Indie games are unique in that they carry a special touch from the creators that you wouldn’t find in games made by the giants in the industry. Here are the top 20 best Nintendo Switch indie games so far.
When my friend first recommended Coffee Talk to me, I practically laughed in his face. Why would I want to play a game where you sit behind a counter serving coffee and listen to people talk? I might as well go pick up a job at a café if that sounded appealing to me. However, I was shocked to realize that Coffee Talk quickly became my go-to game to play before bed, and there was nothing better than listening to the unique stories of customers when you’re trying to drift off to sleep.
There is nothing to this game besides making different types of coffee and listening to people talk, yet the vibe is just too perfect. The customers aren’t just humans—you can listen to stories from elves, succubae, aliens, and more, earning this game a spot in the best Nintendo Switch indie games list.
If you’ve been really into Minecraft and are looking for something similar with a bit of a twist, Terraria might be a great option for you. The game combines the sandbox style of Minecraft with features from classic action games in 2D. In Terraria, you can decide whether you want to go exploring, test your strength against enemies, or build a city. Why not all three?
What made Terraria stand out for me is that it didn’t feel like there was one goal I was supposed to be working toward. I was dropped into a world and could basically do whatever I felt like doing, which turned into entertainment that would last hours. It’s basically a create-your-own adventure game, earning it a spot on the best Nintendo Switch indie games list.
Overcooked! All You Can Eat
I can’t help but put Overcooked! All You Can Eat on my list of top indie games for the Switch, considering how many great memories I now have with my family from playing it. Overcooked! All You Can Eat can be played with one or numerous players, though in my experience, it’s definitely a game that is more fun with more people. You must work together to cook and serve a bunch of different orders to hungry customers before they get angry and leave because you’re taking too long.
Upon reading this description the first time, I was pretty skeptical. But even though there isn’t a lot to be said for the story, the structure of Overcooked! All You Can Eat makes it the perfect party game, and you’ll be experiencing a room full of a bunch of hilariously frantic people trying to accomplish simple tasks.
Get ready to take a thrilling trip back to the 90s in this time-traveling adventure story. Play as Lunais, a timekeeper who seeks to bend time and take revenge on those who murdered her family. During your playthrough, you discover that things aren’t necessarily as they seem, making for a complex and interesting story.
In Timespinner, you can befriend Familiars that can aid you in battle, control time when fighting against foes, and defeat bosses (with an emphasis on skill, timing, and dodging). You can also play Timespinner with a friend in co-op mode.
Though the gameplay outshined the story a bit for me, the Metroidvania-style was done well enough that I ended up playing through the game several times anyway.
If you are a fan of Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, you may want to test out Wargroove. In this tactical, turn-based game, you get to choose from more than 12 commanders from four different factions that are at war with each other. The characters each have different views and personalities, so you’ll want to spend time finding the one you most align with.
The gameplay is like Fire Emblem—you have an army and a grid to move the characters around in. But what makes Wargroove distinct from other games is that you can create your own maps and stories. You can even share your creations with other people. Furthermore, Wargroove allows for co-op play, so you can share your love for turn-based games with your friends.
Untitled Goose Game
Untitled Goose Game is perhaps the most unique game that made it on our list of top indie games for the Switch. The game originally started as a meme, and it has turned into a hilarious experience where you can run around and bother people in goose form. There is just something unexplainably cathartic about harassing fictional people as one of the most obnoxious animals in existence.
In Untitled Goose Game, you can set up pranks, steal people’s stuff, or honk them into oblivion. This is the perfect game to break out and show to your unsuspecting friend to see their reaction. You can even play the game in co-op mode now, so you can really wreak some havoc on the town with two geese.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Could this really be the greatest indie games list without Shovel Knight? The original 2D side-scroller adventure game won best indie game at the Game Awards in 2014, and most who play it understand why. Its 8-bit retro aesthetic combined with modern elements separates this game from others on the list. But we all know the best part of the game is the character’s Shovel Blade. Treasure Trove is simply the complete version of the original, plus additional content.
You play the game as Shovel Knight, who is on a quest to rescue his dearly beloved. Shovel Knight is less difficult than games like Hollow Knight or Cuphead, but the RPG still manages to be engaging. You can battle, upgrade, find treasure, and learn secrets throughout the course of your adventure. The game has just the right amount of humor and light-heartedness to keep you entertained and determined to help Shovel Knight reach his goal.
