2018 has proven itself to be a fantastic year for gaming, especially on the Nintendo Switch. From first-party releases like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon: Let’s Go! to major third-party support with Diablo 3 Eternal Collection, Octopath Travelerand Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogythere have been a plethora of different titles and genres for gamers to choose from. However, the Switch was a major platform for indies to shine. In no particular order, here are 20 of the best Nindies to release on the Switch this year, including VGCultureHQ’s 2018 Indie Game of the Year.

Hollow Knight

To kick things off on this list, we’ve included one of the best Metroidvanias to release this console generation. Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight is a perfect love letter to the genre while also providing its own flair for players to enjoy. Combat is well-executed and provides enough of a challenge that makes each enemy encounter a learning experience. Its score and artwork are also breath-taking and helps provide an atmospheric journey. This released back in 2017 but it wasn’t until E3 that Nintendo showed off the game’s Switch port. All three of its content expansions come included for free with its fourth coming at a later date for no charge as well. Hollow Knight is a title that should be played at least once by almost all Switch owners especially those that are fans of either the Metroid or Castlevania series.

Best Nindies of 2018

Cosmic Star Heroine

For fans of RPGs, especially classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy, look no further than Zeboyd Games’ Cosmic Star Heroine. Set in a futuristic world, players are tasked with uncovering a government conspiracy while also dealing with being publically exposed as a spy. It’s a very interesting premise that also includes no random battle encounters or separate battle screens, so gameplay is quick and won’t drag on. There’s also a very fitting soundtrack that can be enjoyed throughout the journey. It’s a very good and well thought out title that will keep gamers searching through the different planets for hidden secrets.

Check out our full review of Cosmic Star Heroine here.

Best Nindies of 2018

Pool Panic

Adult Swim Games and Rekim have collaborated to create one of the most memorable indie games of the year. I constantly found myself thinking of this title when finalizing a list for this article. As a fan of billiards games, Pool Panic puts its own unique spin on it. Each ball has a personality and a set of legs to run around and avoid being sunk into holes. Levels take the form of puzzles and can bring environmental hazards that make it harder for the player to complete. There are so many levels and a giant hub world that has so many wacky antics going on that it’s hard not to laugh. A local co-op multiplayer also exists so two players can run through different levels together while also challenging each other to new high scores. The controls can become a bit wonky at times, but they make the hectic nature of the game that much more wild.

Check out our full review of Pool Panic here.

Best Nindies of 2018

Marble It Up!

A true hidden gem on the Nintendo Switch is Bad Habit Productions’ Marble It Up!This is a physics-based platformer where you control a marble as it traverses through various levels filled with hazards. Getting through a level can be simple but hitting the different time goals is where the challenge rises. Anyone that has ever played Marble Madness or Marble Blast Ultra can be pleased to know that many of the same developers got together to create this new spiritual successor. Its soundtrack is also amazing and deserves to be cranked up all the way. There aren’t a ton of levels, which can all be completed in a little over an hour, but replayability is found in its online leaderboards and speedrunning sections. The developers have acknowledged this, however, and are planning a level editor, online multiplayer, and new level packs in future updates.

Check out our full review of Marble It Up! here.

Best Nindies of 2018


When I first booted up CelesteI expected to only play a few stages since this looked rage-inducing like Super Meat Boy. Yet, when I started getting through the opening stages it felt much more magical. The quick respawn time and assist mode makes it so much more accessible and easier to stay hooked. Its story is also very intriguing and makes one wonder what else is going on. Celeste’s soundtrack is truly captivating in addition to all this. I had to raise the volume up on my TV to enjoy it better. Loads of content can be found here thanks to all the extra levels and areas included. This is a true must-play for anyone interested in indie games and is deserving of all the awards and accolades it has received.

Best Nindies of 2018


Developed by only one person, Joakim Sandberg, it’s surprising how well polished and detailed this title truly is. Long after the game’s 10-hour storyline wrapped up, its themes and characters stayed in my mind. Gameplay is a Metroidvania style with unique bosses and puzzle mechanics. There are times where it was confusing on where to go next or what to do, but the narrative will keep you pushing through. Its level designs are very detailed and serve a purpose. Each area is explored at one point in the story and feels very natural. After the journey is over, a boss rush mode becomes available and is perfect for anyone wanting to test their skills. Those looking for something deep and engaging should check this one out.

Check out our full review of Iconoclasts here.

Best Nindies of 2018

Bomb Chicken

It’s not often I get to tell people about Bomb Chicken but when I do, I can’t say anything bad about it. This is an incredibly fun puzzle-platformer where you take control of a chicken that lays eggs rather than bombs. Getting through levels requires certain placements of these bombs by either destroying platforms, enemies, or clearing paths. The controls are extremely tight which makes it easy to navigate through each individual section. Difficulty ranges as the game nears its end, but there aren’t a large number of levels. Despite its short length, the amount of fun from this game makes it something worthy of checking out.

