16 Action Games Like Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is a game with jaw-dropping level design, quirky NPCs, amazing musical scores, and a combat system that is simple to learn but hard to master. Simply put, it is the best Metroidvania game of the last decade (or ever). There are tons of hidden secrets locked away inside rooms filled with monsters, bosses ranging from nimble spellcasters to giant club-wielding brutes, and a map that is just as deep as the lore.

Related read: 15 Action Fighting Games Like For Honor

So, you might be in love with this game. But you just finished it and are looking for something else to scratch that Hollow Knight itch. Worry not, I’ve got you covered.

Here’s a list of 16 games like Hollow Knight that are guaranteed to keep you occupied for the next few months. While a lot of these are 2D platformers or Metroidvania games, others vary in genre from Hollow Knight.

But rest assured, they tick the same boxes that made Hollow Knight so awesome. So let’s get started, shall we?

1. Axiom Verge

In this game, you will see a lot of similarities to Hollow Knight. However, its theme and art style couldn’t be any more different. Instead of Hollow Knight’s Dark Souls-inspired caves and grasslands, you’ve got a futuristic world represented with a retro graphic design. You’ve got the 80s techno music, pixelated 2D sprites, and giant guns straight out of action movies. Since this is a Metroidvania, you have many sections of the interconnected map locked out until you get a power-up or special item.

2. Shovel Knight

No, this is not a long-lost brother to Hollow Knight. Think of it as the Game of Thrones to Hollow Knight’s Lord of the Rings. Both are excellent side scrollers in which you dash, slash, and jump across hordes of villainous foes on your way to the next “level”.

However, Hollow Knight isn’t exactly a Metroidvania. It’s more like Mario, but with swords and magical powers. The 8-bit graphics give this game a very retro feel, and there is a bunch of DLC content that adds challenges, co-op mode, etc. 

3. Dream Alone

You know those gothic fantasy movies from Tim Burton with their dark, brooding style of storytelling? Imagine that, but instead of a movie, it’s a 2D platformer. The story and world are darker, both in terms of visuals and narrative, compared to Hollow Knight. Gameplay is fun, but also hard. Think the puzzle-solving of Limbo, but with unique character abilities. The platforming is slower-paced. But it has to be like that since a slightly miscalculated jump or rushed movement could result in immediate death. 

4. Guacamelee! 2

While the world of Dream Alone is dark and dreary, Guacamelee! 2 is filled with bright colors and quirky characters making cheesy jokes. Just like Hollow Knight, Guacamelee! 2 is a platformer with side quests and hidden locations. You will get tons of references to pop culture and other video games, along with chatty NPCs.

Since your main character is a luchador, a masked Mexican wrestler, most of your moves involve grappling, punches, kicks, etc. You navigate the “mexiverse” with your grappling hook, dash, and super jumps.

5. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Koji Igarashi is a name synonymous with the Castlevania series, he was the assistant director for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the producer for Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. In Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, you play as an orphan named Miriam. You’ve been cursed from birth by an alchemist, this curse slowly crystalizes your body.

To remove this curse you must fight through a castle filled with levels of increasingly difficult enemies and reach the final boss, Gebel. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a side-scrolling action RPG with a gothic horror theme. There are tons of enemy types, collectible weapons, skills, etc. to unlock.

If you’re a Metroidvania fan, you should definitely check this out because this game represents an era that inspired Hollow Knight and the entire Metroidvania genre. 

6. Tunic

You’re a small fox in a big world. The game looks like a mix of Minecraft and Legend of Zelda, it’s more of an open-world adventure than a Metroidvania. You fight all sorts of enemies and ancient creatures on your way to the finale, and there are items to collect. Progress is limited to certain sections of the game world until you learn a new skill or acquire a specific item. You also have puzzles to solve, although most of them aren’t too tough.

7. Stela

With a premise almost as mysterious and vague as the world that it’s set within, Stela is more of a cinematic experience. Its art style and music are otherworldly. But that is a requirement because there really isn’t much to do within the game other than holding a right to traverse the landscape and occasionally solving a puzzle. The game world is ancient and alien. You are a young female explorer witnessing its final days before everything falls apart. 

8. Dead Cells

If you asked me which platformer on this list was the least like Hollow Knight, I would say it’s Dead Cells. In terms of theme and genre, this game is both similar to Hollow Knight, yet extremely different. Hollow Knight is atmospheric, gothic, and dark. This is more… vibrant and action-packed.

