Although the Nintendo Switch has some of the best AAA titles, the system has become known as an indie machine to many. The portability of the Switch and Switch Lite makes them ideal for some of the best indie games, and dozens of small developers seem to love releasing their games on the hybrid console.
Better yet, plenty of previously released indie games, such as Hollow Knight, have received increased attention and acclaim after landing on the Switch. It’s become a win-win for developers and Switch owners. If you’re a new Switch owner or are simply looking for the best Switch games to play during your morning commute, we’ve put together a running list of the best indie games on the Nintendo Switch.
This has to be one of the strangest games of 2020. Published by Devolver Digital and developed by Phobia Game Studio, Carrion is a “reverse horror game” where players take on the role of a terrifying, man-eating blob as they stalk their prey through a foreboding prison.
The brutal combat is a big part of the fun, as you’ll be flinging scientists and soldiers around the map like ragdolls, but there are enough complicated puzzles to keep things interesting for the long haul. With a bunch of hidden content, unlockable abilities, and an utterly unique concept, Carrion is one of the better indie titles available on the Switch.
Part roguelike and part platformer, Neon Abyss is a brutal game that is different every run. It features a beautiful pixel art style that will immediately catch your eye and a deep customization mechanic that allows you to mold the game to your preferred method of play.
When you get tired of all the bullets, Neon Abyss includes a few mini games that reward you with gear that can aid you in clearing the main story. These diversions include piano performances, mediation challenges, and even dance competitions if you’re really digging the energetic soundtrack.
Creature in the Well
Pinball and hack-and-slash action usually don’t go together, but no one told that to developer Flight School Studio when it was creating Creature in the Well. The mysterious adventure features a “BOT-C” venturing into a mountain and defeating challenges and enemies set by the titular Creature. The gorgeous art style and zoomed-out perspective make you feel like a tiny speck in a very large world, and the industrial designs give it a gritty aesthetic.
What really sets Creature in the Well apart is its mix of pinball mechanics and traditional action gameplay. To complete challenges, you’ll need to strike an orb that moves between several bouncers, all while trying to avoid turrets and other traps attacking you. It’s unlike anything we’ve played before and a perfect fit for the Switch.
Motion Twin calls its breakout indie hit a RogueVania, a mashup of games with classic Castlevania and Metroid gameplay. Throw in the fact that Dead Cells has permadeath and brutally difficult enemies and you have a recipe for the perfect “one more try” type of game.
Dead Cells truly shines for its addictive gameplay and wide array of secrets. With a bevy of weapons to uncover and a bounty of secret areas to discover, each time you play Dead Cells, you feel like you learn and find something new.
Although it features permadeath, you do have the chance to get permanent upgrades at the end of each area. If you stick with it, you will eventually see the credits. It’s all about the journey, though, as this dark and enthralling world is hard to leave and even harder to forget.
Hotline Miami Collection
The franchise that really put Devolver Digital on the map as a publisher of astounding indies, the Hotline Miami Collection compiles the original and its sequel, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, in one hectic and challenging package. The top-down, ultraviolent affairs creatively combine twitchy action gameplay with stealth. And tying the whole experience together is one of the best game soundtracks in years.
While you can kill enemies in one hit with a variety of guns and melee weapons across both games’ expertly designed levels, the protagonist is just as susceptible to one-hit deaths. This creates a tension that permeates throughout both games. Memorization and fast movements are key to success. It’s chaotic, trying, and utterly over the top. These games aren’t just a riot to play; they ooze with style.
StudioMDHR’s astonishing Cuphead has made the jump from Xbox One/PC to Switch. The port runs wonderfully both in console and handheld mode, retaining all the glory of the 1930s cartoon art style and animations.
Cuphead is a challenging game, but it never comes across as unfair. Minimalistic mechanics let you focus on the task at hand — the multi-phase bosses — while enjoying all of the excellent animations and sounds.
It’s worth playing for the art style alone, which is as impressive now as it was upon its original launch in 2017. The engaging boss fights and crisp mechanics make it a pleasure to work through, even when the going gets exceedingly tough.
My Friend Pedro
My Friend Pedro is the ultimate bullet time game. You play as a nameless protagonist guided by a talking banana named Pedro (because why not?). The story is nonsense, but the action is extremely gratifying. Through a series of sidescrolling levels, you jump, dodge, and slow down time while shooting enemies with a variety of high-powered weapons.
My Friend Pedro is all about style points earned from stringing together kills in quick succession. The style-factor goes through the roof in levels where you get to ride a skateboard or use objects such as frying pans to deflect bullets. My Friend Pedro looks ridiculously cool in motion and feels even better to play.