Check out our full review of Bomb Chicken here.

Best Nindies of 2018

Salt and Sanctuary

Another Metroidvania to make this list is Ska Studios’ Salt and Sanctuary. Think of what would happen if you combined the combat of Dark Souls with the exploration of Castlevania because this is exactly what that would be. 600 different items and weapons can be used by players to adventure through this 2D hand-drawn world. RPG elements are also implemented such as class systems and stats. Local multiplayer exists here as well so grab a friend to reach the conclusion of the game’s intriguing plot. A physical edition of the game exists which includes a poster, map, and soundtrack.

Best Nindies of 2018

Jackbox Party Pack 5

During the holidays, I had a few friends over and we were all playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. After a while, some of them were annoyed on how much they kept losing and wanted to play something more interactive. Instantly I powered up the Jackbox Party Pack 5 for all eight of us, hoping that it would stick. It wasn’t long until every single person was crying with laughter and the gathering was lively again. The game’s five different modes each offer a variety of scenarios for everyone to crack jokes and make new memories. Everyone’s favorite was a Mad Libs-style rap battle and a “would you rather” fill in the blank game. Another creative minigame was called “Patently Stupid” which tasks everyone with creating bizarre problems and solving them with wacky inventions. Jackbox’s trivia game was fun for some but not everyone seemed as engaged with it, while the Zeeple Dome minigame was a dud. The best part about it all? No extra controllers are needed. All you need is an internet connection and a phone, tablet, or computer. It’s worth every penny and perfect for large gatherings.

Check out our full review of Jackbox Party Pack 5 here.

Best Nindies of 2018

Crayola Scoot

Usually, licensed games aren’t that high of quality or super fun, but Outright Games threw this notion out the window with Crayola Scoot. A combination of Splatoon and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is what gamers can expect out of this. Race around on a scooter while completing different challenges and modes to unlock new maps and customizable outfits. Finishing these can allow for the opponents of the Scoot competition to come and challenge you outright for the top spot. There are a ton of tricks that can be executed and hours of fun can be sunk in, especially for children. The vibrant colors and groovy soundtrack make this title all the better. Even a local co-op mode exists, so head-to-head challenges can take place and more can be taken out of this title. It’s a title worth looking into.

Check out our full review of Crayola Scoot here.

Best Nindies of 2018


Moonlighter takes the form of an action-RPG with rogue-lite elements and a top-down view. Fans of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past can feel a sense of familiarity in this title. Different dungeons can be run through while fighting a plethora of enemies. Crafting new items and enchanting weapons help to make gameplay a bit easier. One interesting aspect of this title is its shopkeeping. Looting areas can bring a lot of items, but you can create your own shop and put things up for sale, while also setting your own prices and hiring employees. Exclusively on the Nintendo Switch version are a Hero Sword and Bow set and birds called Ruccos, both nods to The Legend of Zelda series.

Best Nindies of 2018

Bendy and the Ink Machine

There’s something interesting about Bendy and the Ink Machine. It has Bioshock vibes with its inclusion of 1940’s cartoons like Cuphead or early Disney animation. The game’s length is fairly short, clocking in at a little over five hours, but the story is incredibly engaging. Deep world building and its creepy concept and atmosphere make this a horror game that is perfect for a quick playthrough. Kids have also really loved this title, but adults should be aware of the game’s satanic themes. Combat isn’t that great either but trying to understand what’s actually going on in this abandoned cartoon studio is the major hook. Take control of Henry as he revisits his old job to see what secrets lie ahead and as he battles the demons of his past.

Check out our full review of Bendy and the Ink Machine here.

Best Nindies of 2018

Into the Breach

From the makers of Faster than Light comes Into the Breach, a turn-based strategy game with randomly generated challenges. Failure is not an option either, you’ll simply get sent to a different timeline to help defend various cities. The alien threat that has invaded the world must be pushed back with the help of giant mechs that can be customized to create new and more powerful combinations. It appears like a tabletop board game with puzzle mechanics and strategic combat. Into the Breach has gone on to be included in many year-end award ceremonies including nominations from The Game Awards for Best Indie Game and Best Strategy Game. Fans of the genre are sure to love this release.

