Wednesday, February 9

Top 40 / Best Indie RPG Games on Nintendo Switch


Last Updated: 2/9/22!

Stardew Valley [ConcernedApe] - Possibly one of the most successful indie games ever made by a single developer Stardew Valley is wonderfully calming and varied. After inheriting your grandfather's farm you'll need to rebuild it, whether focusing on crops, livestock, or some combination of both. If you're more inclined to spend your time fishing or hitting the mines for loot and glory you can also enjoy those tasks to keep things from getting stale. Rounded out with a pleasant collection of characters, seasonal events, and a whole lot of charm Stardew Valley is very easy to sink hours into once it gets its ""Just one more day"" hooks in you.


Dodgeball Academia [Pocket Trap] - While I’ll admit that when you mention a game with the name “dodgeball” right in the title you already have my attention, bear in mind that doesn’t make me an easy guarantee for positive feelings about the result. In fact, I’ll admit to some trepidation with this “Dodgeball RPG” and whether it would manage to make both ends of the equation well, since so many titles that try to go non-traditional routes have a tendency to get one piece of the puzzle right but come up short on the other. I’m here to reassure you that Dodgeball Academia does no such thing. It plays great as an RPG, with a ton of great and unusual characters, a number of bad guys to deal with, and some crucial decisions when it comes to equipment and where you put your focus for your pretty limited character upgrades. At the same time it plays incredibly well, indeed blowing away my expectations, when it comes to the action-oriented dodgeball play. Who’d have thought, the gameplay isn’t just engaging and full of technique… it’s also damned hard at times and you’ll need to make clever use of the strengths of each member of your team and their powerful Balltimate abilities when the chips are down. While I don’t mind a great RPG every once in a while it has been a long time since I’ve been this genuinely excited to return to one every time I load it up.


Children of Morta [Dead Mage] - While I have played (and generally enjoyed) a ton of roguelikes of all flavors on the Switch I can’t say any of them has been quite like Children of Morta. Played from a top-down perspective and with a serious dungeon crawling style it’s challenging, has an absolutely fantastic art style, and features multiple character classes to play that are each viable and have distinctive feels. The run-to-run progression, opportunities that represent risk and/or reward, and unpredictability of precisely what you may face are all on point as well but what pushes the game the extra mile for me are the quick but poignant story threads you’ll slowly encounter as you get further in. At its core this is a game with family themes and beats and for me it really amplified the connection I have to both the game and its characters. That extra degree of care is uncommon in the genre and it really elevates it to the top tier of roguelikes. If you’re down to grit your teeth a bit and eat it on one run and then find success by the skin of your teeth the next Children of Morta is a terrific example of what roguelikes are capable of in talented hands.


Tails of Iron [Odd Bug Studio] - This is a title that hit me a bit out of nowhere, took my lunch money, and is now making me earn it back one challenging battle at a time… and for the most part you can count me impressed. While I’ll admit getting started my interest was a little shaky, just because I prefer titles to get down to business a little quicker, once I was set up with my basic gear and understood the flow of combat I was fully on board. I’m not sure I can emphasize enough that if you’re not down for a challenge this may rub you the wrong way, as though there’s not much to the combat in terms of moves, the expectation is that you’re on top of every dodge, parry, and counter in order to survive. Normally I tend to turn up my nose at anyone implying “Souls-like” combat, since in most cases the challenge comes from poor or frustrating controls, but in the case of Tails I’d say it would be well applied, at least for the big battles that will tend to hold you up for a while as you perfect your strategy. Mixing together an interesting art style, a somewhat unusual story of you trying to regain your rat kingdom from frogs and other villains, and tough-as-nails combat, Tails of Iron is worth a shot if you believe yourself worthy of hard-fought glory.


SteamWorld Heist [Image & Form] - With multiple skill levels available SteamWorld Heist is a game that anyone, from a tactical strategy newbie to a grizzled veteran, should be able to enjoy. Well-designed, looking fabulous on Switch, and thoroughly engaging it offers a rewarding combination of careful planning and then execution in aiming that I can’t get enough of. Pulling off a tricky ricochet shot from across the room is such a rush, just remember that when you inadvertently end up blowing up a crewmate a little later because you didn’t plan it out well. While battles can be aggravating at times the great news is that every time you try placements and layouts will tend to vary either a little or a lot so you may have just had a bad break. If you haven’t yet checked out SteamWorld Heist you owe it to yourself to give it a shot, it is unquestionably one of the best games on the Switch.


