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The 15 Best Indie Games On Switch In 2022 Ranked

When the Nintendo Switch was first released in 2017, the promise of big-budget AAA games on a handheld console was alluring. Fans were excited by the idea of holding games like "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" and "The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim" in their hands. It's been more than five years since the Switch made its way into gamers' hands, and while there's still a certain novelty to playing the biggest games possible on one of the smallest screens around, independent developers have also carved out their own surprisingly expansive niche on Nintendo's hybrid hardware.

Oftentimes, bigger games with bigger budgets and bigger price tags are best played on bigger screens. It might be appealing to do a bit of grinding in "Xenoblade Chronicles 2" from bed, but an expansive RPG boasting an epic story is generally going to benefit from spending most of its time in the dock. As Nintendo's focus seems to shift even more towards handheld play with new releases like the Nintendo Switch OLED and the handheld-only Nintendo Switch Lite, smaller games from smaller teams have started to feel like the best fit for the console. Among the absolute flood of innovative, inventive, exciting indie games, these stand out as the 15 finest.

15. Downwell

"Downwell" may not look like the most involved game in the world, but it hides a shocking depth. Taking advantage of just one button, the game sends the player hurtling into the unknown with nothing but a pair of boots that blast bullets from the heels. That one mechanic quickly spirals into a surprisingly complex web of upgrades, pickups, alternate ammo types, and more. The game rewards quick, precise playing, but its wealth of upgrades and mechanical intricacies allow players to build up to a point where that precision feels natural.

"Downwell" is intricate and demanding, but its charmingly sleek minimalism and tight, responsive controls keep it from feeling inaccessible or inscrutable. Not everyone will understand what every upgrade does right away, but "Downwell" doesn't expect that of you. As long as players understand how to shoot bullets out of their feet from the outset, the rest will fall into place naturally. It feels great from the start, and it only feels better with every run.

When "Downwell" was originally released on mobile and PC in 2015, Destructoid's Steven Hansen praised the game's subtle progression hooks and deceptive depth, saying, "I would probably buy a custom dedicated handheld that just played this game." And though the Nintendo Switch has plenty of other games, after just a few runs, it's not hard to see it becoming a dedicated "Downwell" machine.

  • Release Date: Jan. 31, 2019
  • Genre: Arcade, Roguelite
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 88

14. Kero Blaster

Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya is probably best known for "Cave Story," his groundbreaking 2004 freeware PC game. "Cave Story" was instrumental in legitimizing the indie game scene, but Pixel wasn't content with peaking that early. In fact, "Kero Blaster," his largest project since "Cave Story," may actually be even better.

Eschewing the "Metroid"-inspired interconnected map of "Cave Story," "Kero Blaster" opts for a more linear, level-based structure. The adorable amphibious protagonist of the game sets off on missions for the Cat & Frog company, testing and repairing the company's teleporters by shooting small monsters. If that doesn't make too much sense, don't worry; the story isn't the point of "Kero Blaster." The precise run-and-gun level design, reminiscent of the first few "Mega Man" games, is where your focus should be directed. From that angle, the game truly shines. The shooting feels excellent, and the combination of clean platforming and a player-controlled upgrade system keeps things from getting stale.

In his review for Eurogamer, Simon Parkin called "Kero Blaster" a "pixel-perfect time warp," praising its old-school design sensibilities and the variety of weapons players can use to bring the teleporters back online. It's a joy to play, and one that maintains a steady momentum by constantly introducing the player to new and exciting ideas.

  • Release Date: Aug. 23, 2018
  • Genre: Run-and-gun, Platformer
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 77

13. Untitled Goose Game

Even if you haven't played it, you've probably already seen "Untitled Goose Game." When the game was released back in 2019, its belligerent avian antihero took the internet by storm. The goose, whose sole purpose in life is to make everyone's life a little bit worse for no reason in particular, is the ideal video game protagonist. There is no reason for this bird to drag an innocent farmer's picnic into the lake, or to terrify a young boy at an open-air market. The goose causes chaos simply because that's what geese do.

