The 10 Best Platforming Games On PC
Platform games are probably my favorite genre of a video game ever. When I was a kid, they were the predominant type of game, as we all tried to adapt to a post Super Mario Bros world. Platform games have changed a huge amount over the years. While the basic mechanics of trying to make your way around fiendishly designed levels remain, the genre has expanded to include an incredible amount of variety. This list will be as varied as I can make it, focusing on the last ten years of gaming (so no Spelunky for that reason, before anyone shouts at me).
Read on to find my recommendations for 10 of the best platforming games that you can play right now on PC.
10 Best Platforming Games On PC
#1 Ori And The Blind Forest
Ori And The Blind Forest is, in my opinion, one of the finest platform games every made. It manages to hold true to traditional platforming mechanics, while making everything feel new and fresh. The art style is absolutely stunning, and the story and world building manage to be emotive and beautiful at the same time as feeling tense and terrifying. The controls are incredibly smooth, and movement and platforming are both an absolute joy. It's not easy, by any means, but it does a great job of being inviting, and then slowly brings the challenges, the way all good platformers should.
#2 Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary is, for lack of a better description, Dark Souls the platform game. Everything goes 2D, but the world exploration and incredible boss fights remain. This is one of the games on the list that maybe stretches the definition that some people would accept for a platformer, but the entire exploration part is pure platforming loveliness. The unique art style helps to set it apart from the pack. This is one for people who like their platforming with some RPG-elements and some pretty demanding combat.
#3 Dead Cells
Dead Cells brings a fun rogue-like take to the platforming genre. This one is less about tricky jumps and more about tricky enemy combinations. You collect resources and items in-game that can be carried over into your next run. Combat is a whole heap of fun, and I'm a bit of a fanboy of the modern pixelated art style. Levels are randomly generated, but in a way that feels a bit more curated than some games manage to pull off. Unlockable skills also add a new spin to areas you thought you knew, which adds more variety to combinations of level elements you already thought you had figured out. A great platformer for those who want, dare I say it, that old school Gods feel.
#4 The Messenger
The Messenger brings 8 and 16-bit action to the PC in an almost blissfully smooth platformer. This one is very old school, and only the most precisely timed jumps and attacks are going to get you through some of these levels. You play a young ninja trying to make his way through a cursed, demonic world to deliver a scroll. The game sheds its old-school leanings to bring in some fun new mechanics, but the superb controls and refined gameplay are a constant.
#5 Mark of the Ninja
Mark of the Ninja is a superb mix of action platforming and stealth from Klei, a developer that only ever produces gold standard games. The need to navigate not just the levels, but also the movements of enemies to dispatch of them silently makes this one feel quiet unique. No mushrooms or Tanoki Suits to be found here, just the cold steel of the blade and the near-silent footsteps of the ninja. It has been out long enough where I imagine most people will have played it by now, but it is just too good to leave off the list.
#6 Shovel Knight
Shovel Knight is just incredible. Mixing old school art, interesting RPG elements, a great story, interesting world, and fun platforming action, it really doesn't miss a beat. Some of the level design is absolutely fiendish, but being able to replay levels to grind for stats is also a pretty fair mechanic. You are also not just getting one game for your money here, as you also get Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment as well. It manages to be an homage to the genre, and evolution, at the same time.
#7 Bro Force
Bro Force isn't really nostalgic for platforming games; it is nostalgic for 80s action movie goodness. Every 80s action star is here, in one of their many screen incarnations, and you get to blow up everything with them. And I do mean everything. This game makes you as much of a menace to your success as any of the enemies. If you really want to get crazy then play with friends. Easily the best co-op platforming action in years.
Terraria is potentially the biggest game on here, and the most likely to have people say it is not a platformer, but it is. It is not a traditional platformer, but it is the inevitable evolution of a platformer in a world where open world games, role-playing games, and Minecraft all exist. Oddly enough, this is why the fact that it was ever made in the first place is such a surprise. It just seems so obvious in hindsight. It was always going to exist. Despite all this, it is unique, and don't ever let anyone tell you it has nothing to offer you, because it does.
#9 Hollow Knight
It's got atmosphere for days, incredible platforming action, a wonderful world, and an absolutely adorable art style that manages to mix goth and cartoon without just being an homage to Tim Burton. Some people are left a little cold by the opening section, as it can be easy to feel a little lost. Sticking with it is worth it, as Hollow Knight unfolds like a beautifully designed book, filled with a superb world, amazing characters, and all kinds of terror and wonder.
Celeste is here because I wanted to bookend this list with another example of how close a game can get to perfection. Celeste exists as an almost perfect game. Incredible music, visuals, art style, action, controls, and screen readability meet up with a beautiful sense of level design. Celeste is a game that implicitly trusts its players to push themselves to the very edge of their abilities. But Celeste is also fair, giving players options to tweak the gameplay in ways that suit them. It's a remarkable game, and more than worthy of being on this list.