Indie games are the best. No, this is not coming from a biased perspective, although I do love these kinds of games. It’s just that the overall feel of having to playing games that do not have a “tried-and-tested” formula is more enticing.
Indie games actually show how creative game developers are, even on a constricted budget. They do not have extreme production level as triple-A games do. Yet the quality is the same, or in other cases greater, than most of the popular titles in the market. Even the most hard-lined gaming company, Nintendo, made way to allow Indie titles on their latest console, the Nintendo Switch. Hence this article.
Allow us to impart to you guys the best indie games on Switch! Ready? Lezzgetit!
Rogue-like games are those that have permadeath – once your character dies, its game over, you go back to the very beginning. Frustrating as it may be, a lot of people low-key enjoy these types of challenging gameplay. Meanwhile ‘Metroidvania’ games are those that stay true to the hard platforming that both Metroid and Castlevania games are known for.
Yet game development studio Motion Twin made a very impressing mash of both genres, dubbing it “RogueVania,” and slapped it on a single epic game which is Dead Cells.
Dead Cells is an indie game for the Switch that combines the well-paced flow of Metroidvania games with the brutal nature of Rogue-like titles. The result is a game with difficult enemies that results in permanently dying when you play incorrectly. The words “difficult enemies” is an understatement, by the way, as the difficulty rises up sharply as you progress further. It became so hard that it was even dubbed as a “Souls-lite.” Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro fans rejoice! (Yes, I am a fan of FromSoftware, no, I still hate them because of the lack of a new Armored Core title.) You get to keep your upgrades after you die though, so there is still some merit to playing the levels over and over again.
If you like to challenge your wits to a battle of endurance and frustration, then picking up Dead Cells is a good way to test your mettle.
Another one of those infamous “impossibly hard to beat if you don’t git gud” games is Cuphead, and it’s been ported to the Switch for some handheld frustration. Or docked frustration if you want. It really doesn’t decrease the difficulty anyway.
Cuphead is a game that was first released in September 2017. It featured extremely difficult run and gun gameplay which a lot of new-age players are not familiar with. The character and background designs are absolutely gorgeous, reminding people of old black-and-white cartoons. Even the music contributes to this whole feel. The boss fights, while hard, are incredibly satisfying when you get the skill level (and luck) to actually beat them.
The game is made by StudioMDHR, a Canadian-based game development studio founded by two brothers, Chad and Jared Moldenhauer. They got inspired by old-school ‘retro’ side-scrolling shooters that were also infamous for their hard difficulty when video games were just starting out. Cuphead actually has an interesting story behind how it was made, that ties in with how beautiful the game turned out to be.
If you want to prove that you are the best indie gamer on Switch, then not having Cuphead would be a taint to your title.
My Friend Pedro, a game made DeadToast Entertainment, belongs in the shoot’em up genre and probably has one of the best use of bullet time by any game on the Switch. This game does not fail to make me laugh every single time, due to its premise: you are a masked vigilante that is instructed by this banana named Pedro. Bizarre as it may be, the game is loads of fun, and was a good remake of a title from Adult Swim Games in 2014.
The gameplay is sick AF (as the new generation calls it), allowing players to do multiple things besides just running it down and shooting objectives. The original game does have bullet time, but the Switch remake now has tons of new features like splitting your crosshair to target multiple enemies, do kicks, and dodge bullets. The game also introduced a parkour-ish feature that adds points if you execute them properly. These points are shared on a global leaderboards, in which the best mission runners get to brag their skills worldwide.
As mentioned before, the game has a bullet time function that helps you focus things a bit amidst all the chaos that’s happening on your screen. There are also a lot of physics-based puzzles that you need to think through and bullet time definitely helps you think things through when push comes to shove.
All-in-all a solid game, My Friend Pedro is a wacky high-tension shooter that will leave you cracking up all the time.
This game is probably up there as one of the most phenomenal games made last year. Katana ZERO proved that you don’t need to have intense graphics and high-level production value to be a great game.
Set in the fictional metropolis called New Mecca, Katana ZERO is a neo-noir styled game that has everything a dystopian society could hope for. You control a katana-wielding assassin Subject Zero as you try to survive and figure out how to best clear enemy rooms in an efficient manner. You are also supplied with a drug called Chronos which lets you “slow down time and predict the future.” This makes for an extremely stylish gameplay that involves hacking and slashing your way through the game and using your wits to solve puzzles. Just be warned that the themes in the game are highly mature, so it’s probably not for the little kids and those that are sensitive to these things.