Developed by Askiisoft and published by the venerable Devolver Digital, Katana Zero can be aptly described as a sidescrolling version of Hotline Miami. You play as a samurai in this neo-noir infused thriller with plenty of twists and turns. Each level is broken into rooms filled with gun-toting and sword-wielding baddies.
Like Hotline Miami, one hit and you’re dead. Armed with a sharp blade and a dash ability, the rooms play out like puzzles. It has a Superhot-esque flow, as you have the ability to slow down time, which helps in deflecting bullets back to their origin.
Fast, stylish, and challenging, Katana Zero is a fantastic experience from start to finish. The gameplay will hook you instantly, but the story and writing arguably steals the show.
Enter the Gungeon
Enter the Gungeon combines dungeon crawling and twin-stick shooting mechanics with a rewarding and addictive rogue-like loop. Think The Binding of Isaac but more arcade-like and chaotic. As you plunge deeper into the dungeon, you’ll be rewarded with a bevy of loot, neat lore, and plenty of secrets.
What’s especially cool about Enter the Gungeon is that you learn something new each time you play. This is partially done by its approach to rogue-like progression. While all of the rooms remain the same, the enemies, treasure, and even locations of the rooms change.
It’s all a matter of learning each room and tweaking your strategy as things change. Definitely challenging but always a good time, Enter the Gungeon is ideal for short spurts in handheld mode.
Ape Out mixes jazz music with over-the-top violence to stunning results. From a top-down perspective, you play as an ape attempting to escape captivity. Minimalistic visuals and simplistic mechanics allow the core loop to take center stage.
You have two mechanics at your disposal: grab and throw. Throwing lets you turn guards into a bloody mush, while grabbing uses them as human shields and sometimes leads to guards shooting other guards. It’s a tough but fair game thanks to randomized levels.
The jazzy soundtrack pounds along in the background, becoming a separate mechanic itself. Snare drums beat consistently and boom faster as you approach danger. Cymbal crashes mark the deaths of enemies. The result is an absorbing experience that compels you to try again and again until you’ve led the ape to freedom.
Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter is an ode to 8-bit and 16-bit adventure games, set in a distinct world reduced to shambles. This top-down adventure features extremely challenging gameplay with a neat gimmick.
Your main weapon, an energy sword, has to strike enemies in order to charge your supplementary, ranged weapons. This means you have to master melee combat to have a chance against the onslaught of enemies.
Rounded out by a beautiful soundtrack and fantastic animations, Hyper Light Drifter is a moving experience with an understated, but powerful story.
Broforce is an awesome and hilarious run-and-gun. Your job as an action hero parody is to save your bros from terrorist captivity. Your commanding officer is none other than Nelson Brodela, and all of the playable characters riff on action heroes.
For instance, you can use a whip in combat while playing as fake Indiana Jones, or you can light enemies up with immense firepower as a pseudo-Rambo. Broforce shines for its great controls, excellent design, and challenging levels.
This side-scrolling action game has just enough of a mix between action and platforming to make for a consistently varied experience.
Downwell, a game about a man falling down a well in a park, has been available since 2015 on mobile devices. Rendered in black and white, the premise is simple: Make it to the bottom. Since you’re falling at a rapid pace, you would think you’re already ahead of the game, right? Not so fast. Avoiding obstacles, enemies, and projectiles is an arduous endeavor that forces you to think and move on the fly.
As a rogue-like, each time you make your descent, the layout of the well changes. With guns attached to your boots that only recharge when you touch the ground safely, it’s a constant battle between the offensive and defensive. Power-ups are rewarded at the bottom of each stage, but each level ups the challenge. Basically, no matter what you have in your arsenal, you’re always facing an uphill battle (ironic, huh?).
A round of Downwell can last anywhere from seconds to a handful of minutes, depending on your skill level. On Switch, it’s a perfect game for quick bursts in handheld mode. The $3 price makes Downwell a steal, but you should splurge for the Flip Grip to play Downwell comfortably with a vertical orientation.
Streets of Rage 4
It took long enough, but our favorite crime-fighting crew makes a triumphant return after 16 years of unpaid leave. Featuring 12 levels, unlockable characters, and multiple difficulties, the game is a nostalgic masterpiece for fans and newcomers alike.
