Another year has come and gone, and another January full of resolutions is upon us. I tend to make my New Year’s resolutions lofty and ambitious, so naturally I fall off around January 11. This year is different though—my resolution is to reflect on what was good and productive in 2021. I’m going to kick off my resolution by reflecting on the best Indie games that released on Switch in 2021.
Indie games are my favorite type of game. I love the creative process that goes into these games with limited resources, I love that the music in these games enhances the worlds and environment, and most of all, I love the fact that anyone with enough heart can create a game. Here’s a look back at my top 10 Indie games that were released on Switch in 2021.
Note that some of these games could have previously been released on other platforms prior to their Switch release date.
10. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is an adorable 2-D Zelda-like game with witty humor and a small, yet fun adventure. The protagonist is a little turnip named Turnip Boy who, unsurprisingly, evaded paying his taxes and has to repay his debt to Mayor Onion. Turnip Boy must complete a series of tasks for Mayor Onion to make up for the money he doesn’t have. During these tasks you’ll explore caverns, a refrigerator, and even a train, collecting different weapons and items to help you along these puzzle-driven dungeons. I laughed and smiled throughout this entire game, and know you will as well.
You can download Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion here.
9. Loop Hero
Coming in at number 9 is one of the nominees for Best Indie at The Game Awards, Loop Hero. Loop Hero is an incredible game, it’s part strategy RPG, part city builder, part roguelike, which all relies on cards. It’s a combination that you would think doesn’t work, but it does here. The story is interesting—you begin the game with a cut-scene depicting the end of the world and it’s up to you to reshape your image of the world. A slight drawback to Loop Hero being on Switch is that it’s very difficult to open certain menus without using the touchscreen, which becomes extremely tedious in a game that’s so focused on inventory management. This game feels like if it’s not supposed to be played while docked, so I highly recommend playing Loop Hero in handheld mode.
You can download Loop Hero here.
TOEM is a calming and delightful game that focuses on photography. You set out on an adventure in this hand-drawn black and white world with nothing but a backpack and a camera, and your objective is to explore the world and help people on their quests to open up different locations. With no time restraints or enemies attacking you, TOEM encourages you to slow down, relax, and take in the scenery around you. The game isn’t very long, but the short length adds to the simplicity and relaxation of the game.
You can download TOEM for Switch here.
7. Cris Tales
Cris Tales is a love letter to older JRPGs, and in tropey fashion, it kicks things off by introducing you to the main character, the young orphan Crisbell. Right away, she has been tasked with finding a rose for her superior. However, once you find it, a bizarre little frog takes it from you and you have to track him down. Fast forward, and you find out (to no one’s surprise) that you are the chosen one, as is typical in a turn-based RPG. The unique twist is that you can see the past, present, and future at the same time, and jump around to each time frame. This game is tropey JRPG comfort food that didn’t blow me away, but was highly enjoyable.
You can download Cris Tales for Switch here.
6. Tetris Effect: Connected
Tetris itself has remained one of the most flawless games of all time, and Tetris Effect: Connected takes Tetris and makes it even better. This version of Tetris has added so much new content and is now my favorite way to play Tetris. There’s a full journey mode that introduces you to 30 different “levels” that have different visuals and great music. There’s also online mode, which has multiplayer versus, a team attack, a chill mode, and so much more. If you’re a fan of Tetris in any form then this game is for you.
You can download Tetris Effect: Connected for Switch here.
5. Demon Turf
Demon Turf is definitely one of my biggest surprises of the year. You take control of a demon with a whole lot of sass named Beebz and go on an adventure in this hybrid 2-D / 3-D platformer claiming your turf. It’s difficult to describe how well the 2-D to 3-D art style works in this game, but it’s as though you took a fantastic 3-D platformer like Mario 64 and gave it graphics like Paper Mario. This explanation doesn’t do it justice, but it’s the best I can do.
Aside from the brilliant platforming with nearly perfect controls, the music that M.R. Miller and Fat Bard composed for this game is incredible. I highly recommend this game to any fan of 3-D platformers.
You can download Demon Turf for Switch here.
4. Road 96
Road 96 is a choose your own adventure type of game. You take on the roles of teenagers that have been reported missing in the corrupted country of Petria. Turns out, these teenagers are just trying to cross the border for a better life. This game simulates a great road trip, and it asks the player to exercise your own believes in the corrupt world. Road 96 is a series of vignettes where your end goal of crossing the border is determined by the decisions you make along the way. You’ll find yourself in the midst of many mini games as well. I found this game so easy to get sucked into; it may not be a game that catches your eye from gameplay or previews, but it’s certainly one that you’ll remember for a long time after playing.
You can download Road 96 for Switch here.
Eastward was easily one of my most anticipated Indies of 2021. The JRPG lover in me has been nostalgic of the early SNES days when I discovered the genre through games such as Final Fantasy 3/6, Chrono Trigger, and Earthbound. I saw the style of this game and expected a feel good retro JRPG, but instead got a charming and chill action adventure that played more like Zelda with Earthbound graphics. You take control of your main characters John and Sam, who are quite the ying and yang, to set off…eastward…under dubious circumstances. The path you take is quite linear, but the puzzles and mini games are enough to keep everything fresh. Eastward is a must play for any Zelda-like gamer.
2. Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Chicory: A Colorful Tale was my surprise game of the year. I went into this expecting to have a cute game where I colored the world with an adorable dog, which I got, but it also came with a comforting story and dialogue that also touched on difficult subjects such as depression and imposter syndrome. Your protagonist is a dog (named after your favorite food, so choose wisely) who’s a janitor at the Wielder Tower and who quickly finds “the brush” laying on the ground and becomes the almighty Wielder to bring back color to a world that has suddenly gone black and white. Chicory has no combat at all, so it’s a game that is focused on exploration, coloring, and puzzles, and they do all of this incredibly well. The music is composed by Lena Raine (who also composed for Celeste) and is a masterpiece that enhanced the environment for each area. Chicory is a game that I’ll remember for a
long time—it’s an extremely laid back and highly rewarding game, and I really hope more people play Chicory and enjoy it as much as I did.
Honorable Mentions: Spelunky 1 and 2, Garden Story, Aerial Knight’s Never Yield, The Longing, Omni, Olli Olli World.
1. Death’s Door
Rounding out the top ten is Death’s Door. There’s so much to say about this game, it packs engaging and fast-paced combat, encourages explorations throughout the charming yet somber world—areas stashed full of secrets, and puzzles that are incredibly satisfying to beat. You start the game as a sword-wielding crow on a journey to collect the souls of the deceased. Over time, you trade in your soul currency to build your character’s strength, dexterity, haste, or magic and completely customize your character. I found myself getting completely addicted to the gameplay loop and growth of this game and couldn’t put it down. Death’s Door continued to amaze me throughout the entire experience and should be considered in the upper echelon of Indie games along with Celeste and Hollow Knight, and I hope everyone takes the time to play it.
What did you think of this years top 10? Did I miss any games that you loved? Did you enjoy these games as much as I did? Let us know in the comments section or on our Discord!