The 10 Best 2D Games on Xbox Series X / S

There are plenty of amazing 2D games on Xbox Series X / S and choosing the best 2D games on Xbox Series X / S is no easy task.

Platformers, Metroidvanias and fighting games are all vying for your playtime, and so we’ve compiled a list of the best 2D games on Xbox Series X / S that you can play right now.

Whatever genre you enjoy or whatever style of game you prefer, there is surely a 2D game on this list to satisfy your needs.

10. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a beautiful 2D platformer game and one of the best adventure Metroidvania games out there.

The game’s narrative follows the same continuity as its predecessor, Ori and the Blind Forest. In this game, Ori is exploring an entirely new region known as Niwen.

Ori titles have always been known for the care and attention to both art and music. These games feel more like a piece of art as opposed to a traditional video game.

It is no wonder then why several critics praise these games as examples of artistic expression in video gaming.

The story, characters, visuals, soundtrack, and everything mix together perfectly in this game to create a relaxing and mystifying assault on the senses of its players.

The visuals and soundtrack of Ori and the Will of the Wisps, in particular, retain the original majesty of its prequel while introducing tons of new tunes and visual elements for players to feast their eyes on.

10. Among Us

Among Us has exploded into popularity since its initial release as one of the greatest party games in recent memory.

Among Us is inspired by popular parlor games like Mafia and Werewolf. In these games, a small group of players are designated as killers and will steadily kill off members of the opposing team.

It is everyone else’s job to figure out who is secretly a traitor before the entire party is wiped out. Among Us brings this simple game to the internet, where players can now converse over voice chat to decide which of their friends is the imposter.

What makes Among Us great is that it reimagines an old-school game but modernizes it for an audience of internet users.

Being able to kill in real-time also adds another layer of strategy, as imposters must plan out their actions accordingly to ensure no one else is around when they decide to make their move.

Among Us is best enjoyed with a group of friends, all of whom know each other’s tells. Things will get very hectic very quickly as you argue over who is potentially lying.

9. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl brings together some of your favorite cartoon characters for a Super Smash Bros-inspired beat-em-up platform fighter.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl’s initial draw has to be with its star-studded cast of characters. Invader Zim, Nigel Thornberry, Spongebob Squarepants, and more are all here and ready to fight.

Each character comes with a unique set of moves and abilities which draw inspiration from the cartoon counterparts.

Hits are satisfying, and gameplay is silky smooth. This game was designed to be played competitively, with many of the developers taking inspiration from Super Smash Brothers Melee in particular.

Technical moves such as Wavedashing and Waveshining can all be performed to some degree with different characters in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, making it a great game for both the casual and competitive crowd.

Unlike Multiversus, the lack of amazing voice acting really lets Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl down. However, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl feels a lot more intuitive and satisfying to play. The game is far less floaty and attacks have much more weight behind them.

At the end of the day, Super Smash Bros is a genius idea that will almost always be fun in any iteration. Your preference between Multiversus, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, and even PlayStation All-Stars will likely come down to which set of characters you prefer in each roster.

8. Rayman Legends

Rayman Legends is one of the most entertaining, most chaotic, and most enjoyably challenging 2D platformer games ever to be released.

Rayman has seen a lot of different games over the years. What started out as a 2D side scroller since became a 3D platformer. Then, after a quick party game along with some Raving Rabbids, Rayman has returned to his 2D roots.

Rayman Legends is an amazingly fun game where every level offers a new and unique challenge. The controls are buttery smooth, which makes the platforming that much more enjoyable.

Furthermore, these unique levels are incredibly inventive. Standouts have to be levels in which enemy placement, obstacles, and predicted jumps performed by the player all sync up with the background music.

Rayman Legends is a super fun game, and we highly recommend checking it out if you have not done so already.

7. South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Games based on other media, such as comic books, television shows, or movies, rarely live up to expectations. Aside from several obvious exceptions (like Batman and Spiderman, for example), most licensed games are made to cash in on a popular IP, and have very little thought put into them.

South Park’s recent line of RPG titles, however, have so much love and care put into them, and Matt Stone and Trey Parker have to be commended for utilizing their franchise to its fullest potential in video game form.

South Park: The Stick of Truth utilized the fantasy elements of South Park’s world, whereas The Fractured But Whole takes inspiration from the classic superhero episodes.

