Top 5: 3D Metroidvania Games

Metroid Prime - Corruption

One of the main characteristic about the Metroidvania sub-genre is that most of the games that fall into that category are in two-dimensions. But exploring labyrinths, locating items and receiving upgrades that let you access new places isn’t necessarily limited to that particular style of gameplay. Over the years, developers started applying the same principles to games with 3D environments and the result was fantastic. Below you’ll find some of the best three-dimensional titles in the genre in no particular order.

By the way, if you prefer classic games instead, check out my list with my favorite 2D metroidvania games.


Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman - Arkham City

This action-adventure games based on DC Comics’ Batman not only proved that a game based on a comic book superhero was possible, but also managed to do so in a concise and revolutionary way. Its terrific voice-acting, amazing environments, delightful combat system and unique exploration system kept us interested for hours. As far as superhero games goes, its doesn’t get better than this.


Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime (Screenshot)

This series had to be here somewhere. Metroid Prime was the first entry in the Metroid franchise to adopt 3D visuals and the result was an adventure that felt old and refreshingly new at the same time. This change wasn’t without its detractors, but it wasn’t until those people grabbed a controller that they accepted both the gameplay and this new perspective.


Okami

Okami 01

Do you want to play The Legend of Zelda in your PlayStation 2? Actually, you can’t, But if you want something similar, I recommend Okami, an action adventure game developed by Clover Studio (Viewtiful Joe, God Hand.) The best part about the game is that it combines elements from Japanese mythology and the gameplay includes brush techniques, a gesture system and cel-shaded visuals. The result? An irresistible adventure that feels creative and unique, even if it owes a lot of its DNA to other games.


Darksiders

Darksiders (Steam)

In this action adventure hack and slash game, you control War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and you engage in combat, solve puzzles and explore different environments. The world is divided into different sections, but you won’t be able to access new ones until you unlock special abilities.


The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Wind Waker

Like most The Legend of Zelda games, Wind Waker combines different elements, but the most prominent one is exploration. Sailing, going from island to island and traversing temples to gain power to defend Ganondorf is how you’ll spend most of your time in this game. But it’s hard to complaint when each one of those elements is so solid.

  • Gilgamesh

    the only Meteoidvania games listed here are Batman Arkham Asylum and Metroid Prime. Soul Reaver never gets recognised for being a Metroidvania, when it clearly is one. Exhumed is another.

    • eric_s07

      I haven’t played Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in a long time, but I purchased the PSN version to check it out again. If I ever write an updated version of this article and if I think the game applies to the Metroidvania genre, I’ll definitely add it. Regarding the other title, I’ve never played (or heard) about Exhumed before and maybe that’s because the game has different names on different territories. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Exhumed/PowerSlave is more of a first-person shooters than a 3D Metroidvania game. Still, I haven’t play the game and I may be wrong, but that’s the sense I got from the screenshots and videos I saw online.

      Thanks for the comment Gilgamesh and thanks for recommending some games I’ll definitely check out as soon as I have some free time.

  • tmath

    While older than any game on this list, I wonder why Shadow Man didn’t make it on the list? It incorporates all of the elements needed for a Metroidvania, though, given, the controls were a bit crap. It did, in my opinion, though, carry on with the story telling aspects of a Metroidvania better than some on this list.

    • eric_s07

      I remember playing Shadow Man back in the day on either the PlayStation or the Nintendo 64 and to be completely honest, I was unimpressed by it. I did some research before posting this article and the game came up once or twice, but I didn’t think it was that good to include it. Maybe I should play it again just to be sure. Nevertheless, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and thanks for recommending the game.

      • tmath

        Personal tip, from someone who has played on all three platforms, if you can, play it on the Dreamcast. It was actually playable there. Everywhere else, the controls definitely were horrid. In the case of the PS1, the graphics were so poorly brought in that it was painful to look at. From a development point of view, though, the game was actually quite good at what it did, it was one of the ground-breakers that showed exactly how horrible jumping puzzles could be, and how much fun exploration could hold, in 3-D worlds.

        • eric_s07

          The only console version I didn’t check out was the Sega Dreamcast one, so maybe that’s the reason why I didn’t like the game as much. I have to confess I never owned a Dreamcast and that’s definitely a shame because I missed some classic games that weren’t available on other systems. Maybe I should try to change that in the near future and buy one, but I barely have any space for more consoles. We’ll see. If not I should purchase the games and play them on emulators, but I’m not sure about the legality of doing that (emulation has always been a touchy subject for a lot of people and I certainly have no idea what’s legal and what’s not.)

          Thanks for explaining the difference between the different versions of Shadow Man in such a detailed way.