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Top 10 Indie Games on the Switch eShop

I am a husband, a father, a writer, and a gamer. I love playing games and writing about them.


What Is the eShop?

The Nintendo eShop is a digital game and application service provided by Nintendo that is currently available on Nintendo 3DS/2DS, Wii U, and Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch eShop is also supported by a dedicated online infrastructure.

The eShop features things like downloadable games, playable game demos, applications, videos of available and upcoming games, and other information.

The Nintendo Switch eShop has become quite the home for indie games, games that are most often created without the financial support of a publisher, and it has really opened up the eShop to be a place where all types of gamers can find something that caters to them.

We will be looking at ten of the best indie games currently available on the Nintendo Switch eShop.


10. Cadence of Hyrule

Cadence of Hyrule is the newest entry on this list, but it truly deserves to be here. Nintendo collaborated with Brace Yourself Games, the indie team behind Crypt of the NecroDancer, to combine the Zelda universe with Crypt of the NecroDancer's rhythm-based action-adventure gameplay.

The two game worlds combine beautifully.

You play through the game initially as Link or Zelda, protagonists from The Legend of Zelda series. Combat is rhythm-based, so each step, attack, and block you make needs to sync with the rhythm of the music. All of the music is from the Zelda series, so it is easy to get wrapped up in the nostalgia.

Each new save file procedurally generates an overworld that remains the same throughout the entire game, but certain dungeons will be randomly generated each time they are visited. This allows for a lot of unique experiences as you play Cadence of Hyrule, because every new save file creates a new overworld and dungeons are always changing up.

Cadence of Hyule also provides other modes of play like "Fixed-Beat Mode," which removes the need to play to the music, and Permadeath Mode, which is a challenge that tasks the player to finish the game without dying once. There is also a Daily Challenge available to all online players to compete against each other for the best time.

Cadence of Hyrule offers a lot of content and replay value. The inclusion of The Legend of Zelda series also makes this much more accessible to casual gamers, and "Fixed-Beat Mode" will help those who lack rhythm to still enjoy the game.

Best For People Who Like

Rhythm games, action games, The Legend of Zelda


9. Enter The Gungeon

Enter The Gungeon is a bullet hell, rogue-like game developed by Dodge Roll. It is about four adventurers descending into the Gungeon to find a gun to kill their past.

Bullet hell games are ones where animated bullets are flying across the screen at any given moment, some times even filling up most of the screen. Rogue-like games are ones where the player descends through a randomly generated dungeon of sorts that normally have permadeath rules.

Enter The Gungeon combines both of these game styles into one, and it makes for a thrilling and action-packed experience. The player chooses one of four characters to descend the Gungeon, and they quickly begin to see the challenge that lies ahead. Enemies are predictable, but the volume of enemies and the number of bullets on screen is what causes panic. This is when mistakes are often made.

Learning how to dodge roll becomes essential and finding good guns and using them sparingly is necessary. Thankfully, there is a wonderful tutorial to ease you into the game and prepare you for the nightmare that lies ahead, and the inclusion of a cooperative mode helps too.

Best For People Who Like

Rogue-like games, The Binding of Isaac, guns


8. Cuphead

Cuphead entering the Switch eShop was truly a surprise, as this was a Microsoft exclusive game with no hope of releasing on a Nintendo console. Developed by StudioMDHR, Cuphead is a run and gun game where the style and animation is truly the standout.

Cuphead looks like a 1930s-era cartoon, and the development team did a fantastic job combining this art style and fun gameplay mechanics.

Cuphead is about Cuphead and his brother Mugman unfortunately losing their souls to the Devil and having to earn them back by collecting "soul contracts" from the various citizens of Inkwell Isles. It is a game of mostly boss fights with some run and gun levels sprinkled in.

Boss fights usually consist of three phases, and it takes a lot of practice and dying to learn the rhythms of the bosses and eventually take them down. The feeling of beating one of these bosses after a long and grueling session is second to none, and the boss fights are so beautifully animated that a lot of your deaths will be because of marveling at what's happening on screen.

Cuphead is a work of art, but its intense gameplay may scare many casual players. There is a Simple Mode to make it a bit more accessible, but Cuphead is for gamers who want a challenge.

Best For People Who Like

Mega Man, run and gun games, action games, Contra


7. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania action-adventure game developed by Team Cherry. Metroidvania is a term applied to games where the more the player progresses, the more accessible the map becomes.

