The 20 best Switch indie games that you won't be able to stop talking about
The best Switch indie games offer exciting and inventive experiences that prove you don't have to be a multimillion-dollar studio to deliver the gaming goods. Indie games have always been a place for boundary-breaking and experimentation, and this list shows off the absolute best that the games industry has to offer right now.
The Nintendo Switch really is a perfect platform for indie games with its innovative control options and processing powers, and the best Switch indie games make the most of both in their own unique ways. The list has something for everyone too, with survival games that will let you know how you'd survive stranded in a snowy wilderness, to perplexing puzzle games that will leave you agonizing over just how you're going to get your goose to make that man spit out his cup of tea.
We keep this list regularly updated as new games drop, so you can always be sure you're getting the very best Switch indie games whenever you check it out. Here are the 20 best Switch games you can play right this second.
20. Stardew Valley
It may seem an obvious choice, but you can't have a list of the best Switch indie games without it. Stardew Valley turned us all into farmers and is still working its magic even four years after its Nintendo Switch release. Cook, flirt, explore mines and battle monsters in the most charming depiction of rural life since Old Macdonald.
19. Cozy Grove
Cozy Grove is a lot like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and will scratch the same adorable itch. Stranded on an island populated by ghost bears, you can help them with various tasks, plant trees and flowers, collect resources and decorate your campsite with themed items. The aim is to repair your boat and returns home, but very quickly you'll forget all about that as you become obsessed with completing your fish collection or tracking down the latest fashionable outfits. The only catch? The game will only give you a few quests to complete each day, forcing you to slow down and not burn through it all like a maniac. It gets regular updates and the seasons change, so there's always something new discover. Plus, is the cutest things since people started putting clothes on puppies.
18. Untitled Goose Game
Everybody wants to wreak a little havoc in a game world, and Untitled Goose Game lets you do that as one of nature's most dastardly villains - the goose. This playful and addicting puzzle game recently added a co-op option, so you and your friends can team up to give the poor old farmer a headache, or drag someone's lovely picnic into the lake just because you crave chaos. Despite the fact that its gameplay is all about mayhem and mischief, Untitled Goose Game is incredibly soothing, with a great soundtrack that somehow makes chaos calming. We could all use that right about now, eh?
17. Hollow Knight
This award-winning 2018 title is still worth your time, especially since it's one of the best Metroidvanias ever made. The dark and challenging game takes you through an absolutely gorgeous world of insects and knights and quirky NPCs. Hallownest is a world you'll want to get lost in, even when the jump puzzles and combat have you sweating in your seat. Help a silent insect knight connect the dots of destiny and submerse yourself in a story and world that are equally beautiful. And after you beat the main story, there's other campaigns to dive into.
It's super-stylish, devilishly fun, and wicked difficult - if those things interest you, then Hades is the next Switch indie game for you. Hades is an isometric action-RPG that tasks you with breaking out of the Greek underworld and you'll get very used to dying very quickly when playing it. Death is a natural part of Hades, along with it's thumping music, and engaging characters that are fully fleshed-out and brilliantly voice acted. Seriously, you won't be able to forget these characters, who you can only further connect with by dying over and over again. Hades will grab you and drag you to the underworld, and even though the goal is to leave, you won't want to.
It's a cyberpunk universe and you're just the messenger trying to get by without too much drama. Cloudpunk is a delivery service game in a wide open world. Sure, you're a courier for a semi-illegal delivery company, and sure, it's your first night on the job, but what in the world could go wrong? Cloudpunk's narrative-driven gameplay takes place over the course of one night, and you decide what you want to deliver and when - these choices will have consequences throughout the game and will change how other characters treat you. Cloudpunk is as engrossing as it is beautiful, and a wonderful Switch indie to get into.
14. I Am Dead
I Am Dead is absolutely beautiful - but then again, we'd expect that from an Annapurna game. You are recently deceased museum curator Morris Lupton, and you've just discovered that your home island is in danger of being covered by a now-active volcano. You and the spirit of your best doggo, Sparky, decide to use your ghost skills to find someone to protect the island of Shelmerston. A game about being dead and trying to stop others from dying alongside your dead dog has to be full of quirky humor, and I Am Dead provides. There are fun game mechanics that will keep you hooked, and the attention to detail is stunning. Jump into I Am Dead, you won't regret it.
13. Raji: An Ancient Epic
Raji: An Ancient Epic launched on Nintendo Switch last year, and Indian Developer Nodding Head provides an absolutely breathtaking action-adventure game set in ancient Indian. You play Raji, a young woman who has been chosen by the gods to protect the world from being invaded by demons. The artwork is inspired by Indian myths like Ramayana and medieval Indian architecture and truly provides a gaming experience like no other. With combat that requires you to be tactful and choose between weapons like a Trishul or a bow for each combat situation, Raji will keep you engaged at every turn.
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 splendor 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.
10. The Long Dark
The Long Dark brings a true survival game to Nintendo Switch, tasking you with surviving a frozen, post-apocalyptic world. The Survival Sandbox mode is an award-winning game feature, giving you a measly collection of supplies, no power, and a timer to see how long you can stay alive. Or maybe you'd rather play the episode story mode, Wintermute, where you'll need to survive Pleasant Valley and help rescue other survivors. Either way, you won't be able to put The Long Dark down, even if the thought of a pitch-black, freezing post-apocalypse scares you.
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.
8. Dead Cells
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
Be prepared for a pummeling right to the feels, because Spiritfarer is so much more than just a gorgeous adventure game. Aboard your boat - accompanied by your cat Daffodil - you take a collection of characters to the Everdoor, a gateway to the afterlife. Each character has specific needs, so as well as navigating the oceans, you'll build them homes, farm crops for the resources to feed them their favorite meals, and help them complete any unfinished business so they can pass on in peace. It may sound depressing but it's anything but, with every moment of sadness balanced with the joy of a real emotional connection to the characters and the story.
6. 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.
5. Katana Zero
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.
4. Shovel Knight
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.
2. The Touryst
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.
Top 15 Best 2D Platformers on the Switch
Celeste throws you into the shoes of Madeline, a young girl who struggles to stay focused on her mission up a mountain due to her anxiety.
This difficult yet forgiving 2D platformer requires the player to pull off some pretty sweet maneuvers in order to traverse across what feels like dozens of stages. You’re going to die a lot but that’s okay. The game always brings you back to the start of the stage that you’re in, letting you try again immediately.
And when you do die, the game pushes you to try and try again. The developers made the game difficult on purpose in order for the player to get a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction upon progressing in the game. It’s a beautiful thing to have in a game like this – not surprising that it managed to get an honorable mention on our GOTY list.
Shovel Knight is a major throwback to classic pixelated platformers of the past like Ducktales and Mega Man (with spike traps and “cane” attacks as well).
The knight that the player controls can use his shovel to attack enemies, dig up treasure from rocks and bounce off of objects by aiming it downwards during a jump.
Since the launch of Shovel Knight from Yacht Club Games back in 2014, there have been way more games sporting an 8-bit or 16-bit art style – they all must’ve taken inspiration from Shovel Knight because that’s just how good it was.
Ahh, can we all just go back in time to the 90s when Sonic games were actually fantastic sidescrollers instead of wonky 3D adventure games with horrid camera controls?
Well, Sega’s throwback to the past with the release of Sonic Mania a few years ago proved to be quite the success with Twinfinite giving the game a 5/5, which is exemplary on our rating scale.
We adored the excellent remixed soundtracks, new stages, polished old-school design, and the excellent replay value that Sonic Mania has to offer.
What starts off as a simple action platformer, The Messenger throws the player for a loop the further they progress into the game, allowing you to time travel between different periods.