Loop Hero [Four Quarters] - The thing I tend to love most about indie titles is their ability to surprise with remixes of gameplay elements you’ve never seen before. Sure, it can be risky business, and potentially crash and burn, but without such experiments we’d never see original titles like Loop Hero. Part RPG, part strategy, and part roguelike you won’t have an active role in the combat taking place as your hero makes their way around the ever-evolving pathway of the title. That said, you absolutely will be responsible for their success (or lack thereof) through the careful management of their inventory, the town you’ll slowly build to help support them, and shrewd placement of various tiles along the path that can both help and certainly hinder their chances for survival. The trick is that without carefully consulting a guide (which, in this case, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend) how best to approach these placements is a bit of a mystery, and for the best results will require some experimentation and perhaps some luck as well. For people who enjoy a challenge there’s simply nothing else like this on the system, and while it lacks the satisfaction you’d have if you were actively involved in combat there’s a great element of suspense every time you decide to extend your current run just a little longer, hoping your battered hero can weather the storm and bring back even more loot. It’s unusual, inventive, and absolutely worth checking out.


Unsighted [Studio Pixel Punk] - Unsighted is interesting to me, in part because at just a casual glance, or even just a very short play session, I believe people will severely underestimate its ambition and execution. Its look and play style can certainly feel familiar, but it is the sheer volume of features and surprising elements the game brings to the table that help it stand very much on its own. Mixing a sense of open-world-ish adventure (you can tackle “dungeons” in any order you wish, and even choose your own moral path), challenging and rewarding technical combat (really gotta master the parry and counter), and a ton of ways to enhance your character with perks, gear, and even accessibility options to tone down the difficulty in a variety of ways, there’s no question of the effort that has been put in to making this satisfying for everyone. Once you’re a few hours in, and your true adventure is underway, you’ll find that the phase where you’re comparing it to other titles has passed and you’ll be immersed in this distinct world which is full of surprises and challenges. It’s a wonderful surprise, simultaneously familiar but undoubtedly unique at the same time.


Crown Trick [NExT Studios] - Among the many genres and subgenres roguelikes have managed to infiltrate I can’t say that a tactical turn-based adventure-ish RPG is one I’ve run across to this point. If there can be more compelling examples along the lines of Crown Trick I’ll just say now I’m all for it. This is a title I originally saw at PAX East and left me feeling iffy about the affair. Whether that was just that the demo wasn’t structured quite right, or the time allowed didn’t really allow me to dig in I don’t know, but the more time I’ve spent with it the more it has impressed me. There’s absolutely a learning curve for understanding what makes the game tick, especially when it comes to fighting bosses. It’s amazing how survivable encounters with tough enemies can be if you’re patient, observe the environment and your opportunities there well, and make effective use of multiple spells and abilities you’re able to have at your disposal. Attack, move, set up Spell A, blink (your ability to teleport away or out of trouble), Spell B, attack, attack, move, and repeat is similar to how many of my battles played out. Elemental damage plays a huge role in things and that’s where the environment comes in. I found I tended to have my battles play out in only a subset of my environment and if I’d moved further in even more opportunities would have presented themselves so don’t hesitate to move around and see what you have at your disposal if your enemies look too formidable. Summed up Crown Trick looks fantastic, plays very smart, has a fair amount of great risk and reward opportunity, and presents a roguelike challenge that feels fresh and addictive. It’s definitely worth a look.


Indivisible [Lab Zero Games] - Probably one of the things I appreciate most in an indie game is for it to surprise me, and with its unwillingness to be constrained by a clear single genre Indivisible absolutely does that. Blending elements of a platforming adventure, an RPG, and even some Metroidvania exploration, it’s not quite like anything else I’ve played and that’s usually a good thing. Strict traditional turn-based combat tends to be dull to me so in particular it’s the pretty active combat in the game that I came to appreciate the more I played. You’ll certainly get into a consistent rhythm, working attack patterns you find most successful. But, there’s just enough strategy to what could just be a button-mashing mess to make it interesting in terms of who you attack with how, when, and then chaining into someone else. To sweeten the deal further I have to say that I really enjoyed the game’s characters, with the quality of the writing and voice acting their interactions just rang a bit more true than I typically see in an RPG. They’re still pretty traditional in their roles at the core but they have some genuine personality and that was a real driver for me to return and see where the story took things next. While genre purists may look at this as a hodge podge mutt of an experience I appreciate the mix and am hoping to see more in this vein in the future.


