When it comes to the best platforming games on PC, there’s a veritable treasure trove of gems to be found. Whether your jam is austere, challenging titles that put each of your skills to the test or you prefer the rebooted classics you remember from yesteryear, there’s something for everyone on PC. If you’re tired of seeking out multiplayer shooters or you want to jump into a retro favorite, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best platformers on PC.
These picks include new favorites, like the heartfelt and sometimes extremely punishing Celeste, as well as references to mascot favorites of yesteryear, like the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Whatever your preference, you’ll come away with something new to play, or more of an appreciation for the games that made it onto this showcase. And as you probably already know, there’s always something new around the corner in the platforming world. Keep your eyes open for what’s still to come. You never know what the next Ori and the Blind Forest competitor might be, after all.
Scaling a mountain is difficult. Doing so in Celeste is near impossible, but that's the fun of it. This platformer puts you in a young girl named Madeline's shoes as she works her way up the titular mountain. Along the way, she meets a dark reflection of herself, named Badeline, and explores a variety of hotels, camps, and strange sights on her way up. It's an introspective climb all the way, interspersed with some of the most challenging platforming this side of Super Meat Boy.
Madeline can climb walls, dash in mid-air, jump around with the greatest of ease, and gain momentum to access new areas as she works to avoid spikes and other obstacles. It's not for the faint of heart, but completing every level in Celeste is a feat worth completing. Don’t be surprised if it makes you feel a little something along the way, too. Celeste’s narrative is to be celebrated, and once you meet Madeline, you’ll never forget her.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest is a platformer that's beautiful in just about every single sense of the word. Whether you're gushing over the lush environments or the adorable Ori itself, there's always something to catch your eye. Protagonist Ori is a tiny guardian spirit, who jumps, glides, climbs, and swims throughout a variety of expansive levels in search of a baby owl. What begins as a simple search eventually blossoms into a mythical quest that's quite unlike anything you've ever seen before in the realm of gaming.
Controlling Ori is pure pleasure, with smooth gameplay and Metroidvania-style navigation so you always have something interesting to double back and explore. Upgrading Ori is part of the fun as well; you collect new energy and health cells, abilities, and upgrades. There's just one problem: your eyes may blur with tears near the end of the game, making it a bit difficult to figure out where to go next. And when you’re done with the first game, you should definitely check out the sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps which continues the little spirit’s story.
Hollow Knight is another Metroidvania-inspired adventure that puts players in control of a white insect-like knight. The Knight ventures throughout the ruins of an old kingdom called Hallownest that succumbed to a blight called "the Infection." As the Knight continues to explore, he learns more about the kingdom and what happened to bring it to its knees. He also learns some startling truths about himself along the way.
That's all while you use the Knight to learn new mid-air jumps, nail combat abilities, dashes, and even wall adhesion to get from point A to point B. Mapping out a new enemy or location is part of the fun. It all culminates in an ethereal adventure that may leave you with more questions than when you started, but most of all, you’ll be wanting to experience more of what it’s like to actually embody the Knight and his various insect-like powers.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
Crash Bandicoot was one of the most popular characters when the PlayStation debuted, and his legacy has persisted over the years. Jump back into the Crash series with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. It collects the first three games in the Crash Bandicoot trilogy: Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, and Warped. All three are remasters of the original titles, all of which feature Crash jumping, spinning, and racing his way through a variety of different levels.
It's all in the pursuit of the evil Doctor Neo Cortex, as Crash has to face exploding TNT boxes, moving platforms, rocks rolling down after him, and more, on his way to victory. It's classic platforming brought forward into a new era, just as you remember it. And if you didn't play the games when they debuted, now's a great time.
Shovel Knight Treasure Trove
The Shovel Knight series is a fun throwback to yesteryear. You get classic graphics, challenging platforming, and the overall 8-bit aesthetic to go along with it all. Become Shovel Knight, wielder of the Shovel Blade, as you work to track down his beloved. Shovel Knight must defeat the knights of the Order of No Quarter, and eventually kill off The Enchantress across several installments in the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove, which comes with four unique games that let you control more than just Shovel Knight.