By time traveling, the Messenger switches up its graphical style from 16-bit to 8-bit and vice versa.
The game essentially becomes a Metroidvania as well, ditching the formulaic action platformer theme and instead, letting the player discover secret abilities, secret levels, and branching paths.
Gris is presented to us with an awe-inspiring watercolor art style, with the main character reminding us of yet another emotional adventure, which is Journey.
In Gris, you play as a girl lost in her own world, who is trying to bring back color using her special abilities. Gris’ serene and calming story can be played by anyone due to the game pretty much not having any sort of text. Tutorials and objectives are all done visually, which is quite impressive.
Thanks to the melancholy soundtrack, forgiving gameplay, and lite-platforming, Gris is an experience that is hard to forget about, even though it only takes a few short hours to complete.
In this 2D procedurally generated roguelike adventure, you play as a brave knight. But since this is a roguelike, your character will be replaced every single time you die.
It’s not just a random character that takes over for you, no no no. You actually get succeeded by your children, passing your traits to them, in turn, making them stronger than you ever were.
Every child that comes into the new role is unique and can come out with different abilities, different eye-colors, or can even be an actual dwarf – the possibilities are endless.
Guacamelee 1 and 2
In both, Guacamelee 1 and 2, you’re in control of a powerful luchador who is pretty much a superhero in his town. He can punch enemies into the ground, body slam all of their heads in, and perform a very hard-hitting headbutt.
Guacamelee isn’t just about the combat though (even though it’s super fun), there’s also a ton of difficult platforming segments that require the player to use all of their skills in their arsenal.
Like any Metroidvania, you continue to unlock new skills and abilities to progress through past areas that you might not have had access to when you first pass by. There’s always that sense of progression in Guacamelee, the feeling that a new power-up is always in reach.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
New Super Mario Bros. U originally released on the Wii U during the launch of the system, but now you can have fun with this sidescroller on the Switch, anywhere you’d like.
The sidescrolling formula that Nintendo has somehow perfected still works fine to this day, with Mario and Co. controlling like a dream. The new items and the inclusion of the Luigi-focused campaign with harder, time-based levels, makes New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe the platformer to beat.
You’ll spend dozens of hours attempting to fully complete each stage by collecting all three star coins hidden in each one. The wacky four-player mode can be a bit messy but still has a fun factor thanks to that Nintendo magic.
Mutant Mudds is a simple little platformer that started out on the 3DS and was later brought to consoles. With only having the ability to jump, hover, and shoot, there is little room for error when it comes to figuring out the controls.
But even though it may be simple to learn, Mutant Mudds’ difficulty amps up on the later sections of the game, making for some precision-based platforming that requires you to be pixel perfect and well-timed with your jumps.
You can also jump into the background and foreground of the game by running into special portals, creating a sense of depth that other platformers typically don’t attempt to recreate.
This challenging Metroidvania puts you in the control of a little Hollow Knight who is traversing through desolate and downright creepy caverns with strange bug-like creatures that will slow your progress down.
Since there isn’t a straight and linear path to follow, Hollow Knight lets the player discover and take the path less traveled by. Who knows? You might find a secret item or power or something.
Uncover the secrets of the underground world and get lost in Hollow Knight, just don’t throw your Joy-Cons if you end up dying a lot – I told you it was challenging.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
Yoshi’s Crafted World might not pose a challenge to new players, but instead, you’ll get to experience a lovely crafted environment after environment, full of interesting gameplay mechanics and tons of objects to hit with your eggs.
Yoshi’s signature flutter jump, egg toss, and ground pound all feel excellent in the dinosaur’s newest adventure on the Switch. And once you complete the main story, I hear that there is a secret world full of painstakingly difficult platforming stages, at least for a Yoshi game.
Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze
Even though Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze is a port of the Wii U game with the same name, it still stands as one of the best 2D platformers of all time, and not to mention, the new Funky Kong mode makes the game way more accessible to young ones or newcomers.
These newer Donkey Kong platformers are known to require quite a bit of platforming skills and fast reflexes, but when you complete a stage that’s been kicking your ass over and over again, the feeling is immediately satisfying.
You can also pass the second Joy-Con to a second player and enjoy some good ‘ol cooperative multiplayer. They say two heads are better than one, so if you’re having trouble in the game, why not get some help from Diddy Kong?
Rayman Legends took everything that made Rayman Origins so great and took it up several notches.
Having crazy rhythm-based musical levels, four-player local multiplayer, a gorgeous watercolor art style, and tons of different stages to play through, Rayman Legends lays at the top of the list of best multiplayer platformers on the Switch.
With over 100 maps to play through with secrets to find in each one, Rayman Legends is no slouch when it comes to content.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Shantae the genie uses her long purple hair to attack foes in this upbeat, retro-styled 2D platformer. In the Pirate’s Curse, Shantae finds herself losing all of her magical abilities.
Due to her lacking tons of power, she has to put on a smile and team up with her nemesis, Risky Boots, to save Sequin Land from a greater evil.
You get to unlock some really cool abilities for Shantae’s hair and new fighting moves as you progress further into the game. Shantae is one girl that you don’t wanna mess with, but still, play her game – she’ll appreciate it.
Streets of Rage 4: Mr. X Nightmare
FAR: Lone Sails
Super Mario Maker 2
SteamWorld Dig 2
Cave Story +
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Raiden IV x Mikado Remix
Enter the Gungeon
Trine 2: Complete Story
2D platformer 20 Ladies releasing on Switch in November
Posted on October 12, 2021 by Brian(@NE_Brian) in News, Switch eShop
eastasiasoft and Nerd Games will be putting the 2D platformer 20 Ladies on Switch next month, the two sides announced today. It’s currently expected on November 19.
For more on 20 Ladies, check out the following overview:
Enter a world of simple pleasures and minimalistic design, where your only goal is to navigate cleverly arranged stages, avoid spikes and locate beautiful female companions hidden in the environment. But beware of hazards! Break a heart three times, and you’ll instantly respawn at the beginning, with your lady counter reset to zero. You’ll need to touch them all without dying in order to proceed to the next stage and unlock an alluring image for each one you complete.
Platforms in the foreground are silhouetted against lush hand-drawn backdrops. Clouds pass by overhead, trees sway in the breeze and historical architecture dots the landscape as mellow tunes accompany you on a chill quest for love. Your best times are tracked with each playthrough, inviting you to come back and top your own record.
- Slide, hop and leap through mazelike platforming stages!
- Locate 20 ladies hidden around the environment.
- Respawn instantly upon death and retry as many times as you like.
- Challenge yourself to get better times on each level!
- Unlock an image of a new lady with each stage you clear.
- Enjoy a relaxing atmosphere and chill soundtrack.
We’ve included a trailer for 20 Ladies below.
20 Ladies will be sold digitally for Switch. We have a confirmed price point of $4.99 / €4.99.
Source: Eastasiasoft PR
More: eastasiasoft, Nerd GamesSours: https://nintendoeverything.com/2d-platformer-20-ladies-releasing-on-switch-in-november/
Platformers switch 2d
15 best 2D platformers on PC to play in 2021
“Less is more” as some people say, and this can be true for 2D platformers. Despite having one less dimension, they are not short on challenging gameplay and sometimes manages to marvel it's players with its beautiful graphics (we are looking at you, Ori).
We covered 3D platform games for PC previously, now it’s time to focus on titles that continue the tradition of the genre's pioneers by presenting nerve-wrecking action in two dimensions. In this case, there are many more interesting titles, so we decided to enlarge the list a bit and present you with as many as 15 games.
If you never give up, love challenges and don’t mind sore fingers after the long gaming session, check out our list of best 2D platformers PC.
