There are many mobile games on the market today. Each game is tailored a certain way to fit a certain audience or a genre. An example would be Metroidvania games.
While the term “Metroidvania” might not ring a bell to most people, games under this genre are quite exciting and invoke unique gameplay concepts that are distinct to the genre.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the genre and 15 of the best Metroidvania games that you can play on your Android and iOS devices.
What Are Metroidvania Games?
Metroidvania is an action-adventure subgenre that features game design and mechanics similar to the games Metroid and Castlevania. The term “Metroidvania” is a portmanteau of the two games that it takes its inspiration from.
Koji Igarashi, or IGA, is a Japanese video game producer who is credited for establishing the key features of the genre. He is most famous for his work in the Castlevania series, which later stemmed into what we now know as the Metroidvania genre.
The game concept of Metroidvania games is quite simple. The games feature large interconnected maps. Using them, players can explore and access different parts of the world by acquiring items, tools, and abilities in the game.
You’ll find that as you progress through the game, you’ll encounter secret areas. You will have more difficult enemies to defeat as well. At times, you’ll also need to retrace your character’s steps through the maps in order to complete it.
Level design and story integration are important elements of the overall concept of the genre. Each level is carefully designed so that players explore, experiment, and further invest in their player character.
Metroidvania Games Across Platforms
You can play Metroidvania games across different platforms — not just mobile devices. This is a bit unexpected for a genre that isn’t so popular.
To give you an idea, here are just some of the other gaming platforms where you can play Metroidvania games:
Some of these Metroidvania games were first released on PC and console platforms but were reimagined to fit mobile platforms.
Metroidvania Games: The General Gameplay
Metroidvania is a platforming game that features rooms and sections in a single, large, interconnected map. While it is available for multiple platforms, the gameplay stays the same for the most part.
Maps in the game are often non-linear. They require the player to go through the map multiple times throughout the game. However, not all areas of the map are available when you start the game. You will have to unlock some of them by obtaining special items and defeating special bosses.
The entire genre is generally associated with game maps/levels that are played out as 2D side scrollers with the characters moving left, right, up, and down throughout the level.
Other Metroidvania games also have to save points and have the ability to transport the player between areas. This is to lessen the need for backtracking if they reach the later parts of the game. They will also gain new abilities, shortcuts, and other items that will help them throughout the journey.
The genre largely focuses on exploring a large world map and the advancement of the player. That is an evident influence of “platform adventure games.”
You might also find some concepts of Metroidvania such as the exploration and character development in other game genres. But, that doesn’t necessarily make them Metroidvania.
Such games include Batman: Arkham, which uses similar aspects to Metroidvania with the titular character collecting new gadgets to unlock new areas.
Another popular example is The Prey, an immersive sim that uses level concepts similar to Metroidvania level design concepts that require players to traverse its setting multiple times.
To avoid confusion, Igarashi described the key elements of the Metroidvania genre. The key elements include maps that encourage exploration, graphical themes, and visually unique milestones. In addition, map and player status, and the means of moving around worlds quickly determine your success in the game.
15 Best Metroidvania Games to Play on Android and iOS
There is no other way to fully understand Metroidvania than to play the games of the genre itself. While there are a lot of them in the market, only a few stand out from the rest.
Here are 15 of the best Metroidvania games that you can play on Android and iOS. If you want a fuller gaming experience on a PC, you can read our quick guide to playing mobile games on PC.
1. Dandara: Trials of Fear
Dandara: Trials of Fear is a game that is often regarded as one of the best Metroidvania games today. In this game, you will find yourself in the world of Salt.
The world hangs on the brink of collapse and its citizens suffer from oppression and isolation. All hope rests on a heroine named Dandara.
You’ll discover secrets, mysteries, and mystical creatures in the world of Salt. Empower Dandara and battle against enemies who seek to oppress the world.
While it does not present the exemplary graphics of Dandara, there is a lot to Tallowmere that makes it worth trying.
Tallowmere brings players into Lady Tallowmere’s ever-changing dungeons and challenges them to make it as far as they can.
The game features randomly generated rooms with each of them bigger than the last, which makes for a thrilling adventure that is rewarded with one of the seven tiers of loot that you can get in the game.
Fair warning, if you’re not a fan of the occult, demons, and sacrificial elements, Tallowmere may not be for you.
Embark on an epic adventure in Swordigo! The game features a magical realm of dungeons, towns, treasures, and monsters where you will have to run, jump, and battle your way through to gain experience and unlock more surprises.
There is never a dull moment in this game as you’ll find yourself hopping from platform to platform and battling against a swarm of enemies.
4. Tower Fortress
A mysterious tower has risen. Do you have the courage to take it on?
Tower Fortress brings players to a tower that they will have to ascend in order to finish. There will be four unique zones that you will have to climb, and each of them is infested with creatures and monsters. Ascend the tower and save the town from doom in Tower Fortress!
Done with your first run? Don’t worry, you can always play again.
Tower Fortress randomizes for replay so that every run is different from the last, which makes for an exciting adventure even if it’s your hundredth time playing it!
5. Into Mirror
The year is 2076 and people are brought into Mirror, a virtual world that has many hidden secrets.
This Cyberpunk-style Metroidvania game challenges players with 20 game levels and different types of enemies that will really challenge your wits as you try to beat them.
While the game is not yet complete, you can trust that more chapters and levels are coming your way. The anticipation makes things more exciting because you will really not know what’s coming up next in the world of Mirror.
6. Dead Cells
Dead Cells is an indie Metroidvania game that first became playable on PC and console. But now, mobile players can get the chance to play this thrilling game too!
You’ll be playing as a failed experiment who explores an ever-changing castle to discover the truths of a gloomy island. Fight against merciless minions and bosses, progress through the castle, and unearth the truth in Dead Cells.
7. Waking Mars
If you’re an iOS user, you’re in luck! Because two of the best Metroidvania games in this list are exclusive to iOS devices!
One of the games takes you on an unforgettable journey to restore the Martian ecosystem. Waking Mars turns players into astronauts who are tasked to traverse Planet Mars, plant seeds, and nurture alien life forms to create a vibrant atmosphere that will open up a new world.
In a barren world of passages and caves, you’ll be surprised at what lies ahead in this critically-acclaimed game.
8. The Sword of Xolan
If you’re a fan of pixel art styles, Sword of Xolan might just be the Metroidvania game for you!
The game features 30 adventure levels where you’ll be playing a brave warrior named Xolan who will fight for justice no matter what the cost. He embarks on this journey to destroy the darkness and bring back the peace that once was.
Apart from 30 adventure levels, the game also features nine time-based challenge levels and over 30 different enemies, which will really make for an exciting venture into the game genre.
Teslagrad was first released on PC and now, you can play this experience on your mobile devices!
This game brings players to the Kingdom of Elektropia where a king rules with an iron fist. The king destroys Teslagrad, a tower owned by a sect of technological wizards.
That’s where you come in. The player takes the form of a young boy armed with Teslamancer technology who will have to overcome obstacles and forge his own path through Tesla Tower.
If you’re a big fan of old school boss fights, this game is perfect for you!
10. Hunter Legacy
Hunter Legacy is an indie pixel art-style game where you, the player, have just inherited land from your ancestors. Now, all you need to do is to rebuild it.
To do this, you will have to hunt and find resources, and gather loot through forests, mountains, and caves to find building materials. Along the way, you’ll have to defeat animals, monsters, and even the undead in order to become a hunter worthy of your family’s legacy.
You will have to be careful though, as this game features a perma-death. If you lose all your health points, even when idle, your character will die and the next generation will have to continue their quest and legacy.
11. Traps n’ Gemstones
Take the plunge into an ancient pyramid and discover the secrets of the crypt.
Traps n’ Gemstones bring players to Egypt where they are tasked to solve a mystery. Precious relics have suddenly started to disappear from the pyramid and as an archaeologist, you’ve been asked to solve the mystery.
Unravel the mystery with your wits, weapons, and a couple of explosives to finish the game!
The choice is yours in the World of Terraria.
Terraria is a Metroidvania game that gives the players a very hard task. Here, the world is at your fingertips. You will have to fight for survival, fortune, and glory.
You can seek out foes to challenge in combat or construct your own city — but you will have to do this by diving into different levels to discover the secrets that lie ahead. You’ll do more than just explore worlds and combat bosses here. You’ll also be able to craft your own materials, explore items, and even explore biomes and mini-biomes.
Since the game has been reimagined for mobile, rest assured that you’ll be getting the best possible mobile experience out of it!
VVVVVV takes the gaming experience to a whole new level. You’ll be playing as Captain Viridian who, after a terrible teleporter malfunction, must rescue their space crew in an alternate dimension called VVVVVV.
It’s a compelling Metroidvania game that will surely give you varied and entertaining experiences that will make you want to play more.
14. Robot Wants Kitty
The life of a robot can be cold and unemotional, but this robot craves life, something that will bring warmth to their otherwise cold life. But just what is robot willing to do to get it? He’s going to use his lasers just to get that kitty!
Robot Wants Kitty is a fun twist on Metroidvania games. Enhance Robot’s abilities and collect the kitty! But don’t let its otherwise cute gameplay fool you; this game can also get quite challenging! It’s not a game that you should underestimate!
15. Dust: An Elysian Tail
Capping off this list is another iOS exclusive, Dust: An Elysian Tail. Play as a mysterious warrior named Dust who embarks on a search for their true identity.
The journey will take you from green everglades to snowy white mountaintops and more. You will battle tons of enemies and take on many quests that will help you enhance your character as you go on.
The game features traditionally-animated scenes, which will bring a bit of nostalgia for veteran players.
There is a lot to still know and understand about Metroidvania games. It’s definitely a genre that you should consider trying if you’re looking to add more to your gaming options.
Metroidvania Games come in different formats and with its unique gameplay concepts, you’ll have a lot to explore if you’re looking to try games of the genre.
Not the genre for you? You can always look at our list of games that will help you cure your boredom.