Streets of Rage 4 somehow manages to be both an homage to games of the past while taking bold steps in a new direction. The art style alone sets it apart from previous installments, but new combat mechanics and reimagined enemies keep the action fun all the way to the final boss. Plus, the game is chock-full of replayable content and lends itself to multiple playthroughs — either solo or with a few friends.
Kentucky Route Zero
An adventure game years in the making that saw its first release in 2013, Kentucky Route Zero finally came to Nintendo Switch as the “TV Edition” in early 2020. The game focuses almost entirely on the story and dialogue rather than traditional challenges, but the bizarre journey through underground caves is filled with memorable characters.
All five acts of the game are available together on the Switch version, and the game’s minimalist art and simple controls make it an ideal fit for playing on the go. Make no mistake, however — its storytelling is far beyond what most AAA games can offer, and it’s worth going in as fresh as possible to avoid learning too much.
Return of the Obra Dinn
From visionary indie developer Lucas Pope, Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the most visually unique and stunning games we’ve ever seen, both on Nintendo Switch and any other platform. Created to look like it was drawn using thousands of tiny dots, Return of the Obra Dinn can be jarring, but in a way that evokes a sense of vagueness and mystery perfect for the game’s subject matter. It’s set in the early 19th century, and the titular ship’s bizarre appearance years after going missing is the beginning of an intriguing adventure.
Lucas Pope tackles some depressing and dark material in his games, and there is no other developer doing exactly what he’s doing. If first-person games combined with this art style don’t give you a headache, then Return of the Obra Dinn is a necessity and one you’ll be thinking about for a long time after the credits roll.
Oxenfree is very much in the vein of Telltale adventures. It’s story-driven, low on action, and well written. Alex and her friends are on an island together when strange, supernatural occurrences begin popping up around them. The ensuing hours are filled with plenty of surprises, consequential dialogue choices, and wonderfully realized animated cutscenes.
Oxenfree is also simply a joy to look at. It uses a stellar 2.5D art style that complements the tone of the adventure. Considering that your actions dictate the ending, Oxenfree is the sort of game you’ll end up playing more than once.
While some may scoff at Oxenfree because it’s a walking simulator, it has one of the better stories we’ve experienced in an independent game on Switch.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is like if BoJack Horseman was a video game. Starring a recent college dropout — who also happens to be a cat — Night in the Woods tells the story of what it’s like to go home after being away. Mae, the down-on-her-luck protagonist, slowly begins to see that Possum Springs isn’t all that it seemed. This dark comedy has a wide cast of hilarious and revealing townsfolk and the writing is top-notch.
Played as a sidescroller, Night in the Woods has a simple, clean visual style that doesn’t get in the way of what the game wants to do narratively. If you’re a fan of dark comedy with a healthy dose of perspective, Night in the Woods does it better than just about any game we’ve ever played.
An emotional journey that’s centered on the taboo topic of death, Spiritfarer is a wonderful management sim where you’ll help ferry spirits into the afterlife. The hand-drawn graphics keep everything lighthearted, and the unique story is among the best available on the Switch.
Gameplay is open-ended, letting you farm, fish, mine, craft, and explore the world as you see fit. Throughout the 30-hour adventure, you’ll encounter dozens of memorable characters that will stick with you long after the credits roll — along with a story that is sure to tug on your heartstrings. Spiritfarer includes a local co-op mode, allowing a second player to join in on the action as Daffodil the cat.
Evergate is the latest — and possibly most brutal — 2D platformer to hit the Nintendo Switch eShop. Using a unique system called the Soulflame, players can slow down time to perfect their movements and solve dynamic puzzles. The story follows the soul Ki as it navigates the afterlife and its dream-like environments.
During the journey, you’ll be tasked with collecting Essence, objects that unlock new abilities and enhance Ki’s skills. This isn’t a game for the faint of heart, as you’ll need some quick reflexes if you’re hoping to make it through all 85 stages. If you’re looking for your next challenge, look no further than Evergate.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Layer
The original Yooka-Laylee game was a spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie series, but its homage to classic 3D platforming came up short because the genre hasn’t experienced much growth over the last few decades. For the sequel, developer Playtonic took a much different approach, switching the game to a sidescrolling perspective that allowed its charm and simplicity to shine more clearly.
Still just as colorful and goofy as the original game, but in a more cohesive package, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Layer features a special hub world that is itself a big puzzle filled with opportunities for collectibles and unlocking even more levels, and you can even flip a switch to alter the levels you’ve already beaten.
It’s the perfect platformer to play on the go for Nintendo Switch, and it’s a great choice for a family with younger kids who want to play something a bit more challenging. If they’ve already blown through the Mario games and Rayman Legends, this could be the next game to keep them hooked to the Switch — and possibly away from your television so you can play another game at the same time.