Release date: March 31, 2015
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Wii U
Created by a single indie developer, Axiom Verge is an example of a 2D platformer, which is also inspired by the metroidvania genre. The title will surely appeal to fans of iconic Metroid and Castlevania, due to its specific gameplay and graphic style, which nod towards them. The appealing dark retro atmosphere is also maintained with its fitting 16-bit soundtrack.
Release date: August 6, 2008
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Even though Braid is a dozen years old, many people still believe it's one of the best 2D platform games on the market. The game is distinguished mainly by the original mechanics of time manipulation. Each of the worlds visited by the main character has its own rules. In some places you can undo failed actions, while in others everything around stops when the protagonist stops.
Release date: November 22, 2011
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Cave Story+ is a refreshed and expanded version of the 2D platformer on PC from 2004. In addition to graphic improvements, players also received new game modes and the ability to choose the difficulty level. The game is about traversing vast levels, jumping on platforms (of course), avoiding dangerous traps and fighting enemies. Just how you like it. Both rank and file fighters and powerful bosses will stand in the way of the hero.
Release date: January 25, 2018
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
Don’t let the looks deceive you. This may appear to be a nice and simple platformer adventure game about a red-haired girl at first glance. Celeste presents the player with a lot of challenges, and the difficulty level may surprise even people who cut their teeth on productions of this genre. Especially if you decide to collect strawberries. Apart from addictive gameplay, you’ll get to know the deep and thought-provoking plot, dealing with the topics of mental illness.
Release date: September 29, 2017
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Like the Celeste described above, Cuphead is intended for people with masochistic inclinations. 😉 The souls-like difficulty level (which is best enjoyed with a friend in co-op) may scare off some, but it is worth gritting your teeth in the process of playing. Visual gags work perfectly in combination with graphics that resemble an old cartoons. A must-have for 2D platformer games fans that appreciate classic Disney and Warner Brothers animations.
Release date: February 24, 2017
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Hollow Knight is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a top of the top, best 2D platform games with elements of metroidvania. The game stands out with its unique hand-drawn graphics, pleasant and intuitive gameplay, which is based primarily on the exploration of the underworld. The labyrinths traversed by the hero are full of various traps and dangers. To reach one of the game’s endings, you need to show quite a bit of skill and patience.
Release date: July 28, 2015
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
It’s impressive how N++ that has such a minimalistic and inconspicuous look can glue you to the screen. The player takes on the role of a ninja traversing the boards full of dangers and collecting as many coins as possible. Each coin collected adds a few seconds to the time counter.
Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssee – New ‚n’ Tasty
Release date: July 22, 2014
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Wii U, Android, iOS
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty is a remake of one of the most popular and best 2D platformers from the 20th century. The creators have significantly improved the fully maintaining the atmosphere of the original. In addition to running and jumping on platforms, players also have a lot of logic puzzles.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Release date: March 11, 2020
The best indie games on Nintendo Switch
Although the Nintendo Switch has some of the best AAA titles, the system has become known as an indie machine to many. The portability of the Switch and Switch Lite makes them ideal for some of the best indie games, and dozens of small developers seem to love releasing their games on the hybrid console.
Better yet, plenty of previously released indie games, such as Hollow Knight, have received increased attention and acclaim after landing on the Switch. It’s become a win-win for developers and Switch owners. If you’re a new Switch owner or are simply looking for the best Switch games to play during your morning commute, we’ve put together a running list of the best indie games on the Nintendo Switch.
This has to be one of the strangest games of 2020. Published by Devolver Digital and developed by Phobia Game Studio, Carrion is a “reverse horror game” where players take on the role of a terrifying, man-eating blob as they stalk their prey through a foreboding prison.
The brutal combat is a big part of the fun, as you’ll be flinging scientists and soldiers around the map like ragdolls, but there are enough complicated puzzles to keep things interesting for the long haul. With a bunch of hidden content, unlockable abilities, and an utterly unique concept, Carrion is one of the better indie titles available on the Switch.
Part roguelike and part platformer, Neon Abyss is a brutal game that is different every run. It features a beautiful pixel art style that will immediately catch your eye and a deep customization mechanic that allows you to mold the game to your preferred method of play.
When you get tired of all the bullets, Neon Abyss includes a few mini games that reward you with gear that can aid you in clearing the main story. These diversions include piano performances, mediation challenges, and even dance competitions if you’re really digging the energetic soundtrack.
Creature in the Well
Pinball and hack-and-slash action usually don’t go together, but no one told that to developer Flight School Studio when it was creating Creature in the Well. The mysterious adventure features a “BOT-C” venturing into a mountain and defeating challenges and enemies set by the titular Creature. The gorgeous art style and zoomed-out perspective make you feel like a tiny speck in a very large world, and the industrial designs give it a gritty aesthetic.
What really sets Creature in the Well apart is its mix of pinball mechanics and traditional action gameplay. To complete challenges, you’ll need to strike an orb that moves between several bouncers, all while trying to avoid turrets and other traps attacking you. It’s unlike anything we’ve played before and a perfect fit for the Switch.
Motion Twin calls its breakout indie hit a RogueVania, a mashup of games with classic Castlevania and Metroid gameplay. Throw in the fact that Dead Cells has permadeath and brutally difficult enemies and you have a recipe for the perfect “one more try” type of game.
Dead Cells truly shines for its addictive gameplay and wide array of secrets. With a bevy of weapons to uncover and a bounty of secret areas to discover, each time you play Dead Cells, you feel like you learn and find something new.
Although it features permadeath, you do have the chance to get permanent upgrades at the end of each area. If you stick with it, you will eventually see the credits. It’s all about the journey, though, as this dark and enthralling world is hard to leave and even harder to forget.
Hotline Miami Collection
The franchise that really put Devolver Digital on the map as a publisher of astounding indies, the Hotline Miami Collection compiles the original and its sequel, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, in one hectic and challenging package. The top-down, ultraviolent affairs creatively combine twitchy action gameplay with stealth. And tying the whole experience together is one of the best game soundtracks in years.
While you can kill enemies in one hit with a variety of guns and melee weapons across both games’ expertly designed levels, the protagonist is just as susceptible to one-hit deaths. This creates a tension that permeates throughout both games. Memorization and fast movements are key to success. It’s chaotic, trying, and utterly over the top. These games aren’t just a riot to play; they ooze with style.
StudioMDHR’s astonishing Cuphead has made the jump from Xbox One/PC to Switch. The port runs wonderfully both in console and handheld mode, retaining all the glory of the 1930s cartoon art style and animations.
Cuphead is a challenging game, but it never comes across as unfair. Minimalistic mechanics let you focus on the task at hand — the multi-phase bosses — while enjoying all of the excellent animations and sounds.
It’s worth playing for the art style alone, which is as impressive now as it was upon its original launch in 2017. The engaging boss fights and crisp mechanics make it a pleasure to work through, even when the going gets exceedingly tough.
My Friend Pedro
My Friend Pedro is the ultimate bullet time game. You play as a nameless protagonist guided by a talking banana named Pedro (because why not?). The story is nonsense, but the action is extremely gratifying. Through a series of sidescrolling levels, you jump, dodge, and slow down time while shooting enemies with a variety of high-powered weapons.
My Friend Pedro is all about style points earned from stringing together kills in quick succession. The style-factor goes through the roof in levels where you get to ride a skateboard or use objects such as frying pans to deflect bullets. My Friend Pedro looks ridiculously cool in motion and feels even better to play.
Developed by Askiisoft and published by the venerable Devolver Digital, Katana Zero can be aptly described as a sidescrolling version of Hotline Miami. You play as a samurai in this neo-noir infused thriller with plenty of twists and turns. Each level is broken into rooms filled with gun-toting and sword-wielding baddies.
