Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #20 Record of Lodoss War - Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth -
- #19 Infernax
- #18 Ender Lillies: Quietus of the Knights
- #17 Rogue Legacy
- #16 Shadow Complex
- #15 Salt and Sanctuary
- #14 Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
- #13 Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon Series
- #12 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
- #11 Song of the Deep
- #10 SteamWorld Dig
- #9 Sundered
- #8 Guacamelee Series
- #7 Strider
- #6 Axiom Verge
- #5 The Messenger
- #4 Blasphemous
- #3 Dead Cells
- #2 Ori and the Blind Forest
- #1 Hollow Knight
While the last few years have been absolutely packed with fantastic Metroidvania titles for players to sink their teeth into, it’s hard to believe that before that, things were pretty rough for the pivotal genre. Interest seemed to be waning, and longstanding franchises that forged the path for modern Metroidvanias rarely saw new entries, if any at all. It was only when the likes of the Ori series, and Hollow Knight, that people started to realize this genre has a lot left to offer, bringing on a sort of second renaissance within the genre itself. With so much to choose from, we’re here to help showcase some of the best Metroidvania Xbox One games.
#20 Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth –
- Publisher: Playism, Why so serious?
- Developer: Team Ladybug
- Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
- Release Date: December 16th, 2021 (Xbox One)
Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth – is based on Ryo Mizuno’s series of the same name, taking place before the events of The Crown of the Covenant. Players take control of the High Elf Deedlit, who finds herself lost in an interconnected labyrinth filled with past enemies and companions. Much like other Metroidvania titles, the game has a strong focus on exploration as you search for items and powerups, most comparable to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
As you play, you can find various weapon types, some of which are used to solve environmental puzzles. Unique to this entry in the series are elemental spirits, which can be switched between once you discover them to allow for different bonuses in and outside of combat. There’s also some lite RPG elements to be found within the game, which has it feeling like a harken back to classic Metroidvania games in comparison to something more modern.
- Publisher: The Arcade Crew
- Developer: Berzerk Studio
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
- Release Date: February 14th, 2022
Primarily influenced by games like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Infernax is a 2D action-adventure game where the player controls a knight called Alcedor, who finds his village overrun by monsters upon returning from the Crusades. As you progress through the game, you can upgrade Alcedor’s shield and mace, alongside the ability to obtain numerous magical spells which can also be improved. The main goal is to defeat enemies within five unique castles and destroy the gems inside of them, opening up the path to the last castle once all the others have been surmounted. The game also features multiple endings, touting quite a bit of replay value that makes the total package all the more worth it.
#18 Ender Lillies: Quietus of the Knights
- Publisher: Binary Haze Interactive
- Developer: Adglobe, Live Wire
- Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4
- Release Date: June 29th, 2021 (Xbox One)
There’s nothing that melds with a dark fantasy action RPG quite like exploration does. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights touts that exact combination, with an immersive world to explore as you unravel the mystery of the kingdom destroyed by “The Rain of Death”
With a strong focus on difficult, but rewarding combat and bringing a world to life via gorgeous 2D art, Ender Lilies never fails to encapsulate players into its open-ended progression through the Land’s End.
If you’re a fan of Hollow Knight or Souls-likes, Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is bound to scratch that action RPG itch.
#17 Rogue Legacy
- Publisher: Cellar Door Games
- Developer: Cellar Door Games
- Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS
- Release Date: May 27th, 2015 (Xbox One)
While Rogue Legacy has left an indelible mark on the rogue genre, it was also very important to the resurgence of classic Metroidvania titles. The premise is simple, you’ll explore a randomly generated dungeon with the goal to defeat four bosses in unique environments inside of that dungeon, and then eventually defeat the final boss. Playable characters have the default ability to jump and slash with their sword, alongside some secondary abilities such as magic. Where Rogue Legacy steps into its own, though, is when you die, transferring control to randomly generated heirs that players can choose between, each one with their own genetic advantages and disadvantages.
