by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 24th July, 2018
Nintendo nailed it with the company's latest console. The Nintendo Switch came out little over a year ago and in April 2018 the console sold in almost 18 million units. By now that number probably reached 20 million and by the end of the year, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Switch reaches 30 million units sold. One of the main reasons for the stellar success of the hybrid console is its amazing game library that, in just over one year, includes hundreds of amazing games that can be played at home or anywhere else thanks to the console being a superb choice for mobile gamers.
And the biggest part of the library is made up of indie games, those small gems made by independent studios that bring back the pure and unaltered fun on playing games not because of massive hype, photorealistic visuals, or the corporative advertising machine that feed us with AAA titles every single day. No, indie games are played because they are fun to play because they offer incredible gameplay, interesting story, graphics that look amazing even without offering over the top technical achievements like 4K textures or motion captured animation.
And today you have a chance to check out the ultimate list that covers the finest indie picks you can find for the Nintendo Switch. Every single of these games is an amazing experience and they all deserve a chance. The choice is upon you, upon your genre preferences but no matter which games from this list you end up playing, you won't go wrong. Before you start exploring the list a quick note. You won't find Overcooked here because, despite the game being one of the best titles for the Switch at the moment, its sequel is just around the corner so we advise everyone to wait a bit and get Overcooked 2 once it comes out at the beginning of August.
This mix between detective adventure, a time-bending puzzle, and an excellent story-driven murder mystery has all elements needed to fall in love with it. Cute, detailed and not too serious visuals, deep puzzles that ask for original solutions and unique puzzles involving time manipulation.
You play as an invisible intervening entity that watches over participants of an unusual masked party. Unusual in the sense that, one by one, attendees drop dead. And yes, it is up to you to save them and let them live for another day. Follow them through the mansion, manipulate time to see what will happen (and what happened in the past) and try finding out just who could be behind this gruesome crimes. A perfect for playing at home, but also pretty interesting to play with friends outside because, deep in themselves, everyone wants to be a detective.
What to say about Steamworld Dig that could make this game sounds better than it actually is? One of the best titles of 2017, a sleeper hit that conquered PCs and consoles alike and the best mining Metroidvania of them all. Dig deeper, discover ancient and eerie secrets that were hidden for eons, all while trying to locate your best friend and save the world at the same time!
Steamworld Dig offers oh so cute visuals, enchanting story and dozens of hours of gameplay. Your goal is to locate long lost friend and stop earthquakes that started to affect a small mining town filled with robot miners. Loot treasures and upgrade your skills and equipment. Buy new gadgets and reach depths of the Earth that hide lots of surprises and secrets, and unfold the story that has just enough compelling plot twists to glue you to the screen for hours on end.
The legendary roguelike game that, along with a couple of other titles, started the roguelike craze that lasts to this day, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth is one of the toughest and most bizarre games where death means starting all over again.
Its morbid story is superb, its enemies are weirder and more gruesome than any enemy found in Silent Hill, and weapons utilized by Isaac are more bizarre than anything we've seen before. Battle nightmare creatures across unique, procedurally generated levels, face tough bosses and try escaping from your abusive and mentally deranged mother. This one should be played by anyone.
Shovel Knight is another small but super hard game that made millions of players around the world destroy their controllers like they are made out of cardboard. But anyone who finished this amazing tribute of golden days of 8-bit gaming didn't mind because this hellishly hard game gets better and better every time you play it. Its pixel art visuals give a false impression of cuteness and then suddenly, you get killed five times over a course of ten minutes, unable to live for five minutes before being returned to the title screen.
Shower Knight is hard, but it is not unfair to the player. Its story is simplistic yet enough to keep you playing till the end and the soundtrack is a perfect companion to the fast and tight gameplay. Treasure Trove is a special edition of the game that contains every bonus campaign available offering more than 10 hours of fun along with a great replay value.
