James, Juan, and Jordan are at it again, and this time it is a lovely YouTube discussion about the lesser known titles on the Nintendo Switch; the indies. Check out the video below for SwitchWatchTV’s Top 15 indies, or continue further down for the article.
The Nintendo Switch has some fantastic AAA titles, but it has also become the perfect home for indie games both new and ported. The ability to play on the move adds a dimension not available on other platforms, and Nintendo have made the system easily accessible to developers.
But as a result, there are hundreds of them, many of which are not worth looking at. I am James, and along with Juan and Jordan, we have done the legwork and have got you covered with our top 15 – the best indie titles available – so let’s jump in and take a look.
James: Kicking things off with my personal pick of the bunch is Stardew Valley, a true labor of love from ConcernedApe that took 4 years to make.
The story is that you have inherited a derelict old farm from your grandad. A heart warming intro sets the scene of you turning your back on the rat race life you had and setting out to live off the land using a few broken tools and a handful of coins.
There is a definite message that warns about the stresses of modern day life and getting back to living a simpler life. But it is the addictive, perfectly designed gameplay experience that keeps you sticking around for hundreds of hours.
You are free to explore and find your own path. At first with your rustic tools and no clear idea of what to do, you will slowly clear up your land and plant a few measly crops. Stick with it and you will find a rhythm that suits you and leads to a successful large farm.
The visuals and audio are brilliant, and there is just the right amount of RPG lite elements in this farming and life sim to give you that sense of progression. But the beauty here is sticking in your headphones and whittling away into the long hours of the night creating a sandbox you can be proud of. The small details from the turning of the seasons to the relationships you build with your neighbors make this a wonderful experience.
The developer has done a good job of introducing updates including multiplayer, and the game just keeps getting better.
Juan: For me it’s got to be Hollow Knight. It is an absolute masterpiece, and one of the best Metroidvania games I have ever played. The story is told subtly, encouraging you to connect the dots with your imagination, but one that wants you to discover more.
The soundtrack by Christopher Larkin is atmospheric and a joy on the ears, as are the little detailed sound effects. Like any good Metroidvania, there are plenty of areas to discover, and each one feels unique. From the jungle underground complete with swirling leaves to the lake where it always rains.
Everything looks gorgeous. Each character has little animations that give them a sense of personality, and the bosses look awesome. You would never suspect this game was made predominantly by 3 people from Team Cherry. Such is the level of detail! The large world and intricate detail in the audio and visuals, but of course none of this brilliant presentation or story telling would matter if the gameplay was not up to snuff. And that is where things get even better.
The controls are superb. Slashing around with your little friend and jumping around feels right. I love the mask system where each mask represents a life, and you can replenish them by killing enemies. The game is tough but not unachievable, which for me is a good balance. The game uses charms to let you tailor your knight to your preference. Whether you want to specialize in ranger attacks or become a speedy slasher, this kind of customization leads to a deep and engaging game with perfect progression. And it is a large game with lots of areas to explore.
Quite simply, if you have not played this, then you are missing out on a masterpiece.
Jordan: It has to be Dead Cells for me. A Metroidvania in which the combat is glorious. It is free flowing, snappy, and makes you feel totally bad ass. Once you get a handle on the various weapons and moves, it is easy to think you are unstoppable. That is until you find yourself cut down and having to restart from the beginning.
As a roguelite you can keep the items you gained if you manage to make it to the safe area between levels, and it is this temptation that will get you killed, using your own greed against you.
If there was to be a modern day 2D Castlevania game made, this is what it should look like. The details in the background, the layers of parallax scrolling, and the incredible cohesive art style make it one of the best-looking 2D games out there.
And the gameplay backs it up. It is tough but achievable, rewards exploration, and is simply a joy to play. Dead Cells is the game that just keeps giving. Just when you think you have got a handle on it. Just when you think there is no more left to see. And just when you think you’ve reached your skill limit, Dead Cells reminds you that you are wrong and shows you more.
Supported by a fantastic soundtrack and at a reasonable price, you cannot go wrong!
ENTER THE GUNGEON
James: Enter the Gungeon was a game I reviewed and loved. Then I continued to play from time to time because it is such a blast to play. The Switch has no shortage of roguelike, twin stick shooters, and Enter the Gungeon is up there with the best of them.
