best indie games on switch

Best Indie Games on Switch

The Nintendo Switch has become one of my favorite consoles. While I like Nintendo’s first-party games, primarily for nostalgia, there are many indie games available on their online store. The one thing that makes the Switch a bit more fun is the handheld mode.

I think I use it as a handheld more than I have it docked. Now that I think of it, I only have it docked when I capture footage of a game. Anyway, I searched through Nintendo’s online store to find the best indie games on Switch.

I played these games mostly in handheld mode. I played a few of them while the system was docked, and in that case, I played them with a pro controller. One or two of the games did feel differently in handheld mode. It wasn’t a big deal; I wanted to mention it, though.

Bottom Line up Front: These are some of my favorite indie games on the Switch. Try Welcome to Elk; it’s a fun point-and-click style adventure game.

Selection criteria

Let’s talk about what qualifies for this list. I’m not just going to be putting any random game on this list.

Here are the selection criteria I’m going with:

  • The game has to be made by a small studio without being published by a large publisher. (i.e., EA, Activision, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, etc.)
  • The game must have a Metacritic score of 65 percent or higher.
  • If there is a disparity between the User and Metacritic scores, I’ll use the User score.

Into the Breach

  • Developer: Subset Games
  • Genre: Roguelike
  • Metacritic Score: 89

In this game, you control a squad of giant mechs, and you fight off a bunch of monsters. It feels like Front Mission, but with aliens in it! Each of your mechs has only two or three health points. This adds to the strategic part of the game.

Into the Breach feels a bit like Subset Studio’s previous game, FTL. This is still a roguelike but has more strategy elements in it. The core mechanics are the same, though. Into the Breach isn’t a squeal as far as I can tell.

You can’t save your game. When you die, you have to start over and try again. This can be a little frustrating, but it forces the player to think more about their next move. You can upgrade your mechs, and you can lose pilots as you play the game. If you liked FTL, then you might like Into the Breach.

FAR: Lone Sails

  • Developer: Okomotive
  • Genre: Action-Adventure
  • Metacritic Score: 88

FAR: Lone Sails is a very interesting game! I think the art style is the best I’ve seen. It’s primarily black and white, with your character dressed in red. The gameplay is simple puzzle solving. You press buttons and get your ship to move.

Your goal is to move your vehicle across a largely barren landscape. You’re looking for some lost civilization. You just need to keep your ship moving either by the steam engine, wind sails, or by pulling it. I’m surprised that our little guy can pull this thing!

The game is fun if you’re into exploring and trying new things. I like trying things out to find out how the game expects me to get the vehicle moving.

OlliOlli World

  • Developer: roll7
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Metacritic Score: 87

This is a 2D skateboarding game which takes place in the land of Radlandia, because of course that is what it would be named! The ruler is looking for an heir, which I’m assuming will be your character. It would be amusing if one time it weren’t, but that would be a joke I don’t think many games would make.

This is one of those bright and fun games that you would expect to be on a Nintendo console. I like trying to see the different tricks I can pull off. It reminds me of when I tried to learn how to skateboard, but with far fewer bruises.

OlliOlli World is an easy-to-learn game that is pretty fun. The create a character section has a lot of options, and you get more clothes, helmets, and other accessories by completing challenges as you move through this skateboarding paradise.

Heroes of Hammerwatch Ultimate Edition

  • Developer: Crackshell
  • Genre: Action-RPG
  • Metacritic Score: 85

This is a roguelike where you play as one of several characters. It plays a bit like Gauntlet and Diablo. You have several characters to choose from and a few more that you can unlock along the way.

HoH Ultimate Edition uses twin-stick controls to move and aim your attacks. This felt a little awkward on the Switch when I was playing in the handheld mode, but it was okay when I had it in the dock. Like many roguelikes, there is some repetition as you can die quickly.

I do like the pixel art, and the gameplay is fun. This is a nice roguelike, and it’s an excellent alternative to the side-scrollers.

Welcome to Elk

  • Developer: Triple Topping Games
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Metacritic Score: 82

This is a strange game that has a lot of charm to it. It looks like a Saturday morning cartoon from the early 2000s. The background is black and white, while the characters are very colorful. Its gameplay reminds me of the LucasArts point-and-click adventure games.

Your character, Frigg, travels to a small town to work. Everyone knows your character’s father, but Frigg doesn’t know many villagers. The story does take a turn as you explore the island. I liked listening to their stories and how they expected you to help them.

Welcome to Elk is a very interesting game. It makes you think a little bit. Games like this are great, and they are a nice distraction for the more action-packed games. If you miss some Sierra Online or LucasArts games, this should fill that void.