Fast RMX is a perfect replacement for F-Zero (but we sure hope Nintendo will bring a new F-Zero title to the console because everyone and their dog want a new F-Zero game). Faster than life racing, gameplay that values skill and reflexes over anything else, exciting tracks filled with jumps and numerous speed boosts, and a chunky campaign mode make for one perfect futuristic racing game.
Fast RMX came out as one of the few Switch launch titles and the game sure didn't disappoint. Even today Fast RMX is the best racing title for the Switch and a game made for F-Zero fans. If you're looking for an adrenaline-pumping racer or for a game that is perfect to play in small chunks, Fast RMX is one of the best choices out there.
Another indie smashing hit that can be played on the Nintendo Switch. Stardew Valley is an endless game where you take care of your small farm but can do so much more in its dreamy world filled with interest characters and cool stuff to do. Start it in the morning and put the console down in the evening; yes, Stardew Valley is that contagious. Just don't say we didn't warn you.
Steamworld Heist takes place in the same robotic universe as Steamworld Dig 2, but this one is a completely different experience. Instead of being another cool Spellunky type of game, Steamworld Heist is basically X-Com in 2D, but with a couple of novel ideas.
Control your robot army across many levels and try to exit every shootout as the winning party. The game follows classic turn-based strategy rules with one highly original twist; here, you aim your crew's weapons, removing that annoying dice-based gameplay, replacing it with action that relies on your accuracy and reflexes. You robot pirate crew will loot enemy ships for dozens of hours, finding new weapons and equipment, boosting their own stats. Turn-based strategy rarely gets as good as this.
There's a story behind any situation, and this turn of events deserves one that's rather long and filled with interesting characters. Our hero is just an average Joe until one day he decides to become a professional golfer. He isn't very good at putting balls into holes but his immense pertinacity combined with the player's skill at golf will probably produce one excellent gold player.
The golf journey takes out aspiring golfer through many original golf courses and across lots of charming environments and in this world, everyone plays golf. And no one talks to you until you prove your worth on the golf course. A great fun for chilling at home or for those long breaks between classes, Golf Story is one hell of a journey. Add wonderful retro visuals to the mix and you have a perfect indie gem for the Nintendo Switch.
Hollow Knight is one of the best Metroidvania of the past few years and for a reason. Firstly, controls are so tight and accurate that jumping, fighting, dodging opponents, and climbing hard to reach areas is a pure symphony made out of perfect button combinations. And those hand-drawn visuals are so sweet and charming you'll forget about time and space while playing Hollow Knight.
Guide the brave knight through the ancient cities, dark ruins, and beautiful underground passages that make the ruined and forgotten kingdom hiding many dark secrets. Battle epic bosses and hone your skills and powers to perfection. Choose your own path and travel to the lands of dreams and nightmares placed inside minds of your opponents. And after you beat the game start again on Steel Soul Mode, with tougher enemies and challenges.
Darkest Dungeon is a bit older but its age doesn't mean you should avoid it. The game is one of the best roguelike experiences out there featuring unique adventures every time you start from the scratch, excellent RPG elements that give you cool advantages that come with a price, and a dark and twisting story about ancient curses. Dark and twisted crowquill art style just adds to the already thick atmosphere, making the game uneasy to look but quite attractive at the same time.
You lead a band of misfits with one goal - liberating your family's estate that has been swarmed by otherworldly horrors. Your heroes cannot go into every battle because they build stress over time that can lead to gruesome effects in the form of various mental disorders and ultimately to pure madness. Enemies are tough to beat and ask for a cooperation and strategic planning of each move. Think twice before you act because in the world of Darkest Dungeon one mistake means an eternity of suffering.
Little Nightmares is a game about some parallel universe where grown-ups are some hideous monsters that basically eat kids. And it is up to you to lead various little protagonists to freedom, keeping them alive and trying to sneak past monsters who want to eat them. Bizarre environments, constant tension, and cool physics-based puzzles are the best features of Little Nightmares.
The game is a quite similar to Limbo and Inside and relies on atmosphere and its unique way of storytelling than on challenging puzzles and intense combat. This adventure looks amazing and it is a perfect title for the Switch because its levels are relatively short, which is perfect for bite-sized gaming sessions while on the go.