Hollow Knight is about a bug on a quest to unwrap the secrets of the abandoned kingdom of Hallownest, a haunting place where the bravest are promised great treasures and answers to ancient mysteries.

The unique setting of Hallownest allows the player to be immersed in the world of insects. The player will encounter hostile bugs and all sorts of other creatures as they progress, and using the trusty nail sword in close-quarter combat, the player will earn money and items that will help access even more of the world.

Hollow Knight excels in its environment. The music is entrancing, Hallownest is dark and sinister, and the sounds really draw you into the world, but the combat is just as impressive. Boss fights and big enemy encounters make for exciting moments, and learning more and more about the mysteries of Hallownest will make it very difficult to put the controller down to take a break.

Best For People Who Like

Metroid/Castlevania, story, adventure games, action games


6. Baba Is You

Baba Is You is a puzzle game created by Finish developer Arvi Teikari. The game is primarily about manipulating the rules of the game in order to allow Baba, the titular character, or some other object to reach the goal.

The screen will usually present a series of words that serve as the rules for that stage. There will be moveable words that correspond to objects or obstacles, connecting words like "is" and "and", and verb tiles that can reflect the properties of objects.

A simple equation would be "BABA IS YOU", which allows you to move Baba, but if you replace "BABA" with "FLAG," then "FLAG IS YOU" becomes the new equation, meaning you aren't moving Baba anymore. You are moving the flag, which is also the goal.

Each stage presents the player with an interesting puzzle using various simple short sentences to manipulate, and it is a ton of fun to figure out.

It is one of the best and most unique puzzle games to release in years, and the ability to play this on the go makes it a perfect addition to any Switch library.

Best For People Who Like

Puzzles, brainteasers, word scrambling


5. Into the Breach

Into the Breach is a turn-based strategy game developed by Subset Games, the same company behind the wonderful real-time strategy rogue-like game FTL: Faster Than Light.

Into the Breach is a game that takes place far in the future where humanity is at odds with giant monsters known collectively as "The Vek."

Gameplay consists of the player taking control of three different mechs fighting against the Vek. The player is given an objective on each map and a fixed number of turns to complete this objective, which interestingly turns Into The Breach's turn-based strategy gameplay into a puzzle-like game as well.

The main goal for each map is to protect civilian structures. These structures are connected to the power grid which also supports the mechs. As these structures are damaged or destroyed, the power grid weakens and causes severe problems for the player.

Strategically moving around the map and taking out the Vek as quickly as possible is key. Each victory rewards the player with experience and new skills that will serve in later maps.

Imagine Into the Breach as a game of chess as opposed to a normal turn-based strategy game. It's important to maintain position and possibly even sacrifice units if that is what is necessary.

Into the Breach is a brilliant strategy game that will challenge all players, and there is a ton of replay value to keep players coming back for more.

Best For People Who Like

Turn-based strategy, Fire Emblem Tactics, puzzle-based strategy


4. Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter is a sci-fi action role-playing game developed by Heart Machine. Alex Preston, the lead developer, says that the game is a combination of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Diablo.

The story concept of the game was actually inspired by Preston's own cardiovascular disease, as the main character struggles throughout the game with an unspecified illness.

The world has often been compared to Ghibli films like Castle In The Sky and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, as we are constantly being introduced to otherworldly characters, technologically advanced yet abandoned areas, and the main character, known simply as The Drifter, who has access to this long-forgotten technology.

Gameplay consists of The Drifter exploring the North, South, East, and West areas of the world activating the various doors and modules that only The Drifter can access. Alongside his energy sword and a gun, the player will be met with many challenges, from the wide assortment of powerful enemies to the incredibly difficult bosses.

Hyper Light Drifter does an amazing job telling an engaging story without the use of words. It is a shame that Hyper Light Drifter is quite difficult, making it not so accessible for the average player. Despite that, Hyper Light Drifter is a phenomenal game with gorgeous pixel graphics, an entrancing soundtrack, perfect controls, and a fun story. I cannot recommend it enough.

Best For People Who Like

The Legend of Zelda, action games, sci-fi, strong narrative


3. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

What is there to say about Shovel Knight that hasn't already been said? It is a fantastic 2D side-scrolling platform game developed by Yacht Club Games. It's graphic and music styles take inspiration from the original NES console era, and it has been critically acclaimed and is considered one of the best and most significant indie games of all time.

