Looking for some hidden gems on the Nintendo eShop? Here are our picks of the best indie games on Switch.
Indie games are bigger than ever. Making up a huge majority of the Nintendo Switch’s library, they win awards, earn renown and jump into the hearts of gamers everywhere. A game doesn’t have to be made by a team of hundreds to be considered a system seller anymore. In fact, some of our all-time favourite games are from indie developers. But what are the best indie games you can buy on Switch right now?
Games like Super Meat Boy, Limbo or Spelunky are all super successful, yet they all come from small development teams. The Nintendo Switch has an especially large library of indie games, so figuring out what’s worth your time can be difficult. Let us help you out with our round-up of the best Switch indies right here.
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1. Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a narrative-driven game from developer Infinite Fall. You play as Mae, a young woman who’s just returned home after dropping out of college. She soon realises how much things have changed in her home town since she first left.
Covering topics of depression, the complicated politics between upper and middle classes, the fall of small-town America and more, Night in the Woods is much deeper than its cute animal characters would suggest. It’s no wonder that it’s won multiple awards, including “Best Narrative” and “Most Fulfilling Community-Funded Game”. It’s an absolute must-have, and one of the best indie games on Switch.
Best described as a 2D action-platformer inspired by Dark Souls, we love Blasphemous. Its difficulty level and dark, oppressive setting means it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but if you like the idea of exploring a fascinating world, getting toe-to-toe in combat and uncovering a narrative revolving around a mysterious ‘Miracle’, then you’re gong to love it.
Another multi-award winning game, Celeste is a platforming game originally created in only four days during a game jam. It was then expanded upon to become one of the most beloved indie games of recent years, being played by hundreds of thousands of gamers across a variety of formats including Switch. In it, you play as a young girl named Madeline as she traverses a dangerous mountain avoiding obstacles despite people warning her against it.
Celeste has been praised for its unique story, awesome soundtrack and great level design, making it an obvious choice as one of the best indie games on Switch. You’ll fall in love with its characters, but it’s the excellent gameplay that will keep you glued to the screen.
4. Card Shark
One of the newest indie games to grace Nintendo Switch, Card Shark might also be one of the best. This is a card game, but not as you know it. It’s all about sleight of hand, tricking your opponents and forging a win for yourself and your comrades. Ever wondered how magicians perform card tricks so successfully and impressively? Card Shark is going to teach you some real-world methods to do so. You’ll feel like you’re getting an invite to the Magician’s Circle.
Cuphead, from developer StudioMDHR, is a run-and-gun game where you play as the titular Cuphead (and if you’re playing with a friend, his brother Mugman) who have both got into a bit of a pickle. They played a little too hard at the Devil’s Casino and now they are forced to work for him. As the two brothers, you have to fight and take out a bunch of baddies in boss battles in order to collect “soul contracts” from them for the devil.
What’s genius about Cuphead is both its difficulty and its art style, among other things. Cuphead feels impossibly hard, but that’s what will keep you coming back for more. With only three to four lives to work with, you’ll have to attempt to memorise and strategise to beat each boss. Its art style is inspired by 1930s cartoons and it is incredibly eye catching. If you’re up for a challenge, then Cuphead is one of the best indie games on Switch, hands down.
If you like roguelike action games, you’re going to love Hades. Trust us. Set in the underworld, you take on the role of Zagreus, son of Hades, as he attempts to escape to reunite with his mother. Doing so means working through increasingly dangerous chambers, fighting a range of tough enemies.
Being a roguelike, you’ll need to play again and again to really get the most out of Hades, but when its gameplay is this satisfying, you really won’t mind. And Zagreus will get plenty of upgrades along the way, making him more formidable with each attempt.
7. Mini Motorways
Remember Mini Metro, the game that had you designing your own lo-fi rail transport systems? Well, Mini Motorways is a sequel of sorts. But this time around, you’re designing road networks.
Your goal is to get everyone from home to work, mapped by a colour-coded system, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Let traffic build up too much, and it’s going to be game over. After all, those workplaces need their staff. It’s an addictive puzzle game that’ll keep you coming back again and again, and that reason along is enough to warrant its place on this list of best indie games on Switch.
8. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Named Apple Arcade’s Game of the Year in 2019 as well as being nominated in three categories at the 2019 Game Awards, Sayonara Wild Hearts is described as a “pop album video game”. You’ll ride motorcycles, skateboard, compete in dance battles, shoot lasers and more all while listening to a kick-ass pop soundtrack.
Sayonara Wild Hearts isn’t the longest game in the world; you’ll beat it in just over an hour. But like an album from your favourite artist, you’ll keep coming back to it again and again, both for its excellent soundtrack and its killer visuals. With a high score system too, there’s always something to strive towards. Fun, intriguing and exciting for all ages, Sayonara Wild Hearts isn’t one to look past, and is one of the most unique indie games you can get your hands on on Nintendo Switch.
9. Yoku’s Island Express
We absolutely adore Yoku’s Island Express, and there’s a good chance you will too. Combining pinball with side-scrolling metroidvania action, this gorgeous adventure sees you flinging a dung beetle around a well-realised world, with the aim to deliver letters and packages to its residents. There’s much more to it than that, of course, but that’s for you to discover by yourself. Trust us: it’ll keep you hooked for its 12-15 hour running time.
10. Dead Cells
Chances are, you’ll have heard of Dead Cells already. A roguelike metroidvania, this action-packed title puts players into the shoes of an unnamed prisoner, a greenish blob with the ability to possess bodies. As you explore dungeons, you’ll be able to collect weapons, abilities, power-ups and more in order to keep their character in ship-shape for the journey ahead.