You also get Plague Knight, Specter Knight, and King Knight as you work your way through titles like Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope, Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows, Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, and Shovel Knight: King of Cards. These are the games to bust out when you're aching to return to the days when 8-bit platforming was the height of what gaming could offer.
New Super Lucky's Tale
Lucky's Tale used to be relegated to VR for the Oculus Rift. It's since grown and expanded to various platforms, including PC. New Super Lucky's Tale has additional content, and is the best way to experience Playful Studios' classic mascot platformer. Reminiscent of titles like Crash Bandicoot and Banjo-Kazooie, it follows a brave little fox named Lucky Swiftail as he works to help his sister Lyra protect the Book of Ages against a villainous cat named Jinx.
Lucky is a versatile fox who needs to gather pages for the Book of Ages as he explores a variety of areas and completes trials for each one. Lucky is pretty spry himself, and he needs to find clovers in each level, coins, as well as the word "Lucky." It's a challenge like that you'd see in a game like Super Mario 64, and a fun reminder of all the classics.
Sonic the Hedgehog has had a few misses over the years, but when the games are good, they're really good. Sonic Mania is a 2D platformer released for the series' 25th anniversary with classic-styled stages just like the original ones seen on the Sega Genesis. You can play as Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles (each with their own abilities) across a variety of different lush, vibrant levels that even include "remixed" zones seen in games like the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
There are special stages from previous titles, fun throwback power-ups, and even pseudo-3D bonus stages to try and complete. It's one of the best Sonic games of the past few years, and you'll be transported back in time as soon as you fire it up. This is the best Sonic has been in years.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Sometimes, there's nothing better than returning to a classic series. Just as developers did with Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon received a new lease on life. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy brings the classic Spyro series back to life with Spyro the Dragon, Ripto's Rage, and Year of the Dragon. These remasters of Insomniac Games' titles bring back the diminutive purple dragon Spyro for a series of worlds to vanquish, all the while Spyro works to restore the lost peace in each one.
There are a few changes too, which might surprise those returning from the classic games. For instance, Spyro can earn skill points, and voice actor Tom Kenny even returned to re-record his voice lines. This is the best way to experience Spyro the Dragon, especially if you didn't grow up with it.
Axiom Verge is a unique platformer that errs more on the Metroidvania side of things, but it's one of the most exciting entries on this list. Players take control of scientist Trace, who suffers a devastating injury. After, he wakes up and finds himself in an ancient, bizarre world filled with high-tech machines and other gadgets.
While there are elements of platforming, Axiom Verge also borrows heavily from classic games such as Bionic Commando and Metroid as well as Contra for some classic shoot-'em-up action. There are also 60 items and power-ups available to collect to make your journey as Trace easier. This mesmerizing adventure will focus on finding the best route through challenging areas, and that's part of what makes it such an intriguing platform.
Psychonauts is a veritable classic platform from Double Fine Productions. It lets you jump into the shoes of Raz, a young boy with a variety of psychic abilities. One day, he runs away from the circus he works at to sneak into a summer camp meant to help train those with psychic powers into becoming "Psychonauts." These Psychonauts are spies that use psychic abilities. But all is not well at this camp, as Raz soon finds out.
He must become a "Psycadet" and enter the minds of others at the camp to enlist them to aid in uncovering the plot he's involved in. There's a variety of psychic powers Raz uses while exploring others' minds, but it's still a tough nut to crack, especially the platforming sections Raz must tackle in addition to defeating foes. It's the quirkiest game on this list, by far. There’s also a full sequel in the works.
Stay in the know with Laptop Mag
Get our in-depth reviews, helpful tips, great deals, and the biggest news stories delivered to your inbox.