This makes for an addicting gameplay loop through the idea of progression through death. Although Rogue Legacy is inherently challenging in its design, you’re always making progress towards stronger characters and better runs, as you grow in power with each failed attempt. While there’s plenty like it in the genre now, for its time it was evolutionary, and still holds up as a great rogue-like Metroidvania even today.
#16 Shadow Complex
- Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios, Epic Games
- Developer: Chair Entertainment
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- Release Date: March 16th, 2016 (Xbox One)
Shadow Complex is unique in the Metroidvania space in the way that it’s completely 2.5D in design, meaning the levels are akin to that of a 2D side-scroller, but the player is required to dispatch enemies in and interact with the 3rd dimension as well. The end result is a game with creative puzzle solving, engrossing encounter design, and incredibly satisfying Metroidvania style exploration.
Shadow Complex follows Jason Fleming and his new girlfriend Claire as they backpack in mountains Claire used to frequent as a child. Upon coming across some caverns, Jason looses track of Claire and quickly discovers a massive underground complex, with Claire being dragged away by soldiers. It’s a much more grounded and realistic setting in comparison to what’s usually found within the genre, but makes for a very interesting item and weapon progression and you uncover the complex’s secrets. Taking most of its cues from the likes of Metroid, Shadow Complex is an expansive and sprawling Metroidvania that’s just begging to be explored, and should be experienced by anyone who’s a fan of the genre.
#15 Salt and Sanctuary
- Publisher: Ska Studios
- Developer: Ska Studios
- Platforms: PS4, PC, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
- Release Date: February 6th, 2019 (Xbox One)
Well-known for its eye catching hand drawn 2D visuals, Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D action RPG heavily inspired by the likes of Dark Souls. With a ton of weapons to use with unique move-sets, and the ability to build out the class in the way you see fit, there’s plenty of customization and RPG elements you can tweak to build out your character how you wish. There’s also the ability to engage in local coop and asynchronous multiplayer features. Its Metroivania roots are found through its level design and labyrinthian nature, with levels looping back on themselves and connecting in unexpected ways. It’s a genre meld that hasn’t seen much success since, and is worth playing for anyone who’s a fan of Metroidvania games or Souls-likes.
#14 Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
- Publisher: WayForward Technologies, Rising Star Games, Oizumi Amuzio Inc.
- Developer: WayForward Technologies
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
- Release Date: March 16th, 2016 (Xbox One)
While not as well-known as other juggernauts of the genre, the Shantae series has been around for a very long time, and is still releasing entries even today. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse sees players take control of series protagonist Shantae, a half-genie who attacks enemies using her hair as a pseudo whip. After losing her powers in the previous game, Shantae has to employ new tactics as she has to save Sequin Land once again from an all new foe, the Pirate Master, with help from her arch-nemesis, Risky Boots.
Shantae makes use of pirate items you’ll obtain over the course of the game in place of her traditional powers, including pistols to use as ranged weapons, a hat that can be used to glide through the air, and much more. The Shantae series has a core focus on exploration using the items, uncovering new areas and goodies as you progress through levels. One stark difference from past entries is that Pirate’s Curse opts to ditch one big interconnected world in favor of smaller islands you can visit via Risky’s pirate ship. It makes for an unconventional yet addictive Metroidvania gameplay loop that’s largely underappreciated in the broader scope of the genre.
#13 Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon Series
- Publisher: Inti Creates
- Developer: Inti Creates
- Platforms: PC, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One,
- Release Date: May 24th, 2018 (CotM), July 10th, 2020 (CotM2)
Serving as a companion title and prequel to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and its sequel harken back to classic Castlevania, with a focus on 2D-sidescrolling and difficulty. The game features stages with branching paths that ultimately lead to a boss, with four playable characters that the player can swap between on the fly in every level, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. These characters also have unique abilities that allow them to access hidden areas in stages, placing an emphasis on getting through each level with everyone alive. It’s a tried and true formula with a fun and inventive twist, that’s well worth playing for old-school Castlevania fans or even those looking for more Bloodstained.
The sequel is just as good, if not better than the first game, with an all new cast of characters to play as, serving as a direct follow-on from the first game. There’s still a focus on high difficulty and making it through levels with the entire cast alive, with both games having numerous endings to achieve, bolstering replay value. These games are short and sweet Metroidvania experiences that are well-worth your time.