Beyond being fun to watch, "Untitled Goose Game" is also very fun to play. Ruining the day of everyone in the quaint rural town is a deliriously good time, made all the better by the goose's ardent refusal to react to its actions with anything more than a disaffected honk. There isn't much mechanical depth to the game, but it doesn't need much. The joy of it all comes from finding the funniest way to mess up an idyllic day.

Digitally Downloaded found the game's ceaselessly terrible protagonist extraordinarily charming, calling the title "the most charmingly misanthropic game that has ever been created." At its core, "Untitled Goose Game" is the most adorable and harmless way to ruin everything for everyone.

  • Release Date: Sep. 20, 2019
  • Genre: Stealth, Puzzle
  • Game modes: Single-Player, Local Multiplayer (Up to 2)
  • Metacritic Score: 81

12. Toree 3D

Indie platformers often set their sites on recreating the most polished, perfectly engineered, beloved games around. Everyone wants to make the next "Sonic the Hedgehog" or "Super Mario World." Everyone, that is, except for "Toree 3D" developer Siactro. Siactro's 3D platformer brings to mind the rough-around-the-edges low-poly "Super Mario 64" imitators of the early Nintendo 64 and PlayStation days, but in a fun way. The game was initially developed as a part of the "Haunted PS1 Demo Disc," a collaborative throwback project on itch.io.

Underneath the 90s exterior, though, "Toree 3D" is hiding some truly excellent modern design flourishes. Designed with completionists in mind, it's the kind of game that's absolutely perfect for the pick-up-and-play mentality that makes the Switch special. At any time, anyone can pick up "Toree 3D" and have a blast playing through a couple of the game's bite-sized levels and hunting down collectibles, then put it down without a second thought.

"Toree 3D" boasts Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam, but it's even better on Switch. It's a refreshingly small game with a refreshingly low price (you can pick up "Toree 3D" and its sequel for less than the price of a cup of coffee). "Toree 3D" is the kind of old-school homage that doesn't just lovingly recreate the games it calls to mind — it perfects them.

  • Release Date: April 9, 2021
  • Genre: 3D Platformer
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 67

11. Beast Breaker

"Beast Breaker" is an unassuming little game at first glance. You play as a little mouse, bouncing around a fairly simplistic screen to dish out damage to large monsters made from fractals. Then it opens up and becomes a whole lot more than that.

"Beast Breaker" is full of different ways to approach every individual combat encounter. Consumable items, companions, and crafted gear make every fight a unique and delightful challenge. The first couple of encounters might feel like pinball with light RPG elements, but once you've got your own loadout and playstyle locked down, it's not really comparable to anything else. "Beast Breaker" is more than just an evolved pinball game, it's something entirely unique.

Nintendo Life's Mitch Vogel praised "Beast Breaker" for the depth and innovation of its combat, and found the design intuitive enough that its gradual increase in complexity never feels too daunting. "Beast Breaker" is a genuinely special game, with a pleasant aesthetic and an exciting combat system that stands apart from anything else out there.

  • Release Date: Sep. 23, 2021
  • Genre: RPG
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: N/A

10. TowerFall

"TowerFall" has been a special game since its initial release on the Ouya way back in 2013. There was always just one small problem: it was on the Ouya. For some time, one of the best local multiplayer games around could only be played on a console that only sold around 200,000 units. Thankfully, the indie platform fighter eventually made its way to the Nintendo Switch, where it's become one of the easiest party games to recommend to just about anyone.

"TowerFall" is a casual platform fighter with an extremely small moveset. You can fire an arrow, jump, dash, and... that's it. It's not restrictive, though — just extremely approachable. "TowerFall" is the perfect alternative to "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" for folks who don't know the difference between a down-special and a final smash. It also comes with a number of options for altering rules and mechanics to make the game as fun as possible for every gaming group, regardless of taste. If you'd rather play an ultra-tense game where everyone has just one arrow and is forced to make it count, the ability is there. If you want a sillier experience where every arrow is a laser that bounces between walls endlessly, that's an option too. "TowerFall" is designed to be fun for absolutely everyone.