Best Nindies of 2018

Saturday Morning RPG

Mighty Rabbit Studios, an offshoot of Limited Run Games, has created a really nostalgic turn-based RPG based on 1980’s cartoons. There are plenty of callbacks to popular shows like Masters of the Universe and G.I. Joe but it doesn’t rely on them to make itself stand out. The dialogue and story are very quirky and memorable which also has some hilarious moments and hidden scenarios. The main quest can be completed straight through but the side quests featured are where things start to shine. It only takes a few hours to finish it all up, but an endless survival mode and an arena mode to battle the final bosses of each chapter. Don’t sleep on this game, it’s such a fantastic gem made even better on the Nintendo Switch.

Check out our full review of Saturday Morning RPG here.

Best Nindies of 2018

Hyper Light Drifter – Special Edition

Abylight Studios’ Hyper Light Drifter was able to find its way onto Nintendo’s hybrid system, but this time there’s more content packed into it. The Switch version of the game features a new outfit, a Tower Climb challenge, new power-up, and new weapon. But, for those that haven’t played it, you are in for an absolute treat. This 2D action-adventure title is inspired by the classics in the genre which came before it, but its able to stand out and create its own name. The soundtrack and artwork are truly captivating and will have you taking a vast amount of screenshots. There are no words in this story, so the way to get information is from its environment and cutscenes with animated images. Combat is really rewarding and is so fun to interact with, but deaths are very random and can be frustrating. Even with this, it is still one of the best indies to come out on the Switch.

Check out our full review of Hyper Light Drifter – Special Edition here.

Best Nindies of 2018


A recent release has been an unexpected success on the Nintendo eShop, peaking at #3 before the Winter sale took place. Published by Devolver Digital and Developed by Nomada studios, platform-adventurer Gris follows a journey of sorrow and life. The story is the main draw of this game while puzzles and exploration help to tell it. There are no deaths, dangers, or frustrations in this experience. Another main draw from this game is its beautiful watercolor artwork. This journey is more along the lines of a short film and has earned its spot as a must-play experience.

Best Nindies of 2018

The Messenger

Another Devolver Digital title to make this list is The Messenger. Marketed as an 8-bit action-platformer that evolves into a 16-bit Metroidvania, gamers can find hours of replay value from this release. The game knows how to mess with players’ expectations to craft a wonderful experience for all to enjoy. Plenty of secrets, hidden areas, abilities, and upgrades help to make this something that is appreciated in the long run. Follow this epic ninja adventure through deadpan humor and a memorable cast of characters.

Best Nindies of 2018

West of Loathing

Asymmetric Publications has crafted another title that takes place in its Kingdom of Loathing universe. It’s a comedic adventure-RPG with turn-based combat. A unique feature of the game is its artwork, a bunch hand-drawn stick figures that carry the plot. The best thing about this game is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is a ton to do in the open-world that is presented. Combat can also be avoided by a quick tongue or tackled head-on. West of Loathing is a hilarious game that should be checked out at some point or another.

Best Nindies of 2018

Night in the Woods

A story-based adventure title with platformer elements is what Night in the Woods consists of. Join Mae as she returns back home from college to Possum Springs where she seeks out her former life. However, things are a bit different now. Her friends have changed and so has her town. The air is colder and weird things keep going on when it gets dark. There’s also something in the woods. This is a fantastic concept and plays like an old Lucasarts game with more mobility. Platforming sections are available but interacting with the characters is how you’ll understand what to do next. Plus, it’s a world made up of personified animals which makes it all the better. All of this helps to make this one of the most mystifying and captivating titles on the Switch.

Best Nindies of 2018

Dead Cells

Our last game on this list is far and away the best indie game of the year. Motion Twin Studios’ Dead Cells is VGCultureHQ’s 2018 Indie Game of the Year and for good reason. Each playthrough differs from the last since death is nearly permanent. One death sends you all the way back to the start despite the weapons and items found. Certain power-ups and boosters can be unlocked for every run through, but weapons and items don’t stay with you. Level design is interchangeable and alters with each subsequent death. Nothing stays the same so it is all completely unique to the player. Combat is fast and fluid and feels fair when a death does occur by an enemy. The sights and sounds of the game also are very suiting and are magnificent. It is one of the best games of the year and demands to be played.

Check out our full review of Dead Cells here.

Best Nindies of 2018

This has been one of the best years for indie games to date. 2019 looks to be another fantastic year for indies with the already announced Super Meat Boy Forever and My Friend Pedro. So many other titles are also in the works that haven’t even been announced. All the above 20 are some of the best on the Nintendo Switch but there are still plenty of others that could have made this list. For a few more titles that weren’t mentioned, check out all of our Indie Spotlights from this year below!

July 2018 Indie Spotlight

August 2018 Indie Spotlight

September 2018 Indie Spotlight

October 2018 Indie Spotlight

November 2018 Indie Spotlight

December 2018 Indie Spotlight