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.
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 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!