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Published Mar. 5, 2022

The best indie games on Switch offer unforgettable experiences full of amazing worlds, engaging gameplay, and memorable moments. While most players think of games from Nintendo’s iconic franchises like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when picking the best Nintendo Switch games and/or the best multiplayer Switch games, the hybrid handheld console has a large and wonderful library of smaller indie games, covering a wide range of genres and styles. From heartfelt puzzle games like Gorogoa to unforgiving survival titles like The Long Dark, the best indie games on Switch offer just as much fun as Nintendo’s most famous games.

With such a large catalog of great titles available through Nintendo’s eShop, it can be intimidating to find the perfect game for you, your friends, or your kids. To save some scrolling time, our list of the best indie Switch games highlights some stellar options for all types of players to try and expand their horizons.

How we picked the best indie games on Switch

I’ve been playing video games for my entire life and began closely following indie games in the early 2010s. Since then, I have played tons of indie games, designed games of my own, and covered gaming technology for sites like Popular Mechanics

To pick the best indie games on Switch, we scoured professional reviews across the gaming industry, from both critics and consumers. We considered the depth and breadth of each game’s core gameplay loop, both from our own experiences and those of gamers as a whole. When picking an individual title as the best of its genre, we compared it to other indie titles critics considered the best of that genre.

In each game, we took into account stylistic considerations such as a game’s art and animation style. We also noted games with exceptional sound design, voice acting, and soundtracks. Technical considerations, such as price point, playtime, amount of players, and performance in docked and undocked mode, were also taken into account. To offer a list that would be useful to the widest variety of gamers, we tried to cover as many genres as possible.

Things to consider when buying the best indie games on Switch

Shopping for a new game can feel overwhelming if you don’t already have something specific in mind. With so many amazing and not-so-amazing titles all right next to each other on store shelves and digital storefronts, it’s natural to feel worried about picking “the wrong game.” As with all things, it’s best to consider your own preferences before picking your next digital adventure.

What are you in the mood to play?

While it may not be obvious at a glance, most games fall into a familiar blend of mechanics and storytelling defined by their genre. Games like Hitman 3 and Untitled Goose Game may look dramatically different, but they have a lot in common: both games ask you to figure out creative ways to perform tasks while evading detection from watchful enemies. In Hitman, your enemies are guards with guns. In Goose Game, your “enemies” are farmers and shopkeepers.

Think about what kinds of games you most enjoy and notice what genres they fall into. If most of your favorite games are role-playing games, you may not enjoy the latest indie first-person shooter. 

There are lots of genres and subgenres of games. When picking out a new one, ask yourself what you’re in the mood to play. If there’s a game you love that fits your mood, chances are there’s something similar out there for you. If you’re in the mood to explore, maybe look for something you haven’t tried before.

Will your friends or family enjoy this game?

If you live in a household where everyone enjoys gaming on the same Switch, it’s good to consider whether your fellow gamers will also enjoy your indie game of choice. For families, in particular, the best Switch games for kids are not always the best Switch games for adults.

Most indie games look nothing like Nintendo’s big Mario or Zelda games

For anyone who has never played an indie game before, you may be surprised at how different they look and feel compared to Nintendo’s first-party game series like Mario and Zelda. While many Nintendo games feature gorgeous, stylized 3D graphics, indie games take on many different visual styles, including old-school pixel-style art, cartoony 3D character designs, or painterly, hand-drawn settings. The best way to enjoy any popular indie game is by keeping an open mind as you start your first play session.

The best indie games on Switch: Reviews & Recommendations

The best indie games on Switch cover a wide range of genres and gameplay styles. Each offers a unique, riveting gameplay experience on par with any top Switch game. Chances are you’ll only be into some of these games, and that’s totally normal. We believe there’s at least one game on this list for everyone. What’s more, this is not an exhaustive list: There are tons of great games out there, so we hope you’ll use these as a jumping-off point to dive deep and try new things.