Like Hotline Miami, one hit and you’re dead. Armed with a sharp blade and a dash ability, the rooms play out like puzzles. It has a Superhot-esque flow, as you have the ability to slow down time, which helps in deflecting bullets back to their origin.
Fast, stylish, and challenging, Katana Zero is a fantastic experience from start to finish. The gameplay will hook you instantly, but the story and writing arguably steals the show.
Enter the Gungeon
Enter the Gungeon combines dungeon crawling and twin-stick shooting mechanics with a rewarding and addictive rogue-like loop. Think The Binding of Isaac but more arcade-like and chaotic. As you plunge deeper into the dungeon, you’ll be rewarded with a bevy of loot, neat lore, and plenty of secrets.
What’s especially cool about Enter the Gungeon is that you learn something new each time you play. This is partially done by its approach to rogue-like progression. While all of the rooms remain the same, the enemies, treasure, and even locations of the rooms change.
It’s all a matter of learning each room and tweaking your strategy as things change. Definitely challenging but always a good time, Enter the Gungeon is ideal for short spurts in handheld mode.
Ape Out mixes jazz music with over-the-top violence to stunning results. From a top-down perspective, you play as an ape attempting to escape captivity. Minimalistic visuals and simplistic mechanics allow the core loop to take center stage.
You have two mechanics at your disposal: grab and throw. Throwing lets you turn guards into a bloody mush, while grabbing uses them as human shields and sometimes leads to guards shooting other guards. It’s a tough but fair game thanks to randomized levels.
The jazzy soundtrack pounds along in the background, becoming a separate mechanic itself. Snare drums beat consistently and boom faster as you approach danger. Cymbal crashes mark the deaths of enemies. The result is an absorbing experience that compels you to try again and again until you’ve led the ape to freedom.
Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter is an ode to 8-bit and 16-bit adventure games, set in a distinct world reduced to shambles. This top-down adventure features extremely challenging gameplay with a neat gimmick.
Your main weapon, an energy sword, has to strike enemies in order to charge your supplementary, ranged weapons. This means you have to master melee combat to have a chance against the onslaught of enemies.
Rounded out by a beautiful soundtrack and fantastic animations, Hyper Light Drifter is a moving experience with an understated, but powerful story.
Broforce is an awesome and hilarious run-and-gun. Your job as an action hero parody is to save your bros from terrorist captivity. Your commanding officer is none other than Nelson Brodela, and all of the playable characters riff on action heroes.
For instance, you can use a whip in combat while playing as fake Indiana Jones, or you can light enemies up with immense firepower as a pseudo-Rambo. Broforce shines for its great controls, excellent design, and challenging levels.
This side-scrolling action game has just enough of a mix between action and platforming to make for a consistently varied experience.
Downwell, a game about a man falling down a well in a park, has been available since 2015 on mobile devices. Rendered in black and white, the premise is simple: Make it to the bottom. Since you’re falling at a rapid pace, you would think you’re already ahead of the game, right? Not so fast. Avoiding obstacles, enemies, and projectiles is an arduous endeavor that forces you to think and move on the fly.
As a rogue-like, each time you make your descent, the layout of the well changes. With guns attached to your boots that only recharge when you touch the ground safely, it’s a constant battle between the offensive and defensive. Power-ups are rewarded at the bottom of each stage, but each level ups the challenge. Basically, no matter what you have in your arsenal, you’re always facing an uphill battle (ironic, huh?).
A round of Downwell can last anywhere from seconds to a handful of minutes, depending on your skill level. On Switch, it’s a perfect game for quick bursts in handheld mode. The $3 price makes Downwell a steal, but you should splurge for the Flip Grip to play Downwell comfortably with a vertical orientation.
Streets of Rage 4
It took long enough, but our favorite crime-fighting crew makes a triumphant return after 16 years of unpaid leave. Featuring 12 levels, unlockable characters, and multiple difficulties, the game is a nostalgic masterpiece for fans and newcomers alike.
Streets of Rage 4 somehow manages to be both an homage to games of the past while taking bold steps in a new direction. The art style alone sets it apart from previous installments, but new combat mechanics and reimagined enemies keep the action fun all the way to the final boss. Plus, the game is chock-full of replayable content and lends itself to multiple playthroughs — either solo or with a few friends.
Kentucky Route Zero
An adventure game years in the making that saw its first release in 2013, Kentucky Route Zero finally came to Nintendo Switch as the “TV Edition” in early 2020. The game focuses almost entirely on the story and dialogue rather than traditional challenges, but the bizarre journey through underground caves is filled with memorable characters.
All five acts of the game are available together on the Switch version, and the game’s minimalist art and simple controls make it an ideal fit for playing on the go. Make no mistake, however — its storytelling is far beyond what most AAA games can offer, and it’s worth going in as fresh as possible to avoid learning too much.
Return of the Obra Dinn
From visionary indie developer Lucas Pope, Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the most visually unique and stunning games we’ve ever seen, both on Nintendo Switch and any other platform. Created to look like it was drawn using thousands of tiny dots, Return of the Obra Dinn can be jarring, but in a way that evokes a sense of vagueness and mystery perfect for the game’s subject matter. It’s set in the early 19th century, and the titular ship’s bizarre appearance years after going missing is the beginning of an intriguing adventure.
Lucas Pope tackles some depressing and dark material in his games, and there is no other developer doing exactly what he’s doing. If first-person games combined with this art style don’t give you a headache, then Return of the Obra Dinn is a necessity and one you’ll be thinking about for a long time after the credits roll.
Oxenfree is very much in the vein of Telltale adventures. It’s story-driven, low on action, and well written. Alex and her friends are on an island together when strange, supernatural occurrences begin popping up around them. The ensuing hours are filled with plenty of surprises, consequential dialogue choices, and wonderfully realized animated cutscenes.
Oxenfree is also simply a joy to look at. It uses a stellar 2.5D art style that complements the tone of the adventure. Considering that your actions dictate the ending, Oxenfree is the sort of game you’ll end up playing more than once.
While some may scoff at Oxenfree because it’s a walking simulator, it has one of the better stories we’ve experienced in an independent game on Switch.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is like if BoJack Horseman was a video game. Starring a recent college dropout — who also happens to be a cat — Night in the Woods tells the story of what it’s like to go home after being away. Mae, the down-on-her-luck protagonist, slowly begins to see that Possum Springs isn’t all that it seemed. This dark comedy has a wide cast of hilarious and revealing townsfolk and the writing is top-notch.
Played as a sidescroller, Night in the Woods has a simple, clean visual style that doesn’t get in the way of what the game wants to do narratively. If you’re a fan of dark comedy with a healthy dose of perspective, Night in the Woods does it better than just about any game we’ve ever played.
An emotional journey that’s centered on the taboo topic of death, Spiritfarer is a wonderful management sim where you’ll help ferry spirits into the afterlife. The hand-drawn graphics keep everything lighthearted, and the unique story is among the best available on the Switch.
Gameplay is open-ended, letting you farm, fish, mine, craft, and explore the world as you see fit. Throughout the 30-hour adventure, you’ll encounter dozens of memorable characters that will stick with you long after the credits roll — along with a story that is sure to tug on your heartstrings. Spiritfarer includes a local co-op mode, allowing a second player to join in on the action as Daffodil the cat.
Evergate is the latest — and possibly most brutal — 2D platformer to hit the Nintendo Switch eShop. Using a unique system called the Soulflame, players can slow down time to perfect their movements and solve dynamic puzzles. The story follows the soul Ki as it navigates the afterlife and its dream-like environments.
