Team Cherry’s indie title blends a stylized 2D open world with souls-like combat. The 40-hour experience runs out, though, so we’re looking for more games like Hollow Knight.
The titles we’re looking for must have a twist or a mix of the game’s main elements. In particular,
- It’s a 2D action-adventure platformer game with Metroidvania elements. The skills you unlock for mobility and combat may unlock previously inaccessible areas in the open world.
- The combat is a classic dash/slash/dodge combination. There’re also ranged spells, additional mobility skills, and weapon upgrades. Combat is challenging, and the game is full of bosses.
- The Hollow Knight gains “Souls” in combat that he can use for spells and healing. He loses Souls on death, but you can retrieve the body to restore the currency.
- The game’s frame-by-frame animation and score speak of the care behind the work.
Ori and the Will of The Wisps
- Developer: Moon Studios
- Publisher: Xbox Game Studios, Iam8bit
- Release date: March 2020
- Platform: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the second entry of the Ori franchise. Both are 2D platform-adventure games with Metroidvania elements. Also, both have a gorgeous art style, charming NPCs, and outstanding scores.
You play as Ori, a spirit on a journey to save the forest and his friends. The land is suffering, and he can mend the wounds by discovering his true destiny. Like Hollow Knight, it means traveling a vast interconnected map with your dashes, slashes, and skills. You unlock skills, spells, and items to help NPCs unlock areas and defeat bosses.
Ori has no soul-like systems, but it has a character progression system that works with “shards,” akin to a Final Fantasy game. Moreover, it has a main hub, a forest town you can develop to help your friends unlock new quests.
Hyper Light Drifter
- Developer: Heart Machine
- Publisher: Heart Machine
- Release date: March 2016
- Platform: PlayStation 4, iOS, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Xbox One, Linux, Nintendo Switch, Macintosh operating systems
Hyper Light Drifter features a top-down camera perspective and a sci-fi setting/aesthetic. You explore the ruins of the City of Tears as the “Drifter.” The goal is to find a way to cure a disease slowly killing the character.
Your weapons are a blaster and a sword. You can upgrade the gear for new skills, learn new skills, find more gear, and travel a semi-open-world map with branching paths.
Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Release date: February 2020
- Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch
Mega Man Zero Collection is the latest version of one of Capcom’s most iconic titles. It features better graphics and performance plus optional settings to make the game easier or character.
You play as Zero, who’s fighting a war 100 years after Mega Man X. “Reploids” (self-aware humanoids) and humans are in conflict. Zero takes the Reploids’ side while fighting against evil Reploids to stop the war.
These two games follow Mega Man’s 2D action-platformer design. Zero can jump, dash, shoot, and unlock different weapon skills by defeating bosses. Each level is intricate and full of action, enemies, and hidden locations.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
- Developer: ArtPlay
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Release date: June 2019
- Platform: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
“Metroidvania” is not only because of Metroid games. The other half of this namesake is the Castlevania series. That’s because of how Capcom’s saga mixed exploration, area unlocking, and melee action with dark settings.
ArtPlay made Ritual of the Night a spiritual successor of the original titles in the Castlevania saga. The creator is Koji Igarashi, a former Castlevania producer for Konami and one of the leading developers of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
The story happens in 18th Century England and focuses on Miriam, an orphan with supernatural abilities. Miriam can upgrade his abilities to explore an interconnected 2D world for side-scrolling RPG action.
- Developer: Matt Makes Games
- Publisher: Matt Makes Games
- Release Date: January 2018
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS, Linux
Celeste is a 2D “precision platformer” title. It means you side-scroll through maps full of spikes, lava, jumps, and all kinds of dangerous environments. Any mistake means resetting to the latest save spot.
The story follows Madeline as she’s fighting against her internal demons. The goal is reaching Celeste Mountain, and the mystery behind the mountain unveils as you play the game.
- Developer: Thomas Happ Games
- Publisher: Thomas Happ Games
- Release Date: March 2015
- Platform: PS4, PSVita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U, Windows, macOS, Linux
Axiom Verge is a 2D Metroidvania action-adventure/platformer with tons of hidden paths, secrets, lore, and details. You play as scientist Trace, who wakes up in a high-tech alien world to help a sentient mechanical being.
The gameplay focuses on exploration and action. Trace can dash and jump initially, but you can find over 60 items and power-ups. Lastly, the gameplay and level design resemble Mega Man, Metroid, and Contra.
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
- Developer: Adglobe, Live Wire
- Publisher: Binary Haze Interactive
- Release date: January 2021
- Platform: Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Xbox Series, PS4
Ender Lilies is a 2D platform adventure with a dark fantasy setting and Metroidvania elements. On top of that, it has choices, consequences, and three alternate endings.
You play as Lily, a surviving priestess on a ruined land. Rain turned the living into undead creatures. Lily awakens in a church with no memory of recent events. She explores the source of the rain and discovers the power to purify the undead along the journey.
