Fuse the exploration of a Metroidvania with a multiplayer dynamic and you get the small be special gaming niche that we are talking about today. Multiplayer metroidvanias feature both cooperative challenges and character progression, set within interconnected worlds ripe for exploration.
These titles often present a refreshing alternative to other multiplayer genres, offering both challenge and companionship. The satisfaction derived from synchronised teamwork to conquer intricate levels, or races thought those levels to claim elusive treasures, has a distinct flavour that can’t be found elsewhere.
The PC platform, known for its versatility and expansive player base, hosts an array of these gems. In this feature, we’ll recommend our favourites, explaining the multiplayer dynamics and rating their overall appeal so you can pick the games that align with the gaming preferences of you and your friends.
One note: We’ve avoided examples where a second player can only take on a small role, like Timespinner, Outbuddies or A Robot Named Fight — though all of those games may be worth trying, depending on what you’re looking for. For this list, anything where both players can have a roughly equal experience is in the running.
Without further ado, here are eight amazing multiplayer metroidvania available on PC.
1. Guacamelee! 2
Guacamelee! 2 (2018) takes its predecessor’s vibrant world bursting with Mexican folklore, punchy combat, and a seamless blend of platforming challenges, and amplifies it, which includes introducing a refined multiplayer experience.
The co-op feature was no afterthought: the game’s main campaign was developed with it in mind, and it shows. Joining forces with a buddy to navigate the vibrant, interconnected world of the Mexiverse adds a new layer of enjoyment. Don’t get us wrong, the campaign is compelling for solo players too, but the multiplayer dynamic amps up the fun factor, allowing for strategic cooperation or chaotic hilarity as you and your partner unleash moves and combos in tandem.
The PC version is feature rich, catering to keyboard and controller preferences alike, with no performance issues. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.
By the way, if you purchase “Guacamelee! 2 Complete”, you will be treated to all the DLCs. It’s nothing too exciting — just an extra level and some extra characters — but it ensures you and your friends dive without missing any content.
It’s worth noting that while the local co-op is a highlight, the absence of an online multiplayer option might deter some players seeking remote collaboration. However, for those eager to share the thrill of this visually striking world side by side on the same screen, Guacamelee! 2 offers an inviting invitation to leap into its colourful Metroidvania universe.
2. Unepic (Co-Op Dungeons)
Unepic (2011), an indie gem developed by Francisco Téllez de Meneses, blends the charm of classic RPGs with the exploration elements of metroidvania, offering a compelling experience for PC gamers, including those seeking a multiplayer adventure.
The game has a main single-player metroidvania campaign, but it also has a suite of multiplayer modes that permits gamers to team up with friends online to delve into the labyrinthine dungeons and overcome challenging foes together. The main attraction are the co-op dungeons.
Those playing on PC can amplify their gaming experience by adapting their control schemes—whether using a keyboard and mouse or a controller—or by installing user-made mods. The selection of unofficial maps is quite impressive, and even today there are new ones made every year!
While Unepic excels in blending genres and offers a multiplayer aspect, the game’s difficulty spikes and complexity might deter those seeking a more casual gaming experience, as progression often demands strategic planning and skillful execution. The lack of local co-op might also deter some interested parties.
Nevertheless, for enthusiasts of metroidvania games looking for a unique blend of RPG elements and multiplayer capability on PC, Unepic presents an intriguing proposition. Its intricate level design, character progression system, and mod support add layers of depth. If you’re up for a challenge and enjoy exploring dungeons with friends online, Unepic might just be the right addition to your PC gaming library.
3. Rainworld Downpour (Jolly Co-Op)
In the realm of metroidvania games, Rain World (2017) is a unique experience. The DLC expansion, Downpour, takes things even further by introducing a collaborative twist to Rainworld’s previously solitary, survival-based metroidvania experience, allowing players to team up locally and explore its unforgiving world together.
Rain World: Downpour comes with the “Jolly Co-Op” mode for up to four local players. Here, friends join forces to tackle the Monk, Survivor, and Hunter campaigns, in which they navigate the treacherous landscapes as Slugcats, creatures navigating a harsh and dynamically evolving ecosystem. Each Slugcat variant boasts distinct abilities. The DLC amplifies the challenge of the base game by introducing evolved predators and environmental conditions, making teamwork a necessity for survival.
Rain World: Downpour doesn’t merely toss players into a multiplayer frenzy; it demands collaborative strategies, communication, and mutual understanding. The game’s mechanics, such as piggybacking on fellow Slugcats or utilising gestures for coordination, add a playful yet strategic layer to the cooperative gameplay.