Katana ZERO has a highly engaging storyline that will leave you glued on your Switch screen for a long time. The graphics are beautiful, with a heavy neon-themed design on each stage. The neo-noir setting helps make the neon design pop-up to life, believe it or not. The music and sounds are also top-notch, adding more vibrancy to the bleak world you are playing in.
If you are looking for something more mature than the average Switch game, then Katana ZERO is exactly up your alley.
Enter the Gungeon
There are a few game genres that can fully test a gamer’s mettle, or utterly destroy their sanity. One of them, is the bullet hell genre. A bullet hell is, well as the name suggests, a game that showers your screen with bullets and it’s up to the player to dodge these while trying to fulfill certain objectives.
Add that to a rogue-like mechanic and you have Enter the Gungeon.
Enter the Gungeon was developed by Dodge Roll for PCs, Macs, and the PS4 back in 2016. It then got a Nintendo Switch port in 2017. Ever since, it became one of the most challenging and fun indie games available on the platform.
The game’s overall goal is for the player to crawl the Gungeon, a place in the planet of Gunymede. The place is crawling with living bullets and gun-like lifeforms that the player needs to eliminate. The player is given the choice between four starting characters to choose from: the Convict, Hunter, Marine, and Pilot. More unlockable characters will be unlocked along the way, which includes wacky ones such as the Bullet, which uses a sword called “Blasphemy.” Each character has their own storyline, which involves the player getting the Bullet That Can Kill The Past to. I am not going to dive more into this, so if you want to know more, then you just have to play the game!
Dodge Roll’s Enter the Gungeon is a solid indie game that will take you to the edge of your seats from the on-screen action or from laughter.
Hyper Light Drifter
I don’t know about you guys, but there’s something about 8-bit and 16-bit games that just hits right in the feels. Sure, it might just be nostalgia glasses, but still, it works really well for me. Good thing a game that paid homage to old school action role-playing games (ARPG) had been ported into a modern console. Meet Hyper Light Drifter.
A game developed by Heart Machine, Hyper Light Drifter was conceptualized to be a cross between two popular games: Diablo and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It had hit its mark, delivering on beautiful music and story telling that older consoles were known for. The player character, the Drifter, is a roaming vagrant/adventurer equipped with high tech weaponry long forgotten by the inhabitants of the world. To progress properly in the game, the player must help the Drifter collect rare batteries that power up your weapon modules and abilities. There are varying weapons in the game, from long-range weaponry in the form of guns, to your trusty melee energy sword. The game’s difficulty increases as you move on, requiring good tactics from the player in order to move forward.
Hyper Light Drifter was a game envisioned by creator Alex Preston. The Drifter, in-game, has an illness he must contend to, which mimics the creator’s real life heart illness. The world however, was masterfully done with inspirations coming from world renowned Studio Ghibli titles, such as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. According to Preston, the game was made “to tell a story [he] can identify with, expressing something personal to a larger audience.” He also added that he had done this “so [he] feels more connected and have an outlet for the many emotions that crop up around life-altering issues.”
Hyper Light Drifter is available now on the Nintendo Switch. If you are itching for a deep story with amazing visuals and gameplay, then this is definitely one of the best indie games on Switch.
So, did you ever wander how much action will there be if all the extremely masculine heroes from several series and works came together to defeat the ultimate evil? Like if all the heroes come together and smash terrorists to protect the good ol’ US of A?
Yeah, me too. Enter Broforce, the extremely hypermasculine run and gun shooter from Free Lives.
Broforce caters to the inner child of every gamer out there. For every “what if x and y joined together in a team?” question we had when we were kids, Broforce probably made it happen. You see, Broforce lets players control “bro” versions of famours TV and movie characters. These characters include, but are not limited to:
- Bro Dredd (Judge Joe Dredd from Judge Dredd films)
- Brade (Blade from the Blade films)
- Double Bro Seven (James Bond from the James Bond films)
- Brobocop (Alex Murphy from the Robocop films)
- The Brolander (Connor MacLeod from the Highlander TV series)
- Rambro (John Rambo from Rambo films)
- Bro Hard (John McClane from the Die Hard films)
- Brommando (John Matrix from Commando)
(I’d really like to be Broiter – John Abrena from HaykSaakian.com just to fulfill my fantasies to bust heads together with my “John” bros. But alas, not all dreams come true.)
Anyway, Broforce is a run and gun series, kind of like Contra was back in the day. You start off with one bro, often times Rambro, and shoot and dodge your ways throughout a stage. While blasting everything you see, you get to rescue a lot of your bros that have been turned prisoners along the way. By rescuing these prisoners, you get to play and unlock that specific bro. There are 35 bros you can play as, with 7 more bros if you get the Expendabros expansion which adds popular characters from The Expendables movie series.
