Since its release, the Nintendo Switch has gone on to become the premier platform for playing a wide-selection of first-party Nintendo exclusives in addition to third-party games. This also includes an ever-growing list of “Nindie” titles like Stardew Valley, Dead Cells, and Celeste, all of which benefit from the Switch’s accessibility.
Here, we’ll be highlighting the best indie games on Nintendo Switch, including well-known Nindies and some hidden gems that may not be on your radar. Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this list with new entries in the future.
If you’re interested in receiving more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:
Risk of Rain 2
Developer: Hopoo Games
Risk of Rain 2 is a sequel to Risk of Rain and features a major graphical shift from 2D side-scrolling platformer to a fully 3D third-person shooter. Thankfully, the transition occurs quite smoothly, with the sequel maintaining the energetic combat Roguelike mechanics the original is known for.
Runs see you attempting to survive for as long as possible as you’re transported to a variety of different environments brimming with increasingly challenging foes. As the difficulty continues to ramp up, you’ll be able to unlock chests containing an array of useful perks, weapons, and upgrades that make each run feel like its own separate adventure packed with unpredictable thrills.
Developer: Gabe Cuzzillo
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Ape Out is a top-down action game that puts you in the role of an ape who’s lived his life in captivity and now wants out. As you make a beeline for the exit, you’ll be tasked with eliminating droves of armed guards who can be turned into mincemeat or simply used as a human shield for any incoming fire.
However, Ape Out‘s combat is about more than the action on-screen, with the game featuring both dynamic auditory and visual cues that transform as the ape continues to build up speed and momentum. While brief in its playtime, clocking in around 2-3 hours, Ape Out is a frenetic Beat-em-up centered around an interesting concept.
My Friend Pedro
Developer: DeadToast Entertainment
Publisher: Devolver Digital
My Friend Pedro is based on a 2014 Adobe Flash game of the same name and maintains many of the original’s mechanics and controls. The game is a shoot em’ up in which players traverse uniquely themed levels, killing enemies in real-time while also being able to enter a slowed-down version of reality.
A large chunk of MFP’s appeal stems from its Hollywood-esque action sequences that see players chaining together flashy kills using pistols and shotguns as well as environmental objects such as a skateboard, barrels, and cooking pans. The game awards points based on each shot landed, multiplied by the number of kills achieved, and gives players a ranking at the end of every level.
Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
SteamWorld Quest is card-strategy RPG developed and published by Swedish developer Image & Form, best known for the SteamWorld series, with Quest set in the same universe. The game has you guiding a party of courageous heroes through a hand-drawn world where you’ll encounter fierce enemies and make startling discoveries.
Along the way, you’ll build a deck from over 100 unique cards that can be used to deal damage, perform spells, and affect the flow of battle. The turn-based game wonderfully blends Image & Form’s staple steampunk aesthetic with traditional fantasy elements, making it stand out visually.
Battle Chef Brigade
Developer: Trinket Studios
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Battle Chef Brigade combines the action of side-scrolling brawlers with the strategy of tile-matching puzzle games to create a thrilling and addictive experience. The game has you racing against the clock to create delicious meals as you compete with another chef to win over the hearts of up to three judges.
Battles see you traveling back and forth between a kitchen and outdoor environments, where an array of unique and challenging monsters provide an opportunity to gather exotic and flavorful ingredients for your dishes. Picking the right combination and tailoring your dishes to each judge’s palette is a sure-fire recipe for success.
Developer: Sabotage Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
The Messenger is a 2D-platformer that’ll likely appeal to fans of retro games who admire 8 and 16-bit graphics. That’s because a majority of the game feels like a love letter to classic side-scrollers like Ninja Gaiden as well as Metroidvanias like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
In it, you play as a ninja tasked with delivering an ancient scroll to the top of a mountain whose path is littered with an assortment of supernatural monsters and deadly traps. Along the way, you’ll master the art of “cloudstepping” while acquiring new powers and tools, such as a grappling hook and glide ability that open up new areas.
Slay the Spire
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Slay the Spire is a Roguelite card-strategy game developed by American studio MegaCrit and published by Humble Bundle. At the beginning of each playthrough, the game has you select from one of three predetermined characters, each with their own starting conditions that affect the amount of health, gold, and cards players begin with.