Best indie game for most people: Hades

Supergiant Games

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Why it made the cut: Simply put, Hades is one of the best games on Switch, with engaging combat, gorgeous artwork, loads of replayability, and a heartfelt story of gods and family.

Specs

  • Number of Players: One
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Playtime: ~38 hours

Pros

  • A fun, vibrant cast of characters inspired by Greek mythology
  • Frantic, action-packed gameplay you can approach multiple ways
  • Incredible artstyle and soundtrack

Cons

  • More challenging content requires quick reaction time

Hades is one of the most stylish, action-packed games on Switch. You play as Zagreus—son of Hades, the Greek god of the underworld—and you have had quite enough of life down under. Hellbent on escaping your father, you journey upwards from the depths of the underworld in the hopes of reaching the surface world.

What makes Hades so engaging to play is its approach to failure. In short: the game expects you to fail often. Instead of a game-over screen, however, you return to your home at the bottom of the underworld, with new conversations to have, new items to unlock, and new weapons to utilize. Riffing on the run-based “roguelike” genre, where players must complete the game from start to finish in a single try or start from the beginning, you uncover more of the game’s story every time you die and start again. Aside from this cozy starting point, the underworld is filled with ever-changing enemies, power-ups, and scenarios, making each attempt at escape unique. With so many weapons, items, trinkets, and power-ups to choose from, you can approach Hades your way, keeping things fresh as you repeatedly battle out of hell.

With a mix of incredibly detailed 2D and 3D art, Hades makes battling your way out of an ever-changing underworld incredibly fun. Using multiple weapons, keepsakes, and an ever-changing assortment of borrowed godly powers, Hades combat is wild and varied, with each play session offering starkly different combat scenarios. And failure being the norm makes Hades easy to enjoy and takes most of the frustration out of defeat.

Best platforming game: Celeste

Matt Makes Games

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Why it made the cut: Celeste features some of the best game design in the platforming genre. With a small set of abilities, tight controls, and a surprisingly impactful story, Celeste is a must-play.

Specs

  • Number of Players: One
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
  • Playtime: ~12 hours

Pros

  • Challenging but fair levels
  • A well-told story with a powerful message
  • Clear and detailed 2D pixel animation

Cons

  • Very challenging, verging on frustrating at times

Originally released in 2018, Celeste has been celebrated as one of the best modern platformers. Similar to games like Spelunky and Super Meat Boy, Celeste mixes tried-and-true platforming gameplay with challenging, bite-sized levels to create a rewarding experience. 

You play as a young woman named Madeline on a mission to ascend a massive, foreboding mountain. With the ability to run, jump, climb, and dash, you ascend the mountain and experience Madeline’s physical and mental struggles as she makes the climb.

With a retro, 2D pixel art style and a great soundtrack, Celeste creates a beautiful setting for its challenging levels. And even after you complete the main portion of the game, Celeste awards you with even harder “B-side” levels that can really push your platforming skills.

Best RPG: Stardew Valley

ConcernedApe

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Why it made the cut: A seemingly endless game teeming with things to do, Stardew Valley turns the life of a small-town farmer into an epic role-playing experience and one of the coziest games on Switch. 

Specs

  • Number of Players: Two player co-op or online play
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
  • Playtime: ~87 hours

Pros

  • From farming to mining, tons of activities to do
  • Dozens of well-realized characters
  • Fun local and online multiplayer

Cons

  • Lack of tutorials can feel overwhelming

Part role-playing game part simulator, Stardew Valley is a cozy game where you grow and manage your very own farm. Most of your time is spent growing crops, tending to animals, chatting with neighbors, exploring the village, and making the titular Stardew Valley as homey as possible. 

