The Switch has been my console of choice since its release, and I’ve been introduced to so many incredible games since picking it up and browsing through the Nintendo Store. Of course, we have the breakout first-party hits — Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey set the tone for upcoming releases, and we’re expecting a new Luigi’s Mansion and the latest installments to the Pokémon franchise in just a few more weeks.
With that being said, the Switch was also my major introduction to indie titles. I’d picked up a few indie games on other consoles, but it wasn’t until they started receiving their Switch ports (with much fanfare, I might add) that I began to take notice. I’ve had my eyes opened to so many incredible titles since the Switch debuted, and I’d like to take a moment to share my top ten recommendations with you.
Top 10 Best Nintendo Switch Indie Games
As a disclaimer, I tried to avoid including the more prominent indie titles. At this point, I’m assuming most of you have heard of Cuphead and Undertale, and although they’re both amazing games that deserve attention, they’re on almost every other list out there. I’d like a chance to put the spotlight on games that may fly slightly under the radar (or at least don’t get as much mainstream attention). There will be obvious exceptions to this (as you’ll see later), but I hope this list will encourage you to pick up a game you otherwise may have overlooked! Without further ado, here are my picks for the best indie switch games.
Celeste is a beautiful pixelated platformer about growth and self-acceptance, told through the very apt metaphor of climbing a mountain. The game is as gorgeous as it is challenging, with the sentimental story and intelligent level design earning it a spot as 2018 game of the year.
- Type: Platformer
- Developer: Matt Makes Games
- Initial Release Date: January 25, 2018
2. Creature in the Well
I previously discussed Creature in the Well in our list of the Best Upcoming Switch Games of 2019. The handcrafted level designs and beautifully stylized graphics of this pinball-themed dungeon crawler allow it to stand out among other recent indie titles by being just as fun and addictive as the arcade games it’s inspired by.
- Type: Top-Down, Dungeon Crawler
- Developer: Flight School Studio
- Initial Release Date: September 6, 2019
3. Dead Cells
Dead Cells is a pretty prominent title in the indie realm, and the ever-changing levels of this action-platformer rogue-lite are certainly worth recommending. This is the first of many roguelike/lites on my best indies on Switch list, but I especially appreciate the way Dead Cells creatively incorporates the permadeath mechanics into its lore.
- Type: Roguelike
- Developer: Motion Twin
- Initial Release Date: May 10, 2017
4. Enter the Gungeon
This roguelike is a surprisingly adorable little bullet hell (ha ha) in which you play as one of eight different gungeoneers with their own reasons for seeking The Gun That Can Kill The Past. Most of my experience with this game is in its multiplayer mode, where I worked with a co-op partner to eliminate (really cute!) bullet enemies in our efforts to reach the depths of the gungeon.
- Type: Roguelike, Shoot ’em up
- Developer: Dodge Roll
- Initial Release Date: April 5, 2016
5. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight is one of my favorite titles on my top indie games on Switch list. I fell in love first with the beautiful, hand-drawn world and characters, but found myself getting more and more invested in the story as it unfolded. The world of Dirtmouth is haunting and brutally difficult— the platforming elements alone can provide a significant challenge, but with Silksong planned to release in 2020, it’s definitely worth picking up and experiencing for yourself.
- Type: Action, Adventure, 2D
- Developer: Team Cherry
- Initial Release Date: June 12, 2018
6. Into the Breach
Into the Breach is a turn-based strategy roguelike where you pit your wits (and giant robots) against massive, bug-like kaijus in an effort to save the human race. The strategy elements are balanced in that you can see the enemy intentions on your current turn, giving you a chance to counteract their moves and limit collateral damage.
- Type: Turn based tactics
- Developer: Subset Games
- Initial Release Date: February 27, 2018
7. Risk of Rain 2
I never played the first Risk of Rain, but the 3D sequel quickly became one of my favorite games of this year. I’ve spent most of my time in multiplayer mode, gently competing with my co-op partner to see who can get the best power-ups as we advance through the levels. Risk of Rain 2 is fast-paced and exhilarating, its permadeath mechanics proving to be more fun than frustrating as the stakes are raised by the game’s rapidly-increasing difficulty.
- Type: Roguelike, Action, Multiplayer
- Developer: Hopoo Games
- Initial Release Date: March 28, 2019
8. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Shovel Knight is an incredible retro-style platformer that I’ve been enjoying in its multiplayer mode. There’s a surprising sense of nostalgia for a game originally released in 2014, due in no small part to its 8-bit graphics and music. The Switch’s Treasure Trove release includes the primary campaign and all existing expansion packs— with King of Cards launching this December, it’s a good chance to catch up!
- Type: Action, Adventure, 2D Platformer
- Developer: Yacht Club Games
- Initial Release Date: June 26, 2014
9. Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire is a game that shot me from interested to addicted within seconds of picking up my first “Perfect Strike” card. This game combines the strategy involved in collectible card games with the luck and difficulty of roguelikes, challenging you to build viable decks against increasingly powerful enemies. As a rogue-lite, you’ll be sent back to square one with every defeat, but certain cards and relics will stay unlocked for use in future runs.
- Type: Card Games, Roguelike, Strategy
- Developer: Mega Crit Games
- Initial Release Date: November 15, 2017
10. Untitled Goose Game
Untitled Goose Game was my most anticipated game of 2019, and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint in the least and it easily propelled itself into my best Switch indies list. There is nothing in the world that brings me more joy at the moment than running around as this asshole bird and being a nuisance for no greater reason than the fact that I’m a goose and that’s what I do. The game is described as a slapstick-stealth-sandbox, and if the avalanche of memes that came out within just days of the official launch weren’t enough to convince you to buy the game, I certainly hope that description will be.
- Type: Stealth, Puzzle, Sandbox
- Developer: House House
- Initial Release Date: September 20, 2019
I hope you enjoyed our list! I’d highly recommend any of the titles included here, and encourage you to pick one up if you’ve been looking for a new game to try out. If you have any indie titles that you’d like to see highlighted in future roundups, the HGG team would love to hear from you.