During the journey, you’ll be tasked with collecting Essence, objects that unlock new abilities and enhance Ki’s skills. This isn’t a game for the faint of heart, as you’ll need some quick reflexes if you’re hoping to make it through all 85 stages. If you’re looking for your next challenge, look no further than Evergate.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Layer
The original Yooka-Laylee game was a spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie series, but its homage to classic 3D platforming came up short because the genre hasn’t experienced much growth over the last few decades. For the sequel, developer Playtonic took a much different approach, switching the game to a sidescrolling perspective that allowed its charm and simplicity to shine more clearly.
Still just as colorful and goofy as the original game, but in a more cohesive package, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Layer features a special hub world that is itself a big puzzle filled with opportunities for collectibles and unlocking even more levels, and you can even flip a switch to alter the levels you’ve already beaten.
It’s the perfect platformer to play on the go for Nintendo Switch, and it’s a great choice for a family with younger kids who want to play something a bit more challenging. If they’ve already blown through the Mario games and Rayman Legends, this could be the next game to keep them hooked to the Switch — and possibly away from your television so you can play another game at the same time.
Hollow Knight originally launched on PC, but it gained widespread appreciation after coming to its natural home on Switch. The 2D Metroidvania starring an insect knight with a needle for a sword masterfully weaves exploration and combat to deliver one of the most engrossing experiences in a crowded genre.
The spacious map has numerous distinct biomes with various themes, dangers, and enemies to slay. Where Hollow Knight truly excels is in its sense of wonder. Every time you stumble upon a new area, it feels as if you are the first person to discover it. Excellent platforming sections keep the gameplay fresh in between tough boss fights that demand precision.
An ode to NES-era Metroid, Gato Roboto stars a cat who crashes on an alien planet. Needing to save its owner, the adorable feline hero sets out on a journey to find a mech suit. From there, Gato Roboto plays very similarly to classic Metroid. You find power-ups that allow you to backtrack and reach previously inaccessible areas, fight off baddies both small and large, and hop around both in and outside of the mech suit.
Rendered in black and white, Gato Roboto is all about emphasizing the excellent gameplay. But like all Devolver-published games, it also has some witty writing. Gato Roboto is a perfect game to play on a rainy day, as you can beat it in roughly three hours. Though bite-sized, Gato Roboto will leave a lasting impression, especially if you love old school action-platformers.
Timespinner obviously owes a lot to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. From its pixelated visuals to the dreary atmosphere to the means of progression, Timespinner is a classic Metroidvania through and through. There’s no shortage of Metroidvanias on Switch, but Timespinner is one of the best.
After watching her family get murdered, Lunais finds herself in a mysterious world. Seeking revenge on the Lachiem Empire, Lunais works her way through this new world. She can bend time with the titular device, letting her get the upper hand on enemies as well as solve platforming puzzles. Timespinner also tells a riveting tale across two timelines. If you’ve played a Metroidvania before, Timespinner won’t surprise you. But it’s pleasantly polished all around. Tight combat controls, cool platforming sequences, fun boss battles, and clever puzzles make Timepinner a standout game in an extremely crowded subgenre.
Celeste is all about moving forward. For Madeline, she has come to Celeste Mountain to discover herself, and over the course of 10 or so hours, she’s put to the test in this 2D platformer. Rendered in SNES-era visuals, Celeste‘s gameplay solely revolves around jumping. Aided by expertly designed set pieces, the task is both challenging and immensely rewarding.
While Celeste features some of the best 2D platforming we’ve ever played, the experience shines brightest when dealing with mental illness. Madeline’s journey is emotional and revealing, and it’s one of the few games that accurately and unabashedly depicts mental illness.
SteamWorld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2, yet another Metroidvania, has a distinct aesthetic that makes it stand out. Its steampunk influence leads to some great enemies and gadgets, while its Western setting gives it thriving set pieces steeped in personality. The sequel stars Dorothy, a young heroine wielding a pickaxe capable of digging through dirt to access new areas.
The main reason why SteamWorld Dig 2 surpasses the solid original is that it has a fixed-level design. The game world is much larger and the platforming elements have been given room to breathe. There’s also a meaningful RPG progression system to keep you hooked. The Switch does particularly well with sidescrollers, so SteamWorld Dig 2 is a no-brainer to play in handheld mode.
The Messenger starts off as a good but not great action-platformer heavily indebted to Ninja Gaiden. For the first few hours, you feel as if you’re playing an homage to NES-era sidescrollers. Then, the game jumps a generation and pivots dramatically, turning into a Metroidvania.
Most impressively, The Messenger drops clues of this change leading up to it in its brilliantly designed levels. From there, you can backtrack for collectibles, discover new areas, and work your way through its surprisingly large map. Oddly enough, The Messenger feels like a better game for pulling this switch, and it’s tailor-made for the Nintendo Switch.
The End Is Nigh
If The End Is Nigh looks like an ode to Super Meat Boy, it’s probably because Edmund McMillen, the co-creator of Meat Boy, worked on it. You play as a blob named Ash who just wants to play his favorite video game (also called The End Is Nigh). So, you play that very same game with Ash leading the way.
Like Meat Boy, each level is a single screen that can be completed it a matter of seconds. All of the levels are connected, though, so it’s as if you’re exploring a large open world. That is, if you’ve got the skills. A precision platformer, The End Is Nigh relies on carefully timed jumps. You cannot wall jump, which makes it harder than Meat Boy, but you can hang onto ledges.
With a variety of increasingly difficult and diverse worlds to explore, The End Is Nigh remains fresh and fun even after you’ve died more than 1,000 times (seriously, deaths rack up quickly). If you’re looking for a tough platformer with excellent controls, look no further.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Shovel Knight will probably go down as one of the most important and greatest independent games of all time. Rarely does an indie title achieve the level of mainstream success that Shovel Knight has sustained over the past four years.
With its classic 16-bit visuals, amazing platforming mechanics, and wondrous boss fights, Shovel Knight‘s main campaign is an absolute delight. Even better, Yacht Club Games has delivered free, beefy updates, including the alternate story in Plague of Shadows, a prequel in Specter of Torment, and the upcoming King of Cards expansion. It’s also no surprise that Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove feels great on Switch. Shovel Knight arguably offers the best combination of retro aesthetics and modern design available in the indie game space.
Otus, a human-owl hybrid, is just trying to live a normal life when a group of pirates attacks his hometown. He’s whisked off on a grand adventure filled with memorable characters and artfully designed environments.
Firmly in the Metroidvania genre, Owlboy‘s world is huge, colorful, and full of surprises. From clever puzzles to interesting enemy designs to a fun ally system that constantly changes your play style, Owlboy has it all and then some. It may look like a classic 16-bit sidescroller, but it plays like a forward-thinking platformer.
Few games take as novel of an approach to movement as Snake Pass, a game where, yes, you slither across the ground as an adorable snake. Who knew that embodying a snake could not only be so rewarding but also not creepy at all?
Snake Pass‘ 3D levels have collectibles and plenty of puzzles to overcome to reach an exit. Wonderfully designed levels gradually introduce new mechanics as you get the hang of slinking around like a snake.
While a bit on the short side, Snake Pass also has an arcade mode that compels you to go back through its 15 levels. Part puzzler, part slithering-platformer, Snake Pass is an innovative experiment that works better than expected.
Untitled Goose Game
You might know Untitled Goose Game from all the memes it spawned at the end of 2019, many of which depict an evil goose wreaking havoc upon a town’s inhabitants. But what you might not know is that the game the goose is from is one of the funniest, smartest, and most clever in recent memory. On the surface, it’s simple: You play as a goose that must go around and cause minor inconveniences to the townsfolk.