While Stardew Valley is supposedly about farming, there is so much to do beyond plating crops. Fishing, mining, exploring, crafting, collecting, socializing, quests, romance—it’s all here, and it’s all fun. Tackling all the game has to offer amidst its colorful pixel art style and relaxing soundtrack makes it easy to lose track of time. Stardew Valley feels like its own world, one that’s relaxing and welcoming to visit.

Best adventure game: Hollow Knight

Team Cherry

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Why it made the cut: Hollow Knight takes inspiration from many genres to deliver a world-class experience with unique design, engrossing gameplay, and vivid artwork.

Specs

  • Number of Players: One 
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
  • Playtime: ~40 hours

Pros

  • Gorgeous, hand-drawn animation
  • A huge world to explore
  • Varied items lead to personalized combat

Cons

  • Objectives can be unclear
  • Easy to get lost

You wouldn’t think a game featuring hundreds of different hand-drawn insect-like creatures would have broad appeal, but Hollow Knight proves otherwise. Blending adventure, platforming, and action genre elements, Hollow Knight puts you in the shoes of a nameless warrior exploring a vast, subterranean world and the many mysteries it holds. While its cavernous, sprawling world can feel overwhelming at times, its tight gameplay, memorable bosses, and amazing animation more than make up for time lost staring at the complex world map.

Released on Switch in 2018, Hollow Knight stands out amongst other indie titles for its incredibly detailed, hand-drawn 2D art and animation. Every character, whether they are minor enemies or major NPCs, comes alive thanks to amazing animation. Combined with the fictional gibberish many characters vocalize with, every encounter in Hollow Knight oozes personality and charm.

Best multiplayer game: Overcooked! All You Can Eat

Team17

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Why it made the cut: No other multiplayer game on Switch can top the chaotic fun of cooking as a team of chefs in Overcooked! All You Can Eat.

Specs

  • Number of Players: Up to 4 players (co-op or online play)
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone
  • Playtime: ~45 hours

Pros

  • Chaotic, hilarious multiplayer gameplay
  • Hundreds of varied levels
  • Local and online co-op

Cons

  • Repetitive at times

The Overcooked series is some of the most fun you can have on your Switch with friends and family. As a team of 2-4 line cooks in a series of increasingly impractical kitchens, players chop, cook, and combine meals to order as quickly as possible within the allotted time. In addition to the basic challenges of communicating and working together, the chefs must overcome all kinds of hazards, from slick arctic ice to kitchens spread across two trucks that occasionally split apart.

Overcooked! All You Can Eat is actually a combination of the original Overcooked and Overcooked 2 games. With hundreds of levels to choose from, Overcooked! All You Can Eat offers dozens of hours of local and online multiplayer fun.

Best shooting game: Superhot

SUPERHOT Team

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Why it made the cut: Innovative, time-bending gameplay and a minimalistic style make Superhot one of the most distinctive shooters you can play.

Specs

  • Number of Players: One
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Playtime: ~3 hours

Pros

  • Innovative gameplay
  • Many ways to succeed
  • Minimalistic style

Cons

  • Short playtime

Superhot adds a substantial twist to the largely samey first-person shooter formula: In Superhot, the world only moves when you’re moving too. When standing still, all enemies and even bullets freeze in their tracks until the moment you move again. This central mechanic adds a satisfying layer of strategy to an otherwise minimalist shooter, creating one of the most innovative action experiences in recent memory.

While a shooter where you can stop time may sound easy, Superhot is a challenge, as you are always outnumbered and outgunned. Often, the uninterrupted sequences look like wild action sequences out of John Wick or The Matrix, with your character weaving between bullets and taking out enemies with stray coffee cups when their ammo runs dry. That slick, stylish blend of quick action and thoughtful tactics makes Superhot feel exciting, even when the world’s standing still.

Best survival game: Subnautica

Unknown Worlds Entertainment

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Why it made the cut: Subnautica takes tried-and-true exploration, gathering, and crafting gameplay from other survival games and combines them with a beautiful, intentionally-designed underwater world for an engrossing and engaging adventure.