The goal of the game is to make your way through several levels of a spire, each with their own number of potential encounters determined by a branching path that culminates in a boss battle. During each run, you’ll come across campfires that allow you to heal or upgrade cards, shopkeepers that offer cards you can buy, chests with random loot, and random choice-based encounters.
Developer: Lunar Ray Games
Timespinner is a story-driven Metroidvania inspired by classic ‘90s action-platformers. In it, you play as Lunais, a timekeeper on a quest for revenge after her family is murdered by the sinister Lachiem Empire. Transported to an unknown world, Lunais is forced to use her time manipulation powers to rewrite history and put a stop to the Lachiem Empire.
The game has you traveling exploring beautifully-drawn, pixel art environments while traveling between the past and present as you defeat enemies and acquire new powers. Mastering Lunais’ time-manipulating abilities open up new possibilities for combat, which is further expanded upon by Familiars, mysterious creatures that can be trained to fight alongside you in battle.
Graceful Explosion Machine
Developer: Vertex Pop
Publisher: Vertex Pop
Graceful Explosion Machine is a Shoot-em-up game that makes great use of the Switch’s HD Rumble feature to provide players with an extra layer of feedback during intense space shootouts. The game sees you piloting a fighter ship that’s been set off course and wanders into an uncharted corner of the galaxy where an alien armada dwells.
Armed with an array of advanced weaponry, ranging from a close-range blaster to a 360-degree energy sword that can take out mobs of enemies, your task is to make it back home before the aliens can destroy your ship. GEM features vibrant 2D visuals and a satisfying combo system that encourages you to fully utilize your ship’s arsenal.
Creature in the Well
Developer: Flight School Studio
Publisher: Flight School Studio
Creature in the Well is a pinball-inspired hack n’ slash dungeon crawler that sees you as the last remaining robot of your kind. While the game keeps its story light, your journey sees you venturing deeper and deeper into a mountain in order to restore power to an ancient facility, all the while stalked by a massive and mysterious creature.
Putting gameplay at its forefront, CITW introduces a unique combat system that sees you striking balls of energy with a sword before sending them flying and ricocheting around the ancient facility to trigger switches and eliminate enemies. As you delve further into the mountain and explore it’s eight hand-crafted dungeons, the game rewards you with new upgradeable weapons that allow you to customize your playstyle.
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Forager is a crafting/survival game set in a colorful 2D open-world. In it, you’re tasked with gathering enough resources to construct a humble base which can be expanded upon with new amenities.
As you continue exploring, you’ll encounter a variety of biomes filled with different puzzles to solve, dungeons to raid, and secrets to discover. The game features 64 different skills for you to master using a free-form upgrade system that allows you to tailor your experience to fit your preferred playstyle.
Inspired by the beloved Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley is a farming sim game that offers players a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Days are spent growing crops, gathering resources, crafting items, exploring mines and completing tasks for a cast of well-written NPCs, each with their own distinct personality.
The game offers a lot of flexibility in terms of how you choose to spend your days, allowing you to focus on doing the activities you enjoy most. Over the in-game years, you’ll get to know the community of Stardew Valley well, forming relationships that can leave a lasting impression.
Developer: Digital Sun
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Moonlighter is a 2D-action RPG that sees controlling a shopkeeper who’s always dreamt of going on grand adventures. The game features a day/night cycle where days are for running your shop and upgrading gear and evenings are for exploring dungeons and collecting materials to sell.
Risk vs reward is at the core of Moonlighter‘s gameplay loop, as delving deeper into dungeons may yield more valuable materials while increasing your chances of dying and losing a large chunk of everything you’ve gathered.
Developer: Team Cherry
Publisher: Team Cherry
By this point, Hollow Knight has pretty much solidified its place in Metroidvania hall of fame. The game is centered on its title protagonist, a silent sword-wielding knight on a quest to unlock the mysteries of Hallownest, a dark and dangerous kingdom that offers great rewards to any brave enough to explore its treacherous environments.
The 2D action-platformer does an excellent job at finding new ways to use its Metroidvania format to encourage exploration by providing the player with massive environments littered with collectibles and rewards. Additionally, experimenting with different load-outs opens up new opportunities to min/max and reach hidden areas.
Developer: Studio MDHR
Publisher: Studio MDHR
Cuphead is inspired by challenging retro run-and-gun titles where memorizing enemy attack patterns were less of a strategy and more of a necessity for survival. What’s more, this action-platformer does an excellent job at luring you into a false sense of security with its joyful 1930s hand-drawn cartoon visuals before revealing its true sadistic nature.