Hollow Knight originally launched on PC, but it gained widespread appreciation after coming to its natural home on Switch. The 2D Metroidvania starring an insect knight with a needle for a sword masterfully weaves exploration and combat to deliver one of the most engrossing experiences in a crowded genre.
The spacious map has numerous distinct biomes with various themes, dangers, and enemies to slay. Where Hollow Knight truly excels is in its sense of wonder. Every time you stumble upon a new area, it feels as if you are the first person to discover it. Excellent platforming sections keep the gameplay fresh in between tough boss fights that demand precision.
An ode to NES-era Metroid, Gato Roboto stars a cat who crashes on an alien planet. Needing to save its owner, the adorable feline hero sets out on a journey to find a mech suit. From there, Gato Roboto plays very similarly to classic Metroid. You find power-ups that allow you to backtrack and reach previously inaccessible areas, fight off baddies both small and large, and hop around both in and outside of the mech suit.
Rendered in black and white, Gato Roboto is all about emphasizing the excellent gameplay. But like all Devolver-published games, it also has some witty writing. Gato Roboto is a perfect game to play on a rainy day, as you can beat it in roughly three hours. Though bite-sized, Gato Roboto will leave a lasting impression, especially if you love old school action-platformers.
Timespinner obviously owes a lot to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. From its pixelated visuals to the dreary atmosphere to the means of progression, Timespinner is a classic Metroidvania through and through. There’s no shortage of Metroidvanias on Switch, but Timespinner is one of the best.
After watching her family get murdered, Lunais finds herself in a mysterious world. Seeking revenge on the Lachiem Empire, Lunais works her way through this new world. She can bend time with the titular device, letting her get the upper hand on enemies as well as solve platforming puzzles. Timespinner also tells a riveting tale across two timelines. If you’ve played a Metroidvania before, Timespinner won’t surprise you. But it’s pleasantly polished all around. Tight combat controls, cool platforming sequences, fun boss battles, and clever puzzles make Timepinner a standout game in an extremely crowded subgenre.
Celeste is all about moving forward. For Madeline, she has come to Celeste Mountain to discover herself, and over the course of 10 or so hours, she’s put to the test in this 2D platformer. Rendered in SNES-era visuals, Celeste‘s gameplay solely revolves around jumping. Aided by expertly designed set pieces, the task is both challenging and immensely rewarding.
While Celeste features some of the best 2D platforming we’ve ever played, the experience shines brightest when dealing with mental illness. Madeline’s journey is emotional and revealing, and it’s one of the few games that accurately and unabashedly depicts mental illness.
SteamWorld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2, yet another Metroidvania, has a distinct aesthetic that makes it stand out. Its steampunk influence leads to some great enemies and gadgets, while its Western setting gives it thriving set pieces steeped in personality. The sequel stars Dorothy, a young heroine wielding a pickaxe capable of digging through dirt to access new areas.
The main reason why SteamWorld Dig 2 surpasses the solid original is that it has a fixed-level design. The game world is much larger and the platforming elements have been given room to breathe. There’s also a meaningful RPG progression system to keep you hooked. The Switch does particularly well with sidescrollers, so SteamWorld Dig 2 is a no-brainer to play in handheld mode.
The Messenger starts off as a good but not great action-platformer heavily indebted to Ninja Gaiden. For the first few hours, you feel as if you’re playing an homage to NES-era sidescrollers. Then, the game jumps a generation and pivots dramatically, turning into a Metroidvania.
Most impressively, The Messenger drops clues of this change leading up to it in its brilliantly designed levels. From there, you can backtrack for collectibles, discover new areas, and work your way through its surprisingly large map. Oddly enough, The Messenger feels like a better game for pulling this switch, and it’s tailor-made for the Nintendo Switch.
The End Is Nigh
If The End Is Nigh looks like an ode to Super Meat Boy, it’s probably because Edmund McMillen, the co-creator of Meat Boy, worked on it. You play as a blob named Ash who just wants to play his favorite video game (also called The End Is Nigh). So, you play that very same game with Ash leading the way.
Like Meat Boy, each level is a single screen that can be completed it a matter of seconds. All of the levels are connected, though, so it’s as if you’re exploring a large open world. That is, if you’ve got the skills. A precision platformer, The End Is Nigh relies on carefully timed jumps. You cannot wall jump, which makes it harder than Meat Boy, but you can hang onto ledges.
