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Discussion What do you think is the most important aspect of a metroidvania?

Most important metroidvania element

  • Level design

    Votes: 7 25.9%
  • Exploration

    Votes: 12 44.4%
  • Challenge

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Lore/storytelling

    Votes: 1 3.7%
  • Atmosphere

    Votes: 1 3.7%
  • Abilities

    Votes: 5 18.5%
  • Something else

    Votes: 1 3.7%

  • Total voters
    27

Irene

Tears of the Kingdom hype generator
Moderator
Pronouns
She/Her
Metroidvanias are one of those types of games that have a very distinct design philosophy. No matter if you’re a scientist, a bounty hunter, a girl called Lily, a person with a whip, a bug, or something else entirely, you can be fairly certain to encounter roadblocks that you will need to use abilities for in order to bypass, challenging bosses, maybe some lore, and non-linear world design.

If you were to pick one thing that you look for in the genre above all else, that makes it truly essential to you, what would you pick and why?
 
Must have good vibes. Has to look cool, sound cool, have that special oomph of feedback, and otherwise justify the time you have to sink into it.
 
0

meatbag

Tingle
The metroidvania formula is so intrinsically tied to the synergy between several different gameplay elements listed in the poll, and it’s difficult to pinpoint which would be the most important.

In my opinion, it’s the abilities. It could also be items. But basically, metroidvanias to me feel the best when there’s a constant rhythm of finding new “keys” that unlock parts of the map that were gated off initially.
 

PixelKnight

Koopa
Moderator
Pronouns
He/Him
Good question.

Hmm. I think there’s an element of game design that kinda blends exploration, level design and abilities. In that, when you get a new traversal ability to access new areas, whether it’s a ‘dig through floor’, ‘smash through wall’, double-jump, air-dash, grappling hook, whatever, I like the ones where the way out from having gained the ability requires that you learn how to use it. Also where, upon gaining said ability, you’ve likely already seen somewhere else you could use it that isn’t just the next stop on the critical path. Nothing better than backtracking with a cool new ability and a list of a handful of places to check out. On top of that, then, I like map systems that either mark exits you haven’t taken yet, or that allow you to annotate them with icons or something too. The bigger the game gets and the more abilities it has, the more I find some way of marking my own priority list of places to revisit to be essential. If the game doesn’t have one, I’ll make my own on a notepad, but it’s so nice when the game does it for you, if only because there’s something really pleasant in completed maps. Which is probably why I love both Metroidvanias and dungeon crawls.
 

correojon

Custom title
Good question.

Hmm. I think there’s an element of game design that kinda blends exploration, level design and abilities. In that, when you get a new traversal ability to access new areas, whether it’s a ‘dig through floor’, ‘smash through wall’, double-jump, air-dash, grappling hook, whatever, I like the ones where the way out from having gained the ability requires that you learn how to use it. Also where, upon gaining said ability, you’ve likely already seen somewhere else you could use it that isn’t just the next stop on the critical path. Nothing better than backtracking with a cool new ability and a list of a handful of places to check out. On top of that, then, I like map systems that either mark exits you haven’t taken yet, or that allow you to annotate them with icons or something too. The bigger the game gets and the more abilities it has, the more I find some way of marking my own priority list of places to revisit to be essential. If the game doesn’t have one, I’ll make my own on a notepad, but it’s so nice when the game does it for you, if only because there’s something really pleasant in completed maps. Which is probably why I love both Metroidvanias and dungeon crawls.
Yeah this. A good Metroidvania uses level design, exploration and abilities to create a feed-forward loop where the final result is much more than the sum of its individual parts.
I voted for abilities because (the poll only allowed one option) I think that there can't be a lot more innovation in level design and exploration left (and it's really not necessary for these aspects to be innovative as long as they're well realized), however new abilities and ways to traverse the world can have a much bigger impact in making new Metroidvanias stand out. For example, even though Hollow Knight is overall the better game, I enjoyed much more travelling through the world in both Ori 1 & 2 thanks to the bash mechanic. On the other hand I loved Blasphemous, but ended a bit disappointed that you didn't unlock any new traversal abilities.
 

7threst

Nasi BamiGoreng Saté, neem ook nog een Loempia mee
Pronouns
He/him/his
Vibes and pacing. Like, there has to be good atmoshere in the game with a good OST and interesting writing, but the pacing, in getting upgrades at the right time is so important. If you get lost in the game for like an hour of so, you lost me as a player.
 
