Thursday, January 6

Top 90 / Best Indie Adventure Games on Nintendo Switch

Last Updated: 1/6/22!

Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan [ManaVoid Entertainment Inc] - Having spent far more time with Rainbow Billy than I would have expected, I’ve become a big fan of its unique mix of adventure, platforming, relationship building, and mini-game driven combat. At a glance anyone can see that it has a very family-friendly look and feel, in particular with a key element of combat being talking to your opponent and trying to always accentuate the positive. Inevitably the majority of the time you don’t so much defeat them as wear down the emotional walls they’ve put up to enlist their aid to help restore color to the world that has been made a dreary black and white by the evil Leviathan. While that makes the combat sound a bit simple, in execution there’s quite a bit you have to consider from a tactical point of view as well. The first character you put into any lane will use their special ability (if you’ve helped develop a friendship with them), and these become critical as the game goes on and foes get tougher, and the more characters you put in a lane the tougher the mini game you’ll need to play gets. The result can lead to a surprising degree of strategy being needed at times, especially since some opponents will really throw you for a loop with special rules you’ll need to figure out and get around to be successful. Aside from being a bit on the saccharine side for the hardcore set the one fault I’d give the game is that its dialogue really tends to go on, to the point that I’ve just begun to skip a great deal of it, since it isn’t hard to glean what’s important in the conversation without needing to go through it all. Perhaps the goal was to deepen the feel for characters and their connections, but for me it more often derailed the momentum of enjoying the gameplay itself. It absolutely won’t appeal to everyone but if you love games that dare to be different and wear their heart on their sleeve I’d consider it a must-have to add to your collection.

The Wild At Heart [Moonlight Kids] - Sometimes all you need to get excited about a title are a few evocative words, commonly referred to as an “elevator pitch”. In the case of The Wild At Heart it can simply be summed up with the words: Pikmin Adventure. While I do wish the load times were a bit less onerous, the crafting system and health were a bit more well-implemented, and that it didn’t feel like nightfall (and peril) were baked in to interrupting your exploration and puzzle solving in some areas… I’ve gotta admit, this game absolutely has me hooked. There’s a major focus on exploration and often experimentation, the dungeon-like nature of some areas and their puzzles that is an appreciated challenge, and the story and themes of the game definitely pull you in the further you go. This all combines to make for one of my favorite indie titles of the year, despite some of my quibbles with some specifics, and it should be capable of appealing to a very broad audience with its general play style and obvious influences.

Flipping Death [Zoink!] - Whenever you talk about classic adventure titles there's roughly a standing assumption that they'll bog down at some point with obtuse item puzzles or funkiness, it's pretty well a genre staple. To combat that Flipping Death doesn't have you managing items in your inventory but instead inhabiting the bodies of the living to perform character-specific tasks to solve problems. The fact that most of these characters are extremely weird and quirky and it all adds up to a great time full of silliness and laughs but consistently challenging throughout as well.

Sparklite [Red Blue Games] - Since I’m a huge fan of roguelikes and their ability to revitalize and alter how you play more classic genres I’ve always wondered how it would pair with the Legend of Zelda. Sparklite takes quite a traditional track, working with weapons and mechanics reminiscent of the Zelda series but keeping the world a bit more compact, generally making for quicker runs if nothing else. Once you get your bearings and understand how elements like badges work you’ll be off to face a pretty stiff challenge, especially in the early going. Just be ready, until you’re sufficiently geared up to take on the bosses (especially early on), you’re likely to get a bit frustrated. Some quibbles over the somewhat clunky menu, no provision for a more easily available mini map, and other nuisances can creep in at times but there’s no doubt that this is a high-quality adventure that’s challenging, inventive, and rewarding.

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space [Skunkape Games] - Oh, Sam & Max, I simply can’t resist your weirdo humor, references, and charm. Once again the dysfunctional duo have been unleashed on the Switch to do what they do best: rapid-fire tell jokes about everything and everyone in sight (not all of them hit, but I’ll give them credit for a strong batting average nonetheless), make trouble, and consistently deliver new unexpected scenarios and weirdness. Moreso than even their last set of adventures on Switch the five chapters included here, opening with a confrontation with an unruly Santa mind you, change things up and put them in scenarios ripe with potential for silliness and their trademark hijinks. Certainly there are times where the controls aren’t as ideal using a controller as they would have been with a mouse, and there are puzzles that may involve some funky logic, but the enjoyment is really all about the ride and the tremendously funny dialogue along the way. If you’re in need of a good laugh and don’t mind checking everything in a room just to see what dialogue it may prompt this is a title that will reward your diligence consistently and with a fair amount of amusement.

There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension [Draw Me A Pixel] - OK, so typically when you see games coming over in some form from the mobile space I tend to put on my skeptic hat and play “Did we really need this on a dedicated gaming console?” In the case of Wrong Dimension, though, I’ll skip right to the chase and bluntly tell you: YES! Dripping with creativity, humor, and often unexpected and unorthodox solutions to problems (OK, so you may need to make use of the in-game hint system or a FAQ in some cases when you get stuck), this is probably one of the most weirdly inventive titles I’ve played in a while. Across a few very different chapters you’ll often be at odds with the narrator, circumventing his attempts to hold you back and convince you that the title’s statement is true. There’s obvious love but valid mocking humor here for classic adventure games, a beloved Nintendo series featuring a certain warrior in time, and everyone’s not favorite, free-to-play games… and on the whole the jokes (including a few running gags) are amusing fun. While you’re able to play using the controller in docked mode it isn’t much surprise that the best way to enjoy it is in handheld mode with the touchscreen. If you’re in the mood to laugh and work through some very unique puzzles this is absolutely a title you should be checking out!

The Swords of Ditto - Mormo's Curse [One Bit Beyond] - While when I got the chance to play The Swords of Ditto at PAX East I was impressed by its visuals and weird weapons, I didn’t get enough time with it to appreciate how terrific the overall experience was. Based on what I understand Switch owners got a bit lucky as the game with the expansion seems to be an improvement on all fronts in terms of accessibility and variety, giving us the best experience right out of the gate. While the DNA of Zelda games is obviously present, Ditto is thoroughly its own game, standing apart from that series not only visually but with plenty of its own ideas as well. If you’re looking for a world to explore full of discovery, some unusual characters, and plenty of surprises it’s easy to recommend, just be patient with it as you’re getting started.

Hyper Light Drifter [Heart Machine] - The indie darling from the PC space has finally come to Switch full of its challenging dashing and slashing. You'll need to carefully choose where you decide to go, and if things don't seem to be panning out too well in one direction you should try another, as some paths are more challenging than others. Filled out with some difficult boss fights and ability upgrades that require making some tough choices of what you'll want to invest in it's an engaging experience all around.

Pool Panic [Rekim] - This was hands down my favorite title I'd never really heard about that I got to check out at PAX East. Thoroughly weird, consistently creative, and with terrific small but charming details and touches everywhere Pool Panic is a game that actively defies easy description. It's a mix of action, adventure, puzzles, and geometry I can easily say I've never experienced before and to top it all off that sets the stage for some unique and fun competitive local multiplayer to boot. I simply love this game and it was one I absolutely had to finish.

Yoku's Island Express [Villa Gorilla] - All I had to do was hear the words "pinball adventure" and my ears instantly perked up. What, again, could have been a pretty easy and by-the-numbers title thrown out to grab the attention of classic pinball fans like myself turned out to be so much more though. Yoku's Island Express is creative, quirky, challenging, and consistently surprising throughout its runtime, and put a smile on my face pretty much the entire time I played it. Throw in the fact that though it may not be terribly easy it's also extremely family-friendly and it's a title that absolutely feels at home on the Switch.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure [ustwo] - It’s weird how at times in certain genres when it rains, it pours, and exploration-based discovery titles are currently out in force. Alba may not be a very long or meaty game, but its wholesome characters, super-chill wandering and discovering, and even inclusion of the element of getting great snaps of the local wildlife at least makes it a joy. Feeling incredibly well-suited to the Switch, a joy whether in handheld mode or docked, I appreciate its slightly more distinctive sense of style and tone even among its other laid back contemporaries. If you’re looking for something to take a few hours to enjoy, simply taking in nature and a bit of wonder along the way, this is a great option for you on the eShop.

