Everyone loves a good shooter. Ever since the release of Duck Hunt on the NES, these types of games have captivated audiences for their action-packed gameplay and satisfying combat. While first-person and third-person shooters are more popular nowadays, 2D shooters are still as fun as you remember!
Whether it’s a side scroller or a top-down game, 2D shooters are incredibly fun experiences that everyone can enjoy. If you’re burnt out from playing FPS games or are just looking for something different to play, 2D shooters have you covered. Below, we will be going over our top ten picks for the best 2D shooters on the market.
Top 10 Best 2D Shooters
Starting at number ten and working out way down, let’s check out this complete list of 2D shooters!
Warhammer 40,000: Shootas, Blood & Teef
Up next we have one of the latest entries into the Warhammer franchise: Warhammer 40,000: Shootas, Blood & Teef! This is a really cool 2D sidescroller with great graphics that remind me of the days of the Xbox Live Arcade. In this game, you can choose from one of several different classes. Each one has its own special gadgets and weapons that it uses to tear through enemies.
Speaking of which, the game is full of lots of blood and gore! Combat is tight and satisfying, and all the weapons feel good to use. Its action-packed gameplay loop is complimented by a metal soundtrack that’s as catchy as can be. Combine its great OST with its hand-drawn art style and you have a well-made game that clearly had a lot of effort put into making it.
Like many other games on this list, it features cooperative play, allowing you and your friends to tag along. One thing I dislike about this game is how short it is, only about three and a half hours long. There also isn’t that much replayability. This is the main reason why it’s number ten on the list, even though the gameplay is solid. Regardless, it’s still an excellent game to play if you’re a huge fan of the Warhammer universe and enjoy 2D shooter games.
Stick Fight: The Game
For our next game on the list, we have the four-player 2D sidescroller Stick Fight: The Game! Remember your childhood days when you would daydream about two stick figures fighting one another? Maybe you’d even draw an animation of it on your Nintendo DS? Well someone had the brilliant idea of turning that concept into a game. And it works really, really well!
Stick Fight: The Game is a 2D fighting game with shooter elements that see you playing as a stick figure on a compact map. You will be challenged on a variety of different levels, facing up to three other opponents to be the last man standing. It’s an intense, fast-paced game that can get very hectic if you have some friends to join you in a Discord call while you play the game.
In addition to all the levels the game ships with, there’s also a level editor! This allows you to create and customize your own unique stages and share them online. You can download other people’s levels, meaning that there is never a shortage of content in this game. If you want something short and sweet with lots of replayability, then this is the perfect game for you to pick up on Steam!
Super Animal Royale
For our next pick, we have the game known as Super Animal Royale! This is a unique, free-to-play top-down battle royale game. In it, you play as one of a variety of different animals. You’ll be placed on a map and in traditional battle royale fashion, you will have to scavenge for good weapons and equipment in order to survive against the dozens of other opponents you’ll face off against!
Despite being a battle royale game, Super Animal Royale manages to maintain its uniqueness by being a top-down game instead of a first or third-person shooter. This is great because it avoids one of the most frustrating things about a battle royale… being killed very suddenly and losing all of your progress. This style of game allows you to have a better heads-up and more time to react to enemies.
As for the gameplay itself, you will join a match of 64 players in total. This is a pretty big number, and it gives you plenty of opportunities to get kills. With lots of different weapons to use and plenty of diverse maps, every game will feel unique. This is a very good game that you can play casually after a day of work, be it alone or with your friends.
My Friend Pedro
Now for our next pick, we have the 2D sidescroller My Friend Pedro! This is a whacky and over-the-top game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. In the game, you play as a masked man on a hunt to kill several members of a crime family. All the while, you’re being led by your talking banana friend, Pedro. It’s an experience full of hallucinations, crazy stunts, and lots and lots of great action!
The game allows you to do things like jump off of walls and pull off crazy stunts (such as backflips). You’re encouraged to pull off a variety of different stunts in order to get kills in unique ways and earn points so you can earn a higher rank on each level. Levels are designed around this mechanic and offer many different ways for you to pull off sick tricks and slay your opponents in style.
In the game, you can also slow down time to get your stunts just right and pull off the perfect kills any way you please. Additionally, if you love humorous games, you’ll love My Friend Pedro. There are a lot of funny moments in the game with clever and witty dialogue. There’s a little bit of satire in the game, as well. And the story gets surprisingly good towards the end. I won’t spoil anything, of course, but I will say I’m glad I finished the game!
Next, we have the game Worms W.M.D! This is the 2016 entry into the classic Worms series of games. It’s a 2D action game that sees you facing off against other players in a destructible environment. You will use a huge amount of different tools and weapons in order to destroy your foes, from bazookas and miniguns to a remote-controlled robotic sheep!
This is a very tactical game filled with lots of opportunities for strategy and for outsmarting your opponents. You can’t just blindly rush this game, or you are going to regret it. The maps in this game are some of the better ones in the series, and I really enjoyed most of them. Combined with the previously mentioned variety of weapons, you have a game with a huge amount of replayability!