In his review for Polygon, Ben Kuchera called it "one of the best party games currently available," and heaped special praise on the Nintendo Switch port, noting that the wider availability of the game has made it a perfect fit for random play sessions with friends in any environment.

  • Release Date: Nov. 13, 2020
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Game modes: Single-Player, Local Multiplayer (Up to 6)
  • Metacritic Score: N/A

9. Slay the Spire

Every fan of collectible card games like "Magic: the Gathering" and "Hearthstone" knows the joy of hand-crafting the perfect deck, full of cards that play off one another perfectly to unleash devastation on an unsuspecting opponent. "Slay the Spire" takes that simple pleasure and builds it into one of the most compelling games on the Nintendo Switch.

Every run of "Slay the Spire" starts the player with a pre-crafted, extremely weak deck specific to the class they've chosen. After every successful combat encounter, the player may add one card to their deck. Pretty quickly, synergies start to make themselves clear – if one card deals damage equal to the player's block, then it makes sense to add another card that maximizes block to the deck; if a card gets stronger every time another card is exhausted, then adding cards that exhaust other cards lets you build up to one devastating blow. These are some relatively obvious combos, but as you progress in the game and master the deckbuilding mechanics, more obscure strategies begin to reveal themselves, unleashing even more power.

There are so many unique decks and builds in "Slay the Spire" that Twitch streamer Northernlion's YouTube channel is home to nearly 700 unique videos showcasing his runs through the game. The magic of discovering a combo you've never thought of before keeps "Slay the Spire" feeling fresh every single run, no matter how many times you've won.

  • Release Date: June 6, 2019
  • Genre: Deckbuilder, Roguelite
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 85

8. Overboard!

"Overboard!" is one of the most clever games on the Switch. It's a kind of inverted murder mystery in which the player assumes the role of Veronica Villensey, a wealthy socialite who kills her husband on a cruise ship and must cover up her crime before she arrives in the United States. For the most part, this is achieved by talking to other passengers and establishing a web of lies that you can't be caught in.

There's something fiendishly satisfying about slipping into the role of the villain in a mystery, and "Overboard!" doesn't shy away from the villainy that makes its protagonist so fun to play. Other passengers remember Veronica's conversations, talk with one another, and force the player to keep their facts straight. In order to succeed, you have to truly slip into the role of a cold-hearted killer with a calculating penchant for lying. There's no heart of gold beneath this rough exterior. What you see is what you get, and it's phenomenally evil.

Pure Nintendo's Kirstie Summers praised "Overboard!" for its charming 1930s aesthetic, which brings to mind classic Agatha Christie novels (with the important distinction that the star of the show isn't Hercule Poirot, it's the slippery killer who's always one step ahead).

  • Release Date: June 2, 2021
  • Genre: Visual Novel
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 86

7. Stardew Valley

It's difficult to find anything new to say about "Stardew Valley." By now, if life sims like "Animal Crossing" and "Harvest Moon" are your jam, you've probably already heard the rave reviews for Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone's widely beloved farming game about starting a new life in a small town. In fact, you've probably already played at least a hundred hours of the game. After all, it's tough to play just a little bit of "Stardew Valley." But that's exactly why you should give it another shot on Nintendo Switch.

"Stardew Valley" is an amazing fit for the Switch. You can pick the game up in handheld mode and go through a couple of days during your commute or you can hunker down with the Switch in docked mode and lose hours to the charming visuals and refined gameplay. Tending your farm as you build your relationships with other townspeople is a delight in short bursts or in long, sustained sessions. No matter how you like to play, "Stardew Valley" is ready to accommodate you on the Switch.

The "Stardew Valley" subreddit has over one million subscribers who regularly post memes, tips, and discussions regarding the game. It's easy to see where such a massive community came from — "Stardew Valley" is a lovely game that just about anyone can enjoy.