Bladed Fury [NExT Studios] - While side-scrolling slashers have been around for quite some time, and tend to show up in some abundance, I’ve more often than not been disappointed by them historically. Too often settling in too early with locked-in attacks and combos and facing too many enemies that work as decent fodder but fail to really satisfy, setting up and experience that sucks you in and then keeps you engaged is obviously a challenge. Enter Bladed Fury, a very stylized and sexy slasher visually, but also one with a well-told story, a strong set of core moves, and enough variety in enemies and upgrades to remain engaging throughout… though it does feel like it ends a bit quicker than it could. While mechanically the timing and feel of some attacks can take time to learn, and this can make countering some enemies and their attacks tricky, in the end it feels fair and helps compel you to hone your skills rather than just mash away at buttons. If you’re up for a pretty decent challenge, some great visuals, and love to mix things up and make things bloody this is a great choice.

Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure [Stuck In Attic] - I’m pretty much always a sucker for the classic noir detective style, and when a game instead chooses to skewer it a bit with humor as well it tends to make me laugh. This point-and-click style adventure is very much in the vein of the classics from the likes of LucasArts, though as always that comes with some baggage in the form of some puzzle moments that will make you seriously consider hitting an online walkthrough. The key here though is definitely the humor that comes through in some clever dialogue and some truly odd situations, and that’s backed up by what’s generally terrific hand-drawn art. If you’re an adventure fan, this title should be satisfying.

Greak: Memories of Azur [Navegante Entertainment] - When you’re this far into a system’s lifespan, making a splash with a game that not only has a distinctive look but that’s in a way that still feels fresh can take some work. I’d seen Greak last year at PAX with an early-ish build and already there was no question that a great look was already established but in my time I was only able to see the potential in the character-swapping mechanics. I’m happy to say that on release the final version works nicely, still possessing a great simple-but-attractive look, smart puzzle elements with each character having their own feel and usefulness, and even relatively simple but satisfying platforming and combat to work as the connective tissue between everything. While I wouldn’t put it at the very top tier within the overall puzzle platforming genre, I’d say there are some better stories told or titles with more diverse and compelling action, I do have to tip my hat to it being a well-made and engaging title genre fans absolutely should check out.

Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut [Clifftop Games] - While there have been a great number of LucasArts-esque point-and-click adventure titles on Switch, not all of them have been created equal. While many get the pixel art, quirky dialogue choices, and unorthodox use of items to solve puzzle elements right, it turns out a form of gameplay created on a platform that uses a precision pointing device hasn’t always translated well into using console controls. Among its achievements, I’d actually consider this to be Kathy Rain’s greatest strength, its method of letting you move around and then select highlighted elements to interact with relative to where you’re standing both intuitive and generally effective. Add on a fair amount of attitude, an interesting story, and what are generally sensible puzzle solutions (though you’ll undoubtedly resort to trial and error eventually, most of the time the space you’re working in at least keeps it contained) and this is a definite one to consider for classic adventure fans.

Lamentum [Obscure Tales] - I’m sad to say that more often than not, on the Switch, games pushing “horror” in some way have struggled and failed in the department of delivering compelling play. Creepy? Yeah, to a degree in some cases. Able to deliver a few jump scares? Sure, though many times you can see them coming, which can make them less effective. The thing is, far too many lean too hard on those elements justifying you playing the game rather than having them accentuate what’s already an interesting or compelling experience to begin with. Lamentum, with its simple start of you getting involved with a mysterious man in the hopes of saving your wife from a terrible disease, does a good job of setting the initial hook and then slowly but surely revealing itself bit by bit as things continue to devolve and go wrong. With its pixel art presentation the tendency is more towards establishing an ambiance and a creeping sense of dread than visceral scares, but the somewhat adventure-esque nature of play serves as a great glue to keep you exploring and periodically getting a little jump here and there. While perhaps not enough to make you afraid to play it in the dark, the grim and gothic tone of Lamentum at least helps it stand out early as we approach the Halloween season.

Life is Strange: True Colors [Deck Nine Games] - While there are many excellent story-driven titles in the Switch eShop, the tendency is more usually on grand tales or bold accomplishments than fleshed out characters that feel authentic. True Colors still has a compelling story to tell but what struck me most about it was a weird feeling of authenticity to the key characters. Just something in the way they interact feels far less stiff and simplistic than the norm, and often the choices I’d have for responses to situations would feel sensible within the context of the current circumstances and characters. Certainly the discovery and exploration around your character’s powers and then the process of trying to resolve the game’s central mystery in this humble Colorado town are compelling, but without the depth of the characters being there I don’t think the whole package would work as well. I’ve seen plenty of people bemoaning how the game’s gorgeous visuals have had to be compromised on the Switch, and I suppose since this is a full-priced game if you have the option of playing it on another platform (and you don’t mind the lack of the convenience of portability) that would be a reasonable choice. That said, it’s still visually striking and the character models generally look great, so take those complaints with a grain of salt.

Little Nightmares 2 [Tarsier Studios] - Having missed out on the original, though certainly having heard its praises, I walked into Little Nightmares 2 with next to no pre-knowledge aside from knowing to expect a creepy tone. Without the ability to contrast it against the original I can’t speak to how it holds up, but what I will say is that, on the whole, it is a well-crafted and very atmospheric action adventure with a spirit in line with classic cinematic adventures that I love. While there’s no dialogue you easily get a sense of the situation given the dark and ominous look of your surroundings and the pretty evil enemies you’ll encounter. You’ll spend the majority of your time either exploring or trying to elude capture or death, and that will require a mix of being stealthy, some problem-solving, and a bit of periodic violence as well. While it may not have the same clever narrative hook the likes of a title like Inside and others this is a well-crafted and quite gorgeous title that performs quite well on Switch and will engross you over its handful of hours.

Sumire [GameTomo] - Though I love running and gunning and high-intensity games there’s no denying that games with a compelling and heart-felt story are capable of leaving a serious mark as well. Sumire, with you playing as a young girl who has recently lost her grandmother and is hoping to connect with her spirit, is one such compelling title. In her journey of only one day she’ll interact with a variety of characters and be given choices, most of which will carry a serious consequence in how things play out by day’s end so you’ll need to be mindful in how you choose. With terrific and colorful art, a great mix of the grounded real and the fantastic, and a meaningful story to tell, Sumire is a memorable experience story lovers should be sure to enjoy on Switch.

Wytchwood [Alientrap] - When I think of games that heavily involve crafting my mind usually goes to survival titles, a genre I’ve struggled with though there have been some exceptions to the rule. I can appreciate where the appeal is, but there’s typically some onerous element, typically either in inventory management, too many dull or menial recipes, or there simply being too many means to meet your demise. Wytchwood, to me, is a bit of an anomaly, blending together satisfying crafting, plenty of exploration and discovery, a satisfyingly coherent set of management screens, and what turns out to be a pretty compelling story as well. I suppose best categorized as an adventure, you’ll find there are plenty of unusual people to meet, problems to solve, and mysteries involving yourself to unravel. What I really appreciate is that it does all of this in a way that feels highly accessible, focused, and light. Without any real peers that I can think of on the system this is an excellent mix of flavors that I hope a broad audience is able to enjoy.

Chicken Police: Paint It Red [HandyGames] - While it has been a pretty long time since the genre was even remotely in style I’ve always been a fan of the hard-boiled noir detective story. The visual style, the mandatory tone of the narrator, dated terms like “dames”, and a certain verbosity to the lush description of every element of the story. Well, Chicken Police delivers precisely that world… but with all of the characters being anthropomorphized animals from all over the spectrum. Yeah, there’s something a bit silly about that, and there’s plenty of punnery in the game that is happy to help play with that fact, but the thing is the core noir experience is still there, feels authentic, and is quite entertaining for its novelty. The challenge here is often trying to figure out what to focus on in order to reveal your next lead and advance the story, you’ll need to be careful in your dialogue and pore over your notes looking for clues to help drive your line of questions in the right direction. While this won’t likely appeal to anyone looking for some action, this is still a classic adventure title at its heart, the abundance of style and personality of Chicken Police helps to distinguish it as not just another “poultry” (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) offering in the eShop.