With a variety of increasingly difficult and diverse worlds to explore, The End Is Nigh remains fresh and fun even after you’ve died more than 1,000 times (seriously, deaths rack up quickly). If you’re looking for a tough platformer with excellent controls, look no further.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Shovel Knight will probably go down as one of the most important and greatest independent games of all time. Rarely does an indie title achieve the level of mainstream success that Shovel Knight has sustained over the past four years.
With its classic 16-bit visuals, amazing platforming mechanics, and wondrous boss fights, Shovel Knight‘s main campaign is an absolute delight. Even better, Yacht Club Games has delivered free, beefy updates, including the alternate story in Plague of Shadows, a prequel in Specter of Torment, and the upcoming King of Cards expansion. It’s also no surprise that Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove feels great on Switch. Shovel Knight arguably offers the best combination of retro aesthetics and modern design available in the indie game space.
Otus, a human-owl hybrid, is just trying to live a normal life when a group of pirates attacks his hometown. He’s whisked off on a grand adventure filled with memorable characters and artfully designed environments.
Firmly in the Metroidvania genre, Owlboy‘s world is huge, colorful, and full of surprises. From clever puzzles to interesting enemy designs to a fun ally system that constantly changes your play style, Owlboy has it all and then some. It may look like a classic 16-bit sidescroller, but it plays like a forward-thinking platformer.
Few games take as novel of an approach to movement as Snake Pass, a game where, yes, you slither across the ground as an adorable snake. Who knew that embodying a snake could not only be so rewarding but also not creepy at all?
Snake Pass‘ 3D levels have collectibles and plenty of puzzles to overcome to reach an exit. Wonderfully designed levels gradually introduce new mechanics as you get the hang of slinking around like a snake.
While a bit on the short side, Snake Pass also has an arcade mode that compels you to go back through its 15 levels. Part puzzler, part slithering-platformer, Snake Pass is an innovative experiment that works better than expected.
Untitled Goose Game
You might know Untitled Goose Game from all the memes it spawned at the end of 2019, many of which depict an evil goose wreaking havoc upon a town’s inhabitants. But what you might not know is that the game the goose is from is one of the funniest, smartest, and most clever in recent memory. On the surface, it’s simple: You play as a goose that must go around and cause minor inconveniences to the townsfolk.
But it’s so much more than that. At times, it’s a stealth game. In other instances, it feels like a puzzler. The many blends of gameplay styles make it difficult to classify. But what is clear is that humor is the focal point. The idea of inconveniencing people as a goose that looks and feels realistic is funny, in and of itself. But the payoff at the end ties the whole thing together in a brilliant way you might not expect from a game about an evil goose.
In Good Job!, you play as an office-building repairman, with each floor featuring numerous tasks for you to complete. Some are simple, like getting an object from point A to point B, while others are much more complicated. What makes it so effective is its emphasis on comedy. The ragdoll effects combined with the nonchalant nature of the game’s NPCs make for a whacky adventure, with many routes you can take to solve each issue.
Beneath the silly and funny encounters is a smart puzzler with a satisfying gameplay loop. At times, you might come across a seemingly daunting task that requires you to experiment with the environment to reach your goal. Like many great puzzle games, there are a set of rules you must follow. And each new floor gives you new rules to play with, until eventually, things get out of control. The minimalist art style enhances the humor, and with so few games focusing on making you laugh, Good Job! truly feels like a gem.
Baba Is You
Baba Is You is a video game that exposes its inner workings. Like all games, each of the top-down room puzzles has a set of rules. Unlike most games, these rules are exposed because they are meant to be manipulated.
Littered throughout each puzzle are logic statements such as “wall is stop.” Often times, each part of a statement can be completely reworked. Wall can be modified to be push, allowing you, a funny-looking bunny, to move pieces of the wall away. Over the course of 200 puzzles, the logic puzzles become trickier and trickier.
Baba Is You is a truly sublime puzzle game. Often its levels feel impossible, but by moving pieces and parts around, a clearer picture comes into view. Baba Is You is without a doubt one of the best logic puzzlers ever made.
Developed by James Roberts and published by renowned indie publisher Annapurna Interactive, Gorogoa is a special puzzle game with more than six years in the making. The gameplay is simple. You’re initially given four panels that must be overlapped or explored to move on to new images. There are no visual cues or even dialogue to help you. It’s all up to you to build towards a solution.
Thankfully, Gorogoa is brilliantly designed so that nothing ever feels too challenging to work out. Much of Gorogoa‘s hands-off intuitiveness comes from the wordless but moving story that’s strung alongside the puzzle gameplay.
