Top 10 Upcoming Metroidvanias
Originally, this wasn’t a top 10 list. But the more I researched metroidvanias still in development, the more I found! More than I could fit into a Top 10! Here’s a list of promising metroidvanias that aren’t out yet, but you might be able to play some of these before the end of 2021!
Just a quick note, the only criteria I had for including a game on this list is that it can’t have had a full release yet. “Upcoming” doesn’t mean they’re coming out soon - many of the games in this list don’t have release dates yet, though there are several that are shooting for 2021 releases. Some of those might slip into 2022 (or even later), but there is a chance some will hit their 2021 target.
I couldn’t bring myself to leave these out of the list entirely, so before we start with the Top 10 countdown, here’s a quick Honorable Mentions lightning round.
SteamDolls: Order of Chaos
Rune Fencer Illyia
With those out of the way, it’s time for the main event: here are my Top 10 Upcoming Metroidvanias.
10. Yeomna: The Adventures of Demon Hunter
With 2D visuals inspired by traditional Korean paintings, Yeomna looks both beautiful and unique. You play as Dongbaek, an exorcist who is half demon, journeying through the Underworld fighting demons with your sword and gun. You can also transform into a cat in order to dodge traps and open new paths.
One tiny criticism I have from watching the trailer: momentum during the main character’s jumps seems weird when colliding with something. There’s a moment where the main character turns into a cat, and when they’re jumping back up they hit a wall and stop for a second, but then their upward momentum continues, and once they clear the obstacle, they keep moving left. It’s hard to explain, but it looks a little awkward. It would have seemed more naturally to me if they lost their forward momentum when hitting the wall, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.
Minor nitpicks aside, Yeomna has an incredible art style and a lot of potential! There’s a free demo available now on Steam, and I just might have to give it a try!
Originally announced under the title “DeathStick,” Akatori is a metroidvania with breathtaking pixel art, combo-driven combat, and parallel dimensions.
Combat’s focus on combos seems really interesting. The trailer is super short, so there’s not much gameplay footage to go off of. From what is shown and the description on the Steam store page, it looks like extending combos by launching enemies into the air will be an important part of combat, and that sounds cool to me.
The trailer might only be 23 seconds long, but every one of those seconds is packed with fantastic pixel art. I’m really looking forward to more trailers and info about Akatori as development progresses!
8. Frontier Hunter: Erza’s Wheel of Fortune
This is actually developer IceSitruuna’s second game. Their first also had metroidvania elements, but was more of a Dead Cells “roguevania.” Frontier Hunter: Erza’s Wheel of Fortune will be a regular old metroidvania though!
From what I’ve seen of both games, Frontier Hunter reminds me of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It has a similar 3D anime art style, and a female protagonist. They’re also both metroidvanias, but that’s where the similarities end, so they might not be that alike after all.
That reminds me, I still need to get Bloodstained…well, maybe I’ll have gotten around to that by the time Frontier Hunter: Erza’s Wheel of Fortune releases! Its release is currently planned for 2021.
7. Rubi: The Wayward Mira
I really like the pixel art and animations here. This looks like something that WayForward would create, with vibrant art reminiscent of the Shantae series. It’s a little ironic that even the developer’s name, Wayward Games, is similar.
Anyway, I really can’t emphasize enough how good the pixel art looks. The characters and enemies really pop on screen. It reminds me a bit of some of the later 2D Kirby games, in a way. All the metroidvania boxes seem to be ticked with this one too. According to the Steam store page, it has: multiple endings, RPG mechanics, ability-based progression, and non-linear gameplay.
This is such a minor thing, but I also really like the look of the textboxes. The little character icon in the corner is a really nice touch. I don’t know, I just really like it!
6. Plague Huntress
If you showed the trailer to someone familiar with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and told them that this was to be a new entry in the Castlevania series developed by an indie studio partnering with Konami, they’d probably believe you. In truth, this is not a Castlevania game, but it sure could have fooled me!
Details are scarce at the moment, but from what you can see and read on the official game page, Plague Huntress aims to bring in a variety of gameplay elements from classic metroidvanias of the 90’s. I’m going to think of it as a spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night, even though that phrase usually means that one of the original creators is involved. That’s not the case here. Instead, Plague Huntress is the passion project of lawyer-turned-coder Sílvio Medeiros and his indie game studio, Bare Feet Games.
This is the only game on this list without a page on the Steam store yet! Well, I say “yet,” but I don’t know that the developer has confirmed a Steam release at all. I kind of assume it’ll come to Steam, but I guess that’s no longer a given since there are other digital distribution platforms available on PC these days. No Steam store page probably means that Plague Huntress is a long way off from release, but I’m perfectly happy to wait for a game that looks this promising!
