Best Switch Hidden Gems 2021
Image: Nintendo Life

The sheer wealth of software coming to Switch eShop on a weekly basis has been hard to keep up with since launch and, try as we might, over time it has become increasingly difficult to review every Switch game we'd like to.

In 2021 more than ever, even intriguing-looking titles have had to be passed-over for one reason or another, often because we simply don't have the bandwidth look at dozens of games in busy periods of the year. It's something we struggle with and we're constantly looking at new ways to highlight games for our readers, even if we can't manage a full review.

Mini reviews are one way we've tackled the issue, and over the past year or two we've put out occasional calls to Nintendo Life readers requesting suggestions for games we've missed, and these have produced some great reader recommendations. We'll certainly continue to run those features in the future, but today we thought we'd highlight a handful of games we felt have been overlooked this year.

We've included many games below that we feel deserve more time in the spotlight, plus several worthy titles we couldn't review at the time but intrigued us enough that we'll be hunting the out over the holidays.

So, let's dive in and see some potentially undiscovered gems you might have missed on Switch eShop this year...

Kaze and the Wild Masks (Switch)

An absolute pleasure from start to finish, what Kaze and the Wild Masks lacks in originality it makes up for in the strength of its level design, responsive controls, kinetic move set and attractive visuals. Excellent, action-packed platforming through and through, with great gameplay variety and gimmicks that don’t compromise on what the game is best at — challenging, fast-paced obstacle courses and deviously-hidden secret areas. Easiest sell? Kaze and the Wild Masks is to Donkey Kong Country what Freedom Planet was to Sonic the Hedgehog. Don’t miss this one.

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Dreamscaper (Switch eShop)

Dreamscaper made its mark during the bonanza of Summer online expos, this is an action roguelike (with some puzzles too) with an interesting day / night cycle. It has an interesting blended approach - in daytime you're exploring the story and forging friendships, while at night you're fighting your way through the character's mind and dreams. A very different and stylish spin on the genre.

Inked: A Tale Of Love (Switch eShop)

Inked: A Tale of Love is a good example of what can be achieved by small but talented creative teams, making a leap from Apple Arcade and providing a reminder of the lovely diversity to be found in the Switch eShop library. Utilising a hand-drawn style not just for visual panache, but as a fundamental part of the story, this is a thoroughly pleasant and satisfying experience with smart puzzles, beautiful presentation and a story full of emotive moments.

Overboard! (Switch eShop)

Where 80 Days was about the broad implications of travelling the entire globe, Overboard! focuses instead on the minutiae of a single day, and the intricacies of interaction. It's a glorious study in how to create a delicate Rube Goldberg machine of dialogue and dependencies, as a cast of mostly terrible people waltz around each other with ulterior motives and pre-existing feelings about everything, including our Veronica and dear, departed Malcolm. It's excellent: play it.

Tux and Fanny (Switch eShop)

Tux and Fanny is a game that's very easy to skim past because it has exceptionally simplistic visuals, with a robotic voice (like in Horace) that makes it seem like a joke. Actually, once you give it a chance it's a quirky, charming and genuinely clever little game that has you set off on a varied adventure of exploration and minigames. All with the noble goal of inflating a soccer ball.

Bonfire Peaks (Switch eShop)

Bonfire Peaks pitches itself as a streamline, focused game that should also be relatively relaxing to play, with some lovely voxel-based visuals. It's a puzzle game, so it's worth keeping that in mind going in, as you shift boxes around and navigate through areas with the goal of burning your belongings. It's far more intriguing and indeed wholesome than that description makes it sound, so it could be a good option for unwinding on the Switch.

The Forgotten City - Cloud Version (Switch eShop)

The Forgotten City is a brilliant piece of narrative work that feels like a time capsule of Skyrim's jank, revitalised with a gripping story that's just long enough that it never loses momentum. It is, as always, hard to fully recommend a Cloud Version of a game that's available elsewhere in a more concrete form, but if you're accepting of the associated 'risks', this is a well-presented and brilliant time loop game and well worth a play.

Wytchwood (Switch eShop)

Wytchwood is a crafting game, through and through — and a good one. It smartly puts its focus purely on the act of gathering materials to create a wide range of objects, with little else to distract from the core crafting mechanic. It’s backed up by a great soundtrack and a reasonably well-told but ultimately forgettable tale as you trawl through the various areas searching for ingredients. Trying to locate specific items can at times feel exhausting and drags down the pacing of the game, and the gorgeous visuals are unfortunately hampered by a slight frame rate jitter. Ultimately though, Wytchwood is a relaxing and addictive jaunt into the world of crafting.

TOEM (Switch eShop)

Like a great album you put on at the end of the day to wind down, Toem is an incredibly relaxing experience that you'll wish you could experience all over again once it's finished. It almost makes us want to start capturing photographs of the world around us, but sadly, we don’t have a duck dressed as a lighthouse keeper to show them to. If only.

Beast Breaker (Switch eShop)

Beast Breaker is the epitome of a hidden gem, and we would highly recommend you give it a shot. Like its main character this game may be small, but it proves to be exceedingly effective at what it sets out to do. Creative, engaging gameplay and a surprising amount of depth combine to make for an experience that may surprise at just how much it hooks you.