The Nintendo Switch is an indie game powerhouse. There are new titles released every week, and whether you fancy something new or catching up on the classics, our list of best Switch indie games has it all.
It’s an open secret that Nintendo has stopped trying to keep up with Microsoft or Sony’s arms race for eye-popping graphics, and as such, blockbuster titles don’t always launch on the Switch. To make up for the gap, Nintendo has made itself a haven for creative indie masterpieces - and there are a lot to choose from. So the help you out here are the best Switch indie games you can play right now!
You have to remember before dabbing and TikTok, people planted pumpkins to have fun. Sure, it was mostly a distraction from all the Black Death, but gentle soil-tilling still makes a surprisingly enjoyable pastime today. Stardew Valley puts you in charge of a farm where you’ll decide what to grow, what animals to rear, and how to decorate your kitchen. But there’s a surprisingly deep story too - you inherit the farm from your grandfather in a town that’s slowly being taken over by a greedy megacorporation. You must choose who to side with: nature or capitalism, and the result is a campaign that lasts years to bring the ailing town back to life. A single day cycle lasts around 20 minutes, so Stardew Valley is a perfect Switch game for short bus commutes, and we've even got some Stardew Valley tips to help you out.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
It’s hard to read this title and not feel directly threatened by the devs. It’s even harder to play Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes without your voice rising several octaves. The game turns your Switch console into a handheld bomb, which can only be defused with the help of your pals holding the defusal manual. Wires must be snipped, levers must be flipped, and complex numerical sequences decoded through careful communication. The portability of the Switch means this is one of the best Switch indie games - if not the best - for large groups to play anywhere, as long as you print out the manual and bring it in a binder.
There are surprisingly few games about grief, and even fewer ones that combine it with golf - the latter of which is, perhaps, more understandable. Still, Sidebar Games is bravely leading the charge for this new subgenre with Golf Story. It’s an RPG sports adventure that tasks you with reclaiming your childhood love of golf after the death of your father and two decades of ignoring your clubs. A scalpel-sharp script, engaging story, and gorgeous pixel graphics make this a fantastic game even for those who’ve no desire to step out on a real life driving range.
Sometimes getting through a day with anxiety feels like climbing a mountain. So much so, Towerfall developer Matt Thorson decided to make an entire game about it. Celeste is the story of a young woman called Madeline who must reach the top of a dangerous peak to take back control of her mental health. It cleverly uses platformer mechanics to physically represent the abstract idea of anxiety; while you’re barely making a leap, there are people in the world spending every day feeling like they’re clinging to a cliff edge. Tight inputs, instant respawns, witty one-liners and five BAFTA nominations make Celeste a must-play.
Oxenfree has one of the best stories in an independent game on Switch. If deep narrative adventures are your jam, this supernatural mystery will be a worthy addition to your Nintendo library. It follows a group of five fascinating teenagers who are trying to find their way back home after being stranded on a haunted island. A gorgeous 2.5D art style oozes with sinister dread, and be careful, because your choices will affect your final ending. Though let’s face it, that just means it’s the kind of game you’ll end up playing more than once.
My Friend Pedro
My Friend Pedro is the ultimate bullet time game that stars a sentient banana. While surely that’s enough for you to leg it to the Nintendo store with fistfuls of cash, GR bosses have solemnly informed me I have to write 100 words per entry. So here goes. In this gun-fu action-platformer you must jump, dodge, and time slow through a labyrinth of side-scrolling levels while taking out legions of armed soldiers. You do this with guns, a skateboard, a piece of talking fruit, and more than a few frying pans that can ricochet bullets round corners. Few people other than John Wick know how being this badass feels, and you can play levels again and again until you’ve reached combo-chaining mastery.
StudioMDHR’s Cuphead was one of the most dazzling games of 2017, and now it’s made the jump to Switch. The port runs brilliantly both in docked and handheld mode, preserving the full splendour of the Fleishman-esque 1930s animations and easily making it one of the best Switch indie games to play right now. Cuphead is a constant stream of boss battles with a first rate soundtrack and brought to life by truly unique art. It’s a masterclass in game design, balancing intense difficulty with fair mechanics that reward mastery - but only buy it if you like a challenge. This run and gun action game’s steep difficulty curve can prove caustic for those who prefer gentle inclines.
Annapurna is indie publishing’s fairy godmother, and she brought Gorogoa to the ball with a flourish. One-man-band James Roberts developed this unique puzzle game over six years, hand drawing and re-drafting every frame. Its stunning panels contain an ambitious, fantastical story about a boy and a mysterious monster, which you must explore, overlap, and tinker with to move on to the next image. If you’re a fan of Monument Valley, this should be right up your street. Gorogoa is like no game before it, and won’t hold your hand with visual clues or dialogue; you’re on your own, but it’s well worth the wordless effort.
The endless isles of Bad North may look pretty with their muted pastel hues and cutesy, teeny villagers, but the hordes of viking ships on the horizon don’t let you ever get complacent. Your job is to repel waves of enemies in this real time strategy game with one of the cleanest UI systems I’ve seen. Each island is procedurally generated - meaning you’ll have a different experience each playthrough - and opening the door to varied strategies depending on whatever heroes you pick up along your odyssey. Considering Plausible Concept made Bad North in just a year, considering it's one of the best Switch indie games to play right now it’s impressive stuff.