Helheim Hassle [Perfectly Paranormal] - Where weird games are concerned I may be one of the subgenre’s biggest fans. Granted, the style of play in them varies wildly but if you’re bringing some laughs, plenty of WTF moments, and gameplay that deviates from the norm I’m typically down for it. Helheim Hassle really nails all of those critical areas with gusto, and the result is one of the most bizarre and creative action platformers I’ve ever played. You see, the hook in the game is that your character Bjørn is able to remove his limbs and as you gain the ability to completely disassemble yourself the weirdness and unique challenges of reconfiguring your various body parts to gain different benefits becomes clear. However, it isn’t just the silliness of moving around as two arms and a head or any number of other combinations that works, it’s the planning and execution behind the puzzles that will test you with the need to pick the right limbs for the right reasons. You may need to trigger a lever that’s hidden away but you’ll need to trigger a platform, make a quick jump, be able to talk to someone, and then be sure once you get there that you still have an arm to work with. Doing that can actually get to be a bit of an undertaking in places and experimentation is definitely the key to success. Pair those smart and creative mechanics with an absolutely bizarre sense of humor, and legitimately funny characters and dialogue I’d say are only rivaled by the likes of the (former) folks at Zoink Games, and you have one of my favorite games of a year where a good laugh is very much appreciated.

Jenny LeClu: Detectivu [Mografi] - One of the more overall neglected flavors on the Switch has been single-player experiences I would consider to be both appropriate for people of all ages as well as accessible. In addition, while female leads have become far more common in the past decade young women are generally more neglected. Enter the bright, quick-witted, and sassy Jenny LeClue, a young detective who it seems can turn just about any situation into an opportunity to investigate. The conceit of the story is that she’s a literary character who has had her time in the limelight but whose author is being pressured to do something radical with, in order to boost flagging interest. What follows is a wonderful, and sometimes unpredictable, adventure that you’ll have periodic opportunities to at least influence a little while solving a variety of puzzles. It’s smart, has a terrific lead character, and should be a good time for all ages.

Roki [Polygon Treehouse] - When you’re young your imagination can truly be a powerful (and sometimes scary) thing. Being fed by your parents, the media, or your friends it can be unusual what you can not only believe but also conceive around you. In the case of Röki it just so happens that the legendary stories and creatures young Tove’s mother had told her happen to be real. After an initial encounter with a huge troll she’s forced to abandon her father in order to make an escape with her younger brother. What follows is an adventure that explores the gorgeous and distinctly-drawn Nodic landscape as well as quite a number of its mythical creatures, both good and not so much. In general the puzzles here feel sensible, requiring some experimentation at times, but never really moving into the trap of being obtuse like many adventure titles struggle with. What really drives the game though is the emotional experience, seeing it all through Tove’s eyes as she struggles with the challenges around her. It’s well worth taking the time to enjoy for anyone looking for a genuine and unique story.

Skellboy [Umaiki Games] - When it comes to action adventure titles it is no doubt a challenge to do something that somehow feels fresh and new. With an ability to switch out your body parts to take on new abilities, sometimes paired with some humorous circumstances, Skellboy at a minimum manages to have elements that are all its own. Granted, the exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat tend more towards the traditional, but since these areas are all handled well that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the pre-release version of the game has some stutters and pauses on area transitions a forthcoming patch has that issue in its sights so hopefully they’ll soon be a non-issue, though thankfully even when I ran into the issue it never managed to interfere with the action. Overall, while Skellboy may skew more towards a family-friendly degree of challenge than some may be looking for it’s a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. I wish the body part changing dynamics had been explored a bit more thoroughly, making for some tougher or more creative choices of combinations to shake things up a bit further, but regardless this is an easy title to recommend to anyone looking for a fun adventure just about anyone can enjoy.

Wildfire [Sneaky Bastards] - Stealth-oriented games have never typically made for my favorite experiences but there are times when the mechanic is either used wisely or it’s merely an option you have in approach. In the case of Wildfire there’s no doubt that biding time and sneaking around can be essential to survival, but it’s also a side-scrolling puzzle platformer that puts some fun powers at your disposal, allowing you to be a real bastard on the offensive as well. You’ll play as a simple villager who it turns out has a special ability to wield magic, the most fun form of which is a flair for pyrotechnics. Working to liberate your fellow countrymen from capture you’ll need to move between careful sneaking and opportunistic action, sometimes very rapidly as situations tend to devolve into chaos quickly at times. You’re powerful but hardly invulnerable so you’ll need to make judicial use of your powers to maximize their effectiveness, often by carefully considering enemy movement patterns and things like high grass in the environment. You could sneak by perhaps, but wouldn’t it be fun to light it on fire as they walk through it, catching them ablaze and sending them running? For the most part it’s really up to you how you play things the majority of the time, though with level bonuses that reward certain goals you may well choose to play the level both ways as well. With a consistent flow of new abilities to experiment with and revel in Wildfire is a pretty unique puzzle platformer with a ton of flair that’s well worth a look.

Windbound [5 Lives Studios] - Starting out with an admission I’ll say that, in general, I’m not typically an automatic fan of survival games. Too often their crafting systems, to me, feel clumsy or contrived to waste your time searching for particular resources and it can bog the experience down. Where I find Windbound to be a pleasant surprise is that for whatever reason this world, and what you need to do to survive, feels relatively intuitive and even natural. You’ll struggle with scarcity in places but for the most part the challenge is in crafting your primitive weapons and materials and understanding that in order to progress you’ll need to be ambitious and use some smarts to take down native animals in order to then be able to craft better materials and so on. This makes for tense moments, to be sure, and it’s precisely those very moments when you’re facing down a hulking beast or braving a new island with potential challenges that you feel like you’re truly in a fight to survive. The mix of exploration, discovery, and fighting to survive can require some patience, experimentation, and perseverance but in general I found the payoffs along the way to be well worth it. The result I find to be somewhere between the classic Legend of Zelda Wind Waker and a survival game, and while the balance may not be for everyone I think it is a solid effort worth checking out.

Tangle Tower [SFB Games] - When there are so many point-and-click style adventures available on the Switch it pays to try to stand out. Smart puzzles, some quirky characters, and a sense of humor have pretty well become standard features so the bar has become pretty high if you want to stand out from the generally very enjoyable pack. Where Tangle Tower manages to get an edge is with well-delivered voice acting, some particularly weird characters you’ll interact with, and even some surprises in terms of puzzle variety and creativity. Throw this all together with a compelling mystery and the average puzzle fan should find plenty to enjoy over the course of a handful of hours with this one.

Night in the Woods [Infinite Fall] - Returning from a failed attempt at going to college you'll play the part of Mae, a young woman with a checkered past who returns to her home town to live with her parents. Though in terms of pure gameplay it's all pretty basic, consisting of exploring and small mini games for the most part, what's compelling here are the characters. Exploring depression, the plight of small towns in decay, and a variety of other themes Night in the Woods is a pretty unique experience with interesting characters and stories to tell.

Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King [Castle Pixel, LLC] - Perhaps a little less gaining inspiration from the classic top-down Zelda titles like Link to the Past than copying it outright, Blossom Tales is an excellent game to help hold you over until the Virtual Console arrives. Cleverly playing out as a grandfather tells his granddaughters a story about a brave hero, Lilly, the focus is on taking most of the classic Zelda weaponry and then adding some more unique items of its own if you're willing to search them out. Thoroughly satisfying for the price of admission, Blossom Tales plays like a "lost" Nintendo title.