5. Aeterna Noctis
Here’s a metroidvania features both challenging combat and platforming. The trailers definitely show off the platforming challenges, with areas filled with spikes and other hazards, requiring skilled use of various traversal abilities to make it through alive. Combat has at least a few similarities with Hollow Knight too, with the trailers showing off a downward attack that allows you to pogo off of enemies’ heads.
The 2D artwork here is also hand drawn, and looks pretty good. One of the bosses in a trailer, some kind of electrical construct with whip-like appendages, looks especially good, with really detailed animations.
While the characters, enemies, and even some environmental elements are 2D, it seems like the majority of the world and backgrounds are 3D. This took some getting used to watching the trailers, because the perspective changes ever so slightly as the camera moves left to right. It’s definitely grown on me though, and I think it works.
I’m looking foward to Aeterna Noctis both for the visuals, and the plethora of elements to potentially scratch that Hollow Knight itch!
4. Ender Lillies: Quietus of the Knights
I wasn’t interested in this game after watching the trailers or seeing screenshots. But after watching a gameplay video on YouTube, my interest was piqued. Gameplay just looks so good! Controls and presentation seem quite polished already. Certain aspects remind of Ori and the Blind Forest a bit, like the font, and how certain pop-ups darken the screen and display centered text. Aesthetically, it’s very different from Ori, and seems a lot darker. Combat is also much more prevalent and fleshed out than in Ori and the Blind Forest too.
I really like how the map system sort of follows the traditional grid-based style, but also brings in a bit of innovation by having rooms connected by lines instead of displaying them directly next to each other. Again, it’s a bit like Ori in that regard. I’m curious if this will lead to greater flexibility in the overall map layout, since this would allow them to break the constraints of a strict grid-based system.
It’s already in Early Access on Steam, so you could start playing it already if you wanted. Because of that, it feels a little disingenuous to include it on this list, but its full release is still upcoming, so that’s my excuse. It also looks so good, I just had to include it!
3. The Last Faith
The Last Faith reminds me of Blasphemous a lot. I’m honestly surprised it’s not from the developer of Blasphemous, because it seems so similar in terms of visuals and tone. Calling this a Blasphemous clone isn’t fair though, because there are a number of elements that give The Last Faith its own identity.
For example, you’re able to use a variety of different weapon types, and you have a grappling hook of some sort to swing around with. Maybe it’s more accurate to describe The Last Faith as Blasphemous with more Castlevania and Super Metroid elements? I mean, the grappling hook or chain in the trailer seems similar to Super Metroid’s Grapple Beam.
Even though I’ve done nothing but compare The Last Faith to other games, none of these comparisons are meant as criticisms. The Last Faith clearly takes a lot of inspiration from other metroidvanias, but it seems like it will be a great game in its own right, with fantastic pixel art and visceral combat.
Let me put it this way: I really enjoyed Blasphemous. It features some of the finest pixel art I’ve ever seen. So for me to compare The Last Faith to Blasphemous to closely is high praise indeed.
2. Gestalt: Steam & Cinder
Gestalt: Steam & Cinder promises tight 2D platforming, exhiliarating combat, and an engrossing, twist-laden narrative on its Steam store page. I definitely get hints of all of that from the trailers, but what the description doesn’t mention is how great the pixel art looks! I adore good pixel art, and this is good pixel art.
Another thing I enjoyed in the trailer were the RPG elements shown. Notably, how you’re able to invest points into your character’s stats, and that there’s a level up system.
The cherry on top of all this is the steampunk setting. It seems really cool, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the finished game is like!
1. Hollow Knight: Silksong
Wow, what a surprise, the follow up to one of the most popular and well-received indie metroidvanias of all time made the top of this list, right?
Yeah, this probably isn’t surprising anyone.
A game as gorgeous and polished as Hollow Knight is a high bar to set, but the trailers for Silksong look very impressive, and it might just surpass that bar.
Hornet was such an awesome character in Hollow Knight, they couldn’t have picked a better player character for the sequel. She’s faster and acrobatic than The Knight, bouncing high off enemies’ heads when attacking from the air, and maintaining (and potentially gaining?) forward momentum at the same time. As a result of this and the many other ways in which Hornet is unique, Silksong looks should feel substantially different from Hollow Knight, while maintaining the same charming visuals and challenging gameplay. What more could I possibly ask for?
There’s currently no release date, but I don’t mind that, because I want Team Cherry to take all the time they need to polish the experience.