THE WASHINGTON POST – In this period of social distancing, many of us have found more time to play video games. Maybe you recently purchased a Nintendo Switch for just this reason, or maybe you’ve already had your console for years. Regardless, there’s more to the Switch than just Mario or Animal Crossing’s anthropomorphic tanuki. There are countless games on the Nintendo Store created as passion projects by independent developers – indies for short.
Below is a list of some great indie titles to consider playing over the coming weeks.
A captivating adventure with a story that rivals any top-dollar title, Owlboy is a coming-of-age story that follows Otus, a young mute struggling to meet the expectations of adulthood.
The game takes Otus on a journey to protect his village from an army of sky pirates. At the start, Otus is a bumbling pupil, but he quickly becomes embroiled in a larger fight – one with an impressive story that builds out the lore of the game’s world.
As the title suggests, Otus can fly. You’re able to fly right out of the gate, which is an incredibly freeing mechanic to introduce so early on. You don’t need to worry about falling to your death, like you would in a standard platform title. Instead, Owlboy raises the difficulty by applying limits on your mobility throughout the game. It’s a refreshing way make levels more complicated as you play.
Otus upgrades his abilities through his friends. He can carry anyone using his talons, co-opting their abilities to solve puzzles and defeat their enemies. One ally has a shotgun blast for short-range destruction, while another has a simple point-and-shoot machine gun.
The game took nearly a decade for D-Pad Studio to develop, and the final product is a beautiful love letter to pixel art. Every cave, terrain and sprite is meticulously detailed. Then there’s the soundtrack tying the entire package together. The levels against the sky pirates have some of the best tracks, with a pulsing, spy-thriller intensity that sucks you into the action.
Owlboy will take around 10 hours to beat the main story.
A role-playing game that happens to be a great surrogate for watching the Masters, Golf Story isn’t a golf simulator; it’s an RPG that revolves around golf.
You play a golfer who’s returning to the sport he grew to love as a kid. Besides that, there’s not too much else to the story. The fun comes from playing golf and all the minigames that are sandwiched in between each round.
There are eight courses in the game, each one is its own small town with eccentric characters milling about for you to talk to, challenge and compete against. Winning earns you experience and cash to upgrade your clubs, just as defeating an enemy earns you loot in some fantasy RPGs. The greens you play on can get a bit wacky – moles can steal your ball, some holes resemble putt-putt more than the PGA Tour. Golf Story is for the player who loved Mario Golf, not the purist.
It’s not a perfect game; it can get repetitive at times. Still, there are ways to break up the monotony: Try some Frisbee golf on certain courses, for example. At a moment when traditional sports are off the air, the game is a great alternative.
Golf Story packs in up to 20 hours of gameplay, making it one of the longest games on the list.
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Good Job! is a game about the son of a chief executive who lands his first job at the family company. No nepotism here, folks.
Your character, a stickman right off a traffic sign, is assigned a series of menial human resources and IT tasks, like fixing the WiFi router. Exactly how you reconnect the router is entirely your choice. You’re the boss’s kid. Rules need not apply. You can snake the chord through offices and hallways or send a printer through some drywall to make for a truly “open” floor plan.
The puzzle game has the same chaotic energy people grew to love with Untitled Goose Game, which released in the fall and quickly became a meme for all the ways you could wreak havoc on a small town. The possibilities are not as endless in Good Job! I never found myself blown away by all the possible levers you could pull, but you find solutions to simple tasks by applying some fun and destructive physics.
In the game, you work your way up the corporate ladder completing missions on every floor of the building. Every task is timed, and every item you break is accounted for once you’ve finished a task. The faster you get the job done, the better – encouraging players to think creatively and crack some eggs in the process. And Good Job! comes with a co-op mode, so you can maximise the chaos you spread across the cubicles.
The game takes six to eight hours to beat, depending on how fast you play.
In Dead Cells, a ruthless Castlevania-like game that’s perfect for a dedicated game night, you’re a lump of cells that finds refuge in a prisoner’s corpse. Using this reanimated body, you set out to escape the dungeon as well as the bleak island you find yourself on.
If you die while trying to escape, you start over. There are no checkpoints or saving graces; you lose everything. Dead Cells encourages, almost requires, players to start over time and again until they begin to master the mechanics and breeze through levels.
This is absolutely the type of game to download on a free weekend night to play for hours on end. You need to master the controls, remember how different enemies attack and counter effectively as you move through the game’s areas. Once the game starts to click, the fun comes from pulling off deft manoeuvres despite the mutated opponents breathing down your neck.
Every time you run through a level, the game is a bit different. The enemies are randomly populated across the map, so, even though you may get comfortable with the controls, you still have to stay on your toes. To aid you, Dead Cells includes a range of weapons to match your play style, including traps, melee and ranged weapons.
In every playthrough, you’re able to unlock a series of perks to help you finish the game. A shop owner named The Collector offers potions, weapons and ways to preserve your hard-found gold when you die. Because of this mechanic, it gets easier to beat the game over time.
For a game where you’re required to die and start completely over, Dead Cells is able to make this frustrating detail feel like a learning process aimed toward a larger reward. Your strength builds with time, and that’s why you’ll find yourself playing far after the first, second or 10th death.
The game will take around 13 hours to beat the main story, but there’s an expansion pack, The Bad Seed.
Stuck at home with family? This game is the Super Smash Bros of indie titles.
Towerfall pits players against one another in close-quarters arena combat. It’s the perfect game for avid gamers and amateurs to pick up and play together.
The title is from Matt Makes Games, the same developer behind the platform adventure Celeste, and the controls require just a few buttons, making it easy to learn for big groups.
Players fight using a simple bow and arrow in a death-match format. Similar to Pac-Man, the arenas often have entrances and exits that send you to the opposite side of the screen, making for quick ways to flank your opponent. There are dozens of unique arenas, for countless hours of “friendly” competition. Besides the main arena play, there’s a cooperative story mode and a series of time trials to hone your skills.
It’s important to stress: Towerfall is a multiplayer game. You should probably look elsewhere if you want an indie game with an engrossing single-player experience. Plus, a big downside for Towerfall is that it only supports local multiplayer, with no options for online play.
The main story will take four hours to beat, but the game really shines during the endless rounds of multiplayer.