The player takes control of the titular character, Shovel Knight. Like most Mega Man games, Shovel Knight progresses through by completing a boss's stage and then subsequently fighting that stage's boss. These bosses as a collective are known as the Order of No Quarter, and each stage and boss are insanely fun and unique.

Since its initial release, Shovel Knight has received two free updates adding two new campaigns; Plague of Shadows and Spectre of Torment. Yacht Club Games is planning on releasing one more major free update that will include a new campaign called King of Cards and a new multiplayer mode called Shovel Knight Showdown. The inclusion of these free updates is part of the reason why Shovel Knight is such a treasure in the indie game world. The original game was worth the price alone, but all of this additional content is such a gift and essentially raises the bar.

You can buy Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove now and receive all of the content that has been released up until this point. It is absolutely worth every penny.

Best For People Who Like

Mega Man, platform games, NES era games


2. Undertale

Undertale is a role-playing game created by Toby Fox. Fox developed the entire game on his own, including the music, which is a key feature of the game.

The player controls a young child that has fallen into the Underground, a place where monsters were banished to after war broke out between them and the humans. Two of the first characters you interact with set the tone for the entire game; Flowey, a sentient flower who teaches the player how to play the game and eventually tries to fight the child, and Toriel, a motherly goat monster that teaches the child how to solve problems and survive battles in the Underground without killing.

This feature changes Undertale from a standard role-playing game to one of critical choice. I can either defeat my enemies and continue moving on, or I can apply Toriel's teaching and try to progress without defeating any enemies.

The player must decide how they want to play the game moving forward. Do they avoid all conflict? Do they fight everyone? Do they choose wisely who to fight and who not to fight? Undertale becomes a game of critical decision-making instead of simply moving through the story.

It is a wonderful tale of the relationship between humans and monsters, and the ability to fight or not fight any monster in the game creates for interesting scenarios throughout the story. If you have never played Undertale before, do yourself a favor and play it right now. You will not regret it.

Best For People Who Like

Role-playing games, the Mother/Earthbound series, strong narrative


1. Celeste

Celeste is a platforming game developed by Matt Makes Games, and it is arguably one of the best and most unique platform games released in the last decade.

Celeste follows a girl named Madeline and her attempt to climb Mount Celeste. Madeline struggles with doubt, anxiety, and failure, and these three raw emotions are revisited throughout the process of the game.

Celeste isn't simply a platforming game. It's a strong social and psychological commentary about personal struggles, and the way that the game communicates all of this is absolutely brilliant.

Celeste is a platforming game in the same vein as Super Meat Boy, but what makes Celeste stand out among a crowd of indie platformers is its bold storytelling. It doesn't shy away from talking about a sensitive topic, and the way it communicates the struggles through the actual gameplay is what sets it apart from the rest.

Like Shovel Knight, Celeste's development team have been treating players with awesome free content. Although the last piece of content, The Core, did not expand so much on the narrative, it still told an interesting story and provided a great challenge.

Fantastic platforming, brilliant storytelling, and an amazing all-around experience make Celeste the absolute must-have indie game on the Nintendo Switch. It is an absolute blessing to gamers.

Best For People Who Like

Platforming games, Super Meat Boy, strong narrative, powerful commentary


Explore a World of Indie Games

The Nintendo Switch eShop is loaded with some wonderful indie games. Although I only talked about ten, I cannot recommend enough to search for more and expand your horizon.

Games that did not make the list like Dead Cells, Katana Zero, Downwell, Duck Game, Oxenfree, Night In The Woods, Steamworld Dig 1&2, The Messenger, The End Is Nigh, Owlboy, Battle Chef Brigade, Overcooked 1&2, Stardew Valley, Golf Story, Rocket League, and many, many others are all incredible in their own ways.

The Nintendo Switch is the perfect place to experience such a wide array of indie games, so try out a few and give some indies a home on your Switch today.

© 2019 Jason Reid Capp


Jason Reid Capp (author) from Myrtle Beach, SC USA on July 08, 2019:


Thank you very much for the compliment! "Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime" is definitely an awesome indie game. Since I primarily play indie game over AAA titles, my indie library across PC and my consoles is insane, which made making this list really hard for me.

"Celeste" truly is a gem, though. It may feeling punishing at times, but the ride to the top is worth it. Hope you enjoy it!

Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on July 07, 2019:

Nice article! I'm not sure if it's indie, but I'm also really enjoying "Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime." I can see how much you enjoyed Celeste by the way you wrote about it and your other article on it too. I'll be downloading it this week and checking it out.