Indie developers crank out hidden gems all the time. They sit in the Nintendo online store surrounded by Mario and Zelda, so they might get overlooked. What if you want to take a break from traditional IPs and explore new worlds? As of November 2023, these Nintendo Switch digital games are download-only or have minimal physical releases. They may have been released in physical formats on other consoles.
If you want to explore the best-selling digital games not on this list, go to the “Best Sellers” section of the Shop and toggle to the “Download-Only Games” section. But for now, here are 10 recommendations for your digital indie cravings.
1. What Remains of Edith Finch
From Giant Sparrow and the famous Annapurna Interactive comes one of the most memorable and haunting first-person simulation games in history. Play as Edith and unravel the stories of a mysterious home in Washington state.
Through Edith’s eyes, you’ll experience the surreal secrets of this fantastical and decrepit home. It might be one of the most intricate and story-rich atmospheres packed into such a short gaming experience, but it is worth every penny. The complex characters and their narratives will sit with you long after you finish your journey.
The game is only available on physical if you purchase Annapurna’s entire collection.
2. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight is one of the most well-loved Metroidvania-style games on the market. It is a deceptively complex 2D platformer with countless hours of replayability. This gorgeous title is not for the faint of heart — it is notoriously difficult even though the protagonist is pretty adorable. Everything from the enemy designs to battle animations looks stunning, even in dark caverns.
Publisher Greg Lobanov gifted the world with Wandersong, which follows the journey of a charming bard in a delightfully colorful landscape. It is a puzzle adventure game with a soundtrack to make you smile. With quirky dialog and comforting graphics, it is the perfect game for those who love low-stakes journeys with gripping storytelling — with a musical edge.
4. Beacon Pines
If you aren’t a visual novel player, this might be the game that convinces you it’s worth diving into. Beacon Pines is a slightly creepy but ultimately cute story told within the pages of a storybook. Follow and play as Luka while you research what’s happening in the suspicious warehouse. Keep your eyes peeled because something mystical is afoot. Beacon Pines is made by Fellow Traveler, and it is awesome for fans of Cozy Grove and Night in the Woods.
5. Outer Wilds
There isn’t a game that will tickle your sense of exploration more than Outer Wilds. From Mobius Digital through Annapurna Interactive — yet again — you will traverse space and dive deep into mind-bending worlds. Like an archaeologist, you pilot your spaceship around an open world until environmental storytelling reveals a dark, twisted truth.
Discover what’s hidden in the universe with your little radio and puzzle-solving skills every time the solar system erupts. Did we mention you must do all this while in an infinite time loop? Try not to look up anything about this game. You’ll get the most out of it knowing as little as possible.
6. Jenny LeClue – Detectivu
Let’s solve a mystery with our protagonist, Jenny LeClue. The sharp, high-contrast art style pairs well with the atmosphere created by developer Mografi. It’s a touching story in an unsuspecting town, where you are responsible for making the choices that allow Jenny to flourish as an investigator. Learn to find the calling cards of a lie and search the background for hints to find the killer. In doing so, you’ll be helping out your mom, and isn’t that the best motivation?
For fans of Little Nightmares is INSIDE by developer Playdead. There is little overt storytelling, but you’ll gather plenty from the severe environments and dynamic soundtrack. You will walk through a watery and industrial facility only to find what lies beneath all of the fear and discomfort. We hope you have good reaction time — you’ll need it to withstand a few jumpscares and solve a few puzzles in short time frames.
8. I Am Dead
Despite the title, Hollow Ponds’s I Am Dead is not a horror game. It is more of a philosophical adventure where players journey into their thoughts about the afterlife. The story follows a museum curator who recently died and realizes there is unfinished business only he can tend to. Who knew a pair of ghosts could save an entire island from a soon-to-erupt volcano? I Am Dead is rich in mythology and puzzle-solving, leaving you contemplative even after a truly satisfying conclusion.
9. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood
Calling all witches. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood from Deconstructeam and Devolver Digital is a recent release already accruing a dedicated fanbase. You are Fortuna, and even though you are alone in your asteroid home, it doesn’t stop you from seeing the future in your tarot cards. Make friends, experience decades of storytelling, question everything, and learn more about yourself as you dig deeper into the fate of the coven.
FEZ is a visually fascinating experiment in 2D gaming. You control Gomez, who wears the game’s titular fez. Upon receiving a mysterious power, you can turn what was once 2D into a 3D world. All around these environments are pockets of magic and mystery waiting for you to find.
The player must become an expert platformer with an innate sense of curiosity. Turn the map around, walk behind walls and listen to the NPCs — they may have even more knowledge about the world than you.
The story of FEZ creator Phil Fish was featured in Indie Game: The Movie, which highlighted his story alongside others in the industry. Rumors of a sequel to this 2012 release circulated the last several years to no merit.
Underrated Nintendo Switch Digital Games to Play Now
Triple-A games have a time and place. However, sometimes you want to cozy up with an indie game. From spooky to spectacular, from heartwarming to unsettling, there is something for everyone in every genre. Try a visual novel if you typically play first-person shooters. How about a puzzle game for the explorer in you? The more you diversify your tastes, the more you support indie developers and their journeys to make even more fantastic titles for gamers worldwide.
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