With their interconnected maps that promote exploration, we love Metroidvanias. And so, we’ve rounded up the best metroidvania games on Xbox right here. It’s true that they often require a bit of tedious backtracking, but a good Metroidvania makes sure that every trip you make is rewarding. Sometimes you’ll find a powerful piece of equipment by going off the beaten path. Other times you might discover a new skill or item that allows you to access a new area. And you should definitely keep your eyes open for secrets around every corner.
Combining platforming, adventure and light RPG elements, there’s nothing quite like getting engrossed in a good Metroidvania game. With so many of them available on Xbox consoles, however, from the One right up to Series X, knowing which ones you should prioritise playing can be a task. Read on to find the best metroidvania games on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles.
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This list was originally published in 2018 and has been periodically updated since.
One thing’s for sure: there aren’t many metroidvanias on Xbox that look as beautiful as Afterimage. This huge world is a delight to explore, but it’s not for the faint-hearted: Afterimage isn’t easy, with combat that’ll test you. You’ll need to get nifty with your dodge and parry manoeuvres to really come out on top here.
It’s a sizeable game, too: it’ll take you around 30-40 hours to beat, longer depending on your skill level. But once you’ve picked up Afterimage, you’ll struggle to leave its gorgeous, captivating world until you’ve seen its credits roll.
2. Monster Sanctuary
If you’re a fan of Pokémon, then Monster Sanctuary is definitely one of the best metroidvania games on Xbox that you can jump into. You see, this beautiful pixelated 2D adventure combines metroidvania adventuring with monster hunting. You’ll collect monsters, fight them and level them up – all the while exploring a vast 2D world.
In a standard metroidvania, you might gain new skills yourself to allow you to access new areas. And there’s some of that here – you’ll learn to double-jump and more. But setting Monster Sanctuary apart is the abilities of your collected monsters: many of those will need to be utilised to explore more of the world.
3. Blast Brigade vs. the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread
With its bold and colourful cartoon style and its narrative that’s packed with schlocky humour, Blast Brigade vs. the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread has the essence of a 90’s Saturday morning cartoon. That was enough to capture our attention, but it’s the tight gameplay that kept us coming back. This gun-toting metroidvania is one of the best on Xbox consoles, and it’s well worth picking up if you’re looking for something with a bit of attitude.
Sure, its full name may be a bit of a mouthful, but that shouldn’t put you off. Blast Brigade is challenging, action-packed and a joy to look at – and the skills you’ll unlock as you play are fun and varied.
4. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
In Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights you play as a young priestess, waking up in a world ravaged by blight. She has no way of attacking her enemies herself, but luckily she has a spirit guide who is all too happy to manifest and slash at her foes on her behalf. As you play through the game you gain the assistance of other spirits, too, and can make use of up to three of them at once to combat your foes.
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is a dark and haunting game, with a wonderful piano-based soundtrack. It’s challenging, too, with bosses that really put up a fight. Needless to say, if you have an Xbox console and are after the best Metroidvania games to play on it, you should definitely consider picking this up.
5. The Mummy Demastered
While 2017’s The Mummy disappointed cinema-goers, this video game spin-off developed by WayForward was a very pleasant surprise. The Mummy Demastered is a Metroidvania with beautifully designed 16-bit visuals. In it, you take control of an unnamed Prodigium soldier, sent in to deal with the evil forces of Princess Ahmanet. And there’s a very good reason why your soldier is unnamed: it’s because they’re expendable.
Dying in The Mummy Demastered has you taking control of yet another soldier. In fact, if you go back to the place where you just died, you’ll find the reanimated corpse of your previous soldier shambling around. Kill them, and you might be able to recover some of your precious goodies.
Patched since launch to make the game a little more manageable, The Mummy Demastered is one of the best Metroidvania games of recent years. As such, it’s definitely worth picking up whether you own an Xbox One or an Xbox Series X/S.
6. SteamWorld Dig 2
Like digging? SteamWorld Dig 2 is the Metroidvania for you. Following on from SteamWorld Dig, released on Xbox One in 2015, SteamWorld Dig 2 has you searching for that game’s protagonist who has gone missing. As Dorothy, you’ll have to dig and explore a variety of underground environments to find Rusty, defeating enemies and solving puzzles as you go.
While SteamWorld Dig was good, SteamWorld Dig 2 is better in every way. It looks nicer, plays better, and is just more polished. You’ll enjoy adventuring and powering up Dorothy so that she’s able to venture into new areas and deal with stronger foes.
