The Nintendo Switch is an amazing console and has become home to some of the best indie games ever made. From 3 hour experiences to full-blown RPGs, indie games are one of the most special aspects of this industry, and they are flourishing now more than ever. Oh, and they’re a LOT cheaper than triple-A games, which always helps. Here are our top 10 indie games you can pick up on Nintendo Switch.
For more Nintendo Switch news, why not check out some of the best JRPGs on the console or our review for the intriguing port of The Outer Worlds.
1. Hollow Knight
2017’s Hollow Knight is one of those special video games you never forget. Originally on Steam, the game found new life on the Switch in 2018. It takes the core death mechanic from the FromSoftware Soulsborne games and sticks it into the exquisite Metroidvania framework of Hallowsnest, a plague-ridden underground kingdom inhabited by insects. Fighting various creatures with your needle-sword, and facing some of the most imaginative boss fights I’ve ever seen, Hollow Knight brings numerous ideas together exquisitely into a creative and interesting story. This is one of those perfect indie games that you must not miss.
Here’s another perfect indie game that you must not miss. Celeste came out at the beginning of 2018 and was a game of the year contender against many massive big-budget games. While the platforming is tight and tough in equal measure, the story surrounding the brilliant gameplay really makes the game special. You play as Madeline, making her way up Celeste Mountain, meeting various strange characters, and fighting inner demons along the way. This heartwarming tale is wonderful, but even if you take no notice, the platforming is possibly the best I’ve ever played. It’s another must-have.
3. Sayonara Wild Hearts
This game is very close to my heart. I know some people who aren’t that keen, but for me, this is one of those perfect, short indie games that fill you with emotion and colour and leaves you in awe when it quickly comes to an end. A self-described interactive pop album, Sayonara Wild Hearts unravels various mechanics, taken from endless runners and action games to rail-shooters and rhythm games. Not only is the gameplay nuanced and well-paced with each new level, but the unspoken story meshes with the music so seamlessly that the game packs a serious emotional punch without ever saying anything. And that’s why it deserves to be so high on our top 10 indie games on Switch.
4. SteamWorld Dig 2
Wow! Look! Another indie gem, who could’ve guessed… One of the earliest indie darlings on the Switch, SteamWorld Dig 2 is a stellar Metroidvania with quirky characters and art design and a lovely, consistent groove to its gameplay loop. With various platforming and boss challenges, the core loop tasks you with mining deeper underground in search of your missing friend. As you get deeper and deeper, you build out an expansive map full of nooks and crannies to explore and various items to collect. In classic Metroidvania fashion, you use these items to upgrade your character and access areas previously inaccessible to you. The core pacing of this game is where it really shines, and again, must not be missed.
This is an interesting one because Inside is one of the best indie games ever made. I didn’t want to put it higher on our top 10 indie games list only because, while it is perfect on the Switch, it’s not necessarily a better experience than on the other consoles. While I won’t go into too much detail, Inside is another short experience full of puzzles with an exquisite atmosphere and a gut-punch of a story. All the gorgeous art design and the charming storytelling make Inside one of the most unforgettable indie experiences ever, doing something most games fail to.
6. Darkest Dungeon
Hey, do you like to be sad? Do you like feeling anxious? Scared? Miserable? If you said yes, then Darkest Dungeon is for you! Now, while those emotions sound bad, it’s in the same way that getting deep into Blighttown in Dark Souls hurts you deeply, but you just want to keep going. You control various heroes as you explore dungeons underneath a gothic townscape, fighting creepy monsters in turn-based combat. Where this game stands out though is various real-time mechanics to make any dungeon excursion tense and terrifying, from the amount of time your torch is lit to how stressed your characters are. Oh and there’s perma-death, in case you needed to feel worse about it all.
7. Into The Breach
Created by Subset Games, the developers of FTL, Into The Breach is basically crazy mech space chess. Except, of course, it is so much more than that. While you do control mechs with various weapons and abilities to take on these invading monsters, you often have civilian structures to defend as well, adding another layer. The unique aspect of this game however is that the gameplay scenarios are procedurally generated, and if you lose any of them along your way, you will be forced to restart, playing a whole new game again. It’s tough, but deeply addictive.
8. Hyper Light Drifter
I really like The Legend of Zelda. My favourite is probably A Link To The Past. So when I first played Hyper Light Drifter, I was immediately in love. While it is definitely taking a huge amount of influence from Zelda, its colourful and unique atmosphere, as well as its faster pace and more oblique world-building, make for an experience that stands out on its own. While it may be an older game, it shines on Switch especially, definitely becoming one of the top 10 indie games on the platform. Do yourself a favour and dive into this gorgeous and unique world.
While every game in this list is an example of the complete freedom and variation in the indie game sphere, Cuphead may be the most artistically special indie game ever made. Completely hand-drawn, it’s an über-tough platformer taking after classic 1930s cartoons. Made by a tiny team at StudioMDHR, other than a handful of run-and-gun levels, most of your time is spent facing off against gorgeous and creative boss battles that will absolutely destroy you.
And, most recently, an animated series was announced, so all the more reason to get involved in this colourful world.
10. Ape Out
Another wonderfully stylish video game, Ape Out puts you in the position of a big buff gorilla, breaking out of a testing facility defended by countless armed guards. This game stands out with its Saul Bass movie poster aesthetic and its dynamic jazz soundtrack that reacts to your action in the game. All this comes together into a frenetic and charming rush of colour and noise, and seemed to be skipped by way too many people. Go play it!
What do you think? Anything you think should be in here? Let me know in the comments below.