The Switch isn't known for its sprawling racing games scene so the fact that Mantis Burn Racing is available on the console is awesome for all racing lovers. The game features top view like the classics of the 90's along with a driving model that starts slow and steady but quickly becomes pretty challenging once you learn how to drive basic cars and switch to faster ones.
There are plenty of tracks, a nice and long career mode, and visuals are pretty and colorful if not exactly mind-blowing and top notch. Look, there aren't many racing games for the Switch and if you like to pull off massive drifts, to swoosh past opponents like your ride on top of a hurricane and happen to love the top-down view on the racing track, be sure to check Mantis Burn Racing.
Okay, West of Loathing isn't really a looker but oh boy this indie RPG will charm you in a jiffy. This game is hilarious just to look at, let alone to play. The story is amazing, witty, and filled with excellently written dialogue that will keep you playing for hours at once. Comic book-like art style just adds to the game's charm and its gang of sidesplitting characters is priceless. And this game offers some of the best humor we've ever seen that won't grow stale after a couple of hours. Hell, it won't become stale even if you play the game for a dozen times!
The game's RPG system is highly original with unique skills, full customization of your character and goofy as hell items. Add to that highly original quests that will make you laugh for weeks, months even, cool gameplay and assortment of classic Wild West environments and you got yourself a game that just must be recommended to everyone.
If you're looking for a compelling RPG with a turn-based combat, a solid story taking strong influences from Norse mythology, and beautiful hand-drawn graphics, The Banner Saga games are right up your alley. Embark on an epic quest that combines Game of Thrones with Vikings, encounter numerous characters and decide what your course of action will be for every single encounter and come up with decisions with effects spanning all three games.
The first two games from the Banner Saga are already available for the Switch and the third and final game should come out very soon so get the first two and prepare for the epic finale!
This over the top combo of classic dungeon crawler and adrenaline-inducing bullet hell is one of the best choices for every Switch owner. The game features numerous dungeons filled with unique monsters, action-packed gameplay that will turn your thumbs into mashed potato, and superb visuals that perfectly recreate the cult art style of the 90's.
Pick your hero or create a team for some co-op gun blazing madness, pack some guns and enter the Gungeon! The game features a ton of different weapons, unique items and so much loot you'll think you found the ultimate gold vein. If you wandered could there be a weapon capable of literally killing the past do yourself a favor and get this one, now. As an extra incentive, let us notify you that the game received a new update called Advanced Gungeons & Draguns that adds a ton of new content making the game better than ever.
One of the hidden gems of 2018, Yoku's Island Express is a game that combines open-world platforming with some Metroidvania elements with the final piece of the puzzle being pinball gameplay. Yup, the game is filled with paddles so you can launch the ball you're dragging along with you and have some fun while shattering your way to new levels.
You play as Yoku, a new postman sent on a tropical island to help its locals with their everyday troubles but Yoku will do so much more during his adventure. He'll uncover secrets and summon ancient Gods while blasting his way through the island. The game looks similar to recent Rayman games, but in motion is more like a stop-motion cartoon. Colorful levels along with shiny effects make this one a stunning little game that found its match made in heaven in Nintendo Switch.
Fight pirates in Owlboy and while you're at it discover your strengths and overcome obstacles that prevent you from reaching your full potential. Otus, the hero of this story will rise above challenges and become an owl to be proud of, but he needs your help. This game is a true indie gem and no matter the platform it landed, the game managed to build a faithful following along with stellar reviews.
Beautiful, living paint visuals along with retro sounds and challenging platforming can make anyone fall in love with Owlboy. This platformer is perfect for a handheld console and short bursts of gaming so check it out if you own a Switch.
This narrative puzzle experience is one of the most unique games that got released in the last couple of years. Stich together stories from scattered parchments and build your own explanation for various puzzles you will find in Gorogoa. The game features colorful sets of pictures that are hand drawn and that differentiate this one from many other similar games that ask from players to reconstruct events based on a series of interconnected puzzle pieces. It is different because its story is a sublime set of events that unfold inside trippy, overarching puzzles that fit one into another and build new scenes that are made from both old and new elements. The game's flow is just right and it is pretty hard to put it down once you start unfolding puzzles.
