Games Like Hollow Knight: 10 Metroidvania Titles For You To Explore
Hollow Knight has become one of the most acclaimed metroidvania titles in existence, and with Team Cherry's sequel set to hit this year, we thought we'd look at some games like it - both past and present. The metroidvania is a rich genre focused on exploration, combat, and character progression, with lots of back-tracking that - if done well - can recontextualise entire areas. The genre is also the namesake of the Metroid series, which has long set the blueprint for what a metroidvania should be, with titles like Hollow Knight building upon that foundation in recent years. So, here's our list of games like Hollow Knight.
Games Like Hollow Knight: Metroid Dread
Our first choice has to be a Metroid title, and what better than the newest side-scrolling game in the series for over 15 years. Metroid Dread doesn't do a huge amount to change up what a metroidvania is, but it excels at the core of its design. The different areas you can explore are varied, feeling almost labyrinthian to begin with before you slowly grow in confidence and ability.
The stealth elements and light-horror sections help to build on the narrative that sees Samus in a position of vulnerability, and the tight and tough boss designs make for rewarding fights to break up exploration. Dread is exactly what a metroidvania experience should be, and it's a sign that Nintendo can still build upon the genre they helped birth.
Games Like Hollow Knight: Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series, taking particular inspiration from the iconic Symphony of the Night. One of the game's key designers even took on the role of development lead, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign, the game released to great fanfare.
It carries the torch of the Castlevania series with enthusiasm, taking advantage of 20 years of game design evolution to form a stylish adventure through a maze-like castle. The 2.5D perspective also helps to fully realise the world, giving it depth and life that helps to make it feel larger than the game it's contained in.
Games Like Hollow Knight: Batman: Arkham Asylum
The next title undergoes a huge perspective shift while still retaining much of the metroidvania core gameplay loop and ethos. Batman: Arkham Asylum is still an easy contender for the best superhero game of all time, and a perfect example of a metroidvania title in third-person. It sees the caped crusader locked in Arkham Asylum, as the Joker hatches a plot to free the prisoners and take control of the island.
All the staples of the genre return here, and Batman's gadgets work perfectly to expand your exploration and combat capabilities, helped along by effortless pacing. The combat and stealth sections are also incredibly designed, putting the crunchy brutality of Batman on full show with encounters that ramp up in intensity to test your skills. Ultimately, it's the perfect Batman video game, combining everything people love about him to produce a potent experience that Rocksteady are yet to beat.
Games Like Hollow Knight: Axiom Verge
Axiom Verge looks and feels like a product of a very different time, and you'd be forgiven for assuming it was a title from the 90s. It's all very purposeful though, and Axiom Verge is designed to ape the metroidvanias of old while also expanding on the gameplay they spearheaded.
Its world and aesthetic is one of the standout aspects, taking place on an ancient alien planet with lots of advanced technology, that manages to instil a rich sense of curiosity through its detailed visuals. The variation of the weapons and upgrades also provide huge depth to the gameplay, and the player never feels powerless despite their circumstances. This makes character progression a constant throughout, giving the game an effortless flow that doesn't detract from its challenge.
Games Like Hollow Knight: Vomitoreum
Vomitoreum is another game that takes the metroidvania in a different direction, combining it with retro shooter gameplay and a first-person camera. It's built in GZDOOM, giving the visuals this crisp old-school feel that never sacrifices clarity despite the low fidelity, and takes particular influence from Metroid Prime and Dark Souls.
It's set in a post-apocalypse Earth that's plagued by an eldritch infection, with lots of horror imagery directly inspired by the art of Zdzisław Beksiński. All these elements build on the atmosphere of dread, but the fast-paced gunplay and intense boss battles help to reign it back from a purely depressive experience. It's a frantic and bombastic shooter, and while it may fall on the shorter side, you'll be unlikely to forget its world for a while.
Games Like Hollow Knight: LA-MULANA
We mentioned that Axiom Verge looks like the product of a different time, but LA-MULANA gives off the vibe of a long-lost piece of art recently rediscovered. You take on the role of an archaeologist exploring ancient ruins filled with dangers and horrors, all in the search for lost treasure.
LA-MULANA revels in its atmosphere, which is bolstered by the gorgeously detailed environments that pull you into its wider mysteries and secrets. It also harkens back to the side-scrollers of the 80s with a punishing difficulty that rewards constant iterations on your tactics and strategies. If you can immerse yourself into its world and mechanics, you'll be paid back in kind with a comprehensive metroidvania experience.
Games Like Hollow Knight: ENDER LILIES: Quietius of the Knights
ENDER LILIES is one of the newer titles to bless this list, taking place in a dark fairly-tale world that has been devastated by an oppressive rain. The world in question is one of this game's greatest strengths, as the art design and environments feed into the themes that are present in the story.
It also looks beautiful, with a specific style that highlights the contrast of light and dark, particularly with the main character who resembles a beacon of light surrounded by the dark. The piano-led soundtrack is also a standout feature, providing a constant solemness to the mood that almost feels introspective at its heights. It's a gem of a metroidvania and a good sign that the genre still has reams to offer the gaming world.
Games Like Hollow Knight: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
There are a few key titles that have directly influenced the metroidvania, and their prints can be found across every game in the genre. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one such title, and the acclaim it has earned as one of the best games ever made is thoroughly deserved. It pioneered the metroidvania and brought it to the next level with unprecedented exploration and freedom.
It also managed to incorporate role-playing elements seamlessly, without detracting from the basic gameplay that was defined in prior games, allowing it to keep that core Castlevania feel even with the evolutions made to the design. At a time when 2D gaming was falling out of favour, it also managed to shine with its effective atmosphere and visuals, showing that 3D wasn't the only future of gaming. How right they were.
Games Like Hollow Knight: Dark Souls
Dark Souls is a metroidvania so successful that it managed to inspire its own subgenre. The soulsbourne has taken gaming by storm over the past decade, with its enrapturing combo of cryptic atmospheres and punishing hack n slash gameplay. Even the most basic of enemies provides a deadly challenge, and the bosses are infamous for their difficulty.
Importantly, Dark Souls manages to strike that balance of being tough but fair, and it will reward players immensely for putting in the time to master its systems and learn its intricacies. The effect Dark Souls had on Hollow Knight is also clear to see, and the metroidvania is a better genre for its existence.
Games Like Hollow Knight: Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds isn't necessarily a metroidvania, and it differs wildly from the majority of titles on this list, but the gameplay loop is surprisingly similar in some notable ways. A staple of the genre is an emphasis on character progression, which is typically represented through the collection of new abilities and growing skills. This loop is replicated in Outer Wilds, but through the collection of knowledge instead.
Where Batman, for example, would have the player gain a new grappling hook upgrade to access an area, Outer Wilds challenges you to seek out information instead. This is done by exploring a simulated solar system previously inhabited by an ancient civilization, all in the name of discovering their secrets and what caused their extinction. Outer Wilds can be a profound experience, and discovering all it contains blindly makes for one of the most unique gaming experiences available.
Don't forget to check out our list of games like Grand Theft Auto 5.