Nintendo indie games, or “Nindies”, have really shined on Switch. Nintendo may have once shunned indies back in the Wii U era, but it has since learned from its mistake and many of the best indie games can now be found on Nintendo’s latest console. This year, gamers saw both fantastic new indies as well as older titles ported over. Here are the best Nindies of 2020 according to us here at Nintendojo.
Indie Game of the Year
What a surprise! Even if you aren’t an indie gamer, you’ve likely already heard of Hades. Hell, even if you aren’t usually an indie player you may have already tried it out. Hades is the newest game by Supergiant Games, creators of Bastion, Transistor and Pyre, and it is fantastic. For many gamers, it was software made by Supergiant that got them interested in the potential of indie games to begin with. Supergiant is known for the polished combat, interactive narration, and great art design that it brings to games. Hades is no different, while also introducing so many new elements to the rogue-lite genre such as relationship building and interior decorating that both add a sense of progression with every defeat. For those looking to experience all the wonders Hades has to offer, but aren’t so keen on the game’s challenging combat, Hades offers a “God Mode” that reduces the game’s difficulty.
It is Hades‘ highly enjoyable combat, interesting characters, beautiful art design, accessibility, and plethora of additional perks that makes it our Indie Game of the Year for 2020.
Check out our review of Hades, here.
Indie Runner Ups
A Short Hike
A Short Hike was a much needed game for 2020. Similar in wholesomeness and stress relief found in games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, A Short Hike is a sweet game where you play as Clair the bird who is hiking to the top of Hawk’s Peak. Fitting with the game’s overall tone, A Short Hike was made by developer Adam Robinson-Yu as a break from his current project. Robinson-Yu was inspired by summer hiking trips from his childhood and that atmosphere really glows. Throughout Clair’s short journey, she meets an abundance of fun, cute characters and participates in various activities such as fishing and rock climbing. A Short Hike is enjoyable from start to finish. Even thought the main story can be completed in 30 minutes, you’ll likely be spending hours in the park of Hawk Peak.
Check out our review of A Short Hike, here.
With death come many emotions. Grief, regret, anger, and eventual acceptance to name a few. Yet Spiritfarer manages to introduce these emotions, as well as other topics of death, in sincere, and even relatable ways with its memorable characters, beautiful art style, and fun activities. You play as Stella, the new ferrymaster for the deceased after the mythical boatman Charon decides it is time for him to retire and move on. As you progress through the game, you meet a colorful cast of characters and help them get comfortable on your ferry. The game has you manage resources, grow crops, fish, explore islands, and craft aboard your boat. But don’t get too attached to you passengers. Eventually, you will need to learn to let go and say goodbye to them forever.
Though much of the gameplay elements in Spiritfarer will feel familiar to players, the game’s beautiful visuals, unforgettable characters, and unique story that teaches us the importance of letting go are why we highly recommend trying Spiritfarer out.
Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
As an interactive, visual medium, video games have the potential to tell stories in ways that movies, books, and television never could. Yet, so many games approach story telling like superhero or adventure films — filling them with cinematic cutscenes that are so void of player interaction you can put the controller down. Few games actually use the flexibility in game design to creatively tell unique stories. Annapurna Interactive, who published What Remains of Edith Finch and who are also the publishers of Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition, are an example of where to look for games that tell stories like no other.
The developers of Kentucky Route Zero, Cardboard Computer, have been working on the game since 2011 when it was crowdfunded on Kickstarter. It was released in five acts with the last act released in 2020. The game is a surreal, dialogue driven experience that follows Conway on his journey to find the Zero, a route that seems to not exist. Rather than focusing on solving puzzles, this point-and-click game revolves around dialogue options that shape the characters and story as you progress. With so many dialogue options, you can’t help but wonder about the road not taken.
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Spring
Occasionally, some unfortunate games come along that are highly praised yet barely played. Okami being a famous example with its incredibly high review scores but poor sales. Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling is another example. Though its sales aren’t as low as those for Okami, sales so low that the studio had to fold, you are unlikely to see Bug Fables in the best seller category on the eShop.
Yet for fans of the beloved Paper Mario series, Bug Fables is a must buy. As a love letter to the first two games of the series, developer Moonsprout Games bring back much of the same gameplay but also add to it. At its core, the game is a turn-based adventure RPG. But the creative setting in the world of Bugaria, lovable characters, and inclusion of all that we love about the early Paper Mario games makes Bug Fables one of the best Switch indies in 2020.
Among Us was a late addition to the eShop at the end of 2020. It wasn’t even originally released in 2020 but in fact was first launched by developers Innersloth on mobile devices and PC back in 2018. However, you can’t talk about 2020 gaming without mentioning Among Us. Among Us was a perfect game for 2020. It was well suited for remote play with friends during 2020’s COVID-19 induced shelter-in-place orders. If you know someone who played one game in 2020, there is a good chance it was Among Us after all the pressure they received from friends and family who wanted to play together. The rules are simple, the gameplay is easy to pick up, and there is an enormous amount of replay value and variety as you play with different people on different maps.
If you have yet to try it out, you’re definitely a little sus.
Unhappy with our list? Here’s some of the best-selling indie games on Switch from 2020!
Check back tomorrow for our selections of the best Nintendo Switch games of 2020!