Metroidvania titles focus on exploration and item acquisition, with each discovery delivering something special to help you progress your adventure. This genre has graced countless consoles and handhelds and now to your favorite Android tablet. Some of the best games on Android evoke aspects of Metroidvania, from the flashiest platformers to the brutalist souls-likes,
Given its loose definition, discerning what is and isn't a Metroidvania can be tough, so here's a roundup of our favorite Metroidvania games on the Play Store so you can easily choose from the best to while away your time.
1 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Castlevania has seen plenty of copycats over its lifespan. Some good, some bad. But who could better capture the essence of the source material than someone whose name is synonymous with the franchise? That someone is Koji Igarashi, the man who worked on over a dozen entries, including some of the 3D titles.
Bloodstained puts you in the shoes of Miriam, as you explore a fully-realized gothic castle along with everything you've come to expect from Metroidvania. The game boasts 120 different enemies and over one hundred weapons to defeat them with. This variety of offensive tools gives you an unprecedented number of approaches to each combat encounter. Bloodstained goes for a hefty $9.99 on the Play Store, but you're getting Igarashi's signature work right on your mobile device.
2 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
While Metroid games are exclusive to Nintendo platforms, Castlevania has been released on almost every major platform since 1986. Widely considered to be the best in the series, despite the hit-or-miss voice acting, Symphony of the Night is the pinnacle of 2D platforming and the very title that popularized the term Metroidvania.
Symphony of the Night is the epitome of Igarashi's work as an assistant director, programmer, and writer. It pushed the PS1 console to its limits regarding 2D platformers, thanks to the crisp pixelated graphics and astoundingly smooth animations. Even decades later, not many games have captured the game's atmosphere and depth of exploration. For $2.99, you can experience the best Castlevania specifically designed for mobile platforms, and it even comes with controller support.
3 Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition
Dandara is more Metroid than it is Castlevania if that makes sense? It's a 2D platformer that sees you scale the environments to avoid traps and uncover new abilities to overcome previously insurmountable obstacles.
As Dandara, you'll leap across pitfalls and employ the heroine's unique ability to cling to various surfaces. The title has received several noteworthy nominations -- including Best Portable Game of the Year — and even won some of them. Moreover, the Trials of Fear Edition comes with new content, including new bosses, challenges, and upgrades, unavailable in the initial release. Dandara costs $3.99 but is also included with a Play Pass subscription.
4 Dead Cells
When it comes to indie titles released in recent years, few have amassed as much critical praise as Dead Cells. That said, this is a game that puts a greater emphasis on combat as even the slightest misstep during a fight can lead to permadeath.
Dead Cells is more or less a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to mobile games. It combines the merciless gameplay of a roguelike with elements of Metroidvania. It's also one of the most technically-demanding titles on Android, with gorgeous visuals and astoundingly high framerates. Dead Cells goes for $9.99 on the Play Store or free with the Play Pass subscription. Several DLCs have launched since release, which makes Dead Cells one of the most content-packed Metroidvania games out there.
Grimvalor combines 2D platforming along with Metroidvania mechanics and even a few elements of the souls-like games. This 2D action platformer throws you into a dark world where you must learn the pattern of enemy attacks and only attack when an opening presents itself. Sounds familiar?
While the full version will set you back $6.99, Grimvalor gives you a chance to play through the game's introduction for free. Alternatively, Grimvalor is included in the Play Pass subscription. Furthermore, Grimvalor has been updated with new content in the form of new equipment and a New Game+ mode.
6 Pascals Wager
A prominent entry in our best souls-like roundup, Pascal's Wager is a dark fantasy action RPG with a bleak art style, grim tone, and ruthless difficulty. Gameplay requires users to explore hostile environments, gather items, and battle gruesome enemies to progress.
The touch controls in Pascals Wager work incredibly well, with responsive inputs and sensible button placement, a necessary attribute for a game with such punishing Souls-like combat. Tough enemies seem to grow out of the walls, making the world genuinely tense to explore. Pascal's Wager also boasts full Android controller support if the touch controls aren't your thing.
