While the Nintendo Switch finally has a real competitor in Valve's Steam Deck, it's still one of the greatest consoles for indie gaming.
Sure, most indie games find their initial footing amongst PC gamers via Steam, but the good ones eventually make it onto the Nintendo Switch—and once they do, they really start to shine.
There are so many great indie games that we couldn't fit all of our favorites onto the list. Even so, here are my picks for the best Nintendo Switch indie games across a variety of genres and styles.
If you prefer a bit of complexity and thinking in your games, this is the game for you.
While Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander is an RPG, it also has many strategic elements, including a few gameplay mechanics that might remind you of FTL: Faster Than Light.
While most of the game takes place on the titular star base (there are base-building elements too), you also take a party on ground missions that feel more like a traditional RPG.
Imagine a top-down action-adventure game like the Zelda series, except without any of the combat. Instead, replace the sword with a paintbrush that you can use to color in the world around you.
That's Chicory in a nutshell, a game that sees you playing as a young artist looking to restore color to a world that's been wiped white.
It's meatier than you might expect, packed with puzzles and a story that will take you at least 20 hours to complete.
If you like JRPG-style combat and exploration but prefer Western-style art and storytelling, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is not a game to miss.
The artwork is by Joe Madureira ("Joe Mad"), who also wrote and drew the comic that the game is based on, so the visuals bear a similarity to the Joe Mad-designed Darksiders games.
Exploration takes place in a isometric, Diablo-style view, while battles are the traditional "your party on one side, enemies on the other." Combat is deep enough to be satisfying, but not overwhelmingly complex.
17. Golf Story
Golf Story was one of the original indie hits on the Nintendo Switch, and it still holds up now. If you haven't played it, you absolutely should.
While it isn't quite as perfectly tuned as the Mario Golf titles from the Nintendo Game Boy Advance era, Golf Story comes closest to replicating the "golf RPG" feel that those games pioneered.
Looking at screenshots for Eastward, you'd be forgiven for assuming the game was a JRPG inspired by classics like Earthbound.
Rather, Eastward is more of an action-adventure game that's similar to early Zelda games, but in a post-apocalyptic setting that's prettier than any end-of-the-world setting deserves to be.
You'll find no shortage of roguelikes and roguelites on the Nintendo Switch, including the massively popular Hades. But Tangledeep combines roguelike elements with a 16-bit graphics style that wouldn't look out of place on the SNES.
The game also isn't prohibitively hardcore. If you're looking for a more mellow experience, you can change some of the settings so it's not as punishing.
Another early hit on the Nintendo Switch, Celeste is a challenging platformer game hidden beneath a friendly looking aesthetic.
Surprisingly, there's no combat here; it's just a lot of difficult platforming. But where Celeste really stands out is its accessibility options that make it easier for anyone who wants to play the game to do so.
Take a base of science-fiction anime, throw in some 16-bit RPG action, and a dash of cyberpunk, and blend it all up! What do you get? Zeboyd Games' Cosmic Star Heroine in a nutshell.
This game takes inspiration from countless classic RPGs, much as Zeboyd's previous title Cthulu Saves the World did.
You'll find base-upgrading elements, similar to the gameplay in the Suikoden series. And enemies appear on screen, meaning they can be avoided and there are no annoying random encounters!
The basic premise of Untitled Goose Game is pretty silly: you're a goose and you're here to cause trouble. If you play it in cooperative mode, you work with your partner to wreak mayhem on everyday people.
It would've been easy to make this a game like Goat Simulator, but the developers took a different approach with Untitled Goose Game.
You have several different goals—stealing items, breaking stuff, tricking people into all kinds of situations—and it's up to you to figure out how to actually do those things. It's a puzzle game with lots of humor in it.
While Cuphead may have originally launched on the Xbox One—a more powerful console than the Nintendo Switch—it still plays well on Nintendo's lesser hardware (yes, even in handheld mode).