This entry introduces many new mechanics into the series that make it a blast to play. From being able to craft weapons to being able to hop into powerful vehicles, there is so much to see and do. The game is not the latest entry in the series, but I think it’s better than the latest one, Worms Rumble (good luck finding a lobby in that game). Pick this game up today and you won’t regret it!
Up next on our list, we have the action-packed 2D sidescroller Broforce! This is an all-American game that sees you playing as a member of a paramilitary organization called Broforce. It’s a game that is packed full of action, humor, explosions, and even more action! The game features online cooperative play, so if you are looking for a good game to play with your squad, then this one is for you.
In Broforce, you gain access to a variety of different characters to play as, each with its own unique personalities and weapons to use. You’ll explore linear levels, fighting bad guys in order to liberate the area from the forces of evil. My favorite part about the game is the destructible environments. And, of course, the large number of explosive weapons you can use to destroy it!
Overall, this is great retro 2D shooter with a unique premise and funny writing. It’s one of my favorite cooperative games to play with friends, and it will be one of yours too if you decide to pick it up and play it yourself!
Enter The Gungeon
For our next pick, we have the top-down game Enter The Gungeon! This is an over-the-top bullet hell-style game that sees you diving into a multi-level “Gungeon,” fighting a huge variety of enemies and dodging different projectiles to reach the end of the Gungeon.
At the start of the game, you will pick one of several playable characters (called Gungeoneers) that you can enter into the levels with. Each one of them has unique weapons and items that they can toy around with to cause mayhem. There is an excellent variety of unique weapons to use in this game. We’ve got everything from the traditional shotgun to a weapon that fires out live, deadly bees to sting your enemies! This is another co-op game, so this is another great one to play with friends.
It’s also a roguelike game, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on what kind of games you like to play. If you love looting and shooting to get better gear over time, you’re in luck because Enter The Gungeon does both of these things really well. With the big variety of different enemies for you to face off against, you’ll never be bored in this bullet hell action roguelike!
For our third choice on this list of top 10 best 2D shooters, we have Cuphead! This is a pretty unique one for this list. It is technically a 2D shooter, but it leans much more heavily into being a 2D platformer. And the shooting that you do in this game is pretty simplistic compared to the other games on this list. Regardless, it is a very good game and one of the best 2D shooter PC games.
In Cuphead, you play as a sentient talking tea cup in a world populated by 1950s cartoon characters! You’ll run and jump through a huge variety of unique levels as you shoot pesky enemies and fight dangerous bosses. You don’t have access to guns or anything like that, just a simple ranged attack that comes from snapping your fingers.
It’s also a bullet hell-style game with lots of projectiles for you to dodge. If you love those kinds of games, this is probably one of the best ones out there. If you couldn’t already tell from the screenshot, the art style of the game is incredibly unique! And it really adds to the experience in a good way. This is a charming and lovingly made game with lots of good humor. You can even play the game in local co-op with a friend of yours!
Taking second place on our ranking, we have the hit twitch shooter Hotline Miami! This is one of the most popular 2D shooters of all time, and when you play it for yourself you’ll clearly see why. The game is set in the city of Miami, Florida during the late 80s. You play as a man who has been blackmailed into committing shootings on various gangs throughout the city.
At the start of each level, you will dawn a special mask that provides you with a certain buff or special effect. There is a mask that makes all enemies die with only 1 bullet. And there’s another that switches around your walking controls! Once you choose your mask, you’ll enter the level and be able to pick up a variety of different melee weapons and guns to kill enemies.
As previously mentioned, it’s a twitch shooter, meaning that you have very little health and your enemies have very strong reaction times. You’ll need to be incredibly fast to kill every enemy and finish the level without dying. The story is also very good, and it’s a lot easier to follow than the second game, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. If you love challenging games with lots of blood and gore, then this is a great game for you to pick up!
The Final Station
And finally, taking spot number one on our ranking is the 2017 post-apocalyptic side-scroller, The Final Station! In this dark, dystopian tale, you play as a train conductor traveling through a dying world. You are tasked with escorting passengers from one station to the next, keeping them alive with food and medicine you scavenge from abandoned locations in-between stations.
Some of you may disagree with me on this game being in spot number one on our list of best 2D shooters. While there are other games on this list with better action and more in-depth shooting, The Final Station’s gameplay loop, worldbuilding, story, and tactical combat all combine to create a fantastic experience that stands out.
While you are scavenging for supplies, you’ll come across several mysterious zombie-like creatures. You’ll need to fight them off using whatever weapons you have on you, as well as any pickupable objects in the environment. Combat is pretty simple but incredibly satisfying to play. As you explore these areas you’ll also come across notes left behind by the previous inhabitants, leading to some environmental storytelling.
The story and world are what really makes The Final Station so good. As you continue to play the game, you’ll slowly unravel the mysteries of what happened to the world before the start of the game. You’ll see how society has developed and adapted to what happened, and you’ll see what they do to fix it. All the while, you’ll listen to the game’s hauntingly good soundtrack as you piece together the full story.
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