To say 2017 has been a good year for games is an understatement. For Nintendo Switch alone, we’ve seen literally hundreds of titles between retail and on the Switch eShop, and with over 10 million consoles sold worldwide, there are no signs of this train slowing down anytime soon. Now that 2017 is in the rearview mirror, we’ve assembled what we consider the best 10 indie Switch games of the past year.
Now, just to explain the factors that went into coming up with and ranking this list—number one: this list is totally subjective to myself and the people who contributed to it. Number two: the order of ranking is not necessarily indicative of review score. I’ve personally reviewed most of the games on this list for SwitchJoy, but order of ranking in this list is indicative of my and my colleagues’ personal enjoyment of these titles, not critical opinion. Third: to have even been considered for this list, a game must be an indie game—that means, no backing from large publishing houses or first parties. Each game on this list was independently developed and published, and is what we consider to be deserving of each and every Switch owner to check out.
Without further ado, let’s begin the countdown.
10. The Sexy Brutale
One part Clue, another part Majora’s Mask, and another part stealth game, The Sexy Brutale sees the player character, Lafcadio Boone, during his journey at an invitation-only party where party guests are being ruthlessly murdered. It’s up to Lafcadio to find out how each guest dies and how to prevent his or her death using a time travel mechanic, among other abilities. You’ll peek through keyholes and eavesdrop on conversations between partygoers and mansion staff to determine how each person dies and what can be done to save them. Though there are some pretty significant frame rate issues, The Sexy Brutale is one of the best experiences on Switch this year.
9. The Count Lucanor
If you’re a fan of combat-free adventure games, The Count Lucanor might be for you. You play 10-year-old Hans as he goes off to seek his fortune and winds up in a mysterious castle, where he must solve puzzles and piece together clues in order to meet the infamous Count Lucanor. The game is surprisingly dark despite it cutesy art style, and the fact you can solve some puzzles but not others, along with the game supporting multiple endings, ensure you’ll be coming back to The Count Lucanor to see how your different choices might unfold.
Taking the formula of Neon Chrome and refining it, 10tons’ JYDGE is twin-stick shooting done right. The game has an arcade-y feel, as you can go back to previously completed levels to tackle challenges you may have missed, and the equipment upgrade system constantly gives you a reason to push forward. Enemies can be brutal, especially in numbers, so those seeking a challenge will find plenty here.
Part rogue-like and part twin-stick shooter, NeuroVoider strikes a very satisfying balance between wielding immense power…and losing it all at a moment’s notice. Though dying in NeuroVoider is frustrating, getting to try out new builds each time—along with the ability to regain your lost gear—make the game ripe for replayability. That, along with tight controls, a beautiful pixel art style, and an awesome soundtrack all make for a Switch title you shouldn’t miss.
6. Mr. Shifty
Mr. Shifty is a fun and addictive top-down beat-‘em-up, and one of the oldest indies in the Switch’s library. Taking obvious cues from Hotline Miami and throwing some Nightcrawler vibes into the mix, you’ll have gleeful fun in shifting through walls and taking out hordes of unsuspecting enemies. Overall, Mr. Shifty stands out as one of the most interesting and satisfying Switch indie titles to date.
5. Nine Parchments
If you’ve been missing some good, dungeon-crawling couch co-op action on Switch, Nine Parchments just might fit the bill. This Diablo-esque magical blast-‘em-up is set in the Trine universe, so charming visual spectacle is what you’ll get here. Not only is the game fun while playing solo, but that fun is amplified when playing with a group of two to four players, either locally or online. The giant asterisk right now with Nine Parchments is that your story progress will be deleted if you change your character or go between single and multiplayer, but Frozenbyte has already addressed this concern and will be issuing at patch soon.
In a time where Nintendo’s own Super Smash Bros. series is absent on Nintendo Switch, Brawlout is here to tide you over. Though most of the game’s roster won’t be familiar at first, a little time spent with Brawlout will mitigate this. While each of the game’s six unique fighters feel distinct and set apart from the Smash Bros. roster, there’s no denying there is some direct inspiration from some favorite characters. The inclusion of The Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter and Juan from Guacamelee! only sweeten the deal, and GameCube controller support adds a familiar touch to this platform brawler. Though Brawlout lacks the spirit and familiarity of Smash, for $20 USD, you can’t really go wrong.
3. Golf Story
Golf Story mixes old-school pixel art, light RPG exploration, and story telling with a simple-to-understand golf mechanic that makes for something truly unique to the Switch library. The story is quirky and intriguing enough to remain engaging, and when it’s time to golf, the game mixes up the formula with fun challenges and strange obstacles to overcome (darn those moles!). Even if you couldn’t care less about golf as a sport, Golf Story is absolutely worth checking out.
2. Rocket League
Rocket League is a Nintendo Switch port done right. Not only was the game solid enough when it came to Switch back in November, but Psyonix has heard fans and is continually updating the game, with the most recent patch vastly improving the visuals in handheld mode. All modes we’ve come to love are included, and car soccer is just plain fun. Rocket League on Switch feels like Rocket League, which should be convincing enough for anyone who’s yet to take the plunge.
1. SteamWorld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2 improves on the original title in every way. Beautiful art and visuals accompany a balanced progression with a satisfying mechanic of digging and collecting that never gets old. Where the first game was all about going straight down, the follow-up lets the player explore in all directions, and you’ll constantly uncover new areas and power-ups, each more satisfying than the last. The main story has ties with the first SteamWorld Dig, but it’s not needed to fully enjoy SteamWorld Dig 2, as this is one Switch game you should not miss.