The peril of exploring an alien world with little to your name but your wits and a weapon, is what makes the Metroidvania genre—established by classic titles like Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night—a definitional match for difficult, exacting gameplay. Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight is a prime example of how the genre can handle measured progression through new items, powers, and health upgrades, with a requirement for players to equally grow their skill as they spend more time with the game.
Like many other games on this list, Hollow Knight pushes you to perfect enemy attack patterns, conquer complex controls, and eke victory through small, incremental advantages. Unlike Celeste, Hollow Knight doesn’t provide accessibility options to give the player an edge, instead demanding you master the available tools in a way highly reminiscent of Miyazaki’s Elden Ring.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows