Getting lost in a world that is as wonderful as it is hostile. Looking around and wondering if the path we are following is the right one or if we are still lacking that crucial skill to continue the adventure. A few months ago, we started a long string of special articles dedicated to the best games available on Xbox Game Pass, starting with FPS and TPS shooters (here is the complete list of the best shooters on Xbox Game Pass).
We continued the list with the best roguelike and roguelite available on Xbox Game Pass (here is the complete list of the best roguelike and roguelite games available on Xbox Game Pass) and today, we conclude the triptych with those belonging to the metroidvania genre.
From Microsoft’s catalog I have selected both the most important and significant ones, indispensable in any list, and those that I was lucky enough to play and really enjoyed, either because of the setting or because of a story that particularly intrigued me.
Let’s start right away with a heartfelt choice: Ghost Song is a great metroidvania because of a powerful narrative that drew me in from the first moment of play. There is reasonably good shooting; there is melee combat; there are bosses-all of which are quite leathery and well-characterized; and, finally, there is a care in implementation in the game world that is not afraid to compete with the best exponents of the genre.
Ghost Song arrived on Xbox Game Pass in November 2022 but its development began in 2013, thanks in part to a Kickstarter campaign. Just to grab your attention even more, you should know that the main titles from which the Old Moon development studio took inspiration are none other than Super Metroid and Dark Souls.
Here is another metroidvania game, among the best currently available on Xbox Game Pass, arriving at day one on Microsoft’s catalog at the same time as the aforementioned Ghost Song. Moonscars is brutal in its mechanics (with each death the enemies get stronger), it is dark, it is scary, and it is damn fascinating.
Also here the boss fights are no joke at all: I had to face the bosses over and over again before I was able to learn their patterns to the best of their ability while the anxiety of dying and finding the next behemoth even stronger (with each death the enemies become more leathery), was eating me up from the inside. In short, you will struggle and a lot-especially at the beginning of the game-in Moonscars but once you absorb the main peculiarities of the gameplay, you will eat the work of Black Mermaid in one bite.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Chicory: A Colorful Tale arrived in Microsoft’s catalog on May 30 and is among the freshest on this list. In reality, however, the work conceived by Greg Lobanov, landed much earlier on the market, in June 2021 to be precise. A tale against depression, in which we have to color like crazy with our paintbrush and restore life and happiness to a black and white world.
Chicory was a critical and popular success, an emotionally devastating and must-play journey for all lovers of the genre. Nominated for so many awards including that for the highest impact video game at The Game Awards in 2021.
The quintessential game, the one I absolutely could not exclude from this list. Hollow Knight has written several pages of recent metroidvania history: a modern title that mixes the cornerstones of the reference genre – exploration and level design out of all logic, platform stages of considerable difficulty – with a sprinkling of soulslike (mangy fighting, respwan of enemies with every death and every save, loss of accumulated experience in case of game over, and an undiscovered lore).
In short, if you want to experience a unique journey, getting lost in the meanders of the imaginary Deepnest while practicing the most imaginative expletives, this is the game for you. Consider also that Hollow Knight: Silksong, the first DLC for the title developed by Team Cherry, is “almost” ready to see the light of day and you can play it as early as day one on Xbox Game Pass.
Ori and the Blind Forests and Ori and the Will of the Wisps are two of the most important Microsoft exclusives released over the past few years. The first chapter of the saga, Blind Forest was released in 2015 while the sequel, Will of the Wisps, arrived on Xbox and PC consoles in 2020.
Between platformers and metroidvania, the Ori saga stands out for its story and art compartment as well as gameplay that makes it among the best exponents of its genre. All while being gently lulled by a beautiful soundtrack. For those who played it, it was love at first sight: fall in love too!
F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch
Here is a metroidvania that might go by the wayside but is actually a real bombshell, if only because of its protagonist, an ignorant anthopomorphic rabbit with an all-around mechanical arm. In F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch, our limb is the main focus around which all the gameplay of the metroidvania developed by TiGames revolves, between exploration and combat.
Also commendable is the game world in which an extremely enjoyable story is told from the first moments of play. F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch arrived on Xbox Game Pass with the second round of June games and is a must-try treat.
Bonus Track – The Last Case of Benedict Fox
Surprise, there is also a bonus track! The Last Case of Benedict Fox has just recently landed on Xbox Game Pass. While the title had some problems of a different nature at first, with the patch distributed after the release, the IP devised by Plot Twist has improved by now becoming significantly more enjoyable.
A private investigator must find out what happened to his victims. How? Simply by getting inside their minds and investigating directly from within. Finally, of note is the great care with which the settings along which the protagonist of this adventure moves.