With over 1,000 games on the Nintendo Switch, it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth your time. While there are many more deserving games that didn’t make it onto this list, here are what we believe to be the ten best indie games currently on Switch.
10. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth +
The final product of multiple iterations on the original 2011 roguelike, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth + still takes an irrelevant spin on the dungeon format of the original The Legend of Zelda, but with a lot more content. Launching just 14 days after the Switch itself, the game’s repetitive roguelike structure fit perfectly with the system’s portable nature.
9. Enter the Gungeon
Inspired by none other than The Binding of Isaac itself, the twin-sticks roguelike Enter the Gungeon excels for many of the same reasons as the former. In our review, Kyle Rogacion writes, “Enter the Gungeon is a mishmash of ideas and over-the-top humor that creates deeply satisfying gameplay. While it doesn’t break new ground, it offers quick bursts of gameplay that are perfect for the Switch.”
8. Axiom Verge
Solely developed by Tom Happ, Axiom Verge capitalizes expertly on the “metroidvania” genre to create something that honors the old as much as it brings in the new. The eerily detailed sprite work and haunting music make it hard to believe that a single person created it all.
Each of Owlboy’s roughly ten hours fully reflects the ten years spent developing it. Supported by a “hi-pixel” art style, this game takes the traditional Zelda format and carrying it to the vertical space, replacing items with genuinely endearing characters, all set to an uplifting soundtrack with an equally uplifting story.
6. Night in the Woods
In our review, which gave a perfect score, Kyle Rogacion writes, “Night in the Woods is greater than the sum of its parts. The visuals, mini-games, and music create an engaging framework in which Mae and the rest of Possum Springs come to life. The cartoony aesthetic that the game adopts separates it from reality, while still appealing to the human experience.”
5. Stardew Valley
Just like Axiom Verge, Stardew Valley was made by one person, but the two could not be more different thematically. Evoking a similar feeling to the Harvest Moon series, the game mainly sees you go about daily life as a farmer, interacting with (and possibly romancing) the surrounding civilians. With a variety of mechanics and a wide choice of personal objectives to go for, the Switch is perfect for relaxing in Stardew Valley for a few minutes (or accidentally hours!) before bed.
4. SteamWorld Dig 2
A cross between the open spelunking of Terraria and the structured design of the metroidvania genre, SteamWorld Dig 2 builds something even better than the original. By creating a satisfying system of progression, you always feel like you’re working towards something.
3. Hollow Knight
Finally getting the recognition it deserves on Switch, Hollow Knight also takes advantage of the metroidvania genre, but takes it to completely new heights. With a haunting yet beautiful soundtrack and world to get lost in, Hollow Knight delivers one of the best metroidvanias in recent years, rivaling the Metroids and Castlevanias that inspired it.
2. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Originally released in 2014 and ported to the Switch at launch, Shovel Knight was met with instant praise and recognition as one of the best 2D platformers in recent history, that not only payed homage to the greats but evolved into something that was entirely its own. Cliqist’s Martin Toney writes, “Shovel Knight is a fantastically well put together adventure that will test a player’s skill, tenacity and ability to triumph over genuinely challenging level design that doesn’t rely on cheap tricks to generate an artificial level of difficulty.”
While the top three in particular are almost interchangeable in terms of quality, Celeste just barely climbs its way to the top. Celeste not only has a strong series of platforming challenges with accessibility options for those having trouble and additional challenges for those craving more, but it also tells a very modern story dealing with anxiety, all set to an enchanting soundtrack. Cliqist’s Keenan McCall writes, “Full of heartfelt characters and segments that bleed artistic originality, the game has set a high bar for upcoming releases.”
This was a hard list to put together, so feel free to discuss what games you believe do or don’t deserve a spot!