Revolving around a young boy’s interaction with a mysterious monster, Gorogoa tells a sweeping and ambitious story using only images. It’s a sight to behold that feels perfect in handheld mode on Switch.
Tumblestone manages to rework the classic and overdone genre of match-three puzzlers. That in and of itself is a major accomplishment. Thankfully, it’s also a darn good experience.
Each Tumblestone grid is filled with a layer of multicolored blocks. You must shoot three of the same colored blocks in a row to chip away until the board is clear. If you mess up the sequence, it’s back to the beginning.
The loop is satisfying, strategic, and visually rewarding. Tumblestone is brimming with content, too. The campaign will take you dozens of hours. If you’re still hooked, various arcade and competitive formats keep the match three fun going for the long haul.
Fez is an all-time indie game classic. Even nine years after its original release, it still remains one of the smartest puzzle games out there, thanks to its unique design, easy to understand mechanics, and vibrant presentation. The main mechanic is centered around rotating a diorama-like cube, giving the player a 2D plain set in a 3D environment.
The puzzles start off simple enough, teaching you the mechanics and rules, but eventually becomes much more complex. You’ll likely come across levels that will feel like a brick wall, but as soon as the solution clicks, it’s one of the most satisfying feelings. Thanks to the recent Nintendo Switch port, even more players can experience this gem.
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, the latest reinvention of Image & Form’s SteamWorld franchise, is a rather traditional turn-based RPG at its core. Your party moves through small room-like screens similar to that of Darkest Dungeon and takes on baddies with a deck of 24 cards.
The card-based battling system is lighter than that seen in traditional TCGs like Hearthstone, but it still packs plenty of strategy. Each character who joins your party has their own cards and attacks, meaning that switching up party members to find an optimal balance for a fight is a point of emphasis.
On top of the engaging battles, SteamWorld Quest has a lovely cartoon art style and wonderful writing, from the dialogue to its world-building. It’s different than the other SteamWorld games, but equally great at what it does.
Slay the Spire
An intoxicating blend of roguelikes and trading card games, Mega Crit Games’ Slay the Spire is one of the most unique indie games on Switch. Slay the Spire sees players work through a series of battles across three acts. Your deck is your weapon in this turn-based, single-player RPG. At first, Slay the Spire seems impossible. But the more runs you try, the more cards you’ll have in your pool at the start of the next.
What makes Slay the Spire so interesting is how all of its moving parts come together. You have your deck, but you also have potions with stat buffs and relics that permanently alter your hero for that run. With three different classes of heroes to play as and the sheer endless number of possibilities for each run, Slay the Spire gets better and better the more you play. Even if you don’t normally like card battlers, Slay the Spire might hook you. It’s brilliant, challenging, and maintains its appeal even after you’ve tasted success.
The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse
The Swords of Ditto originally launched in 2018 on PS4 and PC, but Switch owners will only ever know the best version of the game. Thanks to an amazing update coinciding with the Switch launch, The Swords of Ditto now plays like a proper retro Zelda game. It already had a charming story, colorful visuals, and an interesting world full of secrets, but now it can be played in a much more forgiving fashion.
Previously, The Swords of Ditto featured permadeath, which slashed away at much of your progression. With Mormo’s Curse, permadeath has been removed, and the result is much more cohesive and rewarding action-RPG. It’s one of the best Zelda-esque games on Switch. It also happens to be published by Devolver Digital, so you know it’s worth your time.
Battle Chef Brigade
Battle Chef Brigade is a prime example of innovation. At once it’s an action-RPG, a match-three puzzler, and a cooking sim. Each cooking battle requires players to hunt and take down monsters in hack-and-slash combat. After the hunt is over, you must bring the ingredients to the kitchen.
The cooking portion of the game is done through a grid-based match-three puzzle. Both distinct gameplay styles perform well, and Battle Chef Brigade is rounded out by gorgeous hand-drawn graphics and a wonderful soundtrack.
Super Daryl Deluxe
Super Daryl Deluxe is easily the funniest game on this list. The self-described RPGvania transports you to a bizarre, multidimensional adventure starring a hapless young man named Daryl. All he wants is a little attention and some friends at his new school, but Daryl soon finds himself on a ridiculous quest across the constantly changing and improbable school grounds.