While primarily designed for local co-op, the game extends its multiplayer allure through Steam Remote Play for online gaming sessions. However, a crucial note for online play is the necessity to adjust keybinds to avoid control conflicts among players, emphasising the importance of smooth coordination for a seamless gaming experience.
For PC gamers seeking a metroidvania experience that challenges both individual skills and collaborative tactics, Rain World: Downpour stands tall as an offbeat yet captivating choice, beckoning players into a world where survival demands unity amidst a beautifully harsh setting.
4. Sundered: Eldritch Edition
Sundered (2017), a game exclusively available for PC, effectively intertwines eldritch horrors with cooperative gameplay. Imagine a subterranean world, teeming with ancient terrors and ever-shifting landscapes. This is the realm of Sundered, where players navigate a procedurally generated labyrinth of challenges, armed only with their wits and their blade.
The Eldritch Edition stands out from the original game, which only included a single player campaign, by welcoming up to four players into its haunting depths, embracing the spirit of camaraderie in a genre often associated with solitary exploration.
One of the game’s central mechanics revolves around shards – valuable resources scattered throughout the cavernous expanse. These shards are pivotal for character growth, enhancing abilities and survivability. However, the twist lies in the shared ability tree, controlled by Player 1. All players contribute to the collective upgrades, while Player 1 decides how to allocate these enhancements, fostering both collaboration and coordination.
Sundered’s combat is cooperative gameplay, starting with rudimentary swordplay and evolving into a spectrum of potent abilities. Encounters with nightmarish foes and monumental boss battles amplify the thrill, urging players to synergize their attacks and embrace strategic cooperation.
Navigating Sundered’s treacherous world is a blend of discovery and danger. Players grapple with environmental hazards, puzzle-like terrain, and elusive pathways while scavenging for shards and confronting menacing foes. Yet, the challenge lies not just in surviving the nightmarish landscapes but also in manoeuvring as a cohesive team, facing unforeseen dangers together.
5. Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary (2016), developed by Ska Studios, transports players into a dark and foreboding world, reminiscent of the classic titles that defined the genre while incorporating its unique style. It offers a deep metroidvania experience with RPG elements, allowing character customization and diverse playstyles. Its unique visuals, while evocative, might not cater to everyone’s taste, but the game’s dark and atmospheric landscapes, coupled with its challenging combat, create an immersive journey for dedicated adventurers.
Like Dark Souls, which inspired it, Salt and Sanctuary allows for co-op play, so you and a friend can tackle the intricately designed levels and formidable bosses together. The multiplayer component has been balanced appropriately. Enemies and bosses are buffed, but not unreasonably. Having a friend alongside you feels like assistance and not hindrance, but both players can still get their teeth into the challenge the game is known for.
Starting the cooperative mode isn’t as simple as selecting it from a menu, though. It requires a specific item—the Stone Sellsword. Before a friend can join your world, you must acquire this item and reach the first sanctuary. The complexity doesn’t end there; once a Sellsword is placed in a sanctuary, players must return to that location to summon their friend.
It’s interesting to have an in-game mechanic to initiate multiplayer, and reminiscent of the multiplayer setup for Bloodborne and Souls, but some players find this intricate process a source of shared frustration. The impracticality means Salt and Sanctuary might not be the best multiplayer metroidvania for those seeking more accessible or casual cooperative play.
Furthermore, the steep difficulty curve might not suit the tastes of everyone in your co-op party. The unforgiving nature of the game demands perseverance and a penchant for challenging gameplay.
If you can look past these, you will find that the depth of character development in Salt and Sanctuary, coupled with the game’s challenging combat mechanics creates an addictive loop that keeps both solo and co-op players engrossed for hours — provided you’re up for the relentless challenge it presents.
Salt and Sanctuary offers customizable controls and optimizations that cater to a wide range of gaming setups. Whether you’re wielding a keyboard and mouse or a controller, the PC version ensures a responsive and engaging gameplay experience
6. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (Lantern Run)
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (2011) is a visually captivating and thrilling 2D adventure, and is a surprise standout in the realm of multiplayer metroidvania games for PC. In this game, players are invited into a gorgeously animated alien world, the titular “Shadow Planet”, which is rendered in deep silhouettes and teeming with hostile lifeforms and puzzles.