ICEY is an explorative RPG that provides explorative gameplay and side-scrolling hack-and-slash combat, tinged with an endearing meta sense of humor; Players get a decent story and exciting combat if they follow the directions of the narrator, who implores you not to explore and stay on track. However, if the player does choose to deviate from the established road, they will encounter half-finished levels and some cutting forth wall-breaking critique of game development itself.
The combat has a great feel to it, with snappy inputs, combo-based damage multiplayer, and cool enemy designs. If you're partial to Stanley Parable-style peaks behind the game development curtain, ICEY is a fascinating experience, worth trying out whether you follow the rules or not.
8 Runic Curse
A crew gets shipwrecked on a mysterious island, and you take control of one of its members, Adrian. As Adrian, you'll wield powerful weapons, magic, and runes and, hopefully, uncover whatever led to his crew being stranded. Visually, Runic Curse is a Metroidvania game akin to titles like Castlevania and Salt and Sanctuary.
It may not be much of a looker, as you can probably see from the screenshots. But a recent update makes it playable at a smooth 120Hz, assuming you own a sufficiently powerful device. And with dedicated NG+ and Boss Rush modes, there's not much to complain about at $2.99.
Teslagrad would make a great name for a Soviet-era city ruled by Elon Musk. But jokes aside, Teslagrad is brought to you by Playdigious, the company responsible for Dead Cells and Streets of Rage 4, so you know you're getting a bang for your buck. Or seven, in this case, as unlocking the full game will cost you $6.99. It's all worth it, though, as Teslagrad features beautiful hand-drawn visuals and an enticing story to boot.
In Teslagrad, you control a boy who can manipulate electromagnetic fields and objects. Utilize these unique abilities to overcome obstacles, solve puzzles, defeat imposing bosses, and ultimately, bring down a tyrannical ruler from his throne.
10 Traps n' Gemstones
Metroidvania games rely on mysterious environments and exciting characters to transport you into another world. Ancient Egyptian pyramids? Check. A playable character that resembles Indiana Jones? Check. Segmented maps and secret chambers filled with treasure? Check. Traps n' Gemstones has it all.
This is a game that has all the makings of a Metroidvania game and then some. It puts you in charge of descending into a pyramid to locate a mysterious looter plundering its contents. You'll explore ancient Egyptian chambers, fight monsters lurking, and uncover long-lost relics.
Traps n' Gemstones is available for $4.99, with no ads or in-app purchases, with constant updates that improve upon an already fleshed-out game.
11 Tiny Dangerous Dungeons
It's dangerous to go alone, but Timmy does it anyway. Guide Timmy through deadly traps, moving platforms, and bottomless pits, all the while evading a plethora of different enemies. To progress, you'll need to solve puzzles and unlock abilities that'll help you to move further.
True to its Metroidvania roots, Tiny Dangerous Dungeons sees you explore deep depths to collect items and upgrades that unlock more of the game's environments. While short on the main campaign side, Tiny Dangerous Dungeons extends gameplay with unlockable achievements, as well as a time trial mode.
Unlike Bloodstained and Castlevania, Tiny Dangerous Dungeons features cute visuals, reminiscent of old-school Game Boy titles.
12 Toziuha Night: Order of the Alchemists
Alchemists, dark gothic environments, whips, and even count Dracula himself. It's immediately apparent where Toziuha Nights draws its inspiration. Toziuha Nights pays homage to pixelated 2D platformers of yore and even features a CRT TV video filter to further engross you in the era.
Similarities to Castlevania seep into the gameplay as well. Take control of alchemist Xandria and use her whip and spells to battle through hordes of enemies and uncover secrets. Toziuha Nights was originally released for free on itch.io and is likewise available on Android. Upcoming updates seek to introduce new content in the form of additional playable characters, as well as the ability to create your own maps. Pretty cool, huh?
Now's the time to 100% the best Metroidvanias around
As a sub-genre, Metroidvania is very well-trodden ground on the best Android phones, and the examples listed above really earn their price tags. Dead Cells is one of the most content-heavy Metroidvanias on the market, and games like Bloodstained can offer hours upon hours of great gameplay.
With new releases and constant updates, there's always something new in this time-honored sub-genre. Try some out, and let us know which world you enjoyed exploring the most.