  • Release Date: Oct. 5, 2017
  • Genre: Farming, Life Sim
  • Game modes: Single-Player, Local Multiplayer (Up to 4), Online Multiplayer (Up to 4)
  • Metacritic Score: 87

6. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

It's been eight years since the release of the original "Shovel Knight," now dubbed "Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope." The game has since spawned multiple new campaigns, and so it's hard to say which "Shovel Knight" game is most worth playing. They all have their own unique strengths, and they're all phenomenal retro platformers with gorgeous pixel art, catchy chiptune music, and brilliant level design. Thankfully, there's no need to choose. Developer Yacht Club Games has compiled all four main "Shovel Knight" titles into one package: the excellent "Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove."

"Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove" contains the original "Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope" as well as "Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows," "Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment," and "Shovel Knight: King of Cards." Each campaign is individually excellent and stands more or less on its own, but the "Treasure Trove" collection is an excellent collection that offers the opportunity to experience all of them in one place.

FanFest described "Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove" as "a brilliant collection of retro inspired platformers sure to go down in history as one of the best side-scrolling adventure series ever created." It's the best way to experience one of the most revered modern indie games and its equally excellent follow-ups.

  • Release Date: March 3, 2017
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Game modes: Single-Player, Local Multiplayer (Up to 2)
  • Metacritic Score: 91

5. Kentucky Route Zero

The first of five acts in "Kentucky Route Zero" was released in 2013, teasing a melancholic ghost story centered around its two protagonists, Conway and Shannon, set against a post-recession American South. By the time the game was finally done in 2020, it was still that... kind of. Over the course of nearly a decade, "Kentucky Route Zero" changed shape countless times, playing with form and format to comment on both the journey its characters take through a surreally reimagined United States and the journey the country took in real life during that time.

"Kentucky Route Zero" is an uncommonly thoughtful game. Its characters are all well-realized individuals, an impressive feat for a game with such an enormous cast. Across the game's five acts and five interludes, the player is introduced to so many different people that it should be impossible to feel connected to all of them, but "Kentucky Route Zero" makes each and every member of the cast feel real and important. If the game loses the plot a bit as it gets bigger and bigger, indie studio Cardboard Computer more than makes up for it with emotionally intelligent storytelling and character work that always feels distinctly small and intimate.

In his review of the game's final release in 2020, Polygon's Russ Frushtick praised the game for its portrayal of communities and individuals finding hope in the face of economic and social hardship. It's a meandering and often melancholy game, but one that is well-worth experiencing.

  • Release Date: Jan. 28, 2020 (final chapter)
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 87

4. Neon White

If "Kentucky Route Zero" was a bit too slow and mournful for you, "Neon White" may be more your speed. "Neon White" is an incredibly fast-paced first-person shooter that asks players to burn their way through its extraordinarily tiny levels as quickly as possible. Most levels, when played normally, last less than a minute. When played with the speed and precision that "Neon White" demands, they're over in a matter of seconds.

The speedy parkour of the gameplay is evenly matched by the game's narrative, which centers on "Neons," sinners who are given the chance to ascend to Heaven in exchange for some quick demon extermination. It feels like something plucked out of a forgotten mid-90s anime, down to the casting of "Cowboy Bebop" legend Steve Blum in the titular role. The writing is breezy and lighthearted with a mildly cynical edge (owing in large part to its characters' less-than-reputable pasts).

Game Informer's Blake Hester said that "Neon White" is "one of the most entertaining experiences I've played in years." The gameplay is extremely fun and the small levels lend themselves to short bursts in handheld mode, while the story, propelled by trading gifts among the lovable cast of characters, is worth running through on the TV. It's a game for anyone with an abiding passion for speed, slick visuals, or silly anime. Think "Outlaw Star" on a collision course with "Mirror's Edge."

