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The 10 Hardest Metroidvania Games

The 10 Hardest Metroidvania Games

Fans of Metroidvanias are no strangers to difficulty. You could argue that a defining characteristic of the genre is its difficulty. That doesn’t mean there aren’t easier titles for those interested in everything else the genre offers. These games are known for lacking player direction and emphasis on backtracking. Exploration is key to these games but with the success of the souls-like genre, more and more difficult games are popping up. Here are 10 of the hardest Metroidvania games.

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight gameplay

©Hollow Knight gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Release Date — February 24, 2017
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Score — 90

When thinking about the hardest Metroidvanias of all time the first one that comes to mind is Hollow Knight. I greatly respect those willing to put in the time and 100% this game. The game’s maps are incredibly complex. There isn’t much hand-holding so players will get lost over and over throughout the game’s playtime. Hollow Knight offers difficult platforming sections that require the utmost precision and timing as well as some of the hardest boss fights I have ever experienced in a video. The post-game content is downright masochistic.

La Mulana

©La-Mulana Key Art

  • Release Date — March 3, 2015
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Switch
  • Metacritic Score — 87

When discussing the hardest Metroidvanias, La Mulana is often cited as one of them. The game is known for its cryptic puzzles, challenging combat, and the penalty for dying. I can’t think of many metroidvanias that embody the game design pillars of the genre like La Mulana. This title teeters back and forth on the line of difficult and unfair depending on who you ask, this is the hardest Metroidvania ever.

Blasphemous

©Blasphemous Key Art

  • Release Date — September 10, 2019
  • Release Platforms — Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — 82

The Blasphemous games combine precise combat with exploration to transition souls-like gameplay into a 2D Metroidvania format seamlessly. Similar to the other entries on this list, not only is this game challenging but failure can significantly hinder your progress. When you die it leaves behind a fragment that reduces your resource needed for abilities. These abilities are one of your few options to combat this game’s difficulty so losing it is tough. Not to mention the other hazards and obstacles throughout your playthrough, Blasphemous is not for the faint of heart.

Rabi-Ribi

©Rabi-Ribi Cover Art

  • Release Date — October 31, 2017
  • Release Platforms — Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — 80

Don’t let the cute anime art style of Rabi-Ribi fool you. This title is one of the hardest metroidvanias and it’s not even close. It makes use of bullet-hell elements and bullet-hells are some of the hardest games to ever release. RabiRibi is known for its large amount of boss fights as well as these fights being extremely difficult. This game requires perfect execution and a thorough understanding of its mechanics to complete.

Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights

©Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Release Date — June 22, 2021
  • Release Platforms — Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — 86

Similar to Blasphemous, Ender Lilies follows the same difficult design philosophies. Its mechanics are tight and deeply atmospheric. While it’s a simple game, it still requires a certain level of mastery to overcome its challenges. Players will have to manage resources and learn enemy attack patterns while avoiding devastating environmental hazards. Not as hard as others on the list but hard enough to give you a run for your money.

Salt and Sanctuary

©Salt and Sanctuary Screenshot

  • Release Date — March 15, 2016
  • Release Platforms — Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — 84

The difficulty of Salt and Sanctuary has been debated since the game’s release. Some players consider its difficulty a product of bad game design, while others defend its unique approach to Metroidvania. Most metroidvanias are developed with backtracking in mind. Yet this title doesn’t even have a map requiring you to draw your own or just keep a mental map. It isn’t the best game on this list for sure, but it is one of the hardest.

Guacamelee!

©Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Release Date — April 9, 2013
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
  • Metacritic Score — 84

Where combat is one of the hardest aspects of the previous entries on the list, platforming in Guacamelee! takes the cake for being the hardest part of its gameplay. Some fans consider the game’s input system a bit clunky and that fits into how people perceive its difficulty. No matter how you see it though, you can’t deny it’s a challenge to roll credits.

Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread gameplay

©Metroid Dread gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Release Date — October 21, 2021
  • Release Platforms — Nintendo Switch
  • Metacritic Score — 88

Metroid Dreadis one of the harder titles in the Metroid franchise. Its combat is easily one of the hardest to master in the franchise, but its difficulty comes from comparison. Compared to some of the hardest games of all time, this is completely tame. Most of the list is. But when you compare it to other Nintendo releases this is Dark Souls. The game doesn’t hold your hand with its navigation and its final boss demands mastery. It’s pretty aligned with the rest of the list.

Valdis Story: Abyssal City

©Valdis Story Key Art

  • Release Date — September 8, 2013
  • Release Platforms — Windows
  • Metacritic Score — 83

This title isn’t that hard, but it has a high barrier to entry. Valdis Story’s difficulty completely comes from a lack of knowledge and lack of skill. Once you understand the game’s mechanics it becomes a lot easier but some people just can’t get over that initial hump. If you’ve completed this game on its harder difficulty, you are a God amongst men.

Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight

©Momodora Reverie Key Art

  • Release Date — March 16, 2017
  • Release Platforms — Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — 76

One of my favorite metroidvanias and one of the hardest ones I have ever played. It’s similar to the previous entry where its difficulty comes down to knowledge checks. The more you play the game the more it opens up for you but a lot of people get filtered by the infuriating opening sequences. Some of the best pixel art in the genre is locked into the later sections, guess it’s time to get good.

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