to make up for prolonged droughts between actual Metroid and Castlevania titles by concocting their own unique spins on the style. While some 3D games have adopted the formula to success (see: Batman: Arkham Asylum), this list will only highlight 2D-style titles for the sake of clarity. Here are 10 great Metroidvanias, listed in no particular order, that you’ll have a great time getting lost in. 

SteamWorld Dig 2

The shorthand way to describe SteamWorld Dig 2 is “Better than SteamWorld Dig 1 in every way”. The game remains a compelling loop of digging underground to find treasures, returning above-ground to purchase upgrades, and going back down to see how much further you can dig. Chasing the next cool upgrade or useful ability causes the hours to melt away, and new powers are doled out at the perfect pace. A flexible cog system lets players freely experiment with several neat perks to tackle whatever obstacle lies ahead. Superb puzzle-solving breaks up the routine of digging. Combat, while not perfect, gets the job done well enough. SteamWorld Dig 2 packs a ton of great ideas into a tight package and shouldn’t be missed whether you played the original or not. | Our Review

Salt and Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary shares as much in common with Dark Souls as it does Castlevania. The FromSoftware-inspired difficulty, progression, class-building, and checkpointing blends wonderfully with the labyrinthine, ability-gated level design. You just have to be willing to take a beating to really see it shine. Stick with it, and you’ll experience an entertaining synergy of engrossing exploration, thoughtful combat, and freeform character customization that keeps you taking hit after hit and asking for more. If things get too nasty, enlist the help of a friend in local co-op. With a sequel in the works, now is a great time to revisit this modern indie classic. | Our Review

Metroid Dread

It’s fitting that Samus’ latest adventure ranks among the best of the genre she pioneered. Metroid Dread may have taken 19 years to see the light of day, but it was worth the wait. Dread features the classic side-scrolling action, top-notch level design, and modern improvements that developer MercurySteam introduced in Metroid: Samus Returns but adds a terrifying twist. Nigh-invincible robots called E.M.M.I.’s stalk the bounty hunter and can annihilate her on sight, forcing players to evade them or hide using Samus’ new cloaking ability. This adds a tense and sometimes scary wrinkle to the superb action exploration that put the franchise on the map. It also makes it all the more satisfying when you eventually turn the tables on E.M.M.I.’s with an upgraded arm cannon (though besting these formidable machines is still easier said than done). Metroid Dread may serve as the conclusion to Samus’ decades-long conflict with the Metroids, but we hope future 2D entries build upon its winning formula. | Our Review

What games on this list do you enjoy? What games would you add that aren’t listed? Let us know in the comments! If you enjoyed this list, be sure to check out our other recent genre list

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