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!
I don’t want to say too much about Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! if you haven’t played the game yet. I went into playing this game with essentially zero knowledge about it, and that made my experience infinitely greater than if I’d known what I was getting into. Let’s just say the images you might associate with this game are more than a little misleading, in a good way. Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! is an anime dating sim that doubles as a horror game.
Believe it or not, there is a fair amount of chilling, emotional commentary going on beneath the surface of this seemingly bubbly, simple dating sim. The game is slow-burning, but the events that unfold make it worth the playthrough, and good enough to make it on the list of best Nintendo Switch indie games.
If you’re looking for a game that’s totally unique and poses a real challenge, Cuphead is for you. While this is a hand-drawn game, the style of Cuphead is specifically inspired by cartoons from the 1930s. Studio MDHR Entertainment Inc. really went the whole nine yards with not only the drawings but the watercolor backgrounds and original jazz recordings, making this one of the best indie games for the Switch.
You play as Cuphead in this run-and-gun action game. Your goal is to pay your debt back to the Devil, and you do this by progressing through this bizarre and unforgiving world. There are numerous boss battles, and I promise you, they aren’t going to be a walk in the park. Learn new moves to progress and play the game with a friend to make the experience even better.
What stood out to me about Undertale right away was how they made it clear that you wouldn’t have to use violence to defeat enemies in this game. It’s not that I’m opposed to violence in games (I’ve played my fair share of Grand Theft Auto), but this implied that the devs came up with a creative alternative, which I was very intrigued by. Though you can choose to fight, you can also defeat enemies through conversations, hugs, dances, and more. These creative methods alone bump Undertale up on the list of best Nintendo Switch indie games.
However, it’s not just the battle system that makes Undertale such a unique game. The humorous dialogue throughout had me frequently smiling or laughing as I progressed. This RPG is one you’ll want to play more than once to get the full flavor.
Take an adventurous camping trip in one of the most adorable games ever made—Cozy Grove. This game perfectly combines my love for cutesy Halloween stuff with positive messages and a relaxing environment. You are a spirit scout who is staying on the island. You must interact with ghostly inhabitants to restore the island’s color that has been lost.
The hand-drawn landscapes are especially effective in this game as you see the color unfolding when you help a spirit who needs you. Additionally, you can craft, fish, and collect spirit animals in this charming campground. The campaign is around 40 hours, but there are tons of side quests to make Cozy Grove last as long as you want it to.
Unlike other games, GRIS tells its story through symbolism as opposed to dialogue, making it one of the more ambitious indie games out there. It’s advertised as a game that anyone can enjoy, no matter the language they speak. There’s certainly something to be said for a game that conveys deep feeling without having to rely on language to do so. The breathtaking watercolor art and original soundtrack are the perfect aids to make GRIS an unforgettable experience.
You play as a girl named Gris who has lost her voice and is struggling to deal with heartbreak. As she travels aimlessly across the land, her journey manifests in her dress, which grants her new abilities to reach new places and eventually find her way out and deal with her overwhelming sadness.
What Comes After
Like Spiritfarer, What Comes After deals mainly with the concept of death. More accurately, the story follows Vivi, a girl who falls asleep on a train and wakes up as it’s taking spirits to the afterlife. Vivi is still alive, but her depression has caused her to be close enough to death that she’s able to speak with spirits on the train.
This narrative game allows you to speak to children, adults, plants, and animals who are headed to the afterlife. Through this, we get much-needed reminders of how our actions affect other people. But more importantly, What Comes After teaches us how important it is that we value and love ourselves.
The strong philosophical concepts combined with the ambiance of a ghost train with cute animation give this game a unique feel. It prompts you to ponder the important questions, but you don’t feel stressed or panicked as you do so.
Ori and the Blind Forest
The soundtrack for Ori and the Blind Forest drew me to it immediately. Though there are plenty of other great qualities about the game, I would deem its incredible soundtrack as its strongest feature. The art of the game complements this, and everything comes together to bring us a charming adventure about hope.