With brawler combat and an RPG progression system, Super Daryl Deluxe stands out in its crowded side-scrolling genre. The first thing you’ll notice is the distinct, cartoon visuals that really pop on the Nintendo Switch. Besides great gameplay, though, Super Daryl Deluxe has a killer story with truly humorous and zany dialogue.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is an unabashed love letter to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The adventure is relayed as a story told by a grandfather to his granddaughter. It’s a humorous and surprisingly affecting tale that takes place across a colorful and varied open world.
All of the Zelda trappings are here: Dungeons, new weapons, interesting boss fights, unassuming villagers, etc. Despite its cute appearance, Blossom Tales is fairly challenging, making it a worthy heir to classic Zelda. If you’re itching to play a retro Zelda on Switch, Blossom Tales is a worthy treat.
Undertale fittingly falls into a weird category of JRPGs towered over by Earthbound. It’s an experience filled with plenty of laughs, but there’s also a pervasive sadness underneath its comical exterior.
You play as a nameless child who winds up beneath the earth’s surface. All around you are monsters, but Undertale gradually shows you that these monsters aren’t quite the stuff of nightmares.
The stripped-down art style gives excellent writing a chance to shine. Undertale offers a profound message that will likely make you feel differently about good and evil.
A Short Hike
If you’re looking for a relaxing way to spend the day, consider downloading A Short Hike. It’s a simple game of exploration, and there’s not much standing between you and a chill afternoon traversing the mountainsides of Hawk Peak Provincial Park.
There are plenty of treasures and secrets to discover, but the main draw of A Short Hike is simply wandering around the beautiful environment listening to a dynamic soundtrack — one that changes as you explore. And if you really need some excitement, you can always jump off the peak of a mountain and soar about the forest floor. It’s a unique title, and one of the more experimental indie games to hit the eShop in recent months.
Summer in Mara
Animal Crossing might be stealing the spotlight, but Summer in Mara is a great alternative for those looking for something with a bit more structure. You’re tasked with renovating your own private island — adding buildings, growing crops, and raising farm animals are just a few of the expansion possibilities at your disposal.
There are also more than 300 quests for you to tackle and an open sea with dozens of islands for you to discover. It’s a bit of Wind Waker mixed in with Animal Crossing, and it’s a wonderful addition to the Nintendo Switch marketplace.
Overcooked 2 is pretty close to the perfect party game. In Overcooked 2, you and up to three friends race against the clock to complete simplistic recipes to serve to zombie bread invaders. The challenge is that the kitchens constantly move to create obstacles. Teamwork is absolutely key to your success.
If you can play Overcooked 2 without barking orders at your loved ones, congrats, you’re more mild-mannered than us. Thankfully, Overcooked 2 has tons of charm and is full of hilarious moments. While the original is also great, the sequel adds new recipes, the all-important throw mechanic, and online multiplayer.
Stardew Valley is the sort of game you’ll unwittingly play for 100 hours and never regret a minute of it. A top-down, pixelated farming sim, the breakout game from lone developer Eric Barone takes cues from Harvest Moon but exudes its own sense of personality. You decide that the city life is too hectic, so you move to your grandfather’s farm in Pelican Town.
From there, Stardew Valley is really whatever you want it to be. From the casual pleasure of planting crops to the blissful peace of fishing to the surprisingly fun combat in the caves, each simulated day in Stardew Valley feels like a little adventure.
By far, though, Stardew Valley stands out for its ability to create a sense of community with the delightful CPU villagers. The people of Pelican Town will start to feel like real friends before long. Stardew Valley is wholesome, engrossing, and a great game to take a breather with.
Superhot plays from a first-person shooting perspective, but you could also argue that it’s a puzzle game. Propelled by the brilliant hook that enemies only move when you move, Superhot‘s levels, which are rendered almost entirely white, require both forethought and quick trigger fingers. Once you move, it’s pure chaos. That means you have to know what you’re going to do next, and it helps to have a plan for what’s next after that and so on. Weapons have limited ammo, so planning is key. Often times, you have to be up close, slashing at the red-bodied enemies with melee weapons.
Unique and thrilling, Superhot has great shooting mechanics and an intoxicating loop that only seems to get better the more you play.
The Outer Worlds
Although it doesn’t seem like it, The Outer Worlds is actually an indie title. This massive game is published by Private Division and is easily one of the best titles on the Switch — indie or not. Previously released for all other consoles and PC, the game recently found its way to Nintendo’s hybrid device.
Fans of the Fallout series will be right at home, as The Outer Worlds gives players dozens the choices to make, weapons to wield, and locations to explore, all while navigating a satirical storyline. A few concessions had to be made due to technical limitations, and the graphics leave a bit to be desired, but anyone looking for an FPS fix will be happy this gem found a home on the Switch.