Specs

  • Number of Players: One
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
  • Playtime: ~43 hours

Pros

  • A beautiful, well-designed world to explore
  • Detailed crafting, gathering, and building systems
  • Unique flora and fauna

Cons

  • Can be unexpectedly scary and stressful at times

At a glance, Subnautica seems similar to many other open-world survival games. You control a silent protagonist who has crash-landed onto an alien world, bereft of humanoid life. With minimal resources and no sign of rescue, it’s up to you to explore, collect, and construct a suitable home before aggressive wildlife ends your journey.

What separates Subnautica from other indie survival titles is its tight design and water-bound setting. Subnautica takes place almost entirely underwater, with the player exploring a vast, colorful, and carefully designed watery world. Some of the deeper, darker areas of its environment are challenging and genuinely scary, with large, hostile creatures lying in wait. But that’s what makes it a great vehicle for exploration: You truly never know what you’re going to get.

Best simulation game: Spiritfarer

Thunder Lotus Games

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Why it made the cut: One of the most emotionally affecting games on Switch, Spiritfarer is a lovingly animated management simulator with a poignant story about death and saying goodbye.

Specs

  • Number of Players: Two player co-op
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Playtime: ~31 hours

Pros

  • Incredibly heartfelt and poignant story
  • Charming 2D art and animation
  • Fun, low-stress exploration and crafting mechanics

Cons

  • Backtracking can get repetitive

A cross between a management simulator, a cozy sandbox game, and an action-platformer, Spiritfarer takes the best parts of multiple genres to tell a very emotionally impactful interactive story.

You control Stella, a newly minted Spiritfarer in charge of ferrying souls across the sea to their final resting place. Before they can move on, you need to learn about each soul and help them come to terms with their life coming to an end. To do that, you’ll need to feed them and keep them happy by gathering and crafting things that they want like living quarters and meals, while also upgrading your ship to reach new lands.

But gameplay serves story in Spiritfarer: Its affecting and well-written characters and charming tone creates an emotional depth that makes every accomplishment in Spiritfarer weigh on you. Considering its serious subject matter, or perhaps because of it, Spiritfarer is an incredibly rewarding experience that may stick with you long after you finish it.

FAQs

Q: Is Nintendo Switch good for indie games?

The Nintendo Switch is an excellent console for playing indie games. The ability to play docked or on-the-go makes it easy to pick up and play games whenever you want. On a technical level, many indie games don’t require a powerful system like PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X, so they run perfectly on the Switch. For more details on the Switch itself, check out our Nintendo Switch review and/or Nintendo Switch OLED review.

Q: What indie games are coming to Switch?

There are tons of new indie games coming to Nintendo Switch every month. One way to keep track of big new indie releases is through Nintendo’s own Indie World website, which promotes new and upcoming indie releases. A few exciting upcoming titles include Sea of Stars, a lavishly-detailed retro turn-based RPG; Loco Motive, a comedy “whodunit” adventure game; and Aliisha: The Oblivion of the Twin Goddesses, a 3D fantasy adventure that can be played cooperatively.

Q: How much does an indie game on Switch cost?

Indie games can vary wildly in cost when compared to bigger, more mainstream titles. Generally, most indie games on Switch cost between $20 and $40.

Q: What is the funniest indie game on Nintendo Switch?

Tons of gamers find Untitled Goose Game, a stealth-puzzle game where you play a goose creating chaos in a quaint village, hilarious. Its charming graphics, amazing goose “honk,” and adaptive soundtrack all elevate the mischievous, slapstick comedy of the game. We also love What The Golf?—a parody golf game with increasingly hilarious, ridiculous scenarios loosely based around golfing gameplay.

Final thoughts about the best indie games on Switch

Indie games make up some of the best titles on Nintendo Switch. With such a wide variety of critically acclaimed indie games across dozens of genres, every Switch owner should give one of these indie titles a chance to shine.

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