Pillars of Eternity [Red Cerberus] - Damn RPG lovers, the Switch has been a terrific return to Nintendo fully delivering a variety of options in this genre. Pillars of Eternity further solidifies that statement, providing a deep, satisfying, and even challenging experience depending on how you set things up. What makes it stand out is that this isn’t another JRPG, it’s a conversion of a more classic PC RPG, with a different perspective and feel, going with an isometric view and pausable real-time combat. The struggle to make the interface friendly for console moving from mouse and keyboard is real, getting the hang of navigating menus and hitting every possible screen you’ll need to manage your characters and gear can take some time. Once you settle in though it’s a very satisfying experience that should appeal to a pretty wide audience.


Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns [Infinity Plus 2] - While fans of the old school original game likely won’t even need to read this review, it’s worth noting that though some elements of this classic from the DS may be a little behind the current curve you can still easily see how it blazed a trail for the concept of a Match-3 Battle RPG genre. While perhaps the story would best be considered serviceable by RPG standards it does manage to throw a pretty wide variety of enemies and challenges at you, requiring you not only to be smart with your puzzle matching but also show some strategy in how you use the class skills you’ll acquire over the course of the game and dictated by a variety of choices you’ll make. Once you’ve unlocked all of the buildings the game has to offer you’ll have the choice to grind and acquire new skills and perks, all while changing up the puzzle formula just enough to keep things from feeling too redundant. Throw in multiple base classes that give you an incentive to play through the game multiple times with different strategies and the game offers hours of smart and satisfying strategic play for puzzle fans.


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.


Bastion [Supergiant Games] - While people with access to other systems may well have played Bastion before since it's been around for a number of years, it still is absolutely a great title that doesn't feel at all dated on the Switch. Very much an action-oriented RPG similar to a classic like Secret of Mana, in Bastion you'll slowly accumulate a variety of weapons that you can then upgrade and customize your combat with as they each make the game play pretty differently. While the art is fantastic its the solid gameplay and the ever-present narrator, telling the game's story in real time, that make it a memorable title.


Transistor [Supergiant Games] - As the follow-up to Bastion, Transistor has some of the same base elements as an action-oriented RPG but they're very different games with very different play styles. In Transistor you'll gain enhancements you can then manage and combine in a variety of ways to produce very different effects. The ability to stop time and plot out the attacks that you'll then execute also gives the game a far more tactical feel to help differentiate it. Also featuring terrific art, it is this time paired with some exceptional music to complement the on-screen action.


Black Book [Morteshka] - Whenever you see new titles show up in a genre that seems to be currently having its moment you end up taking a moment to see what it has done to differentiate itself from the pack. In the case of Black Book it doesn’t take too much effort to see how it is determined not to be considered an also-ran in the deckbuilding pack as it taps pretty heavily into Slavic lore while telling its story of your character as a young witch, finding her way as she learns to tap into the dark powers at her command in order to be reunited with her lost husband-to-be. There’s a bit of a learning curve simply getting into some of the language of it, and understanding how best to use the cards you accumulate in battle, but for me the combat was what you’d somewhat come to expect but I found the story and characters themselves to be pretty fascinating. It may be a little over-encumbered with things to concern yourself with, managing various demons and who they terrorize rather than turning their ire towards you may have been a game system that wasn’t needed, but I’ll credit it with adding flavor to the whole endeavor. If you’re seeking something different with much darker twinges in its storytelling than you’d normally find, this will deliver.


The Outer Worlds [Obsidian Entertainment] - Before fully getting into why I think this is an excellent title, and a breath of fresh air I’ve been needing on Switch, we’ll get to the elephant in the room. I have no doubts that like many titles at this degree of polish and high quality that playing it on Switch is the least optimum experience, and perhaps if you have the opportunity to play it elsewhere (assuming portability isn’t primarily what you’re looking for), that would be a better bet. There are absolutely signs of visual quirks and stutters you’ll run into but they didn’t make me enjoy the game less so we’re moving on. One of the series I’ve been aching for on Switch is Fallout. Both 3 and New Vegas are some of my favorite games from PC and after seeing Skyrim work so admirably on Switch it seemed like it would have happened. In lieu of them coming to the platform my desire for their experience has been quite fully sated by The Outer Worlds though. Better yet, while the gameplay is very reminiscent of that series (explore, build your stats in whatever direction you like, slow the action down to maximize your effectiveness) what then sets The Outer World Apart is its tone, world, and writing. Certainly removing the post-Apocalyptic world from the formula makes things a bit lighter but there’s genuine humor and a well-formed set of characters to interact with here that feel special and a bit next-level over what Bethesda has typically delivered. The Switch is by no means the ideal way to experience this title, and though convenient handheld play makes further compromises, but to ignore how well-made and enjoyable this title is through only that lens does this title a great disservice.


