Why I Hate "Metroidvania" Style Games
TL;DR - They're too damn hard.
Let's start things off with a quick definition of Metroidvania styles games for those of you that are new here, pulled straight from Wikipedia:
"Metroidvania games generally feature a large interconnected world map the player can explore, though access to parts of the world is often limited by doors or other obstacles that can only be passed once the player has acquired special items, tools, weapons or abilities within the game."
Now I know some of you out there are two seconds away from a full on "REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE," so before you lose it, let me set the stage a little bit. There are very few games I remember more fondly from my childhood than the Metroid Fusion titles. Axiom Verge stands in a league of very few for being such a well-developed game in all aspects created by a studio of one person. The SteamWorld Dig duo are super fun games to dive into for short bursts at the end of a long day. (Admittedly, I have never been a Castlevania fan so I've got nothing to say there.)
However, there are some fundamental tropes of most Metroidvania style games that simply drop it near the bottom of my 'favorite genre' rankings. For instance, I started Hollow Knight yesterday over on Twitch and after 2 hours I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to be doing, what my character even is, or the context of literally anything. I understand a slow roll to a big pay off but TWO HOURS into the game and I don't know if I'm some sort of bug ghost trying to save the bug people from the non bug ghosts? Is that a coherent thought? PROBABLY NOT because I don't know what I'm doing.
Let's break down a few typical themes in Metroidvania style games that get me heated.
EXHIBIT A: Very little, slow-moving story
In a lot of these games you're thrown into a world and just have to start exploring. That's it. Go ahead. Figure it out. Maybe there's a few tribal elders that try to put you on the right path, but otherwise you just have to head out there and figure out how to double jump, rocket boost, or shoot missiles to continue forward. You may get some lore from a few inhabitants in the great map, but most of the story all gets crammed into the end sequence, which at that point you're just ready to play a better game.
EXHIBIT B: Lacking direction
Since there isn't a nice, cohesive, elaborate story driving your exploration, a lot of times you find yourself opening the map and looking for the one square that hasn't been filled in yet. And, yes, I get it. That's "the whole point of the game." I'm down for exploring a nice, big world as much as the next person (see: 175 hours in Breath of the Wild) but when I spend 3 hours aimlessly wandering the maps of Axiom Verge to find the ONE F&%$NG SQUARE I haven't been to yet, you wonder if there isn't a better way to help people. I don't need my hand held in video games, but being completely hands-off in my time of dire need does leave me salty.
EXHIBIT C: My memory isn't what it used to be
Oh, yes, I'll come back here when I get double jump... oh, yep, and I need wall climbing to get here... oh, yep, some sort of plasma weapon to pass this door... and of course I need the super uppercut flame kick to break down this wall. Clearly, once I beat this boss I will get one of those things so I don't need to remember it going forward. Hmm, it's just a bigger health bar. WELL THAT'S GREAT. I shouldn't need to be keeping notes on graph paper like I'm playing Dungeons & Dragons.
EXHIBIT D: I'm not good at them
For all of these reasons, I'm not one that can cleanly traverse a game, enjoying the beautiful artwork, the well composed music, and the extremely tight controls. No. I miss a jump and die, going back 74 rooms to the last time I saved sixteen power ups ago and missing my grappling hook. That's where I turn off the game and go back to playing Fortnite.
All things considered, I know this isn't a popular opinion, but I'm just not a Metroidvania guy. I'm sure you think I'm wrong (which I'm not) but if you want to discuss your opinion come visit me in the Discord, leave a comment below, or join us live Monday at 7PM ET as we live record the GameZilla Podcast.
I'm going to sit here and wonder why I spent $15 on another Metroidvania game, but until next time... Game On!