Enter the Gungeon’s dungeon is laid out really well. You do not get those random rooms that do not quite work here. A mass variety of guns and the humorous nature of some of the crazy weapons makes for great moments, and the sprinkled in humor and detail make for a superb experience.
The apply named ammonicon that shows you which guns and enemies you have faced gives you that sense of wanting to experience and collect everything. Add to that the healthy updates from the development team and throw in coop, and you have the perfect dungeon crawler.
Juan: The premise of Golf Story is that you are someone who as a kid had aspirations to become a golf pro but failed. Fast forward and you are the underdog! Determined to make your childhood dream come true and get out there proving everyone wrong. It oozes SNES-era charm through its lush pixelated graphics and soundtrack that piles the pressure on as you make shots.
The beauty of this game is how it has managed to take two perfectly standalone genres and mix them together with such aplomb. Such a harmonious coming together which really makes this game a delight to play and one which is ultimately fun.
It is a game you will not put down until the credits roll. It really is something unique and special. I am not a golfing fan other than watching Sergio Garcia win his first major, but I am an RPG fan and I like taking part in lots of fun challenges which is not all purely golf-orientated.
There are loads of enjoyment to be had if you just give it the chance. If you do, it will seduce you with its charm. I could not put it down, and the variety in this game is outstanding. You would not have thought you could do so many things with golf, but Golf Story is fantastically imaginative.
Jordan: Wargroove was an absolute phenomenon when it released on the Switch very early this year. It really channeled that desire for another entry in Nintendo’s Advance Wars series, and it does a stand up job.
Polished quality in terms of gameplay plus a soundtrack that is amazing. This is one of the must-have games on the Switch, and not only in terms of being indie. This stands toe-to-toe with the big boys of the genre. It also came with an incredibly affordable price tag. It is also worth noting that it very recently got a physical release with some nice little goodies, including a download for that awesome music I mentioned.
HYPER LIGHT DRIFTER
James: Hyper Light Drifter is a masterpiece set in a glorious, neon-pixelated world. What I love is how the game manages to portray a deep story without any language, text or voice. What you do know is that your home world is invaded and you play as the drifter, a caped sword wielder who clearly is not well as you spew blood from time to time.
The world setting is fantastic. There are giant dying titans and a shadowy monster lurking. My personal take is that this is a world in the distant future where technology is almost forgotten and old, but the beauty is you will see what your mind interprets.
Combat is punishing and twitch sensitive. The game blends RPG and action gameplay extremely well, and the special edition on the Switch is the definitive version full of small upgrades. It feels perfectly at home on the Nintendo switch.
The game feels a bit like a SNES Zelda, but that is not to say it lacks originality. It definitely has its own personality which oozes through the difficult and often unforgiving gameplay. You will not be taking on 20 enemies at a time here. It is all above mastering the dash and slash controls in order to progress through the games open world. That is if you can take on the enemies in your path.
Visually, the world is created so well. I find the use of bright neon and dark areas to be wonderful. Hyper Light Drifter is lush in places, but there are hardships and devastation visible throughout.
The soundtrack by Disasterpeace is the perfect backdrop. It has a sci-if eerie quality to it that would be worthy of an epic film. All in all, this is a tough but brilliant game worth investing in.
Juan: Celeste is one of the best platformers of all time. You play as Madeline, a young woman looking to prove herself by climbing the terrifyingly difficult Mount Celeste. Along the journey, we discover her inner struggles and bouts with doubt, anxiety, and depression. Somehow, the game does a brilliant job of having you connect personally with Madeline through its high octane gameplay.
It is a game with perfectly tight controls, lovely visuals, and a stellar soundtrack. Celeste will challenge you in ways no other platformer has before. It is no doubt one of the best indie games ever released. And it is even better that we can play it on the go with the Switch.
Jordan: Shovel Knight may have been around for a long time. But that does not take away anything from what is probably one of the most passion enthused endeavors in indie gaming history.
It is pretty legendary at this point. It is helped that over the years, Yacht Club Games have continued to release the promise expansions, going above and beyond the call of duty, making every area of the game feel like a whole new experience.