  • Release Date: June 16, 2022
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter, Parkour
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 87

3. Return of the Obra Dinn

If "Overboard!" left you itching for more innovative mystery games set on boats, it doesn't get much better than "Return of the Obra Dinn." This mystery game by indie legend Lucas Pope, the mind behind "Papers, Please," places the player in control of an insurance inspector tasked with determining what happened aboard the Obra Dinn, a trade ship that has returned to port with none of its original passengers onboard.

"Return of the Obra Dinn" is comprised of multiple vignettes, each rendered in a striking monochrome visual style, that the player must examine closely to determine exactly what happened to each passenger. The player logs what they believe occurred in a logbook. The game gives almost no guidance on how to go about solving its central puzzle, leaving the player with a compass that can turn back time, their trusty logbook, and nothing else. This lends the game a real sense of mystery. It won't solve itself — the player has to commit to uncovering the secrets of the Obra Dinn on their own.

In his review for IGN, Tom Marks called "Return of the Obra Dinn" "an absolute triumph," praising its innovative, hands-off approach to mystery design. When "Return of the Obra Dinn" came out, there was nothing quite like it, and there still hasn't really been a game since that's felt like something totally new.

  • Release Date: Oct. 18, 2019
  • Genre: Mystery, Adventure
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 86

2. Spelunky 2

"Spelunky 2" probably isn't for everyone. It's tough as nails, it explains very little upfront, and not every death feels fair. Sometimes a run will end before it's even truly begun — or even worse, right when it's starting to look hopeful. It's a punishing, often frustrating affair. For the people who do enjoy "Spelunky 2," though, it's one of the finest gaming experiences available on Nintendo Switch.

A sequel to the roguelike classic "Spelunky" (also available on Switch), "Spelunky 2" improves on everything about its predecessor. It's bigger, better-looking, packed with more playable characters, and, yes, even harder. The game features true roguelike progression. The only thing you retain on death is your own knowledge – forcing players to learn its systems rather than simply blazing through them. It demands focus and skill, which makes it all the more rewarding to actually succeed.

"Spelunky 2" is the kind of game that you will either love or hate, and one need not look further than the countless dejected posts on the "Spelunky" subreddit to know which category they'll fall into. For those who are willing to disappear into the caves and die over and over again, there's no game more rewarding and delightful. Of course, if you don't want to descend into the ultra-challenging depths alone, you can always bring a couple of friends along with the game's excellent multiplayer options.

  • Release Date: Aug. 26, 2021
  • Genre: Platformer, Roguelike
  • Game modes: Single-Player, Local Multiplayer (Up to 4), Online Multiplayer (Up to 4)
  • Metacritic Score: 92

1. Celeste

"Best indie game on Nintendo Switch" is far from the only title "Celeste" deserves to hold. Really, this brilliant indie platformer deserves to be considered among the best games on the entire platform. The combination of achingly precise level design, clever but gentle writing, and robust accessibility options make "Celeste" an easy recommendation. Every level is immaculately constructed, and every element that frames that construction, from the characters to the music, is just as brilliant.

"Celeste" tracks the journey of a young woman named Madeline as she attempts to climb up Celeste Mountain armed with nothing but a mountaineer's grip, the ability to double jump, and a can-do attitude. The game was designed by "TowerFall" creator Maddy Thorson (Madeline is actually a playable character in "TowerFall"), so it's no surprise that simply jumping, climbing, and dashing can be strung together into precise movements that feel great to pull off. Those moves also allow for a staggering variety of different brilliant level designs. In addition to feeling great, "Celeste" also looks great, with a pixel-art style that absolutely oozes love and attention to detail. It also sounds excellent thanks to composer Lena Raine's gorgeous soundtrack. "Celeste" is triumphant in every area.

When "Celeste" was initially released back in 2018, it was nominated for Game of the Year at The Game Awards, and with good reason. "Celeste" was one of the best games of 2018, and it remains an extraordinarily enjoyable experience to this day. "Celeste" is a lovely mountain to climb, from the first step to the very peak.

  • Release Date: Jan. 25, 2018
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 92