Ittle Dew 2+ [Ludosity Interactive] - One flipside of the classic Zelda homage coin is Ittle Dew 2+, a title that has some of the same sensibilities but has much more of a style and sense of humor all its own. While there is combat action in the game it is generally less interesting (and in the overworld can be quite dangerous to your health) the puzzles are truly challenging and some will have you scratching your head a bit. In addition to the ample dungeons in the original game there is an additional world in the Switch version, providing even more great content with shadows of the Zelda formula present everywhere.

Thimbleweed Park [Terrible Toybox] - The classic LucasArts adventure games were staple PC titles always guaranteeing great laughs from their quirky characters, silly dialogue, and often-bizarre puzzles. Now some of the best minds behind those classic titles have come back to the table with Thimbleweed Park, hopefully exposing a new generation to their signature style and sense of humor. While the pace is a bit slower than people are likely used to the Switch's touchscreen makes it an ideal platform for playing these games quickly and effectively. Thimbleweed Park is a terrific reminder of how well humor can work in games.

El Hijo [Honig Studios] - Stealth games, in general, usually aren’t my bag for whatever reason but while El Hijo heavily involves that mechanic there’s enough charm and variety that it works for me. Initially trying to escape from the monastery he’s been dropped off at and then in search of the people who wronged his family there’s not a lot of story but it’s easy to understand and relate to so that works. As you’re introduced to new spots to hide in or even move through there can be a learning curve at times so it’s critical to check out anything that looks like it has potential or you could waste time trying to get through a spot using a far tougher plan than is necessary but I also appreciate that it seems in places there’s not only 1 way to get through. It won’t be a match for everyone but its cute style and clever variety keep it enjoyable, interesting, and sometimes challenging throughout.

Epic Chef [Infinigon Games] - I’ll freely admit to having a bit of a weakness for weird and quirky games, so I’d keep that in mind with my thoughts on Epic Chef. To be clear, while I think it’s entertaining, has some great humor, and does enough to make it worth your while if you enjoy a good laugh, I’d also never claim it’s without its faults. It really gets off to a slow start, especially if you’re a farm sim veteran, and initially just getting around can be frustratingly time consuming as you get from point to point. To the game’s credit that gets addressed pretty quickly, but I’d say the game does a poor job of getting off to a strong start. The thing is, once it does manage to get into its groove with you cooking and competing for culinary dominance it has some good ideas that are generally well executed and is happy to throw some weird curveballs at you periodically to keep you amused. While perhaps a bit grindy (though it could be argued farm sims all struggle with this to some degree) and it could use some refinement in its pace up front to ensure everyone is invested to enjoy the rest, Epic Quest has a unique quality to it and delivers on its promise well enough to be worth a look, especially if you’d like to see a more light-hearted take on the farm sim genre.

Inspector Waffles [Goloso Games] - Maybe I’m just a sucker for a regular stream of puns when they’re dangled in front of me often, but having played quite a number of point-and-click adventures on Switch that started strong but then lost steam, Inspector Waffles managed to be an entertaining treat. Sure, the silly version of detective noir has been done, and plenty of cat and dog humor has been done as well even, but there’s some charm here mixed with a well-implemented interface that really works. You’ll pick up the flow of how things work pretty quickly, be asked to collect a reasonable number of items from the environment, and then work out various puzzles requiring either straight or combined use to progress… and, for the most part, in general it’s pretty smooth sailing while keeping you amused throughout. The low-res pixel style does have it suffer at times for clarity in what you may be picking up or interacting with, but as a whole this is a well-designed adventure that feels quite at home on the Switch.

King of Seas [3DClouds] - Whenever you embark on a journey while raising your Jolly Roger on the high seas, pretty well everyone out there is going to evaluate the experience against the genre-defining Sid Meier’s Pirates. I wish it didn’t have to be that way, and there’s no doubt that going back and playing that title now isn’t all that hot, but it set a crazy bar long ago and the fact is nobody has hit all of the things it did right since. Out of the gate King of Seas actually shows quite a bit of promise and captures the essence of fun seen in that classic title with solid ship-to-ship combat, plenty of incentive to explore, latitude in how you want to get your business done through trade or more violent means, and an amusing sense of humor. The problem is it doesn’t feel very ambitious to break too far beyond that, leaving it with a feeling of some potential unfulfilled. Throw in some general glitchiness and hitches from time to time and while it’s the most satisfying swashbuckler on the system, to be fair it doesn’t have much in the way of respectable competition either.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning [Kaiko] - Remasters of past games, even ones that are at least somewhat revered, can be a tricky business. Giving everything a visual overhaul but leaving the majority of the guts as they were can have a tendency to clearly demonstrate changes in tastes over time even if the resultant titles can have a more modern look and feel. This is the case of Re-Reckoning, and where you land on the spectrum from thinking it’s great and merely decent will depend a bit on your level of reverence for the original or at least on your ability to tolerate some elements that by modern standards are lacking or annoying. While the character creation, class choices, and skill trees were more impressive in their time they at least still hold up relatively well, as does the general feel of combat. The one killer, which is one you’ll deal with pretty much constantly throughout your adventure, is the lack of locking a target, which unfortunately makes some battles a chore to manage as you fight your foe and the camera in parallel trying not to lose the thread of the action. However, if you’re willing to take that issue in stride, and overlook a few quirks of lesser consequence, this remains a very playable action RPG of sorts that will entertain if you’ve been craving that sort of fix of late.

Mutazione [Die Gute Fabrik] - With an unusual art style and even more unusual characters you’ll encounter on a remote island Mutazione just feels different than most any game I’ve played. You’ll venture there in order to meet with your dying grandfather, but there are stories involving different inhabitants of the island all around you for you to discover. While I’ll admit that navigating through the island is a bit more sloppy than I would have liked, with not all paths being visually too clear and leading to some confusion, the richness of the writing will pretty easily make you forget about the bumps in the road. With plenty of heart, a creative spirit, and simply offering something different on the Switch, Mutazione stands out in the eShop for fans of interesting characters and their stories.

The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf [OSome Studio] - Whenever approaching a licensed property, especially one associated more with kids, veteran gamers are going to come to the table with a healthy amount of earned skepticism. The Smurfs, in particular, have been featured in many games through many generations over the years, but I’d say few have been notable. Mission Vileaf, for me, is a pretty refreshing break from the mold, offering up a great opportunity to explore their three-apple-high world and save the day. The family-friendly 3D platforming is broken up by reasonably simple combat and use of your ever evolving Smurfy gear, clearing the infected vegetation and dispatching corrupted critters. Difficulty is thankfully defined up-front to allow for a wider range of skill levels, and the ability for someone to join in co-op style to lend assistance makes it a terrific option for gamers in training. It may be lacking in overall complexity, and it won’t go toe to toe with the best the genre has to offer on the system, but it’s still a Smurfy good time if you’re open to the experience.

Trigger Witch [Rainbite] - OK, so I’ll admit it, games that do something weird to combine elements I know and love tend to catch me by surprise and can make me inflate my scoring to go with that feeling. While I suspect that’s the case for Trigger Witch, a game I’ll readily admit is by no means perfect, I’m still on board for the idea and the majority of its execution. Imagine a Zelda-esque top-down adventure but rather than using your sword, or perhaps sensibly magic since your character is a witch, you’ll instead be packing some heat and shooting things up twin-stick style. Since this is the first title I’ve played in this vein the novelty really works for me, though I think the next one I would tackle I’d have some higher expectations for in terms of refinement. The characters and dialogue are quirky, the shooting action may not be as intense and tough as I prefer but I found it to be fun, and I think Trigger Witch makes an excellent case for more developers to get ambitious and take on making this style of play an official thing… because I’m definitely down for more.