If you get the full Treasure Trove package, you are getting an unbelievable amount of content for the price you will pay. And that content is absolute quality.
STEAMWORLD DIG 2
James: The original Steamworld Dig is a fascinating adventure with a wonderful exploration and upgrading loop where you played as a lovable robot named Rusty.
This in SteamWorld Dig 2, you play as his friend Dorothy, and you are searching for Rusty. Image and Form kept much of the same formula. It is still a great adventure about digging in the subterranean world, exploring, and using the loot to upgrade yourself. This allows you to become stronger and able to delve further down, but what it does really well is adding enough new features to keep it fresh.
One example is that this time around the underground is not randomized. Instead, it is a sprawling world that feels tighter because it is been crafted carefully. This time around, the RPG elements have been ratcheted up, the puzzles have become better, and the platforming is tighter all whilst still set in a gorgeous steampunk world.
This is a joy to play and a must for almost anyone. It does not alienate audiences like other, hardcore titles.
Juan: Axiom Verge is a fantastic Metroidvania game where you play as a scientist who an ancient and high tech world. It is a mysterious journey, but the game shines its in amazing level design and spectacular boss fights.
There are over 60 items and powerups to collect throughout the game. Learning what weapons and setups to use for puzzles and epic battles is all part of the fun. The developer, Thomas Happ, just did an amazing job creating an experience so good that you genuinely want to 100% it. It can be a bit challenging at times, but it never feels unfair. Truly an amazing game from start to finish.
UNTITLED GOOSE GAME
Jordan: Untitled Goose Game took the world by storm. Even from its initial reveal for the Nintendo platform, you could feel the buzz around it.
A mischievous goose making life hell for everyone around. It tapped into people’s cheeky side and rocketed to the top of the eShop charts, even pushing Zelda: Link’s Awakening to second best.
While the experience may be short, perhaps that is what makes it so special. A few hours of joy that leaves you wanting more. Because let’s face it, everyone wants to be a mischievous goose at heart.
SALT AND SANCTUARY
James: Salt and Sanctuary is often described as a 2D Dark Souls, and in many ways that is very fair. If you took Dark Souls’ challenging combat and style and combined it with 2D platforming with a Castlevania-style map, then Salt and Sanctuary is what you would end up with.
Unlike many of the other titles in this list, the game does not have a deep, engaging story. With very little fanfare, you find yourself in this bleak world struggling to survive and progress with a focus on excellent combat. Like its inspiration, a wrong move means death, and you will die a lot.
But for all the frustration, the flip side is the sense of accomplishment you feel when you finally take down some monstrous, unfair boss. The leveling up system with a huge skill tree is brilliant. The look of the game is not for everyone, but I find its dark and atmospheric look, with a cartoony-style laid on top to be appealing.
Interestingly, because of its difficulty, this game is best enjoyed in small sessions, often making it a great fit for the switch. If you are after a punishing adventure, then look no further.
Juan: Cuphead is a miracle release on the Nintendo Switch. A Microsoft exclusive for the longest time, this brutal run and gun video game is a sight to behold. The visuals look like they are straight from the early days of animation, and the soundtrack is perfect. The big band sound throughout each stage and boss fight made everything feel so much more intense.
Most of Cuphead’s stages are difficult boss fights that you need to learn the rhythm. It takes a lot of time and effort, but knocking out these bosses is amazing and euphoric. The difficulty may scare off a lot of casual players, but Cuphead is still a fantastic game with some of the most unique visuals and sounds in gaming history.
INTO THE BREACH
Jordan: Into the Breach is a turn-based strategy game that has the player defending cities from invaders on miniature style battlefields. What may seem cramped or unambitious to the onlooker is actually one of its biggest strengths as it is just pure, distilled strategy.
It is notoriously tough to master, but you will quickly realize that any defeat is usually of your own making, as you failed to read the situation well enough. Enemies always show you what they are going to do. Do you have the wits to keep up with them?
It is a brilliant little package that will certainly satisfy those strategy fans with high expectations.
That Was Our 15 Best Indie Titles!
And there you have it! In SwitchWatchTV’s opinion, the 15 best indie titles currently available on the Switch.
What are your favorites? Let us know below!
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