#12 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
- Publisher: 505 Games, Netease
- Developer: ArtPlay
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
- Release Date: June 18th, 2019
As the long awaited return of Koji Igarashi, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is considered by many to be a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series. Conceived after his departure from Konami in 2014, Ritual of the Night is a Metroidvania through and through, with a labyrinthian castle to explore, multiple endings to find, and countless items and upgrades to collect. Taking place during 19th century England during the Industrial Revolution, demons are being summoned by a Shardbinder known as Gebel, and it falls to protagonist Miriam to stop England from falling into ruin.
While this is unmistakably a new IP, it’s clear that its DNA is rooted in games like Castlevania Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid. For players who like to get lost in huge areas with endless exploration and challenging yet satisfying boss fights, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is sure to scratch the itch left behind by its predecessors.
#11 Song of the Deep
- Publisher: GameTrust Games
- Developer: Insomniac Games
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
- Release Date: July 12th, 2016
A significant departure in style from Insomniac’s other work, Song of the Deep is a 2D Metroidvania game where players take control of Merryn, as she looks for her father who one day mysteriously disappeared while at sea. The game is geared more towards exploration and puzzle solving as opposed to combat, with an eerie yet beautiful setting underneath the sea. As you explore, you’ll find upgrades for Merryn and her equipment, allowing you to explore more areas and progress the narrative further. It’s a Metroidvania unlike any other in the genre, with an almost calming atmosphere and gameplay loop that cements its identity among the crowd.
#10 SteamWorld Dig
- Publisher: Image and Form
- Developer: Image and Form
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, PC, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
- Release Date: June 5th, 2015 (Xbox One)
Originally released for the Nintendo 3DS as an eShop title, SteamWorld Dig follows a steam-powered robot called Rusty, after he arrives in a small western mining town called Tumbleton. Rusty has just received the deed for a mine from his uncle Joe, with the core objective of the game being to explore the mine. To do so, players will engage with standard Metroidvania staples, from platforming and combat to exploration and puzzle solving.
As you collect resources and mine ores, you can bring them back to the surface in exchange for cash to unlock new upgrades and abilities for Rusty, with the mine being randomized on each new playthrough. This means you can build and customize Rusty as you see fit as you play, and knowing that no two mines will be the same adds some extra replay value that make it well worth coming back to this hidden gem.
- Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games
- Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
- Release Date: December 21st, 2018 (Xbox One)
Sundered is an unorthodox collaboration of classic Metroidvania design mixed with heavy Lovecraftian horror elements, where players take control of Eshe, who’s unexpectedly pulled into the ground as she falls into an ever-shifting underworld. As you fight your way out, you’ll learn about the civilization that used to live their, and the war that they fought endlessly in with an invading force known as the Valkyries. The game itself is a typical Metroidvania, with one key difference in that the passages connecting the games major areas rearrange themselves when the player dies. This is done through procedural generation, meaning no two hallways ever look the same, especially when you die and progress back to where Eshe fell.
As you play, you’ll collect Shards that can be used to permanently upgrade Eshe and her abilities via a skill tree, and bosses give Eshe Elder Shards, which allow her to sacrifice her humanity to gain more powerful abilities, tapping into that Lovecraftian influence. It’s an incredibly unique title in the genre, with an identity that still has it stand out and retain its identity all these years after its release.
#8 Guacamelee Series
- Publisher: DrinkBox Studios, Activision
- Developer: DrinkBox Studios, Brokenrul.es
- Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Release Date: July 2nd, 2014 (Guacamelee!), January 18th, 2019 (Guacamelee! 2)
DrinkBox Studios struck gold with Guacamelee! when it released in 2013 for the PS3 and PlayStation Vita, touting a brilliant combination of tried and true Metroidvania elements, comedic writing, and a robust combat system. The first game sees Juan Aguacate pass into the afterlife, only to be given a powerful mask that turns him into a luchador, sending him back to the land of the living. It falls to Juan to hunt down the very skeleton who killed him, and save his love interest Lupita. It’s a ridiculously fun and tightly paced romp that pulls from all corners of the Metroidvania genre, with fun references and a fully cooperative campaing to boot.