While originally acclaimed for its solo exploration, its multiplayer mode, “Lantern Run,” elevates the game into a frenetic yet exhilarating cooperative experience. Up to four players embark on a frantic dash to outrun the menacing lantern monster, embracing the chaos while holding onto their precious lanterns for dear life – and dear points.
Each player pilots their ship, armed with a unique lantern, a versatile claw, blaster tools, and an open slot for various tools found during the challenging rounds. This mode is an endless pursuit that progressively intensifies in difficulty, evolving from simple enemy dodging to intricate cooperative puzzles demanding synchronised efforts and strategic battles against formidable foes.
What sets this multiplayer experience apart is its individualistic scoring system meshed with collective survival. While teamwork is crucial to prolonging the game, players are pitted against each other to amass points, fostering a ‘cooper-tition’ where the distance travelled and lanterns retained contribute to the team score. Losing a lantern amplifies the stakes, ratcheting up the tension and introducing more daunting puzzles and obstacles, enhancing the thrill of the frantic escape.
The beauty of “Lantern Run” lies in its combination of collaboration and cutthroat competition. For PC players seeking an adrenaline-pumping multiplayer metroidvania experience, “Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet” stands as a compelling choice. Its captivating visuals, challenging gameplay, and the adrenaline rush of cooperative yet competitive escapades make it a worthwhile addition to any multiplayer gaming library.
Rabi-Ribi (2016) stands as a curious outlier in the realm of multiplayer metroidvanias for the PC. Developed by GemaYue, this pixel-art wonderland blends the exploratory fervour of a metroidvania with the bullet-hell intensity of a shmup, creating a concoction that’s both charming and challenging.
The co-op mode spices things up, allowing a second player to join the chaos as Ribbon’s trusty partner. Coordinating with a buddy during boss battles or traversing through the labyrinthine world does add a layer of camaraderie to the exploration. Coordination is key as you and your partner unleash a barrage of attacks, combining your magical bunny prowers to conquer formidable bosses and unlock new areas.
It is an enticing addition, though it’s worth noting that it’s more of an auxiliary feature rather than the game’s focal point. Dubbed as a beta experiment within the game, the co-op mode carries a cautionary note regarding its untested nature. The multiplayer functionalities were only trialled during development, not fully tested, and while it introduces exciting dynamics, it may lack the polished finesse found in dedicated multiplayer titles. While the co-op adds a cooperative flavour to the adventure, its untested nature might result in occasional hiccups or imbalance, making it more of an intriguing diversion rather than a polished multiplayer feature.
The co-op takes place in the same mode as the single-player adventure but adding a second player does alter some gameplay nuances, intensifying enemy challenge levels, modifying health mechanics, and restricting certain actions like initiating events or changing rooms to Player 1. Also note that the leaderboards are permanently disabled for a save file if an additional player is introduced, because of the change to the balance of the game’s difficulty.
The game’s design and mechanics accommodate the PC gaming experience, from precise platforming to responsive controls, ensuring a seamless transition for players on this platform.
Its multiplayer element, though not groundbreaking, adds a sprinkle of collaborative fun to the metroidvania formula. For those seeking a metroidvania with a side of cooperative play and a PC-friendly disposition, “Rabi-Ribi” stands as a solid contender.
- Rabi-Ribi on Steam
- Rabi-Ribi is not currently available on GOG
Let’s distil our findings. Salt and Sanctuary beckons with its challenging 2D combat, perfect for those craving a skillful duo experience. For the brave souls seeking survival in a post-apocalyptic world, Rain World: Downpour delivers a gripping cooperative adventure.
Sundered: Eldritch Edition invites exploration and strategy in its Lovecraftian landscapes, offering an unpredictable, collaborative journey. Unepic adds a touch of humour to dungeon crawling, making it an ideal choice for those who enjoy a good laugh while conquering challenges.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet offers a visually stunning, alien-infested multiplayer experience, blending exploration and puzzles. Rabi-Ribi injects frenetic energy into the mix with its bullet-hell mechanics, promising a fast-paced cooperative escapade.
But our favourite has to be Guacamelee! 2, with its luchador charm, that has the most developed and essential cooperative gameplay, while providing vibrant visuals, clever puzzles, and more than a splash of Mexican folklore — and that’s a combination that you don’t find everywhere!
Whether you’re drawn to challenge, atmosphere, humour, or nostalgia, these titles ensure that your multiplayer Metroidvania escapades on PC are far from ordinary. Choose your co-op companion wisely, and have a great adventure!
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