With gorgeous pixel graphics and ingenious gameplay, it’s no wonder this game has been played by practically anyone with opposable thumbs. Presuming you do have opposable thumbs and haven’t yet experienced Dead Cells, what are you waiting for? It’s without a doubt one of the best indie games on Switch right now.
11. Road 96
We’re fairly confident that you won’t ever have played anything like Road 96. This story-driven adventure, set in a fictional country, is about helping a number of teenagers cross the border to escape the oppressive government. It’s at times touching, at times very dark, and at other times incredibly humorous. Whether you’re meeting random celebrities, teaming up with bumbling criminals or simply trying to hitch a ride, Road 96 proves to be one of the best indie games on Switch.
12. Hotline Miami Collection
Hotline Miami made a name for itself when it first released on PC back in 2012. It’s a top-down shooter set in 1989 Miami, and its follow-up is set both before and after the events of the first, between 1989 and 1991. Both titles are violent, painfully (and wonderfully) difficult, and their stories are as brilliant as they are confusing and strange.
The Hotline Miami Collection groups together both games, so it’s the ideal way to play for anyone not yet familiar with these indie masterpieces. Hotline Miami is most well-known for its intriguing story time, tough as nails gameplay, striking visuals and exciting electronica/techno soundtrack. If you don’t mind a bit of pixelated ultraviolence, then, it’s one of the best indie games on Switch.
13. Cadence of Hyrule
Despite being set in the world of The Legend of Zelda, Cadence of Hyrule is still an indie game through and through. And what an indie game it is! This is a spin-off of the excellent Crypt of the Necrodancer, a dungeon-crawler where attacking enemies depended on moving in time to the beat of the music. You’ll be doing the same here, yet this time in the all-too familiar world of Hyrule, with Link under your control. We can’t get enough of it.
A creepy one for the ages, Oxenfree is a supernatural adventure game that we can’t get enough of. You play as Alex, a teenager on a trip with her friends and new stepbrother Jonas on a place called Edwards Island. When the teens hear about a local myth about tuning into certain radio frequencies on the island, they begin to hear strange ghostly noises. Together, they investigate the strange happenings and discover the sinister past of Edwards Island.
If you enjoy your games with a side helping of spooky, then Oxenfree is definitely one to look out for. Add in an excellent tale of mystery intertwined with relatable characters and great, meaningful dialogue, and you’ve got one of the best indie games on Switch.
More than a decade old now, Bastion still remains one of our favourite indie games of all time, and definitely one of the best indie games on Switch. Don’t let its age put you off. From the developers of Hades, this remains as clever, stylish and engaging as it was the day it first released. An isometric action game, your movements are accompanied by incredible narration from Logan Cunningham, a voice that will live rent-free in your head for years after completing this beauty.
16. Hyper Light Drifter
A memorable game that originally released on PC in 2016 but has since made its way to Switch, Hyper Light Drifter is a 2D action role-playing game developed by Heart Machine. Sporting a beautiful pixel-art style inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Hyper Light Drifter puts players in the shoes of The Drifter, who has the amazing ability to use technology that no other can. Unfortunately, the game’s hero is also suffering from some kind of illness; he’s slowly being drained of all his energy.
The Drifter starts with a sword to fight with but as players progress through the game they’ll add various weapons to their arsenal. Hyper Light Drifter is gorgeous, heart wrenching and action packed. Its visuals have never shone brighter than on the Switch’s screen, either. Switch owners should definitely have this indie gem in their library.
17. A Short Hike
A short but beautiful adventure, every indie-loving Switch owner should add A Short Hike to their library. This game sees you dropped to the bottom of a mountain. Your only goal? Reach the top. But in order to do so, you’ll have to help out some characters in order to gather everything you need. There’s plenty of other quests to do along the way, and this is the type of game that’s worth spending some time with, exploring all its nooks and crannies. It’s gorgeous, cute, and one of those games we wish would never end.
18. Baba is You
Baba is You is a puzzle game where you control a small animal (Baba) as it manipulates words in each level in order to collect a flag. It challenges the player’s way of thinking by forcing them to completely change their point of view for many of its puzzles.
For example, a level may have an unreachable flag. Somewhere else in the level are the words “Flag is win”. If you move a rock to replace the word flag, then Rock is Win. Therefore, when Baba touches the rock, it wins. It’s funny, and manages to be both simplistic and complicated in the most brilliant way possible. Even more impressive Baba Is You was created by just one man, Arvi Teikari, during a Nordic Game Jam.
19. Chicory: A Colorful Tale
A Legend of Zelda clone that you colour in yourself. That’s about the best way we can describe Chicory: A Colorful Tale. Except it’s sort-of so much more than that. This gorgeous, innovative adventure sees you take control of the titular Chicory who has just become The Wielder, the one person chose to hold a paintbrush and colour the world around them in.
There are puzzles to solve along the way, dungeons to pass through, and plenty of characters to meet as you progress. Colouring in is sometimes the only way to move forward, but there’s plenty of opportunity to simply use the game as a moving colouring book if you want. Hands down, this is one of the best indie games on Switch, and it’ll leave a lasting impression.
2. Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire is a roguelike deck-building card game where you play as one of three characters, each with their own unique card decks. As you progress through each “dungeon” defeating enemies and encountering other curious situations and creatures, you’ll pick up new cards chosen by you to customise your deck to your play style.
Originally released on Steam, Slay the Spire eventually made its way to Nintendo Switch so we can enjoyed deck-building fun on the go. It’s a fun, infinitely replayable game that anyone interesting in deck-building adventures will enjoy. If that sounds like your thing, consider it to be one of the best indie games on Switch.