Littlewood

  • Developer: SmashGames
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Metacritic Score: 81

In Littlewood, you play as the great hero who defeated the evil Dark Wizard; I’m just guessing the Dark Wizard was evil. All of this happened before you started. Now you have to rebuild your town! This is honestly what I would rather be doing; I needed a break from beating up evil wizards.

I feel like the intro to Littlewood could have been a game. This kind of feels like I’m playing the sequel to a game that didn’t exist. In a way, it reminds me of renting the second or third game in a series and just going with it.

This reminds me of an older game called Soulblazer on the SNES. You play as the hero in both games, and you have to rebuild a town. Littlewood is more fun to play, in my opinion. I like the art style, the controls are good, and the story is fun.

The Darkside Detective

  • Developer: Spooky Doorway
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Metacritic Score: 81

This is a point-and-click adventure game. The pixel art isn’t all that detailed, but it looks good. For some odd reason, the characters don’t have faces. I can’t quite put my finger on why I find it a little unsettling.

The Darkside Detective is about solving a mystery, and it has some funny references along the way to break up some of the creepiness. Like many of these games, you just move a cursor around and decide on the dialogue. There are also a bunch of items wot collect. It plays a bit like Kings Quest and Monkey Island.

The game isn’t too hard, and the answers to the puzzles are sometimes a bit too easy. It’s an entertaining game, though! The humor in it is excellent. This is a game that is just fun to play.

Oxenfree

  • Developer: Night School Studio
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Metacritic Score: 81

Oxenfree is a great adventure game! It follows a group of friends hanging out on an island before going off to college. Some supernatural stuff starts happening, and you have to escape from ghosts.

This game’s story is made much better by the back and forth from the characters. I like it a lot! The game can be funny, scary, and nostalgic all at once. It reminds me of the summers between school when I would hang out with my friends. There is also a small-town vibe to the game that makes me smile for some reason.

It’s a short game with a lot of replay value. The story is excellent, the music is outstanding, and the gameplay is fun. Try this one out if you’re looking for an easy adventure game.

Death and Taxes

  • Developer: Placeholder Gameworks
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Metacritic Score: TBD

Death and Taxes is a straightforward game and is similar to Papers Please. You play as a Grim Reaper. The only thing you do is decide who lives or dies.

I like that you’re just one of many Grim Reapers. This whole bureaucracy is set up to determine all of this, and your decisions are passed along to a man named Fate. After making your choices, you learn what impact they had on the world.

This is an interesting game. It’s simple, and it makes you think about what you’re doing, or it’s trying to get you to think about it. If you like games with moral choices, or if you just want to watch the world burn, then give Death and Taxes a try.

River City Girls

  • Developer: WayForward
  • Genre: Beat ‘em-up
  • Metacritic Score: 79

Beat ‘em-ups are one of my favorite genres. These are the games I have the most memories of playing in arcades when I was little. River City Girls is a well-made game that is fun to play.

So, you play as the girlfriends of the two main characters of River City Ransom. Well, you play as one of them, or you can play with a friend. Your goal is to rescue your boyfriend after they get kidnapped.

This is a great beat ‘em-up! The controls are great, the level-up system is cool, the anime manga cutscenes are good, and River City Girls is funny.

Forager

  • Developer: HopFrog
  • Genre: Action, Adventure
  • Metacritic Score: 78

Forager feels like a top-down version of Minecraft and a game like Stardew Valley. What you’re doing in this game is gathering resources, building stuff, buying land, and exploring the game’s world. It’s a great idea, and it plays well.

There are some enemies to fight, and you have to find food and some of the other things that you might find in Minecraft. There is a simple level-up system and skill tree in the game. You gain a level, get a skill point, and use it to unlock different buildings. On the Switch, the menus can be a little challenging to navigate. At least they were for me at first.

I like the way this game looks. Its visual style reminds me of Stardew Valley and other 8 and 16-bit pixel art games. I was playing this in the Switch’s handheld mode. It brought me back to playing my Game Boy Advance when I was in the Navy.

Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl

  • Developer: Interabang Entertainment
  • Genre: Beat’em up
  • Metacritic Score: 73

I was a big fan of Kevin Smith’s movies, and making his movie Mallrats into a video game was a fun idea. If you’ve watched the movie, you will see many references to it. If you haven’t seen it, then it’s still a fun game.

This is a fun retro-style Beat’em up. You can play it with one or two players. In the one-player mode, you can switch between Jay and Silent Bob. Each character has the same attacks (punch, kick, and jump attack), making it easy to play. You can use weapons, but they don’t last long, and they increase your attack range. Like a lot of games in the genre, the gameplay can be a bit repetitive.

Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl is a fun arcade game. I like how your character can slowly regain health over time. It controls well on the Switch, and it’s a nice distraction from some of the longer games. This is a great choice if you want a beat’em up with a more retro style.

The TakeOver

  • Developer: Pellkan13
  • Genre: Beat’em Up
  • Metacritic Score: 73

The Takeover game tries so hard to be Streets of Rage or Final Fight. It reminds me of one of the other knock-off beat ‘em-ups from the early 90s that would pop up from nowhere. It has some fun features that help bring the game into the modern era.

You have some comic book-style cut scenes and a combo system. The loading times can be a little annoying. The art style is nice. It’s a little dark with neon lighting. It looks like it could have been in the arcades, and I would like to see am arcade cabinet of this game.

I think this game is closer to a spiritual successor to Final Fight. I’m not sure if this is what they were going for, but it’s what I kept thinking while playing this. For a beat ‘em-up, it plays well. Sometimes you just need to punch a bunch of people in the face!

Pathway

  • Developer: Robotality
  • Genre: Turn-based Strategy
  • Metacritic Score: 69

Pathway takes place before the second world war. I like the idea of this game, and it reminds me of a few squad-based games from the late 90s. Each character has their equipment, skills, and background to help you on whatever mission the game throws at you. It had some rough edges, which make the game a little frustrating.

You move your characters across a world map, kind of like a board game. At first, I wouldn’t say I liked this, but I started to like it as I played more of the game. When you land on a space, you might encounter an enemy, and you can either attack them or try to do something different, like sabotaging their equipment or escape without being seen.

It’s got some good ideas that needed to be polished. It’s not as good as XCOM 2, but it’s a fun little game.

An NPC’s Odyssey

  • Developer: Indienova
  • Genre: RPG
  • Metacritic Score: TBD

Have you ever wondered what all the NPC’s in an RPG think about you walking into their house and taking all their stuff? In this game, you are the NPC, and what starts this story is some hero stealing all your gold. He just walks right in and takes it! Thankfully it wasn’t Link; he would have broken all your pots while stealing your stuff.

Because you’re not the hero, the other characters in the game are very dismissive of you. Your character also keeps missing the hero. The game is amusing, especially if you’re a fan of RPGs. I wish there were more games like this one.

An NPC’s Odyssey is a funny RPG. It has okay graphics, the controls are OK, and the combat system is fun. It does have some rough edges to it, but they don’t take much away from the rest of the game. It’s a good game with a clever idea.

Best of the Rest

Here are the other great games that did make it onto this list. These are great games; I just had to cut it off at some point.

  • Cuphead
  • Stardew Valley
  • Inside
  • Human: Fall Flat
  • Infernax
  • Graveyard Keeper
  • Neon Abyss
  • Monster Sanctuary
  • Golf Story
  • Unpacking
  • Ruined King
  • Toem
  • Astria Ascending
  • Limbo
  • Terraria

FAQ

Question: What indie games are coming to the Switch this year?

Answer:
1. Sea of Stars (Winter 2022)
2. Aliisha: The Oblivion of the Twin Goddesses (Spring 2022)
3. Ending Extinction is Forever (Spring 2022)
4. Loco Motive (Summer 2022)
5. Grime (Summer 2022)
6. Bear and Breakfast (2022)
7. Card Shark (2022)
8. Mineko’s Night Market (2022)
9. Omori (Spring 2022)
10. Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery (Spring 2022)

Question: Is the Switch good for Indie games?

Answer: Having the option to bring these games on the go makes the Switch stand out for Indie games. Being able to take these on the go is great, and it has many of the same indie games as Xbox, Steam, and Playstation.

Question: What are the age ratings on these games?

Answer: The games listed range from E for Everyone to M for mature audiences. Here is a breakdown of the ratings for each game.
1. Into the Breach – E10+ Everyone ages 10 and up
2. Far: Lone Sails – E for Everyone
3. OlliOlli World – E10+ Everyone ages 10 and up
4. Heroes of Hammerwatch Ultimate Edition – T for Teen
5. Welcome to Elk – M for Mature
6. Littlewood – E for Everyone
7. The Darkside Detective – T for Teen
8. Oxenfree – T for Teen
9. Death and Taxes – T for Teen
10. River City Girls – E10+ Everyone ages 10 and up
11. Forager – E10+ Everyone ages 10 and up
12. Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl – T for Teen
13. The TakeOver – T for Teen
14. Pathway – T for Teen
15. An NPC’s Odyssey – E for Everyone

Conclusion

The Nintendo Switch has plenty of great indie games available. It also lets you play these games on the go. These are my favorite games out of the long list of games in their eshop.
I’m looking forward to seeing what other indie games will be released for the Switch this year.

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