The combat is what sells Dead Cells, it feels so tight and responsive that you actually have fun as you improve your own skills. Its not about unlocking new items and spells, but about becoming a better player as you familiarize yourself with the combat system. Dead Cells is an action platformer and a rogue-lite, basically a dungeon crawler with procedurally generated levels. 

9. Ori and the Blind Forest

Visually, if you look at animation and character design, this is one of the closest games to Hollow Knight. Gameplay-wise, it varies quite a bit. In Hollow Knight, you can spend several hours exploring the exact same level in search of secret paths, mini-bosses, special items, etc.

In Ori and the Blind Forest exploration isn’t the focus, and the levels are simpler. It is an easier game overall, and the surroundings are quite pleasing to look at. Lush forests, vibrant creatures, otherworldly plants- this game makes you feel like you’re in the world of Avatar.

10. Steamworld Dig 2

With a mix of western and steampunk aesthetics, Steamworld Dig 2 is a fascinating adventure into the underground. As you dig your way down, you never know what you’ll stumble upon. A hidden treasure chest? Dangerous enemies? Or perhaps parts to craft a new weapon? You can explore underground cities and upgrade your gear to take you even deeper and fight tougher enemies. There is a jetpack and grappling hook to help you traverse harsh terrain within underground caves. The robot town of El Machino is fun to explore and the art style is truly amazing. 

11. Environmental Station Alpha

This game is either the best modern-day Metroidvania ever made or the most frustrating 2D platformer ever. Boss fights are sometimes so hard they will make you quit, and the lore is obtained by reading logs or watching events unfold.

You are on an abandoned space station, alone, except for all the enemies trying to kill you. The pixelated art style gives this game a retro vibe and platforming is extremely smooth thanks to the grapple hook. 

12. La-Mulana 2

This is like a Tomb Raider 2D platformer, but with a lot more focus on puzzle solving and non-linear exploration. You play as explorer Lumisa Kosugi, daughter of the previous game’s hero.

As you go into the ancient ruins of La-Mulana, speculated to be the cradle of human civilization, you start uncovering all sorts of weird stuff. Your goal is to find the reason behind the appearance of monsters from these ancient ruins, and you find numerous clues in the form of stone tablets, maps, riddles, etc.

There is no hand-holding or lengthy tutorial section, the game expects you to find out how stuff works by playing it. 

13. Hyper Light Drifter

The game’s developer says it is a combination of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Diablo. Hyper Light Drifter is a crowdfunded indie platformer with modern graphics, yet it feels and plays like 8-bit/ 16-bit console games from the 80s and 90s.

In the game you play as the Drifter, and have access to weaponry like energy swords, lasers, etc. Instead of gathering ammo, you charge it by hitting objects and enemies with your energy sword. There is no spoken dialogue or text. Instead, you get an idea of the story by listening to the music and looking at the environment itself. 

14. Mark of the Ninja

Stealth as a genre has been dead for a while, even though elements of stealth gameplay are part of every AAA game from Far Cry to Horizon Zero Dawn. Never in a million years would I have guessed that one of the best stealth games to come out in recent times would be a 2D platformer from a publisher nobody had ever heard of.

Not only are the stealth mechanics actually good, but the art style and hand-painted environments tell you how much work the developers put into this game. You can complete the entire game without killing anyone if you want to, or you could turn into a one-man death machine if that’s your style. The key element is player choice, and that’s what makes Mark of the Ninja so good. 

15. Salt and Sanctuary

Dark Souls is what inspired Hollow Knight. However, the game turned out to be so good, there are now other indie devs trying to make their own version of Hollow Knight. One of those is Salt and Sanctuary.

It features the same dodge and swipe playstyle as Hollow Knight, with a few improvements sprinkled in to give Salt and Sanctuary its own distinct flavor. It’s more forgiving than old-school action platformers. If you die, you don’t have to start the whole level again from scratch. Instead, you can go back to a save point. 

16. Celeste

Who knew a game about climbing to the top of a mountain could be so fun? With intricately crafted levels, ingenious monster designs, and amazing music, this is one of the best indie games I’ve ever played.

Not just a great platformer, but one of the best games you will play. The gameplay is good, but the narrative is what really makes Celeste special. The main character battling her inner demons on her journey to the top makes for a story of self-revelation as well as a race to unravel the mystery of the mountain.

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