It’s no secret that the Nintendo Switch is crammed to the brim with unique and interesting indie titles.
…So much so that this indie juggernaut is being heralded as one of the most accessible platforms for developers and small studios, increasing their profits sometimes by as much as eightfold when compared to alternative platforms – As such, I felt it was right to finally honour some of the Switch’s latest and greatest, to celebrate the little guys instead of hammering on about the big leagues. Let’s go!
Shovel Knight is, at least in the hearts of many people, the definition of an indie sweetheart – A decently sized main story with tons of replayability? Check. Appropriate difficulty scaling? Check. Amazing music? Check. Memorable bosses and levels? Check. Multiple playable characters? Check.
The list just goes on and on!
As an avid fan on ‘Classicvania’ titles, I’ve come to appreciate the small adjustments and borrowed elements that Shovel Knight uses to forge an amazing, and worthwhile, indie experience – With two feature expansions and a third free expansion on the way, you’d best bet that you’d be digging up one hell of a gem by getting Shovel Knight.
From Classicvania-inspired to Metroidvania-inspired, Hollow Knight goes in the polar opposite direction of Shovel Knight, away from a colourful world with crisp pixel art into a dank and dark underground, drawn entirely by hand – There’s no joking around here; every facet of Hollow Knight is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, from the terrifying Abyss, to the moody and glass-wrapped Raining City, to the glistening Mines and iron glow of the Path of Pain; every inch of Hollow Knight serves to tell a story, and it’s one that’s not only a joy to experience, but a joy to play as well.
Combat takes the floodlight in Hollow Knight, remaining simple enough to be accessible, yet customisable enough to play into variety and optimisation; with a wide-open and loose world, you’ll be hard pressed to feel fatigued after even 100 hours of playing… At least that’s how Salman feels.
The Binding of Issac, much like Shovel Knight, is absolutely legendary within the indie scene; being the progenitor of the now famous ‘roguelike’ genre, Issac brought a hint of Tim Burton, a dash of horror, and a sprinkle of top-down twin-stick shooting to a relatively loose medium – What we got was one of the only games I’ve put over 150 hours in on the Nintendo Switch.
Issac is hard – Issac will beat you down, but, amidst those difficult attempts, you unlock a wide variety of over 1000 different items, all of which share synergies with at least one other, in order to increase your chance of success.
Ever wanted to laser-beam a room full of poop whilst being the living incarnation of Satan? Issac can make that happen.
In a similar vein to The Binding of Issac: Afterbirth+, Enter the Gungeon blasts players into a procedurally generated dungeon filled with… Well, guns – Taking more direct inspiration from twin-stick shooters, Enter the Gungeon differs just enough from The Binding of Issac: Afterbirth+ to be distinct and wholly enjoyable – Another title that soaked up over 50 hours of my life in less than a month, Enter the Gungeon is the perfect sidearm to holster alongside Issac.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable and beautiful metroidvanias I’ve played, only topped by Hollow Knight due to it’s more serious and lore-filled tone; Shantae, however, brings to the Switch the other side of hand-drawn graphics – Colourful, vibrant, emotive, fluid, yet somewhat minimalistic sprites look like they’ve been ripped from a sticker book or comic – Shantae finally returned to form with Half-Genie Hero, and I seriously cannot wait to see what lays in her future.
Seriously. Get this. You won’t be disappointed.
Now for something a little… Different – Growing up I always loved physics-based games; marble-based puzzlers, sand drawing flash games, and of course all those free games on Newgrounds that used to occupy my lunchtimes in middle school… So it’s without saying that Membrane hurls me right back with a nostaligc trip through that world of flash games; Membrane is simple by design – You collect yellow dots to progress by firing red spheres that stick to eachother like glue – Using this glue-like projectile, you can create weights, bridges, platforms and more, which leads to a large array of simple – yet confusing – puzzles.
Layton, listen up.
Here’s an obvious one – Undertale is a hit cultural phenomenon that has absolutely exploded over the internet in recent years, and for good reason – The game feels personal – It remembers your choices, punishes your mistakes, but also holds you close with a warm sense of nostalgia and comfort, much unlike wrapping up in your duvet downstairs on the couch whilst you watch saturday morning cartoons – With no access to savescumming or file editing, the experience oddly becomes far more emotional and immersive, as there’s no longer that ‘one wiki guide that lets you reset absolutely everything to normal’.
Undertale will captivate you, rest assured.
Now this one’s a bit odd… Moonlighter is a game I’ve yet to play, but I’m going to include it here purely because Luke won’t stop raving on about it; Moonlighter serves as another rougelike, but this time it plays the part of a loving Zelda tribute, fit with mobs of enemies to slay, powerful bosses to conquer, and, the most difficult boss of all – The local economy. Shop salesman by day, and adventurer by night, you’re tasked with foraging and hunting for your store items to sell to adventurers and townspeople the following day; with a set of risk and reward systems and various progression paths to go towards, Moonlighter may be brief, but it’s certainly unforgettable.
…Even if Luke does keep going on about it.
Battle Chef Brigade is another game I never stop hearing about… This time from Salman who absolutely loved this little indie gem – To quote his review of the game:
“… I can say that this game is easily one of my favourite titles on the Switch, and I feel you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if this isn’t in your library.”
Battle Chef Brigade serves as part-Match 3 puzzler, and part action-combat, with you hunting various beasts to cook up into a range of flavourful and fearful dishes – Again, much like Moonlighter, Battle Chef Brigade is a meal best consumed slowly – Savour it; enjoy it, and you may just find one of your most enjoyable new indie titles on the Switch.
Finally we have my favourite indie title on the Nintendo Switch – Stardew Valley. This lovely little farming simulator is chock-full to the brim with captivating content, addicting gameplay loops and varied ways to play; it even has co-op, to sweeten the deal! Me and my partner, Clarice, have easily lost over 60 hours to this game, night in, night out, simply by progressing a few days and caring for our crops and livestock. If you want the perfect game to just sit down and play for 10 minutes, or 10 hours, Stardew Valley is the fix you need.