But it’s so much more than that. At times, it’s a stealth game. In other instances, it feels like a puzzler. The many blends of gameplay styles make it difficult to classify. But what is clear is that humor is the focal point. The idea of inconveniencing people as a goose that looks and feels realistic is funny, in and of itself. But the payoff at the end ties the whole thing together in a brilliant way you might not expect from a game about an evil goose.
In Good Job!, you play as an office-building repairman, with each floor featuring numerous tasks for you to complete. Some are simple, like getting an object from point A to point B, while others are much more complicated. What makes it so effective is its emphasis on comedy. The ragdoll effects combined with the nonchalant nature of the game’s NPCs make for a whacky adventure, with many routes you can take to solve each issue.
Beneath the silly and funny encounters is a smart puzzler with a satisfying gameplay loop. At times, you might come across a seemingly daunting task that requires you to experiment with the environment to reach your goal. Like many great puzzle games, there are a set of rules you must follow. And each new floor gives you new rules to play with, until eventually, things get out of control. The minimalist art style enhances the humor, and with so few games focusing on making you laugh, Good Job! truly feels like a gem.
Baba Is You
Baba Is You is a video game that exposes its inner workings. Like all games, each of the top-down room puzzles has a set of rules. Unlike most games, these rules are exposed because they are meant to be manipulated.
Littered throughout each puzzle are logic statements such as “wall is stop.” Often times, each part of a statement can be completely reworked. Wall can be modified to be push, allowing you, a funny-looking bunny, to move pieces of the wall away. Over the course of 200 puzzles, the logic puzzles become trickier and trickier.
Baba Is You is a truly sublime puzzle game. Often its levels feel impossible, but by moving pieces and parts around, a clearer picture comes into view. Baba Is You is without a doubt one of the best logic puzzlers ever made.
Developed by James Roberts and published by renowned indie publisher Annapurna Interactive, Gorogoa is a special puzzle game with more than six years in the making. The gameplay is simple. You’re initially given four panels that must be overlapped or explored to move on to new images. There are no visual cues or even dialogue to help you. It’s all up to you to build towards a solution.
Thankfully, Gorogoa is brilliantly designed so that nothing ever feels too challenging to work out. Much of Gorogoa‘s hands-off intuitiveness comes from the wordless but moving story that’s strung alongside the puzzle gameplay.
Revolving around a young boy’s interaction with a mysterious monster, Gorogoa tells a sweeping and ambitious story using only images. It’s a sight to behold that feels perfect in handheld mode on Switch.
Tumblestone manages to rework the classic and overdone genre of match-three puzzlers. That in and of itself is a major accomplishment. Thankfully, it’s also a darn good experience.
Each Tumblestone grid is filled with a layer of multicolored blocks. You must shoot three of the same colored blocks in a row to chip away until the board is clear. If you mess up the sequence, it’s back to the beginning.
The loop is satisfying, strategic, and visually rewarding. Tumblestone is brimming with content, too. The campaign will take you dozens of hours. If you’re still hooked, various arcade and competitive formats keep the match three fun going for the long haul.
Fez is an all-time indie game classic. Even nine years after its original release, it still remains one of the smartest puzzle games out there, thanks to its unique design, easy to understand mechanics, and vibrant presentation. The main mechanic is centered around rotating a diorama-like cube, giving the player a 2D plain set in a 3D environment.
The puzzles start off simple enough, teaching you the mechanics and rules, but eventually becomes much more complex. You’ll likely come across levels that will feel like a brick wall, but as soon as the solution clicks, it’s one of the most satisfying feelings. Thanks to the recent Nintendo Switch port, even more players can experience this gem.
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, the latest reinvention of Image & Form’s SteamWorld franchise, is a rather traditional turn-based RPG at its core. Your party moves through small room-like screens similar to that of Darkest Dungeon and takes on baddies with a deck of 24 cards.
The card-based battling system is lighter than that seen in traditional TCGs like Hearthstone, but it still packs plenty of strategy. Each character who joins your party has their own cards and attacks, meaning that switching up party members to find an optimal balance for a fight is a point of emphasis.
On top of the engaging battles, SteamWorld Quest has a lovely cartoon art style and wonderful writing, from the dialogue to its world-building. It’s different than the other SteamWorld games, but equally great at what it does.
Slay the Spire
An intoxicating blend of roguelikes and trading card games, Mega Crit Games’ Slay the Spire is one of the most unique indie games on Switch. Slay the Spire sees players work through a series of battles across three acts. Your deck is your weapon in this turn-based, single-player RPG. At first, Slay the Spire seems impossible. But the more runs you try, the more cards you’ll have in your pool at the start of the next.
What makes Slay the Spire so interesting is how all of its moving parts come together. You have your deck, but you also have potions with stat buffs and relics that permanently alter your hero for that run. With three different classes of heroes to play as and the sheer endless number of possibilities for each run, Slay the Spire gets better and better the more you play. Even if you don’t normally like card battlers, Slay the Spire might hook you. It’s brilliant, challenging, and maintains its appeal even after you’ve tasted success.
The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse
The Swords of Ditto originally launched in 2018 on PS4 and PC, but Switch owners will only ever know the best version of the game. Thanks to an amazing update coinciding with the Switch launch, The Swords of Ditto now plays like a proper retro Zelda game. It already had a charming story, colorful visuals, and an interesting world full of secrets, but now it can be played in a much more forgiving fashion.
Previously, The Swords of Ditto featured permadeath, which slashed away at much of your progression. With Mormo’s Curse, permadeath has been removed, and the result is much more cohesive and rewarding action-RPG. It’s one of the best Zelda-esque games on Switch. It also happens to be published by Devolver Digital, so you know it’s worth your time.
Battle Chef Brigade
Battle Chef Brigade is a prime example of innovation. At once it’s an action-RPG, a match-three puzzler, and a cooking sim. Each cooking battle requires players to hunt and take down monsters in hack-and-slash combat. After the hunt is over, you must bring the ingredients to the kitchen.
The cooking portion of the game is done through a grid-based match-three puzzle. Both distinct gameplay styles perform well, and Battle Chef Brigade is rounded out by gorgeous hand-drawn graphics and a wonderful soundtrack.
Super Daryl Deluxe
Super Daryl Deluxe is easily the funniest game on this list. The self-described RPGvania transports you to a bizarre, multidimensional adventure starring a hapless young man named Daryl. All he wants is a little attention and some friends at his new school, but Daryl soon finds himself on a ridiculous quest across the constantly changing and improbable school grounds.
With brawler combat and an RPG progression system, Super Daryl Deluxe stands out in its crowded side-scrolling genre. The first thing you’ll notice is the distinct, cartoon visuals that really pop on the Nintendo Switch. Besides great gameplay, though, Super Daryl Deluxe has a killer story with truly humorous and zany dialogue.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is an unabashed love letter to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The adventure is relayed as a story told by a grandfather to his granddaughter. It’s a humorous and surprisingly affecting tale that takes place across a colorful and varied open world.
All of the Zelda trappings are here: Dungeons, new weapons, interesting boss fights, unassuming villagers, etc. Despite its cute appearance, Blossom Tales is fairly challenging, making it a worthy heir to classic Zelda. If you’re itching to play a retro Zelda on Switch, Blossom Tales is a worthy treat.
Undertale fittingly falls into a weird category of JRPGs towered over by Earthbound. It’s an experience filled with plenty of laughs, but there’s also a pervasive sadness underneath its comical exterior.
You play as a nameless child who winds up beneath the earth’s surface. All around you are monsters, but Undertale gradually shows you that these monsters aren’t quite the stuff of nightmares.
The stripped-down art style gives excellent writing a chance to shine. Undertale offers a profound message that will likely make you feel differently about good and evil.
