We all know that the Nintendo Switch is home to titles like Pokémon, the Legend of Zelda and Mario Kart, but it's also become something of an industry leader when it comes to indie games. There are plenty of hidden gems featuring characters that aren't as instantly recognisable as Mario or Pikachu, but we can assure you that you'll still have plenty of fun.
Luckily, even the top indie games are also considerably cheaper than first-party titles, so you won't have to break the bank to try them. Whether you're a fan of action-packed platformers, immersive exploration or a relaxing farming experience, we've found the best indie games on the Nintendo Switch available online on Amazon, eBay and Argos for you to check out from the comfort of your sofa.
Independent, or indie, games are those which have been developed by a small group without the support of a larger game publisher – sometimes by as little as only one or two people and without any guarantees of a wide release. If you’re familiar with independent music or cinema, the concept of independent games is no different.
As indie games are often made on a small budget without any pressure from publishers or investors, they tend to have a much higher level of creative freedom which can result in some truly unique and innovative experiences that wouldn’t exist otherwise. They are also usually available at a much lower price point.
The Switch is a haven for independent games, with hundreds having been released on the console and the regular Indie World Showcases shining a light on the best upcoming independent releases. If you’re not familiar with the plethora of indie games out there, there’s an exciting new world for you to discover.
As you may not be familiar with the different indie games available, our buying guide is here to help. We'll take a look at genres, both in terms of gameplay and atmosphere, as well as the age ranges they're suitable for. We'll also let you know which games you can play with your friends either locally or online and whether they're co-op or competitive.
It can be hard to tell a game's genre from the box art and static screenshots. It may look like, say, a platformer, but could also be an exploration-based Metroidvania. It's not uncommon for indie games to mix multiple genres, so we'll take you through the most common indie styles to give you a good idea of what you're getting into.
If you've ever played a game like Sonic or Super Mario Bros., then you should be familiar with the run-and-jump gameplay of a platformer. Named after the often floating platforms your character is required to jump between, the goal of these games is usually to go from one end of a level to another while avoiding enemies and obstacles.
Unlike platformers, which usually have a number of different levels for you to progress through, Metroidvanias are all about exploration, often placing you in the middle of an unfamiliar location and leaving you to find your own way.
You may go in one direction and find a gap that's too big to jump, only to return after exploring more of the map with a way to bridge it. Metroidvanias also tend to have a bigger focus on combat than platformers, so if that's your thing, look out for these.
These games are the perfect choice if you want complete freedom in what you do. They let you play in your own metaphorical sandbox and allow you to create your own fun by exploring the world at your own pace, setting your own challenges and offering more avenues for creative expression than other, more tailored experiences.
Simulation games are really popular at the moment and are comparable in many ways to sandbox games. They offer a lot of ways to make your own choices but with a bit more emphasis on the systems and settings.
For example, Minecraft has farming mechanics within it but you can play the game without doing any farming at all if you so choose, while games like Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon give the player a lot of freedom but you cannot avoid the farming mechanics if you want to proceed.
If you're looking for some great couch multiplayer action, then fighting games and beat 'em ups are some of the best experiences you can have with friends on the same console. The only thing you have to decide is whether you want to be facing off against each other or teaming up against the computer.
Fighting games are great competitive multiplayer experiences, and there are few better experiences than beating your friends or family in a close 1v1 match. We'd be lying if we said it doesn't cause some players issues, so if you want to avoid any unnecessary friction with your friends, you should team up in a beat 'em up and work together to fight off wave after wave of enemies.
In a roguelike, if you die, it's game over and you go right back to the beginning of the game. Most of the time all of your progress isn't lost, however, as each run you do will often unlock permanent upgrades to your characters and better equip them for the next attempt.
While the original Rogue, from where the genre gets its name, was a slow-paced, turn-based affair, modern roguelikes lean into the tension and fear of dying and losing your progress, making for fast-paced, high-adrenaline gameplay that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
While there are some incredible single-player options out there, sometimes you want to hang out with your friends or family and play games together. You can do this in one of two ways, by grabbing an extra controller and playing on the same system, known as local multiplayer, or by playing online against people from all over the world.
Depending on the type of game, you'll nearly always be playing either cooperatively or competitively, or sometimes both if you're playing a competitive team game. With co-op titles, you'll work together to overcome challenges or complete a campaign. Competitive games, on the other hand, will pit you against one another to see who comes out on top.
PEGI stands for Pan European Game Information and is a video game content rating system that works in a similar way to film certification in the UK. If a game contains violence, drugs or explicitly sexual imagery, you can expect it to be a PEGI 18, whereas those with only mild violence or possibly frightening scenes for younger children would be a PEGI 7.
It's worth noting that a PEGI rating is purely for content rather than a guideline for difficulty. There are plenty of PEGI 7 games that will give you a serious challenge, while some more mature games can be relatively easy. If you're buying for a child, you'll want to check the rating, but if it's just for yourself, don't let the fact that a game is suitable for a three-year-old put you off.
We'll also mention that you may also see ESRB ratings on certain games when viewing online – this is simply the North American version of PEGI and is also a good way of checking what ages a game is suitable for.
Yacht Club Games
Limited Run Games
Enter the Gungeon
Untitled Goose Game
Ori and the Blind Forest
Streets of Rage 4
Rivals of Aether
The Most Popular Indie Game of All Time
Incredible Hand-Drawn, Tim Burton Inspired Artwork
Fast and Frantic Gameplay for You and a Friend
Get Cosy and Create the Farm of Your Dreams
A Retro Renaissance
Cause Havok as a Horrible Honking Goose
Unbelievable Art Direction and Voice Acting in a Fast-Paced Roguelike
A Critically Acclaimed Masterpiece With a Focus on Storytelling
Some of the Best Throwback Co-Op Action Around
Familiar With Smash Bros.? You’ll Be Right at Home
|Genre||Sandbox, open world||Metroidvania||Roguelike||Farming simulator||Platformer||Sandbox||Roguelike||Metroidvania||Beat 'em up||Platform fighter|
|Multiplayer Options||Local, online, co-op||None||Local co-op||Local, online, co-op||Local co-op||Local co-op||No||No||Local co-op||Local, online, competitive|
Now that you have an idea of the types of indie game available on the Nintendo Switch, it's time to take a look at our top 10 recommendations. Whether you're after a cosy experience to share with some friends or a fast-paced single-player adventure, there's something for everyone below!
|Multiplayer||Local, online, competitive|
|Genre||Beat 'em up|
|Multiplayer Options||Local, online, co-op|
|Multiplayer Options||Local co-op|
|Genre||Sandbox, open world|
|Multiplayer Options||Local, online, co-op|
You've got a few games lined up on your wishlist, but if you're new to the Switch (or even if you're not), have you got the best accessories? Some of these can really make your gaming experience, not to mention protect your console so you can keep playing it for longer!
We hope you've found our recommendations helpful in finding something that's caught your interest and that you may not have heard of or played before. From intense yet enjoyable story-driven experiences to light-hearted titles to play with your friends and family, it's well worth trying out these hidden gems.
Author: David Sexton
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