Its sequel, Guacamelee! 2 is just as excellent, taking the brilliant ideas established in the first game and expanding on them further with excellent combat, engaging platforming, and another cooperative adventure that boosts the player count from 2 to 4. The biggest change comes in the form of the ability to engage in full combat as a chicken, an upgrade present in the first game but almost exclusively for platforming and navigational purposes. These are two truly excellent games that define the modern Metroidvania and are well worth playing, especially with friends.
- Publisher: CAPCOM
- Developer: Double Helix Games, CAPCOM Osaka Studio
- Platforms: PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Release Date: February 19th, 2014
A reboot of the 1989 classic of the same name, Strider is best described as a 2D Metroidvania with hack and slash combat elements, where players step in the shoes of series protagonist, Strider Hiryu. Sent by The Strider Organization to assassinate Grandmaster Meio, in Kazakh City. Kazakh City is an open and explorable world where Strider can search for upgrades and abilities to overcome roadblocks as you forge a path to Grandmaster Meio. There’s a greater focus on movement in Strider in comparison to other Metroidvania titles, Strider is a great character control as you scale up Kazakh City’s buildings to gain the advantage on the enemy, and it really sells the idea of playing as an assassin in a foreign and unknown city.
#6 Axiom Verge
- Publisher: Thomas Happ Games
- Developer: Thomas Happ Games
- Platforms: PS4, PlayStation Vita, PC, Wii U, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Release Date: September 30th, 2016
Initially created as a side project by sole developer Thomas Happ, Axiom Verge clearly takes influence from the juggernauts of the genre, with a focus on tense atmosphere and letting the player find answers for themselves. After a lab explosion knocks out a scientist called Trace Eschenbrenner, he awakes on an alien world called Sudra. It’s only through exploration that you’ll divulge the true nature of Sudra and its inhabitants, but it’s a tantalizing and immersive world to get lost in as you explore its depths.
Gameplay wise, it’s most comparable to the likes of Super Metroid, with a few key differences. For starters, Trace will find a myriad of weapons during his time on Sudra, each of which behave fundamentally differently and are suited to different situations. There’s also a plethora of upgrades to collect and find throughout Sudra, meaning your curiosity will never go unrewarded. While many games have attempted to capture the magic of Super Metroid, nothing comes as close as the excellent Axiom Verge.
#5 The Messenger
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Developer: Sabotage Studio
- Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
- Release Date: June 25th, 2020
Inspired by the classic Ninja Gaiden games, The Messenger is an homage to the 8 and 16-bit eras of gaming, with a world that allows the player to jump between the past and the future, each one representing its own period in gaming history. Players control a ninja only known as The Messenger who goes on a quest to deliver a scroll. The key mechanic that everything is built around is called Cloudstepping, which allows The Messenger to perform an extra jump after attacking an enemy, object, or projectile in mid-air.
The game plays most similarly to old-school Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania in the first half, until the game radically shifts into a more traditional Metroidvania format, where you jump between future and past while hunting for collectibles, key items, and more using upgrades you unlocked over the course of the linear adventure. It’s a genius structure that reinvigorates the game’s world and levels in a nuanced and fresh way.
- Publisher: Team17
- Developer: The Game Kitchen
- Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
- Release Date: September 10th, 2019
Blasphemous made waves when it was announced and in the build up to its release due to its intricately detailed art style, grotesque symbolism, and an unsettling yet alluring world that was begging to be explored. Taking place in the fictional region of Cvstodia, the player takes control of the Penitent One, a silent knight wielding a sword called Mea Culpa. You’ll traverse the land of Cvstodia in a pilgrimage heavily influenced by Roman Catholicism and Spanish culture. It’s a combination unlike anything we’ve seen in gaming before, with striking iconography and enemy design that can only be compared to the likes of Bloodborne.
