Our picks for the most relaxing Metroidvania games that we have played so far.

The Nintendo Switch has been a breakout success since its release, and it is currently the best way to play Metroidvania games on the go. It’s a great thing then that many of the best of the best Metroidvania Games are making their way over to the platform, so I thought today it would be good to list off our current top 11 favorites.

I have no authority to say that these games are the “Best”, simply because we haven’t played every single Metroidvania game on the platform yet. These are just our favorites out of the ones that we’ve actually played, and reviewed on this site. (The requirement that we’ve reviewed it is the reason that Super Metroid is notably missing – Stay tuned for the first week of June on that one!)

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You may be wondering why we’re doing a top 11 instead of just 10. That is because our #1 is probably a little too obvious, so we decided throw in a bonus just to balance things out a little.

To avoid any confusion, I’m also including the “Metroidvania Fit” rating with these games. We fully acknowledge that not all of these fit perfectly into the Metroidvania mold – but we recommend them nevertheless.

Click each Game’s Title for our full review!

11. Steamworld Dig 2

Metroidvania Fit: High Fit
The First Steamworld Dig game was something of a novelty. The object was collect loot, run back to town, and collect more loot until you reached the bottom of a straight-line mine. Steamworld Dig 2 expands all of that and really embraces its Metroidvania elements. The result is a grand combination of the relaxing loot loop from the first game with the delicious discovery of Metroidvania-Style exploration. While the game tells you where the next place of interest is, you can completely ignore it and do things out of order – making the world your own. It’s a perfect “on-the-go” kind of game, since you can always just dig some more in 5 minute increments before putting your console back to sleep.

10. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Metroidvania Fit: Perfect Fit
While the Switch version of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night may not be the best version to play in terms of hardware performance, ever since Castlevania: Circle of the Moon the Igavania style games have been begging to be mobile. A lot of the fun in this game comes from leveling up and collecting powers, and I’ve always thought that portable platforms are the best place to do that kind of thing. It’s not all crafting and character building though. The deep exploration that Symphony of the Night helped make the genre famous for is back with one of the largest castles available in any Metroidvania game. If you’ve enjoyed any of the other Igavania games, this one is a must-play.

9. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom

Metroidvania Fit: High Fit
Bright, cheerful, and family friendly, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom offers a massive world of whimsy that will provide over 15 hours of exploration bliss. The main gimmick in Monster Boy is your ability to transform into several different creatures. Each one gained layers in enjoyable complexity both in the combat and in puzzle platforming. While not the most challenging Metroidvania, its continuous infusion of novelty keeps it engaging from start to finish. Finding just one more treasure also has a pick-up-and-play novelty to it, which make sit a perfect candidate for for utilizing the Switch’s mobility and sleep mode.

8. Aggelos

Metroidvania Fit: High Fit
Aggelos is a personal favorite of mine. In some ways it’s similar to the Wonder Boy series, which Monster Boy is also a part of, but it also takes a lot of inspiration from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Compared to Monster Boy, it’s a much shorter game, clocking in at about 5 hours on average, but the experience is very tight for what you get. One of my favorite aspects of the game is that every power has at least two applications. You don’t get a double jump, for instance, but instead get an aerial slash that also gives you lift. All of your spells are similar, such as how your fireball spell also creates portals you use to teleport. The dual application design creates a lot of opportunity for intelligent level design, and Aggelos realizes that potential quite nicely.

7. Cave Story+

Metroidvania Fit: Low Fit
Probably the least Metroidvania game on this list, but as long as Cave Story continues to be discussed as being part of the genre, it’s also worth mentioning that it’s fantastic game to play. Sometimes its story acts as a bit of a pace breaker, but when you get into the thick of the action I’d be hard pressed to find a game that provides a better ranged combat challenge. While there isn’t much exploration to be had in this otherwise linear experience, there are still some infamous – and mind blowing – secrets to be discovered, which contributes to why this is such a cult classic.

