From The Armchair: Metroidvania Marathon

What ho, chums!

You may have already seen my glowing review of the new Multiverse edition of Axiom Verge, and perhaps you’ve got some inkling of my love for the curiously monikered metroidvania genre. The very fact that Axiom Verge distracted me from playing Monster Hunter World, one of my most highly anticipated games of 2018, should give you an idea of just how good it is.

I played Super Metroid back in the 16-bit days and totally fell in love with its intricate exploring. The real hook is coming across seemingly impassable barriers, then eventually discovering an item or ability that will let you traverse them – so you find yourself criss-crossing the map, backtracking to earlier locations and then pushing through into new routes with your improved inventory.

I love the feeling of exploring into the unknown in video games, which is why I totally fell for No Man’s Sky. But that particular game can feel intimidatingly vast, and it suffers from diminishing returns – like many games – as you collect the same old things again and again. And this is where metroidvania games set themselves apart. The maps might not be huge but they’re intricately designed, and finding a new item might completely change the way you play the game – like discovering the morph ball in Super Metroid.

Axiom Verge channels the spirit of Super Metroid.

A few people have been moaning that nowadays there are too many metroidvanias, with indie devs churning them out like publishers churned out platform games with cute mascots back in the nineties. But as far as I’m concerned, I can’t get enough of them. I spent a big chunk of my adult life waiting for a new 2D Metroid game, and was finally rewarded with the excellent Metroid: Samus Returns last year. And over the past 30 years, metroidvania games have generally been as rare as hen’s teeth – so the recent resurgence of one of my favourite genres is cause for unrestrained celebration. I mean, bloody hell, I’ve waited long enough.

Forma.8 is a wonderful cross between Metroid, the smartphone game Badland and underrated Wii U game Affordable Space Adventures.

Forma.8 is a fantastic metroidvania title – but with spaceships – that was given away on PS Plus in January, and it was the first ever game that I gained 100% of the trophies for. I just couldn’t stop playing the damn thing. Map Schwartzberg of The Manor was similarly enamoured with it – look out for a gushing discussion post soon (UPDATE: It’s here!). Then I’ve spent the last couple of weeks totally engrossed in the peerless Axiom Verge – but now I’m done with that amazing game, I’m ready for my next metroidvania fix. And happily enough, one has come along at just the right time – Dandara was released last week for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch, and it looks phenomenally good. It’s all loaded up on my PS4 ready to go, so expect a review in the next couple of weeks.

And after that? Well, all I can say is, keep making those metroidvanias, and I’ll keep playing ’em.

Toodle-pip for now!

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10 Comments

  1. I’ve been on a Metroidvania binge for a few months, there are some glorious examples of it. I’ll return when I am back at the lair, where I have access to my Steam List so I can share some of them!

      1. I said I would be back, so here’s the list!
        Usurper – Early Access (I don’t usually do Early Access but I do for Metroidvania!)
        Iconoclasts
        Sundered
        Hollow Knight
        Ori and the Blind Forest
        Momodora III (haven’t played it yet but it is metroidvania)
        Outland (metroidvania meets bullet hell, it’s cool)
        Rabi Ribi

        I have a few on my wishlist, will pass them along as soon as they’re released! and there’s Flynn: Son of Crimson, a metroidvania I backed on Kickstarter

      2. Wow, fantastic list! I’ve got Sundered already but haven’t started it yet – definitely the next one to play after Dandara. Iconoclasts looks fantastic, thanks for recommending that! It has shot to the top of my most wanted list. Hollow Knight looks great too, but I don’t tend to play on PC (there’ll be an explanation tomorrow) and I don’t have a Switch yet. Hopefully they’ll release it on PS4 soon… Likewise with Usurper.

        Oh, and I played Outland a while back – it was fun, but the bullet hell proved a bit too much for my patience in the end, and I gave up (post about it here: https://amostagreeablepastime.com/2014/07/24/from-the-armchair-forced-to-quit/). So judging by that, I might find Rabi Ribi a it frustrating too, even though it looks cool.

        One more I’d add to the list – SteamWorld Dig 2 has just been announced for 3DS, so I’ll definitely be picking that up!

        Thanks again for this!

      3. I reviewed SteamWorld Dig 2. It’s good, though more on the linear side if you’re not looking to unlock and complete every challenge

        I’m playing Dandara now, mostly ignoring the borderline nonsense philosophical plot. Took a bit to get used to the jumping around gameplay.

        If you go to my YouTube channel there’s a video for the final boss of Outland. It’s bullet-hell-tastic haha

        Sundered is trippy and can be a bit unfair at times but it is fun

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