Unavowed [Wadjet Eye Games] - When you think of the classic point-and-click adventure title visions of classics from LucasArts with their signature sense of humor and weirdness tend to be the first to come to mind. Back in the day there was more representation than this, with adventures featuring everything from police work to medieval fantasy, but within the current indie adventur-aissance there isn’t typically oxygen for titles that don’t embrace humor. The darker and more grim nature of Unavowed is thus pretty refreshing, not necessarily lacking in humor, but certainly having it play a back seat to supernatural characters and circumstances, and sometimes some pretty disturbing circumstances you’ll need to work your way through. I will say that I find the mechanics of the interface to be a bit quirky with a controller, and perhaps it would best be played using the touchscreen but that isn’t to say it’s in any way unplayable, just that there are plenty of competitors that do it better. If you’ve been itching for something that’s a bit different and surprising, but still retains some familiar elements of a classic adventure, Unavowed should definitely be considered for your list.

Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town [imaginarylab] - The point-and-click adventure has been around since roughly forever and the sort of renaissance the genre has enjoyed over the past few years, care of indie developers, has thoroughly proven it can still have legs. Willy Morgan is a title created in the image of the old LucasArts classics, featuring a fair amount of creativity, quirk, and entertaining dialogue, but I also found it to be well-executed. The challenge, more often than not, in these games is to make puzzles unique without also making them a bit inscrutable. While opinions could vary I’d say that among its brethren I found the problems that needed solving here to be pretty smart and, for the most part, sensible… something that can be hard to say when you spend a fair amount of time hitting strategy guides to make sense of things in many other adventures. Throw in a clean and somewhat unique animation style, deviating from the classic pixel-art look, and adventure fans should consider adding Bone Town to their travel itinerary.

Journey of the Broken Circle [Lovable Hat Cult] - Who knew that an incomplete circle (who looks suspiciously like a certain gaming icon) and an oddball mix of plants and normally inanimate objects would have so much to offer in the way of philosophy? Circle, who feels incomplete, is in search of feeling whole and wants to explore the world. Along the way you’ll encounter others who may have different goals but who may be willing to join you, at least for a time, which will conveniently give you that varied abilities you’ll need to progress through what are generally pretty lenient platforming challenges. Though there are times where it gets a little more difficult I’d consider the challenge mild enough on the whole to be accessible to anyone and if you’re able to find enough hidden mushrooms along the way you’ll open further hidden levels to enjoy as well. On the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the game’s sense of humor, heart, and just enough philosophy to allow for some reflection without it feeling lecturing. It’s an unusual title, and probably too mild for the hard core crowd, but the game has a spirit that makes it notable and I appreciate its presence in the eShop.

Maid of Sker [Wales Interactive] - Survival horror may be one of the most tricky genres I’ve seen to really make a quality game in. Whether the issue is too much repetition, too thin an overall story, or too much focus on cheap jump scares over building genuine tension many more games get it all wrong rather than right. I’ll admit that there are some elements of Maid of Sker that still irk me a bit, mostly the environment being chock full of objects you can see but not interact with and even a plentiful number of objects to pick up that serve no purpose other than to rotate them and appreciate how well they were modeled. Perhaps it isn’t a fair criticism but it is a pet peeve, though I’ll admit the areas all being bare of any detail would be a worse option, I just do wish there could be a balance in the middle. Regardless, while the game does have its jump scares I feel like for the most part they’re earned and not necessarily cheap. In the beginning you’re quite unsure of what’s happening and there’s a nice build up of tension before it begins throwing the scares at you. Another strength is in level design, the areas you’ll explore feel like they strike a great balance between not being too elaborate and confusing but also not feeling like you’re always moving directly from A to B to C with no room to make choices. Throw in some unique elements like needing to clamp down your own mouth in order to not make noises (careful or you may pass out from a lack of oxygen though) and this feels like a pretty well-planned horror adventure and certainly shows more effort than the majority of its contemporaries.

Ministry of Broadcast [Homeless Unicorn] - Harkening back to earlier days with a gameplay style reminiscent of the likes of classics like Prince of Persia, Ministry of Broadcast is a throwback I can really appreciate. While that meticulous style matching up action with precision may result in quite a bit of trial and error death at times within a few attempts in general all action puzzles are conquerable and that makes figuring them out and getting it right quite rewarding. The fact that the game takes on a sort of 1984-meets-The-Running-Man approach where it comes to the story helps make the sequences flow together to a degree and can be pretty entertainingly morbid and twisted at times, further reinforcing the experience. As an English major I’ll admit that some of the in-game text can get clunky, and that made me cringe a bit, but perhaps it also adds some layer of unrefined charm for the right folks as well so it may just be me. Having played a few remade titles from that earlier era on Switch it’s also refreshing to now see modern stabs at that same style of play, and I hope to see more in this vein if they can be executed as effectively.

Nine Witches: Family Disruption [Indiesruption] - Walking into the Nine Witches experience I hadn’t seen enough about the game to know what I was in for. It turned out the answer was quite a lot of laughs, some tricky puzzles to solve in order to progress, and an element of the unexpected to boot. In the game you’ll alternate playing as the paralyzed psychic Alexei and his more able-bodied assistant Akiro. While most of the time you’ll be playing as Akiro since he’ll be the one carrying the inventory and manipulating objects, Alexei quite regularly is essential to progress with his ability to go into a trance and move about in spirit form. Whether talking to ghosts, using a sort of radar to suss out hidden object locations, or simply being able to pass through locked doors with ease it’s very important to always remember you have these abilities available to you when you’re feeling stuck, as they’re essential pretty regularly. For the most part the challenges don’t get too complex or outlandish, which is a help, but I’d say that the occasional shootout sections do feel a bit sudden at times and perhaps out of place, even if they’re thankfully rare and for the most part manageable. If your taste in adventures is more geared toward pixel-based classics with a sense of humor this does an excellent job of capturing that essence with console-geared controls which are a plus.

Oddworld: New n Tasty [Square One Games] - While the Switch has had some entries from the Oddworld series that have dabbled in a variety of styles of play, most of them at best only moderately successful, New n Tasty marks their return to the original… though thankfully in gussied up redux form. You’ll control Abe as he desperately tries to escape and share the truth (reminiscent of Soylent Green) with his brethren. Mechanically true to the original the controls take some getting used to since this isn’t a straight action platformer but instead a puzzle platformer with some movement and controls that are more like Abe’s following your commands on a broad level, perhaps even after taking a few drinks. There are places where this can absolutely be frustrating but the style harkens back to earlier times and classics like Prince of Persia or Out of This World among others so it is an understood style of control, just one that perhaps now feels more dated than ever. Regardless there’s some craft and charm in the polished look and silliness of the whole affair and it does do a good job of justifying how the original was able to start up a franchise with its weirdo charm.

Sam & Max Save the World [Skunkape Games] - I will gladly and freely admit to my bias here, ever since the original Sam & Max Hit the Road made way back when for PC I’ve been a fan of this silly animal duo. Steeped with humor thoroughly reminiscent of the glory days of point and click LucasArts adventures this Telltale continuation of their legacy is well-scripted and a wonderful love letter in general to the classic feel of the genre, though in a 3D rendered world rather than the traditional 2D pixel art style. With Sam playing the relatively straight (but undoubtedly quirky) man to the somewhat unpredictable and unrepentantly nutty Max this duo moves through the game with jokes aplenty about anything and everything they’re given the opportunity to comment on. Granted, not all of the jokes connect, some of the humor now feels a bit dated, and there’ll be people who simply don’t like them as characters but for me there’s a consistent reason to keep a smile on your face throughout the game, even if as always some of the unusual methods you’ll need to employ to get through the game’s puzzles may require some quick reading of a walkthrough for hints to keep you moving.

Aggelos [LookAtMyGame] - Rocking great 16-bit-ish looks, some great chiptune tracks, and plenty of retro gaming feels Aggelos is definitely a title classic gaming fans should adore. Rather than being a remake or a reskin of known classics it feels like a game you’ve always regretted missing out on from that era that you’ve now gotten the chance to finally enjoy. As long as you’re prepared for some of its more old school tendencies and challenges it’s an adventure well worth taking.