6. Ori and the Blind Forest

Metroidvania Fit: High Fit
At time of posting, we’re a week away from Ori and the Will of the Wisps, which may be even better, but it’s still worth talking about Ori and the Blind Forest. For my friends who aren’t as interested in difficult combat, Ori is my go-to recommendation because it provides such deep and satisfying platforming with no hard boss fights to be found. Some players have expressed frustration over the chase scenes that replace the combat, but I personally found myself so enveloped in the tension of the moment that I couldn’t help but be exhilarated. Ori and the Blind Forest holds your hand, and thus feels somewhat linear, but there is still a lot of meaningful exploration, and with as gorgeous as the game is you’ll want to spend as much time in its world as you can.

5. Iconoclasts

Metroidvania Fit: Medium Fit
Faith, Family, Trust, and betrayal of all three. Iconoclasts has a pleasant exterior but it tackles some very heavy themes, and does so with a level of maturity and thoroughness that is very rare to see. Its main draw is its narrative, and all other aspects come secondary – so if you’re interested in a “True” Metroidvania game, then you may want to try another title on this list. That isn’t to say that there are any major flaws in the gameplay; Iconoclasts also has some incredible boss fights, and its core puzzle platforming is also very well done. It tries some gameplay variety that can be hit or miss, but if you can allow yourself to be immersed in its story, everything else simply becomes a footnote.

4. Guacamelee 2

Metroidvania Fit: Medium Fit
The original Guacamelee has become something of a staple within the genre for being one of the first really notable indie Metroidvania games. Guacamelee 2 is more of the same, but better. The brawling aspect of the game is a power fantasy as brawlers tend to be, but where the real challenge comes from is the platforming. You have to keep track of four different super moves that double as platforming tools as well as a dodge button and the ability to swap between a the world of the dead and the land of the living. Executing it all with precision is necessary, and success is sweet. But what really makes Guacamlee 2 great, and especially good on the Nintendo Switch, is that it has local multiplayer for up to 4 players. This means an entire team of friends can try their hand at a difficult platforming section, all at the same time, or just lay the smack down on your foes in combat.

3. The Messenger

Metroidvania Fit: Low Fit
I’m going to give the same warning here that I give at the beginning of our review. If you don’t know anything about the Messenger then stop reading now and just go play it. The less you know the better – don’t even watch the trailer if you haven’t. To my surprise one of my favorite things about this game isn’t the amazing boss fights or the tight platforming, but just meeting up with the shop keeper to listen to what insane story he has to tell. The Messenger is all about the mystery of narrative, and it plays on the player’s expectations in some glorious ways; not the least of which being the reason it’s on a top 11 Metroidvania list even though it’s just a Ninja Gaiden inspired Indie Game.

2. La-Mulana & La-Mulana 2

Metroidvania Fit: Medium Fit
There are no games quite like La-Mulana, except its sequel of course. It’s a bit of a cheat to include both of them together, but if you enjoy one, then you must play the other. These games have a lot in common with 90s adventure games, except the focus is more on riddles than it is on simply brushing inventory items against other objects. The entire world is just a great big puzzle box, and you can consider yourself a very smart player if it takes you less than 40 hours – each game – to solve it all without a guide. When you do progress, you’re rewarded with difficult boss fights, and ultimately the revelation of the all the secrets behind the ruins. La-Mulana 1 & 2 are certainly niche games because of their overall difficulty, but if you’re in that niche you may have found one of the best games you’ll ever play.

1. Hollow Knight

Metroidvania Fit: Perfect Fit
To no one’s surprise, if there is only ever one Metroidvania game you play on your Nintendo Switch, our recommendation is Hollow Knight. With all that has been said about what makes this game a Masterpiece, there could probably still be more essays written. You’ve got tight platforming with plenty of challenges to test your mettle against. You’ve got some of the best boss fights in the entire genre that are rewarding to conquer all on their own. You’ve got souls-like subtle lore that you can dig into if you desire – pondering the mystery behind what little is said. The overall pacing in Hollow Knight is slow and methodical, which may be off-putting to some, but those moments of quiet exploration are juxtaposed against the game’s well-directed and often frantic encounters. It’s hard to resist the allure of Hollow Knight’s immersive world, and because of this we feel it’s the best Metroidvania currently available on the Nintendo Switch.

And that’s our list! We hope that we’ve given you some ideas on what to play on your Nintendo Switch. There are a lot of Nintendo Switch Metroidvania games available though, and it was very hard for us to pick just 11. Do you agree with our list? Do you have other games you would add instead? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Discord!