You might only get about 10 hours or so gameplay out of it, but SteamWorld Dig 2 is well worth playing if you have an Xbox console and want a charming Metroidvania to occupy some time.
7. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
It may look like a child’s game, but Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is hard. Enemies are relentless and rather plentiful, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg; it’s the game’s puzzles that will really have you scratching your head.
As you explore a wonderfully varied world, you’ll amass a range of magic spells that will aid you on your quest. You’ll also acquire multiple forms that you can assume, such as a Lion and a Frog, allowing you to access new areas and continue your adventure. There’s plenty of equipment to discover and upgrade, too.
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is likely to make you turn the air blue at times, but you’ll always keep going back for more. There’s just something about it that’s utterly charming. This is easily one of the best Metroidvania games on Xbox right now, providing you have the patience for it.
8. Hollow Knight
Presenting you with a vast world and little direction, Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania for you to truly get lost in. There’s little in the way of story; Hollow Knight is more about atmosphere than narrative. Like Dark Souls or Bloodborne, you’ll encounter only a few friendly characters on your adventure, but it just makes those meetings more meaningful. Enemies, however, are plentiful.
Initially, Hollow Knight’s combat may seem rather basic. As you collect Charms and equip them in your limited selection of available slots, however, you’ll discover a great deal of depth. Before you know it, you’ll be customising your equipped Charms frequently to more effectively deal with pesky bosses and arduous enemies.
If you like your Metroidvania experiences to hold your hand a little, you might lose interest in Hollow Knight after a while. If you like being given the freedom to explore, however, you’ll be absolutely enthralled by it.
9. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Ten years after the release of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Koji Igarashi returned with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. A spiritual successor to his previous works, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night doesn’t have you going up against Dracula, but the gameplay is typical of previous Castlevania games using the Metroidvania formula. You’ll explore a castle, defeat grotesque enemies and gain new abilities that will enable you to access more areas. But thanks to Koji Igarashi’s touch, everything is just magical.
There are loads of weapons to find and craft, every enemy has a shard for you to absorb which grants you a new skill, and there are secrets aplenty. If you’ve ever played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night you should know what to expect. Only Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is bigger, prettier, and dare we say it… just better. If you’re after the best Metroidvania games on Xbox, this is an absolute must-have.
Blasphemous is the Metroidvania for fans of the genre who like more of a challenge. Playing as The Penitent One, Blasphemous is as mysterious as it is punishing. You’ll make your way through atmospheric environments, avoiding perilous traps and combating vile enemies. And if you want to succeed, you need to find shrines and altars that allow you to increase your health, improve the strength of your sword, and grant you more fervour.
It’s Blasphemous’ bosses that truly make the game worth playing though, as they are brilliant. They’re tough but fair, and they’re so detailed visually that you can’t help but be impressed. If you have an Xbox and are up to the task, do yourself a favour and add Blasphemous to your collection. Being one of the best Metroidvania games currently available on Xbox consoles, you won’t regret it.
11. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Do you want to cry? Better play Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Ori and the Blind Forest opened with one of the saddest scenes in video games. Ori and the Will of the Wisps, however, will make you cry so much you’ll be sat in a puddle as the credits roll.
Like any Metroidvania, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has plenty of platforming to be done. It also has an upgrade system so you can develop Ori over time, and by gaining new abilities you gain access to new areas which allows you to progress through the game.
Challenging you to restore life to a forest that has withered after a cataclysmic event while also saving your friend, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is not only one of the best Metroidvania games on Xbox, it’s one of the best games, period. It’s beautiful to look at, too, and its soundtrack is to die for. Just get it played.
12. Axiom Verge
Developed by just one man, Tom Happ, Axiom Verge is one hell of a game. Taking cues from Metroid itself, this sprawling 2D shooter certainly wears its influences on its sleeve, but it has enough of its own unique features and quirks to make it stand out as a classic in its own right.
Putting you in control of a character called Trace, Axiom Verge tasks you with finding out how exactly you ended up in an alien world. Though your priorities will change as you play.
Its controls are crisp and responsive, making it a pleasure to play, and there are a wealth of weapons for you to acquire and upgrade. Axiom Verge is one of those games that you can get lost in for hours, investigating areas you haven’t searched before and trying to find secrets.
Axiom Verge’s bosses are no doubt the stars of the show though, each being epic in scale and enjoyably challenging. Honestly, Axiom Verge is so good that once you’ve completed it you’ll want to jump right back in on a harder difficulty or in speedrun mode.
13. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The granddaddy of them all. Without Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the Metroidvania genre simply might not exist. Or at least not with the same name. Available on modern Xbox consoles thanks to backwards compatibility, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of the best Metroidvanias ever made. Hell, it’s no doubt simply one of the best games ever made. If you’ve never played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night before you just have to do so right now.
Originally released for the original Sony PlayStation back in 1997, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’s visuals are admittedly dated, but they still have a lot of charm. Some of the game’s animations remain exceptional to this day, for instance; you only need to see Alucard, the game’s protagonist, move for mere seconds to realise that.
There are many factors that make Castlevania: Symphony of the Night so special: its bosses, the wealth of equipment available, its responsive controls, that soundtrack. It’s when you put them all together that the real magic happens though.
It may have recently been surpassed by Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, but Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is still utterly magical. Forget the best Metroidvania games on Xbox, this is the best Metroidvania game of all time. Do yourself a favour and add it to your library.
14. Song of the Deep
Developed by Insomniac Games, Song of the Deep is quite the departure from the company’s usual output. This emotionally charged Metroidvania takes place entirely underwater, making it stand out from every other game on this list. It’s also extremely enjoyable to play.
For the majority of Song of the Deep you’re piloting a small submarine through a hostile world in search of your father. You can disembark from your submarine if you wish though. In fact, 12 year old Merryn’s slender frame allows her to access areas that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach.
While Song of the Deep does feature combat, it’s much more focused on exploration and puzzles. Honestly, the game will really test your brain in its later stages. Still, if you want to play a Metroidvania that has a slower pace and that is rather relaxing at times, seek out Song of the Deep on the Xbox store.
15. Salt and Sanctuary
Often described as a 2D Dark Souls, Salt and Sanctuary is a challenging Metroidvania that’s also particularly gloomy.
Finding yourself washed up in a strange location after your ship is wrecked, Salt and Sanctuary requires you to venture into the unknown. You’ll probably want to do so tentatively, though, as you never know lurks around the corner.
Like the Dark Souls series, Salt and Sanctuary’s bosses are challenging and often epic in scale. Also, if you die, you drop any Salt you’re carrying, a commodity which can be used to level yourself up at Sanctuaries spread across the game’s world.
It can be a little vague at times, and its hostility might put off some players, but if you can stomach it, Salt and Sanctuary is undoubtedly one of the best Metroidvania games available on Xbox.
16. Yoku’s Island Express
Perhaps the most unique game on this list, Yoku’s Island Express is part pinball, part platformer, and yet all Metroidvania. Cast as a tiny dung beetle unsurprisingly named Yoku, Yoku’s Island Express has you delivering mail all across Mokumana Island. And of course, it’s not all plain sailing.
With no combat to speak of, the challenge in Yoku’s Island Express comes in the form of its pinball elements. Yoku is attached to a ball much bigger than himself, you see, and making use of flippers and suchlike is the quickest way to get around.
As you make your way through the adventure you’ll acquire new items and skills that allow you to access new areas and make your job a little easier. Every second spent with Yoku’s Island Express is an absolute delight though. It just seeps happiness and fun from every pore. Find the game on the Xbox store if you want to experience the joy that it brings.
17. Guacamelee! 2
The first Guacamelee! game was great, and is available on Xbox consoles as Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. Guacamelee! 2, however, is simply better in every way. It looks nicer, is more enjoyable to play, and is a hell of a lot funnier, too. And the original Guacamelee! was a funny game…
Four player co-op makes a return, allowing you to play Guacamelee! 2 with friends for the most riotous Metroidvania experience you can have. And if you have an Xbox One X or Xbox Series X you’ll be happy to hear that it makes use of your system’s power to make the visuals even prettier.
Honestly, Guacamelee! 2 might just be the funniest, most enjoyable Metroidvania game available right now. Get it added to your Xbox library, pronto!
Released shortly after the launch of the Xbox One, Strider isn’t the best looking Metroidvania available on Xbox consoles. It still stands out though, thanks to its high-octane action.
Taking control of Strider Hiryu is a pleasure, making exploring the futuristic Kazakh City an absolute treat. As usual, you’ll find yourself defeating enemies and obtaining upgrades that allow you to explore new areas. Strider doesn’t really do anything to progress the genre, but then it doesn’t really need to.
It doesn’t take a great deal of time to complete, and boss difficulty can be a bit erratic, but if you’re after a fun Metroidvania that’s full of fast-paced action, you can’t really go wrong with Strider.