If you strike soon you can find some real deals on some of the best games for the Nintendo Switch. The Spring Indie World Sale is currently running on the Switch’s eShop, with significant discounts on some of our favorite independently developed games—including the best game of 2020. The sale runs now through April 25 at 11:59 p.m. PT—or 3 a.m. the morning of April 26 for all us east coast types—and you have to do is open up the eShop on your Switch and head to the sales section. You can find the full list of games for sale at the Switch’s website; below are the 10 games Paste most recommends.
All blurbs by Garrett Martin except where noted.
Sale price: $19.99
What makes Hades so great—and what elevates it above other roguelikes—is how it creates a consistent sense of progress even as you keep dying and restarting. Part of that is mechanical—although you lose all the boons bestowed upon you by the Greek gods after a run ends, along with other power-ups acquired during your journeys through the underworld, there are a few things you do hang on to when you return to the game’s hub world. More important than that, though, is how the game’s narrative unfolds between runs, driving you to keep playing through whatever frustration you might feel in hopes of learning more about the game’s story and characters.
Between every run in Hades your character, Zagreus, returns to his home—the palace of his father, Hades, the God of the Dead. Yep, he’s another rich kid who feels his first bit of angst and immediately starts slumming it. Here you can interact with various characters, upgrade the decor, unlock new permanent perks, and practice with the game’s small arsenal of weapons. Every time you return the characters who live here have new things to say, slowly unraveling their own storylines and deepening their relationships with Zagreus. And given that the writing in Hades is as consistently sharp and human as it’s been in all of Supergiant’s games, getting to talk to these characters alone is a reason to actually look forward to dying in this game.
Sale price: $23.99
From the very first moments of 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest, the developers at the Vienna-based Moon Studios have been manipulating our emotions. They do it about as well as anybody else in videogames ever had, and there’s something commendable about that. They convince us to immediately invest in their characters emotionally, which is hard to do, especially when no real words are being spoken. And one they have us on their hook, they’re excited to devastate us with unexpected deaths and heroic sacrifices. It can be a bit cloying—a little predictable, a little shameless—but it still has the desired impact, which means Moon Studios knows what it’s doing. And since Will of the Wisps, like Blind Forest before it, is a precisely calibrated machine of a platformer, with the the kind of Metroid-style backtracking elements that makes it almost impossible to put the controller down, there’s more than enough follow-through on that emotional wallop.
Sale price: $17.99
Not content with sheer novelty, Dead Cells importantly taps into the most significant aspect of both of the genres it fuses together. Few games are as addictive as those Metroid-style backtrackers, and perhaps the only thing that has come close this decade is the spate of roguelike platformers that flourished in Spelunky’s wake. Dead Cells beautifully captures what makes both of those genres impossible to put down, uniting the “just one more” drive of a roguelike with the “must keep going” compulsion of a Metroid. It’s a smart, confident piece of work, and anybody interested in either of the genres it builds on should consider checking it out.
Sale price: $13.39
There will always be a market for Metroid homages, no matter how uninspired so many of them can feel. Carrion is one of the few recent examples of the genre to actually stake its own unique territory. It’s not just that you’re in charge of what would conventionally be the main enemy in a game like this, and tasked to slaughter your way through the science experiment that imprisoned you, Ape Out-style. Carrion rethought the genre’s entire approach to motion. Instead of the predictable pattern of unlocking double jumps and grappling hooks, your amorphous blob of a creature glides throughout its brutalist prison with startling grace. It’s not elegant to look at, unless you like dripping viscera and globules of raw meat, but to play it is to recall the delicate arcs of Geometry Wars. You’re basically tracing your way through this game, and the contrast between grace and grisliness never grows old.—Garrett Martin
Sale price: $14.99
One of our favorite mobile games of 2019, Capybara’s puzzler makes the jump to console with a Switch rendition that offers just enough new wrinkles to stand alone as its own thing. Previously I wrote that “Grindstone is a thoroughly confident game that understands exactly what a certain type of player is looking for from mobile experiences, and then goes above and beyond all expectations to make that a reality;” that’s still true, only now the mobile screen is the Switch and not a phone. And oh yeah, it doesn’t even have to be that mobile, as it’s just as fun on TV as it is on the go.
Sale price: $13.39
This abstract, geometry-based puzzler by artist William Chyr received universal comparisons to the art of M.C. Escher when it launched on Apple Arcade in 2019, and for good reason. The core concept of three-dimensional spaces that seem to loop with no end comes right out of the Dutch artist’s dorm poster playbook. Chyr turns it into a gorgeous, confounding game that will vex you for hours while constantly impressing you with its mind-bending visuals. The Switch version puts the same gorgeous package on a larger screen.
Sale price: $13.99
Sea of Solitude is about trauma. The sticky, mud-like kind that cakes and cracks and stings because of the thousands of cuts and abrasions we’ve accumulated. The kind that builds up while we push it down and ignore the blood seeping from our knees and elbows as we try to carry on—distracting ourselves from how it crusts on us like barnacles, loading us down until we no longer recognize ourselves or our loved ones.
Kay—ashen, red-eyed, and monstrous—is our protagonist. She has about as many answers as we do. What we learn, she learns. Answers are given and taken away, and then recapitulate and recontextualize themselves. In this way, it mimics my own experience with trauma and recovery. This is a game about mental illness, even if it eludes that distinction. As grounded as it is, Kay’s journey is far more interested in a grounded metaphorization than clinical realities.—DIa Lacnia
Sale price: $5.24
Long Hat House’s first game might play fast and loose with history—its hero, Dandara, is a real-life figure from Brazilian history—but its Metroid-style design and unique approach to motion make it compulsively playable. It’s part myth, part dream, all wrapped up in an occasionally psychedelic sci-fi action game heavily indebted to the aesthetics of the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
Sale price: $2.99
The oldest game on this list dates back to the Vita. OlliOlli, a brilliant skateboarding game that offered a streamlined take on the sport inspired by endless runners, quickly made its way to all manner of other systems after debuting on Sony’s ill-fated handheld in 2014; a more wide-ranging sequel, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, followed in 2015. The two are collected in OlliOlli Switch Stance, bringing dozens of hours of stylish skating action to the Switch. You don’t have to enjoy skating to dig OlliOlli, which is like a technique-focused arcade game from the ‘80s or early ‘90s made with modern game design tools and sensibilities.
Sale price: $19.49
Somewhere down near the bottom of the massively long list of things ruined by the pandemic you’ll find board games. It’s been risky to run a game night with anybody you don’t live with, and that’s part of the joy of The Jackbox Party Pack 7: it lets you play party games with your friends, without getting anywhere near their respiratory droplets. This round of the eternal party game series features five games, including a public speaking game that frankly sounds like a nightmare, and a couple of the wordplay-oriented games you expect from the Jackbox crew.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.