The gameplay here does nothing to break boundaries for RPGs. This title features traditional turn-based battles where players can select from several abilities to deal damage, inflict status conditions, or heal allies.

However, where these games really shine is with the writing and the animations. The writing in these games is just as funny as it is in the show. Not only do the jokes come in spades during character conversations, but games that only work in a video game are here as well.

By now, everyone has seen the legendary character creation and difficulty selection mechanic of this game, and it is a hilarious way to tell a South Park joke through the video game medium.

Character animations are also very well animated. Depending on the type of debuff, be it Burn or Poison, characters will get sick or flail about on fire.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole goes above and beyond to provide an entertaining experience. It meticulously ensures every little detail is up to the highest standard.

6. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a love letter to fans of old-school 2D sidescrollers. The first Yooka-Laylee game was a tried and true 3D platformer inspired by the likes of Banjo-Kazooie.

The game received some success but felt more like a fan project rather than a big-budget title with more than $2M behind it.

The team at Playtonic decided to take a step back, and Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is proof that this was the right decision.

Playtonic Games is comprised of Rareware’s ex-elite staff, including famous faces such as composer Grant Kirkhope. If the original Yooka-Laylee was inspired by Banjo-Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a reimagining of the classic Donkey Kong Country line of games.

Side-scrolling, jumping on enemies, riding in mine carts; everything people loved about the original Donkey Kong Country games is back here in full force.

The main gimmick of Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is the titular Lair itself which acts as the final stage of the game.

This level can be attempted right from the start of the game and is an agonizingly long gauntlet of enemies and tough platforming challenges.

It is more than likely that players will sustain damage during this level which will result in a game over for those with low health.

Luckily, with each level in the game you complete, your health will gradually increase. Thereby making it much easier to take on the final level.

However, if you consider yourself a veteran hardcore gamer, you are more than welcome to challenge the final level whenever you choose!

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a return to form for Playtonic Games. It feels more so like it was created out of passionate dedication to a good idea (as opposed to cashing in on nostalgia).

If your opinion of Yooka-Laylee was sullied by the first game, do not be put off. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is definitely worth your time.

5. Multiversus

Multiversus is a brand-new platform fighter that is taking the fighting game community by storm. With Super Smash Bros being as popular as ever and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl performing decently well, games like Smash Bros are becoming more and more prevalent nowadays.

Multiversus is the newest to throw its hat into the ring and brings together a huge cast of characters from the Warner Bros Universe.

Standout characters include Bugs Bunny, Arya Stark, Tom & Jerry, and even Lebron James! The game features a colorful art style, and despite this cast of characters being from very different genres of media, they all look like they belong.

Multiversus has a unique gameplay style where before heading into a battle, you will equip your fighter with various perks that will affect gameplay.

Games become a lot more unique in this regard as someone may have their fighter built completely differently than what you are used to.

Multiversus is designed to be played 2v2. The game incentivizes teaming up with a buddy to take on a pair of opponents. For this reason, the game stands out from the crowd and separates itself from the several hundreds of 1v1 fighting games currently on the market.

One of the key reasons for Multiversus’ attraction is the full voice acting from mainstay voice actors such as Tara Strong.

Harley Quinn, Shaggy, Steven Universe, and Jake all have their original voice actors here to spout off hilarious quips whenever an attack is launched, or a fight is won.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl failed to include this kind of treatment on release and is one factor as to why the game has seen a dip in popularity.

Furthermore, Multiversus is completely free to play, whereas Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is still selling for full retail price.

All in all, Multiversus is, at worst, a fun party game and, at best, a competitive Esport. Only time will tell where the game ends up, but we are sure going to enjoy the ride.

4. Cuphead

Cuphead is a game firing on all cylinders. When it comes to the art style, music, and gameplay, Cuphead stands at the very top as one of the most enjoyable all-around games ever made.

When it comes to traditional 2D, Cuphead goes above and beyond any of its contemporary competitors.

The first thing those unfamiliar with this game will notice is its gorgeous art style. However, what is less obvious is the fact that each frame of Cuphead’s animation is entirely hand-drawn.

With tons of bosses, tons of NPCs, and tons of possible projectiles flying across the screen, you can imagine just how much time went into crafting such silky smooth animation.

Furthermore, Cuphead goes for a very unique art style reminiscent of old-school Disney cartoons. Unlike 3D games, there is a certain timelessness that comes with a 2D or pixel art style.

However, Cuphead’s beautiful aesthetic is one that will not only stand the test of time but set the bar for what a 2D game should look like.

All of this praise isn’t to say that a charming art style is the only thing in Cuphead’s favor by any means.

Graphics will only take you so far, and, luckily, Cuphead has the addictive gameplay to go along with its sublime artwork.

Cuphead’s gameplay is easy to pick up yet tricky to master. Running, jumping, and shooting will only take you so far.

Late-game bosses will require to master these simple mechanics and execute them precisely in order to ensure victory.

With such tight controls, it is no wonder as to why Cuphead has developed a large speedrunning community behind it.

Most recently, The Delicious Last Course (Cuphead’s DLC) was released, garnering just as much praise as the base game.

The new playable character, Ms. Chalice, along with tons of new bosses (and a secret boss), are the cherry on top of Cuphead’s already perfect legacy.

The game has reached the highest highs in platforming and 2D games and can now retire as one of the greatest 2D games ever made.

3. Undertale

From the genius mind of Toby Fox, Undertale is a surreal psychological thrill ride from beginning to end.

After being transported to an alternate world, you must find a way to navigate the many obstacles in your way, banish the forces of evil, and somehow find a way back home.

Undertale is heavily inspired by old-school pixel titles such as Earthbound and Mother 3. Like those games, Undertale’s gameplay is split into two sections – the combat part and the exploration part.

Exploration in Undertale is done so via a top-down perspective, much like in the Mother series of games.

During these sections, you will be able to interact with a wide range of exciting characters, all of whom offer stellar dialogue responses.

Sans, Toriel, and Papyrus will go down in history as some of the most entertaining video game characters of all time.

The combat of Undertale comes in two forms. Like most traditional JRPGs, Undertale uses turn-based combat during which players can attack or spare enemies. Decisions here will directly impact the end of the game, leading to one of several endings.

Combat also utilizes bullet hell sections where you control a tiny heart and must navigate a series of incoming obstacles.

All of these seemingly disparate elements come together in Undertale so effortlessly and never feel out of place or clashing with each other.

Playing through Undertale is an experience that words alone cannot do justice. If you have not played through the game at least once, we highly recommend doing so.

2. Celeste

Celeste is a very unique platformer with tons of tricky challenges but also a thoroughly entertaining narrative behind it.

On the surface, Celeste is a simple platformer with very basic controls. Jumping and dashing are pretty much all you can do in this game, but as levels offer up trickier and trickier platforming challenges, you will need to make sure your timing is perfect to avoid game overs.

You are likely to die a lot while playing Celeste but the lightning-fast respawn times ensure you’ll never be out of the fray for too long.

Celeste also has a very compelling narrative in which you must climb to the top of Celeste Mountain, all the while confronting and defeating the protagonist’s inner demons.

You will come across several charming and unique characters on your journey to the top of the mountain, and interacting with these colorful NPCs is a joy in and of itself.

Most platformer games usually bypass deeper story beats in favor of delivering the tightest gameplay imaginable (see Super Mario 64 and Cuphead).

Celeste goes out of its way to make a great story that really gives wait to the platforming challenges.

1. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is easily one of the best Metroidvanias ever to be released and hands-down one of the best platformer games on Xbox Series X / S.

Hollow Knight is a 2D action-adventure game set across a huge interconnected world.

Players will explore the varied zones in this world, including caverns, cities, and wastelands, all the while doing battle against evil creatures.

Luckily, there are plenty of other NPCs to help you on your journey, and befriending as many of these characters as you can is the difference between solving the many mysteries uncovered in this game or remaining forever in the dark.

Hollow Knight’s controls are easy to pick up but require a lot of effort to master. Dodging, dashing, and slashing are the main tools at your disposal, and you will need to weave combos together in order to take out particularly tricky foes.

Hollow Knight has always been praised for not only its fun and addictive gameplay but for its art and soundtrack as well.

The game really goes above and beyond to create an immersive experience and manages to accomplish this effortlessly.

The sequel to the original Hollow Knight, Hollow Knight: Silksong, is fast approaching, so make sure you play through the original before it finally comes out!

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