FAR: Lone Sails [Okomotive] - This is one of those titles where I walked into the experience not really knowing much about it, being surprised by it being something quite different, and coming away very impressed. There’s little context to understand the situation involving the world you’re trying to survive in and little direction given, your continuous focus is just on powering up your cobbled together craft to get it moving, keep it working, and figuring out how to get it past the obstacles you’ll face. Somewhat quiet, the bleak world you’re working within makes the experience somewhat meditative as you move from one station to another keeping everything working. It won’t be for everyone but it’s just a different kind of game that I really appreciate.

Milkmaid of the Milky Way [machineboy] - When it comes to adventure games, the Switch is very well (and possibly too well) represented. The good news tied to that is the fact that there are a great number of options and styles to choose from for genre fans. As many as I’ve played on the system I’m pleased to say that Milkmaid of the Milky Way simply feels a bit different. It has come over from a mobile space so it is relatively straightforward with a point and click interface and not a lot of clutter. Puzzles are creative without too often being convoluted and confusing, seeming to hit a sweet spot where you’ll need to make some leaps of faith but may not feel like you absolutely have to consult a guide periodically to avoid screaming. Throw in a budget-friendly price and the few hours this will take you makes for a satisfying bite of quirk and charm.

My Memory Of Us [Juggler Games] - Overall, this is yet another great visually-impressive puzzle adventure to add to the Switch library. The art and the narration of Patrick Stewart peppered throughout are absolutely the highlight, but there’s also an abundance of small and quirky details in the kids interactions with others that amused me as well. Despite the dire circumstances they found themselves in, their teamwork and determination saved the day and created a meaningful bond between them. If you’re looking for a new adventure that will challenge your mind and leave a lasting impression with its story, this will be a terrific fit.

Windscape [Magic Sandbox] - Though I may have felt a bit conflicted on how to score Windscape, I like its concept, most of its simple but workable design, and how much of it slows as a whole. At the same time there are sections where it drags a bit and details that don’t quite work as well as you’d hope, and these collectively add up. I’d say the more interested you are in a casual adventure that isn’t often demanding, and that you can just enjoy for the sake of the experience, the better a fit it will be for you. If you’re in search of stellar presentation and an abundance of thrills though you’ll end up being sorely disappointed. Windscape is hardly perfect, but it does enough right to be fun over a pretty impressive overall length if you’re in the right mindset for it.

Bendy and the Ink Machine [TheMeatly Games] - Since there haven’t been a ton of games in this vein on the Switch to date if you’re a fan of some scares and a sense of unease Bendy and the Ink Machine delivers nicely and should scratch that itch. The fact that it’s not bloody or over the top could work as a pro or a con depending on what you’re looking for but I like how effectively the setting and strange characters created a real sense of unease throughout. While it may not be for everyone Bendy and his friends make for a very strange and enjoyable experience.

Little Dragons Cafe [Aksys Games] - Consistent with the fact that last year's Stardew Valley isn't a game that everyone adored, Little Dragons Cafe seems to get pretty split opinions. Trying to find new recipes and ingredients will push you to explore the area around your cafe while trying to find and manage the help and making your dragon grow. Its pacing can be a bit slow and its action is more subdued but if you enjoy some relaxing gameplay it can be a very pleasant experience.

Minit [Devolver Digital] - Perhaps one of the most oddball concepts that absolutely worked well came to the Switch in the form of Minit. With only a very limited amount of time every day to go out, explore, and try to figure out what you need to do to progress it plays out quite differently than anything else you've ever played. In some spots you'll simply need to map out and keep track of which areas are where and in others you'll need to apply that knowledge to rush around and try to complete a critical task before time runs out. With a quirky sense of humor and just a very different play style it's a refreshing experience.

Wandersong [Dumb and Fat Games] - Another adventure game that takes its own path when it comes to resolving conflicts in this title you'll play as a bard who ends up using his vocal talents to try to help save the day. Colorful, creative, and full of positivity for the most part Wandersong keeps the difficulty manageable and emphasizes the joy of exploring and using music to solve a variety of puzzles.

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles [Prideful Sloth] - On a general level if you were to make a game with a spirit similar to that of the Zelda series and then remove the combat you'd have Yonder. Where some may find the lack of conflict a bit bland the emphasis on exploration, some creativity, and questing in Yonder made it refreshing to relax and simply enjoy.

Bulb Boy [Bulbware] - While it isn't a terribly long adventure Bulb Boy is a creative journey with an unusual art style that consistently challenges and entertains. You'll never quite know what to expect next and the puzzles you'll be asked to solve in his journey require a wide variety of solutions. A great weekend adventure if you're looking for something different to try out.

Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders [Nupixo Games] - While there have been quite a variety of point-and-click adventures on the Switch to date, they’ve mostly been of a more humorous nature. Detective Di changes that up pretty significantly, with more of a murder mystery tone that’s also steeped in Far East culture and set in the distant past… all making for a distinctive experience. Depending on your tastes in puzzles in terms of complexity and inventory management there could be good or bad news. It certainly doesn’t tend to waste your time (though you will need to do a bit of backtracking between areas) with loads of convoluted or even useless items laying about, but that also can make it feel a bit more linear in nature which can rob you of the satisfaction of seeing the big picture and working out some tougher challenges. Still, if you’re looking for some solid story-telling and a change of pace in your adventure gaming this is a solid option.

Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Dry Twice [CrazyBunch] - Leisure Suit Larry is a franchise I’ve been with since the very earliest days pretty much. While I missed the original, a few titles in I got looped into the series on my early PC and then went back to play the originals. Certainly at the time it was all pushing the boundaries of what you could get away with in terms of heavy innuendo and suggestive imagery but it was often quite clever. Having had attempted reboots a few times already in the last decade or so I wasn’t positive the character could work anymore, and some of the more crass efforts did nothing to dissuade me from that line of thinking. With Wet Dreams Dry Twice though I think they’ve gotten pretty close to finding a way to honor the humor and odd creativity of the original titles while being more mindful of how things have changed radically since those earlier days. Certainly this won’t be a title for everyone and there’s still an abundance of humor that could be considered inappropriate. Nonetheless, there’s also enough heart and earnestness in this attempt that I’m happy to say I found Larry’s sort of return to form (though continually made aware with how things have changed) to be refreshing, if still a bit cringe in places.

Omno [StudioInkyfox] - Omno is a bit of a challenge to review in some regards, as on a general level it’s mechanically sound and actually provides for a nice and generally low-stakes adventure. You’re not directly given much in the way of direction to start, but with a basic understanding of how a typical action-adventure works and some experimentation you’ll quickly get up to speed. Aside from the controls perhaps being a little on the loose side, lacking a crispness you’d absolutely want and need if the action were a bit more demanding, it’s a pretty carefree affair and simply thoroughly pleasant. Alas, the rub is that I’d also say that in a crowded eShop there’s not much that makes it truly memorable, as it lacks the beating heart of a great story or the adrenaline rush of action that would help it make a greater lasting impression. That said, for a relatively short, sometimes visually stunning, and enjoyable romp, it provides a solid value for the price of admission.

Retro Machina [Orbit Studio] - With a pretty cute protagonist, a generally steampunk look, and a mix of puzzles and combat that at least feel novel, Retro Machina has some things going for it. You'll play from an isometric view, moving through areas, breaking up objects for loot, getting into an occasional tussle, and then either destroying or taking control of enemy robots in order to progress. At times the puzzles can be a little tricky because of the view, with occasional issues with objects being obscured, but at least the approach is novel. Expect some left/right brain challenges in the mix as well, as you'll need to keep both yourself and the robot you're controlling moving at once, sometimes needing to avoid some peril somewhere as well. I'd say the game's biggest weakness, in general, is the combat, which feels a bit stilted and disappointing as you dodge and counter a bit sloppily. An odd choice was also tying your health to the robots you control, making the potential fun of taking one over and then mowing down the other enemies less workable, which feels like a missed opportunity for mischief. It's a reasonably good experience, it just can't quite cross over into the territory of greatness in my eyes.