Cardpocalypse [Gambrinous] - While deck building and battling games were never something I got into physically, I’ll admit that in the digital space they’ve managed to get me pretty hooked. While we’re still somehow waiting on the well-known Hearthstone to make its way to Switch (I hope), with smart titles like Cardpocalypse available it hasn’t been too painful to wait. What makes the title notable is the schoolyard RPG aspect of it, where you’ll play the new kid in town trying to make friends and build a solid deck along the way. If you’re just looking to get down to business you’ll have the option to do that as well to a degree, but the joy here is in navigating Jess through the travails of Elementary School clique politics with some smart deck building and opportunities for customization along the way.


Battle Chasers: Nightwar [Airship Syndicate Entertainment] - While this RPG is turn-based and has more of a classic JRPG feel to it, there's no question that its comic book art inspired look and style are thoroughly Western. You'll need to choose which party members work best for you as you level them up and make them more powerful. The visuals easily help it to stand out as the game has a great sense of flair to keep the journey engaging and exciting.


Moonlighter [11 bit studios] - One part Zelda-esque combat and dungeon exploration and another part shop simulator Moonlighter is a title that looks great and plays in a truly unique way. By night you'll go into dungeons in search of adventure and loot that you'll then need to carefully price to sell for the best price possible in your shop by day. You can then use your money to improve your shop, attract new vendors to town (including a blacksmith and armorer you'll very much need), and upgrade your gear to let you take on progressively tougher challenges.


Golf Story [SideBar Games] - While perhaps the hype train for Golf Story got a little too far ahead of itself pre-launch Golf Story still ended up being a very charming and somewhat goofy RPG. While its golf mechanics aren't quite up to the standards of the best the Mario Golf series had to offer they do a fine job of giving you the control you'll need to conquer the game's diverse set of courses. Not surprisingly most problems here are solved with your clubs generally but some of the more creative and silly sequences try to keep it from getting too repetitive and predictable. A thoroughly enjoyable RPG all around.


Archvale [Idoz, idoz & phops] - This is just one of those titles that’s hard to describe in a way that gives it justice, a sort of retro-looking twin-stick slasher/shooter adventure that has some RPG elements, and will involve you needing to periodically do some intense dodging. See, I told you it was tough, I think it’s one of those games that’s easier to describe simply watching it. Your gear is vital to your success, whether purchased or crafted, and the meandering layout of the map will definitely have you regularly warping back and forth between points as you go since it isn’t unusual to find yourself heavily outclassed at the end of a given path or within a dungeon. At times I do wish the game did a better job at providing some guidance, as early on I found myself wondering what I was supposed to be doing or where I was supposed to go, but once you accept there’s not going to be much direction you just roll with it. While perhaps the experience could use some polish to bring it all together a bit more, the reasonably-low price of admission does fit well with its no-frills approach, delivering satisfying twin-stick combat where you can use some pretty diverse and powerful weapons, and generally maintaining a tough-but-fair degree of challenge throughout. A nice change of pace and bit of fun marrying some classic adventure elements with more rigorous and intense shooter-like combat.


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.


Kitaria Fables [Twin Hearts] - Family-friendly action adventure titles have a fair amount of representation on the system, but with its cute characters and pretty basic overall controls, Kitaria Fables manages to pretty easily establish itself as a great option. While the story, for the most part, runs along familiar lines, keeping it simple seems to work nicely for the title, giving you reasons to keep moving around to discover new areas and challenges, but also never bogging things down. A dash of crafting and cultivation help to add some meat to the game’s bones once you get rolling, and some weapon choices help to give you some nice combat options to work with as you face a variety of foes. Further, throw in the ability to play along with someone else co-op style and it positions itself very nicely for a parent or older sibling to play along with a less experienced gamer-in-training as well. While by no means as polished or deep as the top-tier titles in the genre the general accessibility, friendly characters and tone, and plain cute charm or Fables should be perfect for people who just want to just take their time and enjoy themselves, no matter what their age.


