Top 5 Metroidvania Games on the Nintendo Switch

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Perhaps the oldest and most complicated genre in video game history is the action-adventure series. Renowned for its combination of exploration and combat, the earliest recorded title in the genre was Adventure for the Atari 2600. Fans were amazed to investigate multiple screens, search for new areas, and encounter dangerous enemies. Technology then began to progress, the industry transitioned into three-dimensional gameplay, and developers added more elements to the genre. For a time, the action-adventure series seemed to lose its identity. But one subset of the genre rose to become an iconic staple in the video game industry: the Metroidvania. While Microsoft and Sony house many classics, no other platform owner has embraced this sub-genre quite like Nintendo. For that reason, the staff at GamingROI came up with a list of our top five Metroidvania games on the Nintendo Switch. Enjoy!

#5 Dead Cells

Developed by indie studio Motion Twin, Dead Cells is a rather odd inclusion on the list of Metroidvania games. While most players identify with its roguelike elements, the game embraces cornerstone features of the Metroidvania genre. Unlike traditional roguelike games, which are entirely randomly generated, Dead Cells maintains several key components. During each “run”, players encounter different enemies, rooms, and item locations. However, several core elements remain the same and are the foundational pillars of Dead Cells Metroidvania gameplay.

  • Divergent Paths. A bedrock of Metroidvania games is the combination of exploration and backtracking. In ordinary Metroidvanias, certain portions of the map are inaccessible until the player earns a new ability or skill. But the randomly-generated nature of Dead Cells make this gameplay element nearly impossible. Instead, Dead Cells uses time as an alternative for ability upgrades. While all sections of the world are randomly assembled, players can always unlock certain doors so long as enough time remains on the clock. This system encourages divergent playstyles while also integrating Metroidvania elements into the game.
  • Upgrades. Unlike most roguelike games, Dead Cells integrates permanent passive abilities into its gameplay. Dubbed “runes”, these abilities allow players to grow vines, teleport, and wall-jump. While these might seem like staple inclusions in traditional Metroidvanias, roguelike games promote weapon improvements and not ability upgrades. But like the divergent time paths, Dead Cells utilizes passive abilities in each section to access new routes.

While Dead Cells is primarily a roguelike experience, the integration of Metroidvania mechanics make it one of the best action-adventure games on the Nintendo Switch.

#4 SteamWorld Dig 2

Released during the Nintendo Switch’s first year, SteamWorld Dig 2 took the indie world by storm. Image & Form had already built a solid reputation on Steam and other PC platforms, but its fourth installment is perhaps its best and most expansive. Do not let its combination of cartoon and cyberpunk art style fool you. SteamWorld Dig 2 is one of the most immersive Metroidvania adventures on any video game system.

  • Blaze Your Own Trail. Almost every Metroidvania game locks certain portions of the map behind abilities and skills upgrades. But SteamWorld Dig 2 allows players to access almost every section of the map from the start. The only caveat is that you have to blaze your own trail. That is right. You have to dig. A lot. And keep digging until you reach your desired location. That is the sole beauty of the game. So while other games require “wall-jumps” or “air-dashes”, SteamWorld Dig 2 keeps it simple. But you have to do the work for yourself.
  • Treasure Search. Although the entire map is largely accessible from the start, it does not mean that item upgrades are not important. In fact, upgrades are crucial to reaching the furthest depths of SteamWorld Dig 2’s map. Unlike the search-and-discovery feature of most Metroidvania games, SWD2 keeps it simple. To equip new abilities and upgrades, players need cold, hard cash. But where can one find such valuables? By digging, of course! As players slowly descend into the map’s depths, jewels and other valuables can be found, which can upgrade Dorothy’s pickaxe and other tools.

#3 Ori and the Blind Forest

The integral blend of the action-adventure genre is combat and exploration. But what happens when the combat elements are curtailed in exchange for platforming mechanics? The result is Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest. Know for its gripping story and breathtaking art style, the previous Xbox exclusive was relatively segmented until last year. With its release on the Nintendo Switch in September 2019, Ori and the Blind Forest propelled to new heights and for good reason. It is one of the best Metroidvania games on the market.