After a bad storm that kickstarted a chain of dark events, Ori must find a way to save his forest. For a game that seems so cute and wholesome, it’s not the easiest to complete. While the mechanics of this RPG keep the game fun and engaging, expect to die often. While there isn’t a ton of boss fights like in many of the other games on the list, there are plenty of difficult areas in which you must quickly and skillfully escape.
Recognized as one of the most wholesome games for the Switch, Spiritfarer easily deserves a spot near the top. You play as Stella, a “Spiritfarer” for the deceased. You sail around on a boat, exploring the world as you care for spirits before sending them into the afterlife. This game isn’t just narrative though, as you can also farm, mine, fish, harvest, cook, and craft during your adventure.
What stood out most about this game was the way that it forces you to learn how to say goodbye. You get to know many spirits aboard your boat, but eventually, they must all leave and pass on after you’ve gotten to know them and their stories. Spiritfarer masterfully makes us reflect on death and loss while managing to keep the tone positive and reassuring. If you’ve ever lost someone close, this game will strike a deeper chord.
Have you ever thought about what a perfect day would look like if you had 24 hours to do whatever your heart most desired? Sumire is a game about a girl trying to have her perfect day, though this isn’t an easy task. She is struggling with the loss of her grandmother, neglectful parents, and bullying from her peers. Sumire is a game that’s all about coping with loss and finding forgiveness.
While Ori and the Blind Forest would likely win my vote for best indie soundtrack, Sumire has the best art out of all the games on this list. Not only is the artwork phenomenal, but the way they weave the images in with the themes and meaning within the writing is seamless.
For a journey of self-discovery like you’ve never experienced before, you might want to try Celeste. This is another 2D platformer, but don’t let that lead you to “been there, done that.” Unlike most other platformers, Celeste combines challenging gameplay with commentary on the difficulties of modern life.
Celeste masterfully blends together its storytelling with its gameplay, as opposed to these feeling like two separate elements as they do in most games. While I’ve found that most games tend to favor gameplay or story-telling, the devs at Matt Makes Games Inc. spared no effort for either.
The way anyone who struggles with emotional and mental challenges can relate to the main character makes this game more than worth the playthrough. Add a spectacular soundtrack to that and Celeste is easily one of the best indie games for the Nintendo Switch.
In Stardew Valley, you can make all your farm simulation dreams come true. You move to a rural location and take over your grandfather’s farm, though it needs tons of work. Customize your land into your dream farm in this relaxing escape from reality.
Stardew Valley ranks so high on this list because of how much there is to do in the game. From customizing your home and land, exploring nearby caves, building relationships with the townspeople, and learning to live off the land, the hours will pass you by at an alarming rate while you play. Additionally, I’m not sure if I’ve ever listened to a more calming soundtrack that whisks you away so easily from all the stresses that come with real life.
There are numerous impressive features about Hollow Knight. Perhaps the greatest of all is the fact that every creature you see was masterfully hand-drawn. Though the aesthetic may not be as tranquil as other entries on this list, Hollow Knight’s enamoring darker atmosphere is sure to draw you in.
The game is a 2D platformer, and it is not known for being easy to complete. In fact, the dark aesthetic and challenging battles make this game a good bet if you’re looking for something new to play after Dark Souls. Ultimately, Hollow Knight is an engaging adventure story in which you can build up your character, explore the depths of an ancient kingdom, and make countless new discoveries. Not to mention, you get sweet bragging rights after taking down the bosses.
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To the surprise of absolutely no one, Hades must take first place as the greatest indie game on the Nintendo Switch. More accurately, it’s the best indie game, period. Considering I’ve never been able to get into rogue-likes, my hopes weren’t high going into it. However, Hades blew me away in every way a game could.
You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, in this re-imagined story about Greek mythology. Zagreus is attempting to escape the underworld. Part of what makes this game so unique is that the story is consistently unfolding in new ways with every escape attempt, whether you succeed or not. With every run, you learn more about a myriad of characters, Zagreus’ background, and the mystery of what happened with Zagreus’ parents.
Furthermore, the ability to change up your weapons and rebuild your character with different boons each run prevents the game from feeling repetitive. Between the characters’ quirky personalities, the fascinating story, and the engaging dungeons, it’s no wonder Hades has won so many awards.