There’s an argument to be made that the Nintendo Switch is, in fact, the best console of the last decade—but is it the console of the generation? Which “generation” is it even going to ultimately be considered a part of? Of course, none of that really matters. Nintendo has been doing its own thing for a long time. Nevertheless, the Nintendo Switch has been a great boon to independent game developers, giving smaller games the benefit of portability and a major platform. There are tons of “Nindies” out there that we love, but we’ve gone ahead and rounded up 10 of our favorites for you to check out. If you’ve finally exhausted gargantuan games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Fire Emblem: Three Houses, maybe support some independent artists and play these fantastic gems next.
Celeste is easily one of the best games of the last decade. The premise is simple: the protagonist of the game, Madeline, must climb a mountain. In this case, though, the mountain is both literal and figurative—and getting to the top is both a mechanical and emotional gauntlet. It’s a genuinely moving game with pitch-perfect platforming. We highly recommend you don’t miss it.
Few games beat Hollow Knight when it comes to a polished but challenging Metroidvania experience. In this indie of epic proportions, you’ll take on the role of a brave little insect in a sprawling and dark world known as Hallownest. The beautifully drawn animations and wonderful soundtrack do an excellent job of setting the tone for this rich exploration-based adventure, and there are tons of replay-ability considering its complexity and customization options. It came out on other platforms first, but Hollow Knight on the Switch is packed with additional content, offering four expansions that are entirely free to download, including new bosses, enemies, and items.
You might have moved on to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which is great for all your life-sim needs, but if you like that relaxed style of game and haven’t played Stardew Valley, you’re in for a treat. Stardew Valley offers a charming farming simulation with rich graphics that ooze with pixelated charm, and its soundtrack sets the perfect mood for a hard day’s work in the field. Its sole developer, Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone, did a really magnificent job crafting a story you can actually care about, with characters that you’ll learn to love. If you’re looking for a deep experience that can last you dozens of hours, look no further.
Return of the Obra Dinn
Despite its title making it sound like this game is a sequel, it’s not—and the less that is said about it, the better. All we’ll say is the premise pits you in the shoes of an early 19th-century insurance investigator for the East India Trading company as you explore a long lost ghost ship and try to determine what went wrong. There are some great surprises and twists in this masterpiece of a puzzle game, and the minimal visual style is stunning. Find out more for yourself as you explore the many mysteries the game has to offer.
There simply aren’t enough couch co-op games anymore, but the Switch is seeing to that. Overcooked! 2 (and the original Overcooked! for that matter) reminds us just how fun they can be, offering a hilarious and hectic local cooperative kitchen management experience that will have you shouting, “I NEED A CHICKEN!” It’s a relatively simple design but offers a wacky spin on traditional time management games by challenging you not only to create recipes correctly but deal with level-specific mechanics, including moving platforms, rats, ghosts, and more. It’s a great game to play with a partner or by yourself.
Ever felt like wanting to crawl into a hole in the ground? Ever wanted to be a hole in the ground? Well, in Donut County, you can! It’s sort of like an inverted version of the cult-hit PlayStation 2 game, Katamari Damacy, and similarly has great mechanics and hilarious writing. It isn’t the longest game, but it never overstays its welcome and is a blast throughout.
Untitled Goose Game
Another brief game that is hilarious—and that you’ve probably already heard of—is Untitled Goose Game. If you somehow missed it, though, the short of it is you play as a goose. What does a goose do, you ask? It wreaks havoc. That’s about it. Each section gives you a to-do list of tasks to complete. Sometimes that task is to trip a small boy. Other times it is to open an umbrella in a store. Whatever it is, the game gives you plenty of freedom and creativity to achieve your goals. It’s slight, but it’s pitch-perfect for what it is.
Can you call Carrion a horror game? It certainly recalls many of the tropes of the genre—but with a twist. Here you play as the actual monster as you terrorize an underground facility and grow your beastly powers. It might be a little obtuse for some (it can be really easy to get lost), but it feels good to play, with exceptional controls and a wonderfully bloody aesthetic.
Kentucky Route Zero
This surreal adventure is more or less a point and click game, but it has fantastic writing and a visual style that pulls it together. It was originally released episodically, but you can get it all now to the Nintendo Switch and see what all the hubbub is about this magical realist masterwork.
Streets of Rage 4
It might have taken 26 years to get a new Streets of Rage game, but got it we did. Like its predecessors, this is a perfect side-scrolling beat ’em up. If you’ve never played the series before, you can still have a grand old time-fighting crime, but it’s the sense of nostalgia that really shines here.
There are tons more excellent independently made video game titles available for the Nintendo Switch that you should definitely check out, but those are our top 10 for now. Well, at least until Disco Elysium comes out on the Nintendo Switch.