Also, the story of Gorogoa is massively better than in other, similar games and once you start it you won't have time for anything else until you solve the last puzzle. Another game that's perfect for mobile gaming sessions and that's a perfect pair for mobile gaming systems.
A modern adventure in classic garments, Thimbleweed Park is a game that starts like a classic detective adventure but soon starts drifting all over the place. You start as a detective duo trying to solve a murder mystery but after a while, you will discover that the town you've sent into is hiding some pretty weird mysteries.
The game is made by a pair of geniuses who brought us classics such as Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion meaning lots of intelligent humor, bizarre but compelling story and old-school visuals that will put a smile on the face of every older gamer. But don't worry, this one is an excellent experience no matter how old you are, so go to Thimbleweed Park and find out that in this town, a dead body is the least of your problems.
Another great adventure, Night in The Woods don't feature lots of hard to solve puzzles, but it comes with a mystery of its own that lays dormant in the woods. Play as a college dropout who gets back to her hometown and start to reconcile with old friends but soon discover that everything changed. The cast of various anthropomorphic animals is divided into many original characters and each of them has their own story to tell.
The game features marvelous 2D graphics that are so colorful and saturated you'll think your display is misbehaving, a ton of interesting conversations with lots of well-written characters and a story that is interesting enough to keep you pinned down to your Switch right until the final scene. Highly recommended.
This dark sci-fi side-scroller is a tribute to Nintendo but at the same time a completely original take on the genre. After an experiment goes bad and you wake up in a completely unknown alien world where everything is hostile it is up to you to find out what happened. Is this the Earth, some parallel universe, or something completely different?
Axiom Verge features pixel art graphics that make the game perfectly emulating the look and feel of the best NES and SNES games but while it looks like it came from the past it does feature a fair share of modern options. Upgradable powers, clever puzzles, and glitch mechanics that allow for some original combat and puzzle solving allow this game to stand out on its own. You may have seen something similar to Axiom Verge, but you didn't play something similar to Axiom Verge.
Voez is a small game from a Korean studio that tries to make this world better by giving it fantastic rhythm games. They made titles for iOS and Android devices and a couple of their games have been released on the PlayStation Vita but Voez is their first offering for the Nintendo Switch. This cute little rhythm game follows a music band across many different adventures, which serves as a background for some serious thumb exercises. Yup, the game doesn't use controllers. Instead, it relies on the Switch's touchscreen.
You have tons of levels on which you must tap notes in the rhythm of the excellent retro music and create combos, slides, and other special moves in order to advance the game. The game features a huge number of levels and if you love rhythm games Voez is one of a couple of great choices to pick of the Switch.
This is another rhythm game but if Voez looks like a bright sunny day in the middle of May Thumper is a midnight filled with dark electro music. The game is amazing and it looks like some chromatic nightmare. It Thumper you lead a tiny, beetle-like ship that travels on chrome covered space highways on a quest to face the huge demonic head, the source of all evil.
The music is aggressive and physical, the action is extremely fast and asks for quick reflexes and levels are pretty challenging and trippy as hell itself. Ride the beetle through a world filled with psychedelic explosions, listen to disturbing electro soundtrack and chase the giant head across the universe.
When you have two highly creative individuals and when they get together and decide to create a game in the course of four days you get Celeste, an excellent 2D platformer that is a joy to play. The game takes place in Canada and your goal is to climb, jump and dash your way to the top of a giant mountaintop across a variety of environments that include icy cliffs, caves filled with industrial machinery and colorful dungeons.
The controls are tight and easy to learn but that's needed because the game is pretty hard. You will have to focus and put your skills to the max in order to climb the mountaintop and finish the game. While games like this one usually feature a story that is there just to provide some background and reason to play them, the story in Celeste is well-written, genuinely interesting, and is one of the main parts of the game. On top of all that the game features many collectibles to find with B-side cassettes that offer harder versions of the game's levels, for those who like extreme challenges.