CrossCode [Radical Fish Games] - Where CrossCode excels is in its scope and ambition. The game world is large, relatively varied, and absolutely crawling with people moving around (the game world is set in an MMO so this makes perfect sense) so it all feels pretty alive. Combat is roughly in the middle of the road, certainly delivering on some intensity and the option to focus on ranged or melee combat, but on the whole lacking in real variety even as you play with your Circuit points and try different builds. Puzzles are also a mix of good and bad, and in effect they’re everywhere. The ones involving crystals you’ll need to hit are smart and a bit reminiscent of Zelda, so those are generally positive. Less endearing are any that involve making jumps between platforms of different heights. It being a 2D game and there being a very poor sense of depth in many cases these segments, more often than not, felt like a real waste of time as too often you’ll need to work them out by trial and error since visually things can be ambiguous at best. When it comes to the economy, equipment, and trading, honestly the less I say the better because truly it is an over-cumbersome hot mess and a waste of time. Going from vendor to vendor to convert A and B to C, which you can then combine with F from combining D and E from another vendor, to finally create G… it quickly gets annoying. The sheer volume of quests you can go on, but that generally aren’t in any way distinct or interesting aside from kill this or get that (with very little veneer of purpose to go along with them), also fall a bit into the “kitchen sink” category for me. If your goal is to get the most game out of your investment, CrossCode absolutely delivers in that regard, but I’d say the more people hold it up against the 16-bit classics it was obviously inspired by the worse it plays out by comparison.


Nexomon: Extinction [VEWO Interactive In] - While there have been a few stabs at taking on Game Freak and the Big N’s mega-franchise they’ve tended to be at the higher-dollar level with other big companies trying to jumpstart their own franchises-to-be with visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads. I’d say some have fared better than others in that space but none has had anywhere near the sheer longevity of Pokemon. Finally, with Nexomon: Extinction, we’re seeing an upstart indie take it on and deliver it to market at a very modest $20 price point. How does it stack up? Well, if you’re expecting the bells and whistles to make it more akin to the current generation games you’ll find it lacking, but if perhaps you’re a lapsed fan who has walked away for a few years or just prefer the classic era of Poke-titles I’d say you’re in for a real treat. Granted, there’s no mistaking the degree the overall concept, progression, and feel of the combat are heavily borrowed but to its credit Nexomon at least flexes its muscles in enough places that it distinguishes itself. In particular I really enjoyed the curveballs in the story, the often highly self-aware sense of humor, and just the general flow and feel of the dialogue that makes up the connective tissue between battling, capturing, and cultivating your team. If you’ve ever been a Poke-fan or perhaps were always nervous to spend the cash to take the plunge for the first time, Nexomon is a satisfying and well-made indie-fied version of the franchise that’s worth checking out.


Rune Factory 4 Special [Neverland] - With a bit of a window remaining until the release of Animal Crossing, if you’ve been looking for something relaxing and structured to occupy your attention you’ll be in luck with Rune Factory. This more fantasy-inspired spin-off Harvest Moon series certainly has an unusual premise, with you literally falling into acting as a Prince and put in charge of a small town and its people. Through taking on errands, planting and cultivating your fields, tackling combat to ward off different threats, and more, you’ll gain new opportunities to enhance your character, encourage more tourists to come to your town, and develop relationships with your citizens. As with all titles of this kind the core experiences tend to get repetitive but that doesn’t detract from them being enjoyable and relaxing all the same. If you’re a fan of the likes of Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing but have never dipped your toe into this series it seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.


Tower of Time [Event Horizon Software] - Genre-blending is one of the things I appreciate most in the indie space, at least when it is well-executed. In the RPG space there have been multiple takes on turn-based tactical action, many with traditional strictly-defined grid and some allowing for more freeform movement around the field. I’m not sure any have set themselves up quite like Tower of Time though, taking on more of a straight-up RTS feel in many ways. If you’re a strategy fan this will likely be a huge win, and an opportunity to enjoy a better story and general structure than you’d normally get. If you’re an RPG fan hopefully you’ll like taking combat elements that can often feel stale and overdone and replace them with something that should provide a new challenge. Throw in some well-defined characters, ample rewards for taking the time to wander around an explore, and some challenging battles as you try to optimize your skills against varied foes, and it is a package with its own distinct flavor, trying to set itself apart from its competition… and finding success for better or worse depending on how traditional your tastes may be.