A Short Hike
If you’re looking for a relaxing way to spend the day, consider downloading A Short Hike. It’s a simple game of exploration, and there’s not much standing between you and a chill afternoon traversing the mountainsides of Hawk Peak Provincial Park.
There are plenty of treasures and secrets to discover, but the main draw of A Short Hike is simply wandering around the beautiful environment listening to a dynamic soundtrack — one that changes as you explore. And if you really need some excitement, you can always jump off the peak of a mountain and soar about the forest floor. It’s a unique title, and one of the more experimental indie games to hit the eShop in recent months.
Summer in Mara
Animal Crossing might be stealing the spotlight, but Summer in Mara is a great alternative for those looking for something with a bit more structure. You’re tasked with renovating your own private island — adding buildings, growing crops, and raising farm animals are just a few of the expansion possibilities at your disposal.
There are also more than 300 quests for you to tackle and an open sea with dozens of islands for you to discover. It’s a bit of Wind Waker mixed in with Animal Crossing, and it’s a wonderful addition to the Nintendo Switch marketplace.
Overcooked 2 is pretty close to the perfect party game. In Overcooked 2, you and up to three friends race against the clock to complete simplistic recipes to serve to zombie bread invaders. The challenge is that the kitchens constantly move to create obstacles. Teamwork is absolutely key to your success.
If you can play Overcooked 2 without barking orders at your loved ones, congrats, you’re more mild-mannered than us. Thankfully, Overcooked 2 has tons of charm and is full of hilarious moments. While the original is also great, the sequel adds new recipes, the all-important throw mechanic, and online multiplayer.
Stardew Valley is the sort of game you’ll unwittingly play for 100 hours and never regret a minute of it. A top-down, pixelated farming sim, the breakout game from lone developer Eric Barone takes cues from Harvest Moon but exudes its own sense of personality. You decide that the city life is too hectic, so you move to your grandfather’s farm in Pelican Town.
From there, Stardew Valley is really whatever you want it to be. From the casual pleasure of planting crops to the blissful peace of fishing to the surprisingly fun combat in the caves, each simulated day in Stardew Valley feels like a little adventure.
By far, though, Stardew Valley stands out for its ability to create a sense of community with the delightful CPU villagers. The people of Pelican Town will start to feel like real friends before long. Stardew Valley is wholesome, engrossing, and a great game to take a breather with.
Superhot plays from a first-person shooting perspective, but you could also argue that it’s a puzzle game. Propelled by the brilliant hook that enemies only move when you move, Superhot‘s levels, which are rendered almost entirely white, require both forethought and quick trigger fingers. Once you move, it’s pure chaos. That means you have to know what you’re going to do next, and it helps to have a plan for what’s next after that and so on. Weapons have limited ammo, so planning is key. Often times, you have to be up close, slashing at the red-bodied enemies with melee weapons.
Unique and thrilling, Superhot has great shooting mechanics and an intoxicating loop that only seems to get better the more you play.
The Outer Worlds
Although it doesn’t seem like it, The Outer Worlds is actually an indie title. This massive game is published by Private Division and is easily one of the best titles on the Switch — indie or not. Previously released for all other consoles and PC, the game recently found its way to Nintendo’s hybrid device.
Fans of the Fallout series will be right at home, as The Outer Worlds gives players dozens the choices to make, weapons to wield, and locations to explore, all while navigating a satirical storyline. A few concessions had to be made due to technical limitations, and the graphics leave a bit to be desired, but anyone looking for an FPS fix will be happy this gem found a home on the Switch.
While Golf Story is technically a golf game, you don’t have to like the sport to enjoy this arcade-style game. It’s a role-playing game in the same vein as Mario Tennis for Game Boy Color, with retro-pixelated visuals to boot.
Following the death of your father, your character decides to get back into golf after not playing for two decades. Naturally, you seek out lessons at a local country club. From there, Golf Story turns into both a golf sim and a hilariously touching story.
Filled with a variety of courses and oodles of differentiated golf-oriented mini-games and tasks, Golf Story remains fresh throughout its roughly ten-hour runtime. The writing is great, the golf mechanics are simple but fun, and the colorful cast of characters ooze personality. As a Switch exclusive, Golf Story should absolutely not be missed.
Few indie games reach the heights of Rocket League, the 2015 action sports game that has retained a huge following ever since. Rocket League‘s premise is pretty simple. It’s just soccer with cars, but wow is it ridiculously fun.
The Nintendo Switch version has Mario-themed cars and users can play online with Xbox One and PC players, meaning that the player pool is quite large at all times of the day. You don’t have to like soccer or racing games to fall in love with Rocket League. That’s how delightful this odd mashup is on Switch.
Into the Breach
From the makers of the excellent FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach somehow manages to be Subset Games’ best outing. A turn-based tactics game, Into the Breach takes place on small grids filled with only a few units. The name of the game is survival, as losing all your units restarts the game.
It’s an interesting approach to the relatively well-trodden grid-based tactics genre. You can, if you choose, take out enemy units, but you must focus on protecting your power grids. Since you only have a limited number of turns, choosing where to place your units at the start of each round is key.
Into the Breach has so many surprising layers to it that you’ll learn new strategies even after you’ve cleared the game multiple times. It’s a near-perfect turn-based strategy game that should not be missed by any fans of the genre.
Chucklefish’s Wargroove is a fantastical homage to the dormant Advance Wars series, complete with gorgeous pixelated visuals and enough content to keep you playing for the long haul. The campaign sees you control an army of troops across spacious maps, completing objectives such as killing the enemy commander, destroying their stronghold, or escorting civilians to safety.
As a tactics game, Wargroove shines for its expertly designed maps and variance of units, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. The commanders themselves have special groove abilities that come in handy during critical junctures.
In addition to the lengthy campaign, Wargroove has local and online multiplayer, a fun arcade mode, and a puzzle format that forces you to complete a task in one turn. But there’s more. Chucklefish included a map and campaign editor to let players create their own levels. You can even create a full game inside Wargroove, with cutscenes and all, if you desire. Maps and campaigns can be shared and downloaded through the online service.
There’s truly nothing like Thumper. Sure, there are rhythm games out there that send you zooming across a linear track, with the goal of hitting the right button inputs. But Thumper is a primal and terrifying experience. While it does include rhythmic audio to keep you moving to the beat, those sounds are hard to classify it as music.
All the sounds you hear are mechanical and industrial, giving you a sense of space, whether it’s real or something from a nightmare. There’s plenty to do in Thumper, from finishing the main story, to battling bosses, and even achieving the highest rank on each stage.
If you’re into rhythm games like Amplitude or even Rock Band Blitz, you’ll have a sense of what to expect from Thumper, at least from a gameplay perspective. But don’t expect an easy-going, lighthearted experience with Thumper. This indie game will keep you on your toes and on the edge of your seat.
Cadence of Hyrule
Even without being a Nintendo classic, the typically forgotten Cadence of Hyrule is undoubtedly one of the best Zelda games available on the platform. You can even argue that bringing in an outside developer helped introduce new ideas, many of which make this game unique.
From the studio that created Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games effectively combines rhythm gameplay with the aesthetics and themes of a beloved 2D Zelda experience.
It has all the things you love about Zelda: Bosses, dungeons, items to collect, and music. As you venture through the game, you have to collect items that you’ll need to battle the final boss before beating the game. The twist is that it features roguelike elements that restructure the layout of the map each time. That means no two runs are the same.
Since no two runs are the same, you have to prepare for anything. This makes each attempt at the game fun and engaging.
Nintendo Switch gamers will always have an array of game options available to them. Indie game developers create action games, strategy games, and simulations for the Switch platform. You’ll find it all here, from something new and fresh to the classics you live. Plus, new releases launch all the time, making the platform even more dynamic.