Cvstodia is a large and sprawling world with intertwining paths, filled with enemies and threats that only the Penitent One can handle. You can fight enemies by attacking them Mea Culpa at close range, or make use of magic that can be learned throughout the game. These systems bounce off of one another as the resource required to cast spells in generated through melee combat. Parries and blocking make it a robust and engaging melee combat system, with a healthy amount of platforming and exploration to boot. The boss fights also get a special shoutout, with some fantastic scale and visual artistry on display in the particularly big encounters.
#3 Dead Cells
- Publisher: Motion Twin, Playdigious
- Developer: Motion Twin, Evil Empire
- Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Mobile
- Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Dead Cells absolutely blew up when it launched in 2018, and for good reason. Much like Rogue Legacy, it’s a genius combination of Metroidvania style elements in a roguelike structure, where each run is different but the upgrades and abilities you earn through runs unlock shortcuts and new areas to explore as you progress. The narrative premise is quite where the player takes control of the Prisoner, who seeks to escape the prison and fell the ruler of the island it’s based on.
The addictive gameplay loop is what’ll keep you coming back to Dead Cells and its DLCs, each run you can build the Prisoner in a different manner, making use of magic, different kinds of weaponry, and traps to get the upper-hand on enemies. It’s an incredibly tactile and fluid combat system that feels great in motion, and moving through levels at a fast pace is paramount to making the most of potential upgrades and getting access to shortcuts. Needless to say, this is a game you can sink countless hours into and one that anyone can enjoy.
#2 Ori and the Blind Forest
- Publisher: Microsoft Studio
- Developer: Moon Studios
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch+
- Release Date: March 11th, 2015
A gorgeous 2D Metroidvania, Ori and the Blind Forest wowed gamers in 2015 with incredible visuals, a heart-rending narrative, and surprisingly robust combat and exploration. Set in the forest of Nibel, Ori and the blind Forest follows a guardian spirit called Ori, who was raised by a creature named Naru after a storm displaced Ori as a newborn. In the years after, a cataclysmic event has wreaked havoc on the forest, and Ori is left to explore the Nibel for himself after being separated from Naru. I won’t say much else to avoid spoilers, but Ori and the Blind Forest tells an unexpected and emotional narrative that anyone can enjoy.
The gameplay is similarly fleshed out, with enthralling exploration and atmosphere, and a relatively robust combat system to help fight against the threats of the forest. As you explore new areas, Ori will unlock new abilities to help traverse previously inaccessible areas, all while you find upgrades and items to help power Ori up. One neat feature is the ability to create soul links, which effectively function as checkpoints. The catch is that these can only be generated through energy cells obtained through gameplay, incentivizing smart decision making and sparing use of this mechanic where possible. Ori and the Blind Forest still holds up today as a fantastic modern Metroidvania, and sports an engaging narrative in a genre that typically leaves story as an afterthought.
#1 Hollow Knight
- Publisher: Team Cherry
- Developer: Team Cherry
- Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
- Release Date: September 25th, 2018 (Xbox One)
While there have been plenty of modern Metroidvania titles on this list that have had an enormous impact on the industry, nothing comes close to mark Hollow Knight left on both the genre and the industry. Best described as a Metroidvania Souls-like game, Hollow Knight is a content-rich, incredibly atmospheric 2D Metroidvania where the player steps into the role of the Knight. Upon reaching a quiet town known as Dirtmouth, you’ll descend into the remains of the kingdom of Hallownest, a deep and sprawling underground kingdom of insects lost to ruin. What entails is plot not too dissimilar to what you’d find in Dark Souls, with some heavy theming and depressing tones that are punctuated by moments of victory and hope.
The gameplay is also just as challenging, with enemies knocking out chunks of health with single hits. Using his nail, the Knight can bounce off of enemies with melee attacks, fire off projectiles, dash, double jump, and more. All of these tools double as things you can use to traverse the environment and explore new areas of Hallownest, each of which tells a tale connected to the kingdom’s downfall. The amount of content you get for the price tag is also incredible, there’s so many hours you can sink into the game finding all the bosses, upgrades or seeing every ending. Hollow Knight isn’t just a must-play for fans of the genre, but anyone else who’s looking for one of the best games in recent years.