Cat Quest II [The Gentlebros] - Meow let me tell you about a purrfect game for fans of furry cuteness and action RPG action. While perhaps it isn’t a very radical shift from the original title it does bring more content, cat punnery, and the ability to play with a friend to the table (or at least shift between two characters who can be geared up to combat different situations). Much like the first one this is a game that revolves heavily on a stick and move strategy, with combat mostly consisting of you getting up close with melee and then dodge rolling out of the way when your enemies attack. You’re also able to work with ranged magic though and depending on the foe you face you’ll want and need to change things up. It’s a pretty light and fun experience, though a bit grindy for sure, but it should make for fun if cute action is what you’re seeking.


Masquerada - Songs and Shadows [Witching Hour Studios] - In terms of downsides I’d say there aren’t many with the primary concern being whether you’re looking for something that’s heavily story and lore-driven or not. The story is absolutely the star here, with the visual presentation, lore, and voice acting working together to deliver an experience that feels pretty fresh. That said, if you were hoping for a bit more action it’s a mixed bag, not being particularly bad but definitely taking a back seat in terms of quality to the elements of storytelling. Load times can be a nuisance, especially when you’ll sometimes move through areas that seem to serve no purpose other than to connect areas visually, but they aren’t so awful that it brings the experience down. If you’ve been seeking out an RPG that looks great but breaks away from the pack in terms of its storytelling and general feel, Masquerada is absolutely a game worth checking out.


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.


YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG [Ackkstudios] - As a whole while I found YIIK thoroughly different and quirky a fun way I can also see where those traits likely make it a love / hate proposition for people. If you’re really hoping for a more traditional experience you’ll likely be frustrated with the entire package, story, combat, and all. If, however, you have the indie spirit and appreciate experiments that may not always pan out but that are at least fresh this could really click for you as well. At least being able to somewhat relate to and understand the attitudes of some characters and the game’s approach I found it to be fun and I’d be fascinated to see what will come next from this developer having been provided feedback on this this title and running with that to try out something in a similar vein.


Darkest Dungeon [Red Hook Studios] - Fans of tough games have no doubt already heard plenty about this dark and difficult RPG experience with a roguelike unpredictable twist. In Darkest Dungeon the act of completing the dungeon doesn't simply return everyone in your party to normal, the toll of the adventure can have serious and debilitating effects on the people you're trying to work with. Try not to get too attached to anyone, while you can invest in keeping them sane you won't be able to save them all. Managing your party's sanity here can be just as challenging as the monsters in the dungeons themselves.


Super Daryl Deluxe [Dan & Gary Games] - For me there's something really funny about such an unassuming (and honestly dumb-looking) burnout of a kid looking to save the day. Sort of working as a side-scrolling action RPG you'll need to carefully choose which of Daryl's many ridiculous powers to use for success. Facing off against a menagerie of enemies that are almost as unusual as Daryl himself this is an oddball title with a ton of content that doesn't skimp on the challenge.


Disjunction [Ape Tribe Games] - Both stealth games and cyberpunk theming have been pretty popular in more recent years, and Disjunction does an admirable job of bringing together these two great tastes to make something pretty appealing, even if its stealth segments can’t quite stay fresh over its handful of hours. While the story borrows familiar elements from other narratives, whether futuristic or some classic noir tropes, the dialogue often gives you just enough room to enjoy yourself rather than merely be a passive observer. The main draw though are the missions you’ll go on, trying your best to do things quietly and cautiously, but being ready at any moment for it all to go south and getting your hands dirty. This makes for some great moments of tension, and a certain degree of observation and strategy, if you’re invested in not always having things devolve into a bloody mess as guns begin to blaze, especially since you’ll usually be outnumbered unless you’re careful. It won’t take the world by storm on any front, but it is a solid stealthy experience nonetheless.


Everhood [Foreign Gnomes] - As a huge fan of music of all kinds any games that manage to incorporate music and rhythm into the mix tend to catch my attention. Everhood is a bit of an oddball, looking and in some areas feeling like an understated quirky RPG ala Undertale but veering off on its own path with regards to its approach for battles. Rather than engage in turn-based combat or any of the expected modes Everhood will have you working your reflexes, often memory (as you try to memorize attack patterns), and your sense of rhythm as you try to jump and dodge your way through each foe’s onslaught. While you can opt to alter your skill level, really just getting more lenient as you go down by allowing you to recover health quicker, from even just the tutorial you’re going to get challenged more quickly than the normal curve, and depending on your comfort level this could be a problem discouraging players before they’ve even become invested in the story that early on. It’s absolutely unique, and that has merit, but its minimalism, early degree of difficulty, and story that pays off as you get further in but just seems odd at first make it hard to say will be for everyone.