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark [Spooky Doorway] - The classic point-and-click adventure Renaissance is really quite a thing to witness, and it is quirky and funny titles that The Darkside Detective that help not just to keep that spirit alive by existing, but by being a genuinely good time as well. While the overall length of time you’ll be playing may not be as extensive as in some titles, there’s something satisfying about the broken out 6 case structure… sort of breaking things down into 6 satisfying bites of maybe an hour and change or less (depending on your process and whether you savor every item’s descriptions) depending. If you miss the silly adventures of yesteryear or simply would like a good laugh (or 10) this is an easy title to recommend.

Hob [Runic Games] - In the end as critical as I’m being with Hob it’s a pretty enjoyable game, and I like it, but it’s just aggravating so see an effort with so much apparent care get held back by a collection of lesser issues that unfortunately do add up. This is by no means a bad game, it’s just one that has flaws that you should be aware of going in. It will scratch the puzzle adventure itch, and can look quite lovely along the way, just understand that some of the expectations you have for games in this genre may not be met as well as others.

Silence [Daedalic Entertainment] - On a variety of levels Silence manages to stand out from the majority of its classic adventure brethren on the Switch. While it’s not terribly long, somewhere in the handful of hours range depending on how quickly you figure everything out, its darker and more serious tone (though still having moments of levity) and approach to puzzles are both refreshingly different. That said, depending on what it is you’re looking for in your adventure both of those qualities could also be seen as negatives so your enjoyment will likely vary based on tastes. It’s very well worth giving a shot though if you’re looking for a solid fantasy story with some gorgeous visuals, high-quality voice acting, and polished production values.

The Office Quest [11Sheep] - While in some regards The Office Quest is a bit bare bones, lacking in any concrete story or character development, it compensates well by simply being weird. As with all titles in the genre frustration can, at times, set in as you try to figure out what you need to do but the relatively small areas you’ll be in helps to ensure there’s not too many options for what to do so stumbling onto solutions tends to happen at a decent pace. If you’re looking for something a bit goofy and fun, with some nice brain-teasing traditional puzzles thrown in along the way, The Office Quest can be a lot of silly fun.

Truberbrook [Merge Games] - If you’re looking for something with a bit more quirk, some initial mystery, and a load of enjoyable characters Trüberbrook has the goods. Whether you’ll consider the streamlined inventory usage method an improvement or an affront will likely play into how much you enjoy the game, personally though it didn’t always suit me I’ll acknowledge it did save me time. While the latter portion of the game doesn’t quite match up to the promise of the first half its still a nice and quirky option to have in the Switch lineup.

Valley [Blue Isle Studios] - As a total experience Valley was pretty satisfying and, overall, exceeded my expectations throughout its run time. I was pleasantly surprised by just how many ways your suit continued to be upgraded, which would then introduce some new wrinkles to play and when paired with the mildly interesting story made me want to keep going and see how it all would wrap up. There are no doubt some thrilling moments that it manages to deliver, usually when you’re speeding your way through an environment and trying to escape death. While what little combat (of sorts) there is doesn’t typically get very interesting, the emphasis of the game seems to be on accessibility to a wide audience so I can respect that. Though I think its collection elements are half-baked and the performance (especially in handheld mode) can sometimes suffer for its relatively modest asking price Valley is a very approachable title that generally feels satisfying to see through to the end.

Grim Fandango [Double Fine Productions] - Much like a very different classic released on Switch, Another World, though it can be pretty easy to see and appreciate what made the title so revered that isn’t to say some aspects of it have aged well. The interactions and humor certainly have a certain timeless quality to them but mechanically there’s no question it’s all a bit clunky now. If you’re a classic adventure fan looking to reminisce or a true Adventure genre lover who wants to take some time to appreciate a cornerstone title in the genre Grim Fandango Remastered is well worth a look but for just about everyone else it may be too aggravatingly dated to be worthwhile.

Her Majesty's SPIFFING [BillyGoat Entertainment Ltd] - Overall, Her Majesty’s SPIFFING was a pleasant surprise, full of cracking humor and some suitably absurd puzzle-solving. It may feel a bit on the short side but given its price the length is fair and I would prefer it over too soon rather than overstaying its welcome. For people searching for a game that is light, not terribly demanding, and can just be enjoyed for quite a few hours it’s pretty easy to recommend.

Iconoclasts [Joakim Sandberg] - Nobody would comment on the game without mentioning the outstanding pixel art and top shelf soundtrack. Everything has a consistent and distinctive visual style, the colors are vibrant (looking especially great in handheld mode), and the music suits the on-screen action and settings well. Moving on to the platforming everything generally feels great. Your movements are fluid, for the most part the effort to get to any areas is reasonable, and in execution everything seems to have a great feel. Most of the trickier areas involving puzzles hinge on you making smart use of a weapon or technique you have at your disposal. Even when you know what to do getting the execution to work in your favor can sometimes be a bit picky, but in general these are rewarding and provide a nice sense of accomplishment to get through.

Manual Samuel [Perfectly Paranormal] - What story there is over the handful of hours you’ll play tends to be odd as well, but the strange characters and the ever-present narrator commentating on what you’re doing (complete with celebratory hashtags for mundane achievements like taking a leak) do a good job of rewarding your continued efforts. If you can see the amusement of nearly killing yourself while simply trying to drink some water or narrowly avoiding running over little old ladies while struggling to control your car (of course complete with a manual transmission) the experience has its silly rewards. Given the likely polarizing nature of the game’s controls Manual Samuel gets a highly conditional recommendation. If you’re willing to roll with the punches, there’s definitely a unique good time to be had here, just be very aware of its intent to make controlling just about anything more challenging than you’d ever imagine.

Mulaka [Lienzo] - Taking it all in Mulaka is an attempt to do something fascinating, to use a video game as a vehicle for helping to preserve cultural history, and then manages to turn it into a compelling gaming experience. Rather than ending up being held back by using this as its base the folks at Lienzo have blended it together in a balanced way to be sure it serves all interests effectively. The result is an exploration of culture through a very competently made game. I look forward to seeing how they proceed from here after this promising start.

Old Man's Journey [Broken Rules] - I’d say the moral of Old Man’s Journey relates well in a somewhat tangential way to my thoughts on reviewing games. Your time is precious, so be sure to make the most of it and try not to give yourself things to regret. The further along in your own life and experiences you are the easier it is to recommend it wholeheartedly as its story will likely hit you quite a few ways right in the feels. The younger you are it is probably harder to justify since that shifts more responsibility to the adequate-but-not-incredble puzzle aspects of it. Old Man’s Journey fits well into the Switch library with its own distinct story to tell complemented by outstanding art and satisfying puzzles.

OPUS: Rocket of Whispers [SIGONO INC] - Overall, if you’re down for a pretty touching story of people under stress but doing their best in an admittedly horrible situation it makes for a compelling handful of hours. Any expectations of the gameplay itself being satisfying should be checked at the door, for the most part it is just exploration with the job of helping advance the narrative. Despite that fact I still found the game’s story compelling enough to see me through to the end and appreciated everything it was trying to convey.

Pinstripe [Atmos Games] - If you’re a fan of Burton-esque stylings and weird characters Pinstripe gladly offers those up over its runtime. It’s story is appropriately a bit on the dark side as well, and the characters you interact with along the way help provide the glue that helps make it all feel worthwhile. Paired with a smart mix of platforming and puzzle-solving it is a terrific bite that you could probably finish in a long afternoon or a few sittings.

Songbringer [Wizard Fu Games] - If you’ve ever wondered what a procedurally-generated roguelike Zelda could look like Songbringer takes a fair shot at it, just be warned that it can be a little rough around the edges. The option to up the stakes and play in Permadeath mode is an interesting one but should only be undertaken once you’ve taken some time to get used to how things work. Your ability to explore and get into areas that are a bit beyond your capabilities is exciting but could also make for frustration if death means having to start all over again before you’ve really gotten your feet wet. That said, it has a gift for the unexpected and you truly never know what you may encounter next.