You play in a plethora of combat, puzzle, and item-collecting situations. Combat abilities allow players to attack, dash, evade, use ranged and magical skills, and unlock areas in an interconnected map. Lastly, combat is about purifying the undead and then using their spirits as your warriors and protectors.
- Developer: The Game Kitchen
- Publisher: Team17, Limited Run Games
- Release date: September 2019
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Blasphemous is a souls-like 2D Metroidvania. You play as the Penitent One in the dark world of Cystodia, reminiscent of Diablo games, like Tristam. Here, you can parry, dash to evade, attack, and use ranged skills for combat.
Like Hollow Knight, you lose something on death. The “Penitent One” loses the items he’s wearing; therefore, he loses the little stat boosts he can find. He must go back to his body without dying to get it back. Other minor ways to progress the character will come up as you play.
Aside from combat, you explore an interconnected 2D world. However, you need to find items, magical spells, and mobility skills to access certain areas. Most areas feature new enemies, items, boss fights, puzzles, and platforming challenges.
- Developer: Motion Twin, Evil Empire
- Publisher: Motion Twin, Playdigious
- Release date: August 2018
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Steam OS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4
Dead Cells is a side-scroller hack n’ slash game with Metroidvania elements and souls-like combat. The developers call it “Roguevania,” a genre with no checkpoints forcing you to start over every time you die.
The game doesn’t have a significant plot. Instead, you kill mobs, find weapons, and keep pushing through the exit of the castle. The map is interconnected but it will change every time you die. Still, you may unlock some permanent upgrades to keep on subsequent runs.
- Developer: PlatinumGames
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Release Date: February 2017
- Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows
Nier Automata is an action RPG with dynamic gameplay. First of all, it changes from 2D to 3D action and adds some “bullet-hell” segments in between. Secondly, second and third playthroughs have you play with different protagonists for new mechanics and storylines.
Nier’s combat is skill-based. You must time dodges, slashes, and special skills -if you time your dash to dodge, you can land a powerful counterattack. You unlock active and passive abilities that add extra options. If you die, you’d have to retrieve your body to recover these skills.
Its heavily stylized world, music, and voice acting can easily appeal to Hollow Knight fans. That said, you play as androids 2B, 9S, and 12A on a mission to retake Earth from the machines.
Shovel Knight Series – Treasure Trove
- Developer: Yacht Club Games
- Publisher: Yacht Club Games
- Release date: June 2014
- Platform: Windows, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Switch, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Shovel Knight, the series, started in 2014. We’re sharing Treasure Trove, which bundles four sequels. These are Shovel of Hope, Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment, and King of Cards. Also, it packs Shovel Knight Showdown, a 4-player local PvP game mode. Either game follows similar mechanics.
These are 8-bit retro action platforming titles with memorable characters and fine-tuned mechanics. You run, jump, and use the Shovel Blade to combat enemies on a plethora of main quests against villainous villains.
These games are not Metroidvanias. However, they have ample platforming, puzzles, challenging combat, and thrilling boss battles. Moreover, the Knight can use the shovel to jump on top of the enemies, just like the Hollow Knight does with his Nail sword.
- Developer: MercurySteam, Nintendo EPD
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release date: October 2021
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
Metroid Dread is the latest entry in the Metroid series. It’s an action-adventure/platformer with 2D backgrounds and 3D character models and animations.
You play as Samus Aran, the recurrent bounty hunter., trying to escape an alien planet. Lore-wise, the story happens after 2002’s Metroid Fusion. Gameplay-wise, it retains the side-scrolling gameplay while adding stealth elements to the formula.
The stealth elements are quite important as well. Because you start underpowered, you need to use a camouflage item to sneak by enemies. Other than stealth and combat, Dread has several puzzles, platforming challenges, fast-paced boss battles, and punishing combat
- Developer: Nicails Inc, Studio Pixel
- Publisher: Nicails Inc
- Release date: Nov 2011
- Platform: Windows, Linux, Steam OS, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii
Cave Story+ is a 16-bit action-adventure platformer with Metroidvania elements. It focuses on high-speed combat and exploration. The game takes players to large subterranean civilizations to blast enemies and bosses.
The story focuses on a young hero who wakes in a hidden wonderland. Soon, he finds out he’s the only one who can race the magical Mimiga race from extinction. He must put the clues in place, though, as he receives plot details and lore information from multiple NPCs in the world.
Nobody Saves the World
- Developer: DrinkBox Studios
- Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
- Release date: January 2022
- Platform: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series
Our last choice is an outstanding action RPG from an indie studio. But, instead of Metroidvania, it has Diablo as part of its core. Here, you explore a vast open-world with randomly generated dungeons.
You play as Nobody, a blobby character with no name. Soon, you find yourself in a dungeon, with the ability to turn yourself into a rat. This opens up the main system in the game: Nobody can shapeshift into different beings at any time. However, you unlock 15 shapes and its skills as you progress.
Nobody can turn into a rat, a horse, a ghost, a zombie, a bodybuilder, a monk, and more. Each form has advantages, disadvantages, passives, and skills. Moreover, you can mix and match skills from different forms to address the different dungeons in the game.