While Golf Story is technically a golf game, you don’t have to like the sport to enjoy this arcade-style game. It’s a role-playing game in the same vein as Mario Tennis for Game Boy Color, with retro-pixelated visuals to boot.
Following the death of your father, your character decides to get back into golf after not playing for two decades. Naturally, you seek out lessons at a local country club. From there, Golf Story turns into both a golf sim and a hilariously touching story.
Filled with a variety of courses and oodles of differentiated golf-oriented mini-games and tasks, Golf Story remains fresh throughout its roughly ten-hour runtime. The writing is great, the golf mechanics are simple but fun, and the colorful cast of characters ooze personality. As a Switch exclusive, Golf Story should absolutely not be missed.
Few indie games reach the heights of Rocket League, the 2015 action sports game that has retained a huge following ever since. Rocket League‘s premise is pretty simple. It’s just soccer with cars, but wow is it ridiculously fun.
The Nintendo Switch version has Mario-themed cars and users can play online with Xbox One and PC players, meaning that the player pool is quite large at all times of the day. You don’t have to like soccer or racing games to fall in love with Rocket League. That’s how delightful this odd mashup is on Switch.
Into the Breach
From the makers of the excellent FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach somehow manages to be Subset Games’ best outing. A turn-based tactics game, Into the Breach takes place on small grids filled with only a few units. The name of the game is survival, as losing all your units restarts the game.
It’s an interesting approach to the relatively well-trodden grid-based tactics genre. You can, if you choose, take out enemy units, but you must focus on protecting your power grids. Since you only have a limited number of turns, choosing where to place your units at the start of each round is key.
Into the Breach has so many surprising layers to it that you’ll learn new strategies even after you’ve cleared the game multiple times. It’s a near-perfect turn-based strategy game that should not be missed by any fans of the genre.
Chucklefish’s Wargroove is a fantastical homage to the dormant Advance Wars series, complete with gorgeous pixelated visuals and enough content to keep you playing for the long haul. The campaign sees you control an army of troops across spacious maps, completing objectives such as killing the enemy commander, destroying their stronghold, or escorting civilians to safety.
As a tactics game, Wargroove shines for its expertly designed maps and variance of units, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. The commanders themselves have special groove abilities that come in handy during critical junctures.
In addition to the lengthy campaign, Wargroove has local and online multiplayer, a fun arcade mode, and a puzzle format that forces you to complete a task in one turn. But there’s more. Chucklefish included a map and campaign editor to let players create their own levels. You can even create a full game inside Wargroove, with cutscenes and all, if you desire. Maps and campaigns can be shared and downloaded through the online service.
There’s truly nothing like Thumper. Sure, there are rhythm games out there that send you zooming across a linear track, with the goal of hitting the right button inputs. But Thumper is a primal and terrifying experience. While it does include rhythmic audio to keep you moving to the beat, those sounds are hard to classify it as music.
All the sounds you hear are mechanical and industrial, giving you a sense of space, whether it’s real or something from a nightmare. There’s plenty to do in Thumper, from finishing the main story, to battling bosses, and even achieving the highest rank on each stage.
If you’re into rhythm games like Amplitude or even Rock Band Blitz, you’ll have a sense of what to expect from Thumper, at least from a gameplay perspective. But don’t expect an easy-going, lighthearted experience with Thumper. This indie game will keep you on your toes and on the edge of your seat.
Cadence of Hyrule
Even without being a Nintendo classic, the typically forgotten Cadence of Hyrule is undoubtedly one of the best Zelda games available on the platform. You can even argue that bringing in an outside developer helped introduce new ideas, many of which make this game unique.
From the studio that created Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games effectively combines rhythm gameplay with the aesthetics and themes of a beloved 2D Zelda experience.
It has all the things you love about Zelda: Bosses, dungeons, items to collect, and music. As you venture through the game, you have to collect items that you’ll need to battle the final boss before beating the game. The twist is that it features roguelike elements that restructure the layout of the map each time. That means no two runs are the same.
Since no two runs are the same, you have to prepare for anything. This makes each attempt at the game fun and engaging.
Nintendo Switch gamers will always have an array of game options available to them. Indie game developers create action games, strategy games, and simulations for the Switch platform. You’ll find it all here, from something new and fresh to the classics you live. Plus, new releases launch all the time, making the platform even more dynamic.
If you haven’t yet tried a Nintendo Switch, read our review to decide if it’s the right console for you.
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