In it, you take on the role of Cuphead, who along with his brother Mugman, is forced to defeat a series of bosses in order to repay an outstanding debt with the devil. These lengthy battles put your platforming skills to the test, with environments constantly shifting and bosses becoming increasingly aggressive with each passing phase.
Wargroove is a turn-based tactics game developed and published by Chucklefish that heavily draws inspiration from the Advance Wars series. The 2D game takes place in a fantasy setting and sees players taking control of one of thirteen unique commanders, each with their own campaign, motivations, and personality.
Every commander also has a special move called a “Groove”, which can be activated when a meter is completely filled. Every Groove is unique and alters the battlefield in different ways, making for some interesting battles. Aside from a campaign mode, the game features the ability to craft custom maps, cutscenes, and scenarios using an in-game editor.
Developer: Runic Games
Publisher: Runic Games
Torchlight II is an award-winning action RPG set in a fantasy world where players can choose from one of four character classes: Berserker, Embermage, Engineer, and Outlander. The game sees you exploring procedurally-generated dungeons while tracking down the Alchemist, a villainous figure who’s gone mad and is responsible for your town’s destruction.
With support for 4-player online co-op and New Game Plus, Torchlight II offers Diablo-style dungeon crawling with added replayability. Additionally, a robust character customization tool and a wide selection of skills and equipment provide you with the opportunity to craft builds tailored to a variety of playstyles.
Blaster Master Zero 2
Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Inti Creates
Blaster Master Zero 2 is a direct sequel to Blaster Master Zero, which rebooted the Blaster Master series that first appeared on NES. The run n’ gun action game takes place four years after the events of the first and sees series’ protagonist Jason dealing with a new alien threat alongside his combat tank S.O.P.H.I.A.
Gameplay is broken up into two sections: 2D-platforming areas that see Jason piloting SOPHIA and a series of top-down labyrinths in which players navigate and defeat enemies along the way. The sequel sports a number of new features including an improved combat system that rewards more aggressive playstyles.
Developer: Team17 / Ghost Town Games
Overcooked 2 is a co-op focused cooking sim game that has teams of up to 4-players attempting to work together to prepare and cook food orders in kitchens with ridiculous layouts. Levels are filled with multiple stations designated for different tasks like chopping, frying, boiling, and plating, and become increasingly difficult to perform as orders stack up and environmental hazards come into play.
The sequel introduces the ability to throw ingredients at your fellow chefs from far away, which will either be a benefit or total disaster depending on your teammates. The game is great in that it supports both local and online multiplayer, making it easy to team-up with friends.
Inside is a 2.5D horror puzzle-platformer from developer PlayDead, the studio behind Limbo. In it, players seize control of an unnamed boy and explore a strange and silent world while being pursued by zombie-like humans and rabid dogs.
In it, players are tasked with solving a variety of puzzles set in increasingly tense environments. While its runtime is brief, clocking in around 3-4 hours, Inside offers a brisk stroll through a dark world who’s otherworldly manifestations go far beyond the surface.
Developer: Motion Twin
Publisher: Motion Twin
Dead Cells is a fast-paced, 2D Rogue-lite Metroidvania. The game revolves around exploring procedurally-generated dungeons in search of blueprints that allow you to craft better gear while under constant attack from groups of enemies.
After your inevitable death, you’re brought right back to the start, this time with slightly more resources than your last run. This allows you to make incremental upgrades to your abilities and gear in order to delve deeper on your next run and uncover more secrets.
Enter the Gungeon
Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Enter the Gungeon is a Bullet-Hell Roguelite which sees you playing as one of four possible protagonists and exploring “The Gungeon,” a sprawling procedurally-generated dungeon brimming with fierce foes, environmental hazards, and valuable loot.
Each character has a unique kit that can have a drastic effect on gameplay, such as being able to lockpick chests or reload weapons super quickly. While shootouts can get pretty chaotic at times, the game equips you with an extremely forgiving dodge roll that makes traversing Enter the Gungeon‘s close-quarters environments more enjoyable.
Whether its PC or console, AAA or Indie, New-York born and raised Justin has a natural curiosity to seek out hidden gems and share them with other gamers. He also maintains his own YouTube channel in addition to writing and managing the social media profiles for GamingScan.