So if you want a slap happy, fun, way to prove you are the manliest of men (don’t worry girls, there’s two girl bros here too!) then Broforce will help you get your testosterone high. Brooooo!
Ok, I make jokes a lot on my articles, but for this one, I’ll step back and reign in my funny bones.
Celeste is a game that I’ve probably never seen before. And that’s saying a lot, because I’ve played A LOT of games. It’s not just the gameplay, the art design, the musical score, or the story. It’s the whole package coming together in one beautiful yet melancholic harmony. It might sound a little too extravagant of a description, but it’s just that good.
The game lets players control Madeline, a young woman that wants to try conquering the task of climbing Celeste Mountain. The player does this by helping Madeline jump through several obstacles that get increasingly difficulty the higher you get on the mountain. It is a platforming adventure game after all. You get several abilities that help you along the way, like an air dash that lets you cross large gaps if used correctly. The game is a big puzzle game, where platforming and timing your movements properly give off a rewarding feeling.
The story of Celeste is one that tackles on the rising problem of having mental health issues. It seems that the correct way to address these issues are “mental illness” but as something that hits extremely close to home, I’d rather not call it an illness but just, an issue. Madeline encounters characters in-game that are struggling with their own mental issues. At one crucial point in the game, is confronted with her own issues in the form of Badeline.
The whole journey is about accepting yourself while conquering mountains of trials along the way. Celeste did what other indie games like Undertale did: unravel a world where gamers would feel close to home.
Night in the Woods
Here’s another one of the best indie games for Switch that a lot of single player fans will love. Not only are the characters quirky and lovable, but the immersive story and in-depth exploration-style gameplay will leave you playing with your handheld for a while. Guys and gals, welcome to Night in the Woods.
The game started over as a Kickstarter project with an initial production cost of $50,000. But the team delivered such amazing details to their story, graphics, and gameplay, that it earned more than 400% of their initial goal. It was initially for the PC and was finally ported on the Nintendo Switch in 2018.
Night in the Woods follows the story of Mae, a college dropout who relocated back to her hometown, Possum Springs. She was taken aback when she suddenly noticed a stark change on the town from when she lived there. The town was previously bustling due to having a good economy with the help of nearby coal mines. As she met up with her friends, she suddenly noticed that one of them was missing. Here is where the game begins.
Players need to help Mae unravel the dark mystery surrounding the town’s changes. This mystery ends up with her gang checking out the nearby woods, where a mysterious figure suddenly started looming across their town. As Mae, you need to run, jump and do other gameplay mechanics in order to uncover the dark mystery of Possum Springs. It also is a narrative-focused game, so players need to make decisions on order to influence which ending they are going to get.
Despite the overall dark and horror theme, Night in the Woods is a fun game that all Switch owners should get. Although the game gets real really soon, the citizens in the game’s world are cutely designed anthropomorphic animals. So it shouldn’t be that scary, right?
Yeah, keep telling yourself that.
Probably one of my favorites in this list, Hollow Knight is another one of those “souls-lite” games that gets progressively harder the more you progress. Better put on your big boy pants, as this will be a fun ride.
Hollow Knight is an action/adventure game, taking its roots from Metroidvania roots. It was developed by Team Cherry for the PC and Mac, and was ported to consoles in 2018. It features platforming stages and bosses that become increasingly difficult. New players will find it hard to traverse the game since it does not have an extensive tutorial like most games have right now. You gain resources throughout the game that will allow you to buy items like the maps. Also some items allow you to gain different abilities that will help you traverse the game’s world.
While there is a story (a very deep one at that,) the game nonlinear. This means that there is no one path that you should take in order to finish. You can explore different areas as much as you want. However, there will be paths that will be blocked until you defeat a certain boss, see something the story, or have a certain ability. For new generation players, this might be a little too off-beat. Newer games have solid tutorials and is constantly pointing you at the right direction. In Hollow Knight, the exploration is part of the experience, as well as uncovering what happened to the world you are living in.
Recent games have been spoiling gamers a lot. It’s about time that we go back to our roots of adventuring worlds. Thanks to Hollow Knight, Switch owners will be able to experience a challenging game that will feel frustrating and rewarding at the same time.
There’s no end to the onslaught of Metroidvania games for the Nintendo Switch. Probably because it’s a handheld console, which reminds a slew of devs and creators the joy of old school handheld gaming. Metroid and Castlevania got a lot of traction for their Gameboy titles. It’s no wonder that many of the best indie games for Switch is a Metroidvania game, like Timespinner, for example.