Undertale is the reason Toby Fox is a household name in the video game business, as it's Fox's wonderful score, subversive writing, and wicked sense of humor catapulted Undertale to the unofficial indie hall-of-fame. Officially, Undertale has won three high-profile gaming awards and been nominated for a laundry list of others.
It's never been hailed as a beautiful game, but Undertale is written and designed to surprise the most seasoned gamers with fourth-wall-breaking jokes and commentary, beautiful music, and engaging combat. It'd be a disservice to reveal anything more about Undertale, as it's one game that's best to experience blind, so I'll leave you to download and play it yourself. Like, now. Go.
Dead Cells is a punishing Roguevania more than worth your pain, sweat, and tears. Its large, interconnected world is gorgeous, platforming and combat are fluid, and there's enough to explore and collect to keep you fighting for more.
Unending streams of enemies waiting to perma-kill you make Dead Cells rudely challenging in a way that makes you blame yourself each time you fail. And you'll fail again and again, and each time whisper "one more try" before learning enough lessons to prevail. Combining and mastering the best elements of its parent genres, rouge-lites and Metroidvanias, Dead Cells permadeaths
Untitled Goose Game
If you spent much time in 2019, you probably heard horror stories of an uncaged and debauched goose ravaging a small village for no other reason than to satisfy its sick need for chaos. Well, that goose is the titular fowl you get to live vicariously through in Untitled Goose Game, a frighteningly well-made indie romp that deserves a lot more than the scatter of memes it inspired.
That description might remind you of another animal-based game and internet sensation, 2014's Goat Simulator. In reality, the two are almost nothing alike. Untitled Goose Game makes a genuine attempt, and succeeds in spades, to provide clever, even challenging obstacles to overcome while charming with its quietly-absurd sense of humor. Where Goat Simulator is inane, broken, and pointless, Untitled Goose Game is understated, polished, worth playing for its snappy three-hour runtime, and relentlessly funny.
Risk of Rain 2
There's a theme to indie rouge-lites being exceptionally hard, and Risk of Rain 2 tests the limits of that tradition. Bringing the young series into a beautifully-realized 3D world, you're challenged to endure a vicious onslaught of wonderfully-diverse foes often well-equipped to take you down in one hit.
As you progress, you'll unlock items that fundamentally alter your playing style. Gasoline can be used to ignite a field of enemies that would normally take time, skill, and a bit of good fortune to defeat. The rare Frost Relic surrounds you in a blizzard that attacks with 600% damage per second, passively clearing your path for a short while. It's this type of progression, mixed with fluid, responsive combat that keeps you coming back to Risk of Rain 2, beat-down after beat-down.
Fashionable as hell in its feudal, dystopian setting, the aesthetic has little to do with how badass it feels to slash through enemies in Katana Zero. That's because this bloody 2D action platformer adds a time-bending mechanic you'll factor into your killing strategy, allowing you to slow down time and plan your massacres carefully and stylishly.
Of course, swinging your blade in coordination with your pre-planned route very rarely goes as planned, but your slow progression toward samurai master is Katana Zero's main draw. Environments drip with color and detail, enemies are nicely varied, and dialogue with different response options adds a layer of depth to the narrative uncommon for the genre.
A side-scrolling platform in 8-bit style, Shovel Knight is an indie game and undisputed multi-platform classic. Shovel Knight's titular protagonist is a household name, still spawning merchandise from amiibo collections and cards to clothing and keychains.
Shovel Knight respectfully takes elements from foremost staples of the NES platforming pool, including Mario 3, Mega Man, and Castlevania, and formulates a finger-blistering challenge all its own with a distinct soul and sense of style. Its combat is plenty-accessible, but its smart network of upgrades, gameplay options, and steady drip of new weapons and learned strategies makes Shovel Knight a treat for fresh-faced platformers and NES veterans alike.
Wargroove is a turn-based strategy war-sim by Chucklefish, who published Risk of Rain and Stardew Valley. Fans of Advance Wars will know what to expect and be delighted to hear that Wargroove is a worthy spiritual successor with a modernized, fantasy-inspired identity all its own.
Gameplay begins with picking between 12 different commanders. There's Caesar, the canine pet of the Queen who commands an adorable army of puppers (no, they don't die), the plant-manipulating Greenfinger of the Floran Tribes, and Ragna, the Frankenstein-monster of Wargroove. From there you strategically execute complex strategies to complete various missions. It's cute, creative, deep, and an ultimately satisfying experience for fans of tactical strategy games and the like.
This voxel-built indie gem might be the most overlooked on this list, though it just released in November so we'll give it some time. Brilliantly blending light puzzling and joyous exploration with an infectious dose of hilarity, The Touryst can't be missed for fans of relaxing, lighthearted, yet substantive indie games.
You'll hop across distinctly-themed and artfully crafted little islands, solve puzzles, complete sidequests, and uncover the mystery behind the four power cores you're tasked with finding for The Touryst's snappy five-hour campaign.
Gris is a masterclass in understated storytelling and evocative art direction, with a sturdy foundation of inventive platforming and clever puzzle-solving as a bonus. This is the indie game to play if you're looking for something to remind you how beautiful video games can be.
Its world to be conquered a stand-in for the complexities of grief, Gris is a mood that needs to be seen to appreciate. While its clever platforming and light puzzling elements are enjoyable enough alone, it's the atmosphere, music, and very personal nature of Gris that makes this work of art worth exploring for indie fans in search of a quieter, more reflective experience.