  • Avoid Conflict. Unlike other Metroidvania titles, Ori and the Blind Forest replaces combat “action” with platforming “action”. Instead of acquiring new abilities to aid in combat, Ori focuses on acquiring abilities that allow the players to escape danger. Precision platforming replaces epic boss fights and makes for one of the most memorable experiences on the Nintendo Switch.
  • Trees of Skill. Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid never had skill trees. But that does not mean that Ori and the Blind Forest is wrong. In fact, the incorporation of skill-tree elements affords players with a unique mechanic: choice. That is right. Ori gives players the choice of which skills to upgrade. Doing so makes certain platforming elements easier and augments the individual player’s style.

#2 The Messenger

What if the action of an 8-bit Ninja Gaiden game combined with the 16-bit exploration of a Super Metroid? The result would be the ultimate crossover title. For those reasons, The Messenger might be the most diverse and unique Metroidvania experience on the Nintendo Switch. But fans must embrace two separate and distinct gameplay styles. Are you ready to dive in? Because the staff at GamingROI most certainly did, and we never looked back.

  • Separate Yet Distinct. Almost every Metroidvania game combines “action” with “adventure.” But The Messenger turns this paradigm on its head. Instead of combining these elements, the game offers two separate and distinct chapters. During the first half of the game, players will utilize platforming and combat elements in a similar fashion to the Ninja Gaiden series.After traversing the entire map, The Messenger transitions from an 8-bit Ninja Gaiden game into a full-blown Metroidvania experience. No other game isolates its mechanics like The Messenger, and it might prove to be the most ingenious decision ever by a video game studio.
  • The Shopkeeper. Metroidvania experiences focus so much on exploration and combat that the genre often foregoes a beloved element: NPC dialogue. Thankfully, The Messenger not only advocates for fans who prefer lore but also encourages it. For that reason, the stories and jokes protruding from the Shopkeeper are legendary. Do not miss it. For that dialogue is what makes The Messenger stand out from other Metroidvanias.

#1 Hollow Knight

The coup de grace. The knockout. Ender. Finisher. While the Metroidvania genre is home to many legendary titles, the cream always rises to the top. For the small trio of Team Cherry, this band of gifted developers were able to combine the best elements of the action-adventure genre into a singular video game. As fans anxiously await the much anticipated sequel, the original Hollow Knight game is equal parts beautiful, cryptic, and challenging.

  • Charming Dark Souls. Git Gud. No, but seriously. Players who wish to experience Hollow Knight to its fullest will need to do a little “soul” searching. Because unlike modern games, Hollow Knight will not hold your hand. Instead, Team Cherry’s creation will slap you in the face and laugh its way to the bank. But that does not mean that our miniature knight is without defense. In fact, quite the opposite. By equipping countless combinations of the game’s 45 ability charms, players can overcome all of the game’s 47 boss encounters. Each charm augments the knight’s passive and combat abilities, which include both melee and spell attacks. This system allows players to customize their game style preference while fighting epic foes.
  • Boss Fights. Just as Dark Souls would feel “hollow” without epic boss battles, Hollow Knight’s buggy depths are not without peril. Despite one of the largest 2D maps on any console, Hollow Knight’s gameplay revolves around heroic boss fights. Most of the Abilities, charms, upgrades, and progression are locked behind the game’s most challenging foes. While on the surface the bosses can appear overwhelming, gamers who persevere are rewarded with an adrenaline high unlike any other. Do not believe us? Stick with it until after you beat the False Knight and then come back to us with an answer. We promise. You will be hooked.


And there you have it: GamingROI’s official list of Top 5 Metroidvania games on the Nintendo Switch. But we want to know what you think. Have you played any of the indie games listed above? What other metroidvania games are your favorite on the Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments below or the social media links on the right. Also, be sure to check out our other news items on Final Fantasy VII RemakeAnimal CrossingModern Warfare, and more.

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