Nintendo Switch Best Indies: 9 Great Games That Can Save Christmas

The holidays can be rough. Sure dinners and parties are fun, but what about the downtime? You're stuck travelling or waiting for turkey to thaw, and small talk with your relatives can be a nightmare. Sometimes you just need to slip away and game, and the Nintendo Switch is absolutely built for that. But instead of booting up Fortnite or Smash Ultimate for the bajillionth time, use your holiday vacation to experience some of the fantastic indies Nintendo has to offer.

Here's our favorite picks for the best Nintendo Switch indies to entertain you on your holiday break.

The Banner Saga Trilogy

Without a doubt one of the best games of 2018 and, I'd argue, the last decade, The Banner Saga Trilogy on Switch is the preferred way to experience Stoic Studios Norse-inspired epic tale that follows a band of refugees making due during the End of Days. It includes all three titles (the first launched in 2014) and, unlike some OTHER epic game trilogies *cough*masseffect*cough* The Banner Saga has profound, coherent consequences across all three titles. This allows you to play from the very beginning, and you can experience all the twists and turns in one glorious playthrough. And then you'll need to play again, and make entirely different decisions to see what story branches you missed the first time. And the second. And the third. It's got deep turn-based strategy, Oregon Trail-style caravan management and some breathtaking visuals. Throw it on a TV and watch how many people think it's a classic animated movie. It's that good. Get it here.

Gris

Like other games on this list, Gris makes an impression as a highly-stylized platformer that's perfectly suited for the Switch. It is an absolute stunner of a game, full of deep metaphors and haunting melodies. You play as a young girl navigating a personal trauma (?), with her ever-changing dress revealing new powers and new paths to explore. Devolver Digital describes it as "a serene and evocative experience, free of danger, frustration or death." In other words, it's chill AF and the perfect escape if your holiday gatherings get a little too dramatic and dreary. Get it here.

West of Loathing

West of Loathing is a semi-sequel to the 2003 browser-based sensation Kingdom of Loathing. Yes, it's a bunch of crude stick figure animations but don't let that deter you. This game has boatloads of humor, heart and clever RPG mechanics percolating underneath it's austere veneer. The more you play it the more you'll see it's not as simple as it looks, and you'll probably end up playing it again to go over all the stuff you missed making different choices. It's silly and fun and weird enough that if you want to give your family some head-scratching "what IS this?" moments put it on a TV and blow some minds. Get it here.

Overcooked 2

There's no better way to pass the time while someone else does all the cooking than by playing a game where you do all the cooking. Overcooked 2 is plenty of fun on your own (thanks in part to series-first online multiplayer) but if you're feeling generous you can get up to three more people in on the action, if you have extra joycons. Even if you're passing the sticks, Overcooked 2 is as fun to watch as it is to play. Until the arguments start. Get it here.

Celeste

Celeste may appear to be your run-of-the-mill indie platformer at first. It's got a great visual aesthetic, good soundtrack and plenty of hype. But the longer you play Celeste, and the deeper you get into its themes surrounding mental illness, doubt and anxiety, you begin to understand there's something special going on. It's a touching tribute to those who live with these issues, and a point of entry for those who don't understand the challenges. Plus, it's a blast to play. In the vein of Super Meat Boy it's infuriating enough to keep you pushing but not so impossible you abandon it for good. Get it here.

Chasm

Easily the most overlooked game on this list, Chasm is a stunning debut game from BitKid. Sure, on paper it sounds like indie word salad: a retro, roguelike-metroidvania with procedurally generated handcrafted environments. But if it sounds generic, know that it is executed flawlessly. It may not have the same thematic or technical ambitions as some entries on this list. But Chasm is exactly as good as the metroidvania genre gets, with a wonderful score and an easy-to-follow questline. It is perfectly paced, making it a great title to play for an hour or so at a time. You'll always want to come back.

Into The Breach

Winner of the best strategy game of the year at this year's Game Awards, Into the Breach is a mechs-vs-bugs tactical masterpiece. The simple style and Ben Prunty soundtrack echo Subset Games earlier smash-hit FTL, but the game play very differently. Into the Breach feels more like a perfect chess app, offering up bite-size strategy sessions that feed an addictive gameplay loop. A time travel storyline gives incentive to play again and again as you unlock different mech squads to take into the field. If you want to lose yourself in turn-based bliss, this is the game for you. Get it here.

Blossom Tales

A love letter to classic Legend of Zelda games. Throwing bombs, slashing spiders and saving the Kingdom are all in a day's work for our brown-haired protagonist. Power-ups like summoning swarms of bees and shooting flaming circles keep the combat fresh and the puzzles challenging to beat. The Switch is the perfect console for this game; I managed to beat it on my subway morning commute.

If you're a fan of sprites, colorful magic and don't expect a game to last 40 hours, then Blossom Tales is a must buy.

The boomerang still sucks. Get it here.

Donut County

You are a hole. You swallow things. If this isn't the perfect analogy for consumer holiday culture I don't know what is. Ben Esposito's latest creation is equal parts absurd and intriguing. If you're looking for something different, look no further than Donut County. Get it here.

Nintendo Switch Best Indies: 9 Great Games That Can Save Christmas | Gaming