Timespinner is a lot like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Like a lot. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as games like SOTN can never be bad. Timespinner lets players control Lunais, timekeeper, as she is out on a quest for vengeance against the Lachiem Empire who murdered her family. As the titular Timespinner device gets destroyed, she was transported into a different world. She then vows to return no matter what, while un-learning everything she thought about the history of her world.
Rendered in beautifully crafted 2D sprites, Timespinner excels in delivering classic 2D action platforming reminiscent of the games mentioned above. The game lets players pick up items that allow for further mobility, such as the classic Double Jump, and even a mask that lets Lunais breathe underwater. As the game progresses, harder enemies pop-up, and it is up to the players’ tactics and memorization of boss patterns to progress the game smoothly. Players can also equip familiars that have different attacks that help Lunais is battle. The SOTN back dash is present in the game, as well as pausing down time, reminiscent of the stop watch sub-item from Castlevania titles. The time pause is a core mechanic of the game, and must be used properly since it’s a resource that depletes over time.
If you love classic 2D graphics and classic 2D action platforming gameplay, then Timespinner will not let you down.
Owlboy was worth the wait. With almost a decade of development under D-Pad Studios, the game was released as a masterpiece. Critics from all over the world praised the game, and it even was nominated for multiple awards (and eventually won one.) If you are a gamer who’s also internet savvy and you haven’t heard of Owlboy at least once, then you might want to go back to playing Tetris.
That last joke aside, Owlboy delivers solid… everything, really. The 2D graphics are masterfully rendered with vibrant colors and gorgeous art design. Each character feels alive even if they are not in super HD design. The musical scores are made beautifully, and conveys good atmosphere in every area of the game. The gameplay does not require uber-technical mechanics but still provides a challenging experience for newbies and veterans alike. And because this is a narrative-driven game, the story is told in epic grandness.
The game is set in lands that are floating in the sky that is separated by an event that happened in the past. Our hero Otus, is a happy-go-lucky member of a humanoid race known as the Owls. When their village was raided by pirates, Otus then sets on a journey to recover his village and unknowingly uncovers the hidden history of his people. Along the way, he is joined by several quirky yet lovable characters that aid him transverse the sky lands.
Again, the gameplay is extremely simple. Players control Otus, who has the ability to fly and carry different objects while flying. These objects can be used either as ranged or thrown weapons, or as tools to solve the various puzzles scattered along the way. As mentioned, there will be allies that will help you fight off enemies, and they also gain the ability to fly once you get an item called the Owl Cloak.
Owlboy is one of few award-winning titles that was worth the long wait in development. So if you fancy these kinds of action-platformer, this is a definite must-have in your library.
Baba is You
Another one of those games that I really love, Baba is You delivers gameplay that hasn’t been seen in recent games. It’s an absolute laugh trip and a challenging brain teaser at the same time.
Baba is You is a puzzle solving video game that revolves around the player moving around logic operators in order to win stages. You usually control Baba, a cat/dog/cute creature that helps you push out words in order to finish a level. Yes, you push words. And did you notice that I used the word “usually” on the sentence? That is because some levels will allow you to control different objects in the game, including the goal flag itself. This in itself, provides hours of gameplay for the young to old, and from new players to puzzle veterans.
It’s really hard to describe this game in words, since it’s a very interesting gameplay that’s again, not really seen in games today. So here’s a quick video so you can get the gameplay in all its glory:
The idea for Baba is You started from the 2017 Nordic Game Jam theme of “Not There.” This made creator Arvi Teikari to come up with the concept of a game where players use logic to move around objects in order to complete a puzzle. According to Teikari, “the most satisfying moments in puzzle games are those which present the player with simple but hard-to-wrap-your-head-around situations, so that solving the puzzle is about figuring out that one neat trick/twist.” Hence Baba is You was born. The game was first introduced for the PC, and was ported to the Nintendo Switch in March of 2019.
If you are in to the puzzle game genre and you like to be the ones who are in control of literally everything, then go pick up Baba is You. Because Enjoyment is Priority, and Winner is You.
These are all the games we recommend as the best indie games of the Switch. These games are not made by corporate studios, but by independent studios and creators. This proves that not all triple A titles are good, looking at you Final Fantasy XV. Sometimes, the simplest looking games can provide way more entertainment than the well-known ones, and games should definitely take a look at other titles to find hidden gems.
If you are interested in all our articles about the Nintendo Switch, then click here. We have tons of articles from hardware to games that are worth checking out if you want to maximize the usage of your Switch. Also, if you know other games that are worth checking out, leave it down on the comments below, and maybe we’ll include these games in this list!