The Darkside Detective [Spooky Doorway] - What it comes down to for a game like this is whether you’re a fan of the genre and what your expectations are for the length of the experience. I’d say that Darkside Detective isn’t the best adventure game on the system but it holds up well in the middle of the pack. The greater the breadth of your pop culture appreciation the more likely I’d say the jokes and references are to connect for you, and in general the game is riding on that understanding. It’s a worthwhile romp for genre fans who’d like a chance to enjoy 5 chapters with a reasonable length, have a few laughs, and not being quite as frustrated as with other games in the genre on the Switch.

World to the West [Rain Games] - Overall, while its pacing can and excitement can wane at times World to the West is an engaging and creative take on the top-down adventure. There are some very unique and inventive puzzles to solve, light combat sequences peppered about, and plain satisfying gameplay when it all comes together. If you’ve been looking for your next adventure fix World to the West is a trip worth taking.

Zarvot [Snowhydra LLC] - While mechanically this is a sort of shooter adventure in terms of gameplay it's the presentation and story of Zarvot that makes it entertaining. You'll play as a cube named Charcoal who, together with his friend Mustard, set out to get a great gift to cheer up their friend Red. Somewhat randomly on the way you'll face enemies you'll need to shoot it out with, some crazy weird boss battles, and all sorts of odd story beats. It's odd, charming, and for the most part gorgeous as well.

Morphite [Blowfish Studios] - Morphite is a game with high ambitions and while you can see many of the elements needed to meet them not everything gels fully almost across the board. The low-poly environments can certainly lack detail and textures but that shouldn’t mean that so much of the space you explore is barren. While some of the larger creatures are impressive they also have a tendency to clip through walls and have some other complications. Boss fights are interspersed and a nice challenge but patience mixed with even your pea shooter is usually the solution to all problems so strategic combat never really comes into play. The more you stick to the story, though shortening the experience, the more refined and finished Morphite feels. If you stray too far off the path the game makes a fine attempt to make play rewarding but unfortunately the rough edges also tend to take more definition. While it may not be fully realized if you walk in with modest expectations set and a desire for some exploration Morphite is a decent game to give a try.

Stick it to the Man! [Zoink] - With a distinctive cut-out art style, odd humor, and plenty of strange solutions to the problems you'll encounter along the way Stick it to the Man proudly does its own thing with flair. Using the powers of the "spaghetti arm" coming out of your head (accidents with top secret objects that fall out of the sky can do strange things apparently) you're able to read minds and grab stickers to then use to resolve the issues and obstacles you encounter. With some unorthodox and funny solutions to be discovered it forges a strange and humorous path all its own.

The Count Lucanor [Baroque Decay] - At the end of the day The Count Lucanor is a bit of an unexpected gem if you’re in the right mindset and are looking for something different and creepy to play at this time of year. If you want action and excitement you can just keep on looking, the game will frustrate you within the first few minutes. If, however, you like your stories weird, your imagery to include a sense of the macabre, and to have equal moments of “OMG!” and “WTF?” sprinkled into the experience you could have some fun for a little while.

Little Kite [Anate Studio] - While I typically consider games a form of entertainment for pulling your mind away from the harsher realities of life, there are those that instead dive into the ugliness with both feet that definitely have their place. With a point-and-click adventure format that’s pretty straightforward the groundwork in Little Kite is familiar and set, but the sense of loss, dread, and fear experienced by the main character, a mother of a young boy who has remarried into an abusive relationship after losing her husband to tragedy, is anything but ordinary. My one complaint would be that some of the puzzles and how progression is implemented are a little sloppy, partially not helped by you staying in the same space for quite a while discovering items that will be useful for future puzzles but adding to some confusion on what you should be doing for the moment. That aside, there’s a logic to most of them that’s refreshing and sometimes creative. Whether or not you are drawn to the game will likely hang on the subject matter and whether or not something a bit “too real” is something you’d prefer to avoid or instead embrace and understand.

Myths of Orion: Light from the North [Cateia Games] - Taking a more casual game base of a hidden object title and trying to elevate it to another level takes some guts, and that’s obviously the goal for the people behind Myths of Orion. Injecting far more story elements than the norm and adding in a layer of point-and-click adventure-type play does manage to set it apart from its brethren, though whether that would be enough to broaden its appeal may be a fair question. While I can’t fault the effort it can be a bit janky at times in its implementation both in terms of the mechanics and storytelling. However, considering its budget-friendly price the total package still feels like a pretty good deal for people looking for something with a more casual feel that has greater than typical ambitions.

Stonefly [Flight School Studio] - Over my time playing games on the Switch I’ve become a sort of connoisseur of weird games, enjoying the unexpected journeys they tend to take you on. There’s no doubt Stonefly falls into this category with its story told in a scaled-down world of people piloting bug mechs in the trees in search of a living and perhaps fortunes as well. Where the game will likely either live or die for most people will be with its control mechanics, which there’s no getting around the fact that they’re unusual and initially quite umbersome. The good news is that if you give them a chance and a little time they do grow on you to the point that you’ll get a rhythm down with combat, which typically consists of stunning your enemies and then working to push them off the edge. Slowly maintaining and upgrading your mech you’ll become a bit more formidable and versatile, and the experience of navigating your way through the foliage is absolutely different and refreshing. If you’re willing to give it a chance and show some patience it’s a fresh and enjoyable experience, just be warned that it is by no means perfect.

Metamorphosis [Ovid Works] - One thing indie titles have excelled at is providing gamers with very new, and sometimes very weird, experiences… perhaps perfectly epitomized with something like Metamorphosis. Taking a page from Kafka, while the adventure seems to start out normally enough you’ll find your character quickly transformed into a bug, with you then needing to see through your relatively short journey from a far different perspective. Having played quite a number of titles from a small scale I’ll say that much of the time I don’t find it works terribly well but in this case I was actually pretty impressed with the relative scale of everything seeming to be consistent, the action platforming puzzles being pretty well-integrated, and the general experience being appropriately surreal if a bit silly in some ways. If you’re a platforming fan and would like to play a game that shakes things up quite a bit it should be well worth checking out.

Summer In Mara [Chibig] - This is one of those titles that can be frustrating as it has so many pieces of the puzzle that work towards it being a great experience, but it can’t quite put them together in the right way. Mixing cultivation, crafting, and some exploration there’s a nucleus here reminiscent of the likes of something like the Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley, but with a greater degree of adventure as you journey out into a greater world. The issue, unfortunately, first is that no aspect of the game feels fully fleshed out. Farming is peculiar and a bit clumsy in its implementation, with there not being much room for growing things so more often than not you’ll use it as an element in some fetch quest. Fishing is present as an option but since it requires supplies you may need for other purposes generally isn’t practical to do much. If exploring the world wasn’t such an on-rails experience, and you weren’t having to spend much of your time going back and forth to grow or craft something to then come back again to progress things perhaps that aspect could have made up for those noted weaknesses but it can also be more of a chore than a joy. Throw in elements like your hunger and need to sleep that are present as concerns but serve more as an inconvenience than anything and a cohesive picture never quite comes together, even if there are many elements of the game that are charming enough that it may earn an audience.

Vera Blanc: Full Moon [Ratalaika Games] - As you may know by now if you’ve read quite a few reviews I generally find narrative games to be less-than-stellar more often than not. I’m happy to say in the case of Vera Blanc, though, there’s just enough to its odd psychic investigator on the track of a werewolf storyline to make it stand out. Reading someone’s mind is akin to a game of hangman, with you having little opportunity for error but most of the time you can lock in on the thoughts pretty well, but even if you don’t use that ability there’s room for intrigue. It plays out a bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure, with you needing to make choices on what to do or who to focus on, and bad choices will then appropriately lead to a dire ending of some kind, but the journey is at least reasonably well-written and sucks you in to try again with your mistakes in mind. I do wish there were more illustrated panels to help keep the game more visually interesting but what’s there is adequate, just a bit limited. All in all if you’re looking for a bit of a mystery with a decent overall hook Vera Blanc is worth a look though.

This list will continue to grow and be pruned as time goes on, as well as numerous other lists that try to keep track of all of the best titles the Nintendo Switch has to offer in the Indie space!