Demon's Tier+ [COWCAT] - With indies I always find it so thoroughly satisfying when games manage to take me by surprise. What, on the surface, looked like a run-of-the-mill budget action RPG instead turned out to be more of a twin-stick shooter in many regards that has just enough roguelike elements (and fair degree of challenge) to make the grinding you’ll inevitably do to unlock better weapons/character classes/equipment worthwhile. Is it Earth-shatteringly great? No. But all the same, for a modest price I was surprised how compelled I was to return to it until I beat the game at least at the first skill level. Every once in a while the mission I’d need to complete to finish the level would feel a bit unfair, the dungeon a bit too funky in its random layout, but that does tend to come with the territory when you’re trying to keep things fresh. Overall, it’s a satisfying experience on a budget with plenty to unlock and improve your runs with in search of glory.


Heroland [FuRyu] - Full of quirky and unusual characters, and built on a somewhat unusual premise of there being a hero amusement park of sorts where people go to get their dungeon crawl on, Heroland is most definitely different. You’ll play the part of a “tour guide” of sorts, managing a party of varying tourists and general oddballs through a progression of increasingly-challenging dungeons. While the combat plays out as a traditional turn-based RPG your ability to command your group is limited on a cooldown so you’ll need to take action strategically to influence tactics or use an item but otherwise watch and hope your group can pull it together. Between battles you’ll work through an often silly story, work to cultivate friendships with your party in order to improve performance, and experiment with ways to improve your group effectiveness. While, for me, the action takes a bit too much of a backseat to dialogue early on I appreciate the fact that this has a very different feel from your typical JRPG and is worthwhile as an option because of that.


Monster Sanctuary [Moi Rai Games] - When you create a franchise as successful as the Pokemon series it’s inevitable that there will be a long line of imitators. Developers from indies all the way to publishers have taken a crack at the formula with varied success but in broad terms to this point it has been notable how little variation there has been in the bulk of attempts. Where Monster Sanctuary first and most notably succeeds is in changing just enough by moving to combining the tried-and-true monster collection and combat with a Metroidvania-esque hook to its exploration. Perhaps it’s a relatively small change, but for me it provided a different and more engaging sense of exploration to help distract from the pretty well-known grind that you’d typically associate with games in this style. Also worth noting is that once you begin to assemble your team the depth and diversity of your various creatures’ skill trees is pretty impressive and perhaps bordering on overwhelming. You can go wide with many skills to work with, narrow with fewer but more potent skills, or even hyper-focused on one particular tree to make a powerhouse in a specific area. Then, further mixing and matching your team line-up to suit the enemies you’ll face you can really be potent in combat. It by no means reinvents the genre but it shows a depth of effort to break away from what you’d typically expect to deliver a more unique experience.


Operencia: Stolen Sun [Zen Studios] - While there have been quite a number of dungeon crawler RPGs on the Switch none of them has quite convinced me to start enjoying the genre too much. Too often I end up finding them grindy and repetitive without much in the way of payoff for my investment. While many of the core mechanics in Operencia are still in that same genre mold a sense of personality and nice overall presentation really help to elevate it. I did find that the load times can be a bit long and the moving around at times could feel janky but once I got into battle or would get a chance to see my party members interact those concerns were typically pushed down since I was enjoying myself. While it may not inspire converts of people who’ve never been fans of this style of play I’d say that it’s the best example of the genre I’ve seen on the Switch to date and should please people who enjoy some old school RPG exploration and combat.


Dungeon Stars [Furnace Games] - Despite the game’s limitations and the performance hiccups I can’t deny that there’s a quality to Dungeon Stars that absolutely got me hooked. There’s nothing quite like its “simple” clicky play, that is great to play only partially engaged but that demands just enough of your attention to keep it from being pointless. Some strategic elements and variation are nice and I won’t deny it’s exciting to find a star that unlocks special dungeons that tend to have a new pet or some great loot. While it may not be a perfect game, Dungeon Stars is a great semi-casual choice that offers up a pretty unique experience even in the crowded Switch eShop.



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!