That doesn't mean it's still not tough as nails. If you've never played the game before, make sure you're in a patient mood before you approach it. Despite the aesthetics, Cuphead is a punishingly hard game.
With Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp seemingly stuck in an indefinite delay, Wargroove is the closest you'll come to the tactical gameplay of that classic series on the Nintendo Switch.
It takes place in a medieval setting rather than a pseudo-modern one, but the gameplay itself will feel instantly familiar to anyone who's enjoyed the Advance Wars series.
Image & Form's SteamWorld series has touched a variety of genres, from tower defense to platforming exploration and even a 2D take on XCOM-style tactical combat.
With SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, the SteamWorld universe enters the realm of RPGs with a card-based combat system reminiscent of Monolith Soft's Baten Kaitos.
This isn't a deck-building game. And it's not a roguelike, either. Think of it as a more traditional RPG with a few twists on gameplay: as you proceed through the story, you can upgrade and add new cards to your deck, giving you access to more powerful combat techniques and abilities.
Instead of paying homage to a single classic series, Shovel Knight pays homage to the entire history and genre of 2D platformers.
This is more than just a throwback to all the games that inspired it—Shovel Knight uses mechanics found in everything from DuckTales on the NES to modern versions of Dark Souls.
It can be tough at times, but never unfairly so. If you have a soft spot in your heart for retro games but want to enjoy them with modern quality-of-life improvements, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is what you want.
7. Dead Cells
Dead Cells combines procedural generation and roguelite gameplay with the traversal mechanics of a Metroidvania-style game.
If that alone doesn't interest you enough to get into this game, then perhaps Dead Cells isn't for you.
However, if that does sound intriguing, then you should absolutely give it a shot. Dead Cells is a few years old by now, but it still feels incredibly polished to play and there are few games on its level.
Slay the Spire is the rare game where even gamers who aren't fans of the digital card game genre find themselves hooked.
This deckbuilding roguelite may be built around cards, but for the most part, it plays more like an RPG than, say, Magic: The Gathering.
You start with a deck of action cards based on your class, then add new cards as you venture through the dungeon and battle baddies. Try to make it all the way to the boss! It's tougher than you think.
Cult of the Lamb is an odd mixture of cute aesthetics and dark subject matter. You could describe this game as like Stardew Valley but with cults—and that wouldn't be wrong at all.
Once you start discovering its depths, you'll find that Cult of the Lamb creates a much bigger whole than the sum of its individual components, and that's what makes the game so special.
4. Neon White
When it's at its best, Neon White is a game that makes you feel like a pro speedrunner, even if you've never thought about speedrunning.
Speedrunners try to play through games as quickly as they can, whether to break personal records or world records. Most games aren't designed specifically for speedrunning, but Neon White is.
Even if you're playing through a given level for the hundredth time, trying to shave seconds off your time, it never gets old.
While the Nintendo Switch has plenty of Metroidvania-style games, few have resonated with fans the way Hollow Knight has.
In Hollow Knight, you'll be platforming, swinging swords, casting spells, and flat-out surviving your way through various areas, unlocking new abilities, and exploring what's out there.
Even if you've played through the game on another platform, and even if you're just waiting for Hollow Knight: Silksong to finally release, you might find that Hollow Knight on the Nintendo Switch is really good.
While it was originally released on PC, Stardew Valley feels like a game that was made with the Nintendo Switch in mind.
Whether you're farming, getting to know the locals, delving into the mines, or fishing the days away, it all works fantastically on the Nintendo Switch. Playing in handheld mode is as relaxing as it gets.
And if you want to play with a friend in couch co-op mode, all you have to do is dock the console. It plays perfectly on TV.
Hades is a fantastic roguelite experience no matter which system you play it on. However, making your way out of the underworld on the Nintendo Switch is really something special.
This game isn't just incredibly satisfying to play, it's also eminently replayable. Even if you've beaten it before, it's well worth a second play—and many more plays.
And when played on the Nintendo Switch, it's just so convenient to take it with you anywhere you go. It plays really well in handheld mode.