Oxenfree is a surreal adventure set on an island where something went wrong and you and your friends have to find out just what the hell is happening. If you like Stranger Things this game will induce that same stream of positive emotions combined with the desire to know what comes next and the sweet anticipation of future events.
The game is filled with interesting conversations you have with your friends and the game's sound is so eerie and paralyzing at times it really makes the game genuinely spooky pretty often. There are lots of original puzzles based on manipulating sound frequencies and the game features plenty of choices during a conversation that will affect the future. If you like mysteries, coming-of-age stories and vintage sci-fi atmosphere you should play Oxcenfree. The game is great, really.
Inside and Limbo are two amazing games that just have to be played. Limbo was one of the cult games that shaped the indie game scene on Xbox Arcade and Inside is its spiritual sequel that adds color to the world but doesn't make it any less bizarre and oppressive. Play these two and be on a constant lookout for dangers that can come from any side. Be prepared to die a lot because in both games death is needed in order to figure out how traps and puzzles work before you actually solve them.
Both games are stupendously good platformers with a morbid story, excellent visuals, and clever puzzles. If you didn't play any of these, the Switch looks like a perfect platform to finally pick these two and give them a go.
Kamiko is a Zelda-like game that offers plenty of adventure, lots of clever boss battles and a pretty world to explore. It features tight and accurate controls along with lots of interesting puzzles to solve and a library of awesome chiptune tracks as part of its soundtrack.
If you like old school Zelda games Kamiko might be a perfect substitute. The game spans over many hours, and it serves a story about demons who end up sealing the gates between Heaven and Earth. You, of course, is there to stop the demons and release the seal that keeps the two worlds connected. The player picks one of the three Shrine Maidens (Kamiko), each one armed with a unique weapon, and sets upon the journey or restoring the connection between worlds.
The Mummy Demastered came out at the same time as the last Mummy movie but while the flick was a total failure the game has proven to be one of the rare (very, very rare) video games based on movies that are actually good. And this isn't just good, it's amazing.
The Mummy Demastered is a 2D Metroidvania that features a huge world to explore, many different enemies based on ancient Egyptian myths to kill, lots of different weapons to kill them with and a number of skills to help you killing horrors from ancient times. Graphics are colorful and old school, the action is adrenaline pumping and filled with moments of pure awesomeness, the story is solid, and the music is an excellent assembly of chiptune tracks, and the exploration is exciting. There are lots of tough bosses to fight and 50 ancient relics to discover so if you're looking for a game that will eat your next week this one might be a good choice.
Okay, we all love Worms. This game is one of those cult classics that we all played while we were kids. Launching a giant glass donkey on opponents that destroys half the map or throwing a cluster banana bomb that makes more damage than a nuclear warhead is part of our fondest memories. Worms were available for almost any gaming system you can find and now they can be played on the Switch.
This game is one of the best couch multiplayer experiences because the look on the face of your best friend after you decimate their team in just a couple of turns is priceless. Of course, there's no guarantee you won't experience the same fate on the next match but that's the magic of Worms - thinking about most creative ways to kill off the enemy team in the fewest number of turns. But sometimes, the world just needs a huge-ass super banana bomb that will wreck chaos and put a smile on every face staring at the screen. This game is the definition of local competitive multiplayer and the Switch is a perfect platform to play it on.
If you played Minecraft too much and have no desire to try it on the Switch might we interest you in Portal Knights? The game is similar to Minecraft but it does come with its own unique set of features. The game is a co-op RPG that puts the player on a set of randomly generated islands with a sole goal of restoring the peace to a once-thriving world.
The game offers nice and colorful graphics, easy to learn gameplay, lots of weapons and a huge amount of content to discover. Find new portals and fight never-seen-before bosses, help your friends in local or online co-op or just have some fun playing together and exploring the massive world of Portal Knights.