If you haven’t yet tried a Nintendo Switch, read our review to decide if it’s the right console for you.
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Top 15 best 2D platformers for Nintendo Switch
The Adventure Pals is a side-scrolling action platformer where you need to rescue your Papa from being turned into a hot dog. Between that and your faithful giraffe, you need to traverse a series of tricky levels and take on the world's many adorable foes. It's one of those cute games you could play on your own, laughing at jokes and beating up hotdogs, but it's even more fun in two-player co-op where you both can explore.
The graphics from The Adventure Pals is super cute and leans towards a Japanese style. It will put a smile on your face, so if you want a great (and kinda derpy) game, make sure you give this one a shot.Download The Adventure Pals
You need to help Madeline journey to the top of Celeste Mountain in this hand-crafted platformer. Made by the same folks who brought us Towerfall its controls are simple, but the going is hard and each failure will be a lesson in itself. Celeste is quite a challenging 2D platformer for Switch, but it's one well worth playing if you are up for the challenge and think you can master it!
The 8-bit graphics in this game will take you back to some old retro games, and the tough levels only make it a must-play for genre enthusiasts. It's one of the best 2D platformers for Nintendo Switch that doesn't give any signs of getting outranked anytime soon. We made a couple of Celeste tips to help you out!Download Celeste
In Cave Story+ you wake up in a dark cave with no memory of who you are or how you got there. Despite your personal dilemma, however, it's up to you to save the people of Mimiga Village from a maniacal scientist. There is a lot of action - dodging bullets, taking on posses, and using your gun to boost you up to higher heights. It's polished, addictive, tricky, and a little bit retro.
Furthermore, you'll also have a pretty fun narrative to dig into. Cave Story+ is one of those games that will remind you why a platformer is one of the best genres you can immerse into on your Switch.Download Cave Story+
Outrun a terrible storm in SHU and get help from a wide variety of characters (and their own useful talents) to make it past each challenge. Work through 21 levels across six lands, collect trinkets, and grab the best time possible if you're all about the figures. The art style in SHU is quite nice to look at and there are some really tricky platforming moves!
Much like many other platformers, it will only get better (and harder) as you advance. It's a nice game that will satisfy the over-achiever within with all of the secrets and collectibles you can discover.Download Shu
If you've got a few pals around, Runbow is an excellent platformer with some really neat, stylish twists on competitive play. You're racing to get to the finish line, dodging and weaving through the level's many obstacles, but there's a catch – colourful platforms disappear and reappear if they match the background colour, so be careful.
The game is simple and has all of the key elements that make up a good platformer. It never gets boring, so rest assured - you can pick it up and re-play it as often as you like!Download Runbow
Dead Cells isn't going to hold your hand and that's one of the greatest things about it. Playing as a failed alchemic experiment, you need to figure out what's happening on the seemingly cursed island around you. Each time you die, you can use it as a learning experience, so hopefully, in the future, you can make it further.
Enjoy challenging enemies, tricky levels, permadeath, and more. This is not your ordinary 2D platformer on Nintendo Switch. It's a game that will give you a lot to work towards and even more to enjoy. Read the complete Dead Cells review.Download Dead Cells
7Steamworld Dig 2
Head off on an epic mining adventure in this platformer/reverse platformer. After an old trading town needs help following a series of earthquakes, it's up to you to help them recover and figure out what darker forces are at work. The graphics in Steamworld Dig 2 are really lovely, and there are plenty of traps, upgrades, and strange machines to keep you exploring.
The game is full of action, puzzles, and tons of other elements that elevate it from a simple platformer to something much more. It's, simply put, brilliant!Download Steamworld Dig 2
Not only visually stunning, in Hollow Knight you'll journey deep into a ruined world and discover a variety of characters and settlements residing in the cursed kingdom. Branch out to find hidden paths, reap rewards, and fight bosses amidst a labyrinth of caves and curiosities.
Adorable looking characters, cutesy but deadly monsters and a not-too-friendly environment make up the entirety of this fun little game. There is a lot to discover in Hollow Knight, and it's one of our favourite picks and also one of the best 2D platformers on Switch ever released! Here are a couple of Hollow Knight tips for you!Download Hollow Knight
GoNNER is an ultra-hard, score-based platformer with roguelike elements all about Ikk, Death, and a space whale called Sally. You're designed to die, but not in the sense, but not in an unfair sense. You'll shoot a ton of stuff, watch as the colours change around you depending on your score, and die, die, die until you rage quit...then turn the game back on again.
The game's difficulty is only matched by its creative levels, so if you want a game that will not sugarcoat the stages and give you a run for your money, GoNNER is the one to Go for! Read the GoNNER Nintendo Switch review!Download GoNNER
10Touhou Luna Nights
This Metroidvania title places much emphasis on the free exploration players can dive into when playing it. It's a platformer unlike many others, and action-packed to the brim. The game looks great, follows a pretty nifty 8-bit graphics line and merges creatively with anime characters full of personality.
You can explore the various levels and uncover the captivating story within the game, so make sure to give it a shot. It's one of those underrated 2D platformers that only keeps getting better and better as you play.Download Touhou Luna Nights
Stand up to the paint factory's villainous boss, Le Docteur, and save the Splashers in this inky platformer. Each colour you shoot from your paint cannon will grant you special Portal-esque powers to help you manoeuvre tricky levels and fool enemies. Dodging around, walking on the ceilings, and otherwise making sure you stay away from hazards becomes very fast and fun in this game!
The platformer genre feels at home in the cartoonish world of Splasher, and it only enhances the fluid gameplay one can enjoy in this amazing Switch platformer. Read the Splasher review.Download Splasher
Sonic returns, bigger and better than ever. Race through re-imagined classic levels as you bring the fight to evil Dr. Robotnik, and discover never-before-seen paths and shortcuts. Relive Sonic 1-3 and play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles in your adventures. Careful, though. It's harder than you remember. It's one of the classic 2D platformers on Switch that you'll love.
The game is certainly one of the best 2D platformers for Switch, even in 2021. It'll be even better if you catch it on sale - a must-buy. Read the Sonic Mania review.Download Sonic Mania
When a young ninja journeys across a cursed world to deliver a super-important scroll, this seemingly simple action platformer may just blow your mind. You're sucked into an awesome time-travelling adventure filled with exciting twists, turns, upgrades, humour, and branching paths alongside some really neat characters.
The game has a pixelated graphic style sprinkled with amazing backgrounds, characters and a truly immersive environment, so if you want a retro game that still follows a pretty contemporary concept, The Messenger is the ideal game.Download The Messenger
14Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition
Rayman Legends follows Rayman and his friends as they discover a tent filled with strange paintings hidden away in an enchanted forest. Run, jump, and fight your way through different worlds as you try to discover the secrets behind each artwork and save the world, of course. Rayman Legends can be played in local co-op mode, with each player helping to "pop" the other players who have died, bringing them back to life for another chance at the game.
It really gives the proper vibe of a truly great 2D platformer on Switch, so don't miss out on it in case you have someone to play with. It'll be an experience to remember. Rayman Legends Definitive Edition review.Download Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition
Monster Sanctuary is a lovely, pixelated platformer where you will find loads of different monsters that can help you explore the world, find new areas, defend yourself and survive. There are skill trees allowing you to upgrade your attacks and yourself to best suit your strategy, which provides quite a variety of gameplay! You need to build and defend your own Sanctuary - it's just up to you to do it your way.
For a game that is as fun and adorable as this one, it definitely feels at home on the handheld console. That alone makes it one of the best 2D platformers for Switch out there.Download Monster Sanctuary