What are the best platform games on PC? Back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, there were countless platformers for console gamers, while the PC had a reputation as a wasteland for this particular genre. Thankfully, this stigma has lessened since the days of Commander Keen, and we owe that in large part to the explosion of indies that have flooded onto digital platforms over the past decade, meaning our fair platform is now bursting at the seams with solid platform games.
The best platform games have garnered a reputation as requiring mechanical mastery and sublime timing to get into, but developers continue to push the genre forward by introducing gameplay elements from the best Metroidvania games. Platforming can also be a staple mechanic in some of the best story games, as demonstrated in releases like Celeste and Ori and the Blind Forest. Here are the best platform games you can play on your PC right now.
The best platform games are:
Inside is a spiritual successor to Limbo, Playdead’s expressionist, monochrome indie darling that made waves during the indie boom of the early 2010s. It adopts the same basic premise: a young boy is drawn into a surrealist world of mute horror, and the only way out is through a series of complex environmental puzzles. While Limbo is an excellent platformer in its own right, Playdead builds upon its solid foundations to deliver a platforming horror game experience more difficult and thought-provoking than its predecessor.
After a brief chase sequence from armed guards and security dogs, your child avatar breaks into a strange factory with a surveillance system that would make George Orwell blush. The factory is full of mindless worker drones overseen by the cold light of CCTV cameras. Being discovered as an interloper guarantees a swift and brutal death; your only choices are to blend in or flee for your life while progressing through the brutalist interior. Some puzzles even require a mind control helmet, manipulating the worker’s hive mind to do your bidding – even if it results in their death. Inside’s story is a grim portrait that examines the tension between narrative and player agency and is very likely to stay with you long after you reach its shocking conclusion.
OlliOlli is back, and it’s better than ever. The latest installment of the skateboarding 2D action-platformer oozes style, challenging you to kickflip your way through the strange and compelling world of Radlandia, a skating utopia created by the Skate Godz. Where do you fit into all of this? You’re on a mission to become the next Skate Wizard, of course – think of it like the Avatar, but for skateboarding – and to do that, you must travel through each level, completing missions and executing as many complex tricks as you can to prove yourself to the Godz and bring balance to Radlandia.
From a beach boardwalk to a landfill mountain, every level in OlliOlli World is vibrant and beautifully crafted. Not only is it delightful to look at, but the multiple paths that wind seamlessly through the environment also encourage replayability and make for a varied co-op experience while working your way to the top of the leaderboard. You don’t have to be a pro-skater to get started – OlliOlli World will give you the skills you need to master the most complex platforming tricks and ascend to Gnarvana. As our OlliOlli World review attests, this jewel of the series is one of the best skateboarding games around.
Super Meat Boy
Edmund McMillen might be better known these days for The Binding of Isaac, one of the best roguelike games with a twist on the top-down Zelda formula, but platformer Super Meat Boy put him on the map. Team Meat’s outstanding effort wasn’t the first platformer to market itself on sheer difficulty, but its irreverent tone and downright gratuitous volume of content have made it one of the most famous and recognizable platform games.
Armed with only a jump and a grab, you must steer the heroic Meat Boy through screen after screen of cruel and devious obstacles to rescue his beloved Bandage Girl. The unabashedly retro games aesthetic and frequent homages to its 16-bit progenitors helped Super Meat Boy define the first wave of standout indie games, and its influence continues well into the present, as evidenced by several other platform games on this list. If you don’t enjoy pixel-perfect platformers, it’s unlikely to sway you from your position, but if you haven’t at least tried your best to brave its first world, you’re missing out.
Celeste is far more than just a collection of challenging video game levels. Viewed as a whole package, it might be the most brilliant game on this list. It’s packed with intelligent, fresh platforming mechanics, from bubbles that launch you into oblivion to clouds that boost you if you jump at the right time. Each of its exacting courses provides a new layer of depth for you to master.
Unlike most in the genre, Celeste earns its extreme difficulty by building itself around the struggles of the player character, Madeline, who must battle insecurity and mental health issues to climb the titular mountain. Even if isolated from the game’s well-wrought levels, it’s one of the most moving stories in the genre. Its unrelenting approach to level design isn’t for everyone, but there are accessibility options that make it possible for almost anybody to brave Celeste Mountain. This gem isn’t just a great platformer but one of the best games of 2018. Once you’ve finished it, check out the free follow-up sequel, an unlikely browser game available on Itch.io.
Like its forerunners in the Metroidvania genre, Hollow Knight adds so many action elements to its core hop-and-jump gameplay that you’d be forgiven for putting it on another list. But beneath its kinetic melee combat and array of challenging bosses lies a robust platformer with double jumps and super-dashes.
More than anything, Hollow Knight is a game that promotes an old-school mentality, sometimes to a frustrating extent. You must find a nebbish cartographer to obtain the map of each of its twisty-turning areas, which enables a sense of ceaseless exploration. And like Symphony of the Night before it, you aren’t given a health bar for any enemy in the game, leaving you to guess how much you’ve bloodied a target, even for tough bosses.
For those who can stomach these retro touches, there’s an alluring world full of hidden treasures and elusive figures to plunge into. Don’t get too comfortable thinking this is only an action-adventure game, though – if you want to get one of the ‘better’ endings, you’ll have to best an ivory world of gleaming buzzsaws and tricky platforms to make it through.
There’s a sequel in the works, too, titled Hollow Knight: Silksong, where we’ll play Hornet, a character from the original game. So far, we’ve been promised 150 new enemies, acrobatic combat, and on-the-fly healing – we’re eagerly awaiting the Hollow Knight: Silksong release date.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
It’s taken long enough, but Crash Bandicoot is finally on PC in the form of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, which remasters all three original games: Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, and Warped. This platform game series features all the staples you’d expect from a mid-’90s 3D platformer: you defeat most enemies with a rudimentary spin attack or by jumping on them. There are heaps of hidden segments and collectibles and no shortage of conveyor belt levels. The remastered trilogy even includes a couple of new levels, including a finished and polished version of a previously unreleased level from the first game, plus a brand-new level.
The nostalgia trip of playing these platforming classics again is reason enough to earn Crash a place on this list, but if you missed out on the famous marsupial’s adventures when you were younger, then there’s a lot to love about this series. Crash Bandicoot is a platformer with so many tricks up its sleeve that you’re always on your toes, and memorizing devious traps always takes precedence over timing or skills. You’ll spend hours on some levels, trying to figure out every jumping sequence and where every enemy is or wandering off the beaten path in search of more Wumpa Fruit. Whenever you lose a life, you’ll want to dive straight back in to conquer the obstacle, convinced it’ll only take one more try, even if it takes several.
The long-anticipated sequel to the N. Sane Trilogy, fittingly titled It’s About Time, received a PC port back in 2021 and boasts lightweight system requirements that’ll please the oldest of old-school players.
Taking inspiration from Wario Land 4 on the GameBoy Advance, Pizza Tower is a fast-paced platformer where you explore levels to find hidden secrets, rescue ingredient friends, and escape with your lives as the entire area crumbles around you. Its ’90s cartoon art style is highly expressive, with exaggerated facial expressions from Peppino, the pizzeria owner protagonist whose restaurant faces annihilation.
Peppino’s default moves leave a lot of room for some slick and satisfying speedy gameplay. At the same time, his many transformations give Pizza Tower an experience we don’t get all that often on PC. We highly recommend you give this spicy meatball of a game a try.
A Hat in Time
3D platforming fans on PC have slim pickings compared to the likes of the Nintendo Switch. There have been a handful of notable efforts in recent years, but A Hat in Time remains the best example by a long shot.
This game wears its influences on its sleeves, with a vibrant color palette and various movement options that recall the N64 era of open-level platformers, complete with a mid-air dive straight out of Super Mario 64. The mechanics are nothing novel, but its charm helps elevate it from a simple imitator into a game worth playing in its own right. One level forces your intrepid “Hat Girl” to star in different movies filmed by two rival directors, an Elvis imitator and a wannabe DJ. Not every platformer would be brave enough to try to force a Murder on the Orient Express parody into its second level, but A Hat in Time is nothing if not adventurous.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
The eagerly anticipated sequel to the beloved Ori and the Blind Forest, Ori and the Will of the Wisps takes its predecessor’s staggering beauty and atmospheric heft to new heights. Combat has been refined, and there are even more abilities to use as you help Ori battle the forces of evil.
Both games are more Metroidvania than straightforward platformer, with a fair share of backtracking and plenty of abilities to unlock. There’s a little less platforming in Will of the Wisps than in Blind Forest – instead, there’s more of a focus on challenging boss battles. With a stunning orchestral soundtrack and a story that will bring a tear to your eye, Ori and the Blind Forest will stay with you long after the credits roll. If you’re curious to know how we got on, our Ori and the Will of the Wisps review will help new and returning series fans.
The original Sonic games remain iconic to this day, but they’re very much a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, especially if you didn’t grow up with the blue blur. Sonic Mania throws everything that works from the original trilogy into a blender, producing perhaps the best game in the series ever, or indeed the best since the ‘90s.
Developed by fans for fans, this greatest hits of classic Sonic remixes favorite levels from the Sonic canon and adds a few creative ones of its own. More than any series reboot out there, Mania knows how to sate your nostalgia while building on the style and attitude that made the blue hedgehog into a culturally embedded character durable enough to survive decades of mediocre games.
The first act of every zone reminds you of the basic mechanics of a level you likely played a long time ago. Add a glorious throwback remixed soundtrack, and you have one of the best retro games ever.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Shovel Knight is a marvel of retro engineering, built to look, sound, and feel like a lost 8-bit game made with today’s technology. Like the best throwbacks, it’s not afraid to cast away some of the more dated aspects of NES-era design – ‘lives’ are replaced by a Souls-esque system where you retrieve your loot from your corpse, and the difficulty is far more balanced than some older platform games.
The Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove includes the Plague of Shadows, Spector or Torment, and King of Cards expansions, which allow you to play as three of the original game’s bosses. Each expansion is a full-blown game, complete with brand-new bosses, areas, and backstories of some of Shovel Knight’s most memorable characters. The Treasure Trove also includes Shovel Knight Showdown, a platform fighting game designed for up to four local players.
Shovel Knight himself is an amalgam of some of the era’s best heroes. He can pogo on his shovel like Scrooge in DuckTales or swing it around like Link in Zelda. Though the game is highly enjoyable from stem to stern, what really makes it stand out is its commitment to the 8-bit aesthetic. Though it takes its environments to a limit that a real NES could never achieve, it serves as a love letter to an era of gaming that has largely been supplanted by others in recent years, chock-full of references and little touches.
It Takes Two
You’ll need to recruit a friend to navigate It Takes Two’s delightfully quirky platforming challenges and minigames – like Hazelight Studios’ previous game, A Way Out, It Takes Two is exclusively a co-op game. After teaming up locally or online, you and your partner play as May and Cody, a married couple whose relationship is on the brink of disaster.
Through some mysterious means, their daughter’s sorrow has transformed them into doll versions of themselves, and the pair must learn to work together to get back to normal, exploring their relationship in the process. Each gleefully absurd level is perfectly adapted to co-op gameplay while thoughtfully exploring various obstacles in the couple’s marriage.
Whether you call it an adventure game, a puzzler, or a platformer, there’s no doubt that Another World (or Out of This World in the US) is probably the most notable PC platformer of the early ‘90s. Prince of Persia might have spawned a multi-million dollar franchise, and Flashback had a more coherent story, but nothing quite beats the moment-to-moment novelty of developer Éric Chahi’s best work.
As a scientist transposed into an alien world by an errant experiment, you must fight your way out of the clutches of your alien overlords by outwitting and outgunning them at every turn. Some aspects of the game show their age – particularly its glacial, finicky platforming, which takes quite a lot of getting used to – but the fact that it constantly reinvents itself gives it a vitality that very few platformers have – no wonder Another World is one of the best platform games you can get your hands on.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
The Spyro Reignited Trilogy overhauls all three original Spyro games and finally brings the beloved dragon to PC with a polished new look, but the same intricate levels, and beloved characters.
This 3D platform game is part of a platforming renaissance on PC, as the launches of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Snake Pass, and Yooka Laylee have already proven. The Sypro Reignited Trilogy is a nostalgia trip into the dazzling and colorful world of our fiery pal, built from the ground up by studios Iron Galaxy and Toys for Bob. Spyro offers new challenges and tougher bosses but the same hodge-podge of minigames and tricky platforming that kept us hooked so long ago.
Inspired by 1930s cartoons like Looney Toons and Betty Boop, conquering this tough platformer is no mean feat. Its meticulous hand-drawn visuals take our wide-eyed heroes on a run-and-gun side-scrolling adventure through unforgiving levels and boss fights – all set to the brash beats of original jazz, early big band, and ragtime score.
As you progress through the game, playing as either Cuphead or Mugman (that’s player two if you’re in co-op) – you’ll encounter strange bosses, such as a carrot with sonic powers, a boxing frog, and a fiendish sunflower. You’ll acquire new powers, too, all while earning HP and time bonuses to help you progress further. Cuphead isn’t at the top of our list for relaxing games, but if you want a challenging platform game on PC, Cuphead has the moves.
There was a short-lived trend in 2023 where gamers really enjoyed climbing huge towers – Jusant is like that but without the fear of losing all of your progress after making a poor jump. If you enjoy calm vibes and you get a sense of accomplishment when you reach a destination, you’re going to love Jusant.
Created by Don’t Nod, the team behind Life is Strange, players set off on a meditative experience, featuring a relaxing soundtrack and colorful art style. Accompanied by Ballast, a mysterious creature that aids you on your journey, you’ll learn about the tower’s past as you spend hours trying to reach the top.
And there you have it, the very best platform games on PC, from narrative-driven adventures and combat-heavy Metroidvanias, to platformers that break the genre rules entirely. If you’re after more lists then be sure to check out our rundown of the best PC games to play right now, or our list of the best free online games, which features a few great platforming games. Either way, there’s enough running and jumping goodness here to sate your appetite for the time being.