0

Suswave

𝖉𝖎𝖘𝖈𝖔 ~.+.~ 𝖆𝖇𝖞𝖘𝖘
Founder
Pronouns
𝖙𝖍𝖊𝖞 / 𝖙𝖍𝖊𝖒𝖒𝖊
exploration, I’d say

your cool abilities feel somewhat meaningless if they can’t take you to new places

amp that up and have it so there are a ton of places you didn’t realize you could go, and that feels magical

like feeling powerful and having tight bits is good, but I want to get lost in a world that feels big and connected and alive

nothing has done that better than Hollow Knight for me so far
 

Earthbounder

Boing!
Pronouns
He/Him
The balance between freedom and non-linearity, which is the hardest part to get right.

The game needs to have enough explorable space at all times to make players wonder where they need to go next. But it cannot go overboard in that regard, as it will risk becoming too daunting. Plus, I will give it extra points if there are some areas or goals that can be reached in different orders.

As far as I am concerned, Hollow Knight and Super Metroid are the only games in the history of the genre (out of those I've played) to have absolutely nailed that variable.
 
Exploration for me. I just want there to feel like there's neat stuff to find off the beaten path. Of course it's just one aspect of many, and I've enjoyed plenty of metroidvanias that aren't heavy on exploration but nail other aspects (games like Ori and the Blind Forest and Guacamelee are a lot of fun), but a map that I feel the urge to comb through top to bottom to uncover all its secrets is probably the most sure way for me to love one.
 

Mbolibombo

Koopa
Pronouns
He/him
It's always the double jump. Always :>

But for real, many other posts already nailed it I feel, the sum of many aspects so it's hard to pinpoint a single factor.
 

NabiscoFelt

CrossCode superfan
Pronouns
he/him
Hm I'm not quite sure on the difference between level design and exploration, but I think I'm leaning towards level design

The reason being that I do still tend to like Metroidvanias even if they're lacking in explorative elements (Guacameele, Metroid Dread), which I think comes down to that solid level design. But honestly there's a lot of elements that make a good Metroidvania and like people have said it's hard to pin down one (can we get a multiple choice poll?)
 

Serif

Territorial Rotbart
Pronouns
He/Him
Character movement needs to feel good considering the amount of exploration and backtracking. If the player character is too slow, or their jump is awkward, or if there's input lag - then playing the rest of the game will feel like a chore. Circle of the Moon still irritates me with its slow default speed and double-tap to dash.
 
Pronouns
Any
Abilities, level design, exploration/backtracking, and progression. Can't pick just a single thing, cause it's an overall design that incorporates many different aspects.
 
0

Phosphorescent Skeleton

It feels like I'm in a fairytale
Pronouns
She/Her
Must have good vibes. Has to look cool, sound cool, have that special oomph of feedback, and otherwise justify the time you have to sink into it.
Yeah, all about the vibes, perhaps the most vibe driven genre. Its why Super Metroid>>>>>Dread. Dread is good, but absolutely antiseptic in the vibes department.
 

Soul Skater

Bob-omb
tbh I'd say the feeling of powering up is the most important.

ie. I think i'd rather play a Metroidvania that has a stripped down, more repetitive/basic level design but an amazing sense or progression with new abilities, weapons, secrets, etc. vs a game with great level design but a pretty weak progression system

I'd say its the most important aspect because I think it's the thing if you take it away it stops being a metroidvania. One with a simple enough progression system might feel like a platformer etc.
 

xghost777

King B00 Fan #TeamJRPG
I feel like level design / exploration is the most important. I picked level design for the poll, but to more specifically target it, it’s how you navigate through the world. That core idea of figuring out how the map works, how and why you retread ground, and have the big a-ha moments of getting a new thing that will help you in specific spots. That whole flow is the most important thing and part of that too is how upgrades and items evolve your platforming and combat. When all the elements come together, it’s so deeply satisfying.
 

SammyJ9

Weeb of the Rings
Pronouns
He/Him
To me I think it’s atmosphere, but exploration and upgrades are very close behind. Great atmosphere (which is kind of hand in hand with exploration) is what will keep me invested in a game. Hollow Knight has amazing atmosphere and exploration, and Ender Lilies is basically entirely built on it. Axiom Verge is another game I’d put way up there.
 
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