To The Moon is a powerful interactive story. It's a short game but it manages to make its players directly confront uncomfortable situations and emotions with which we'll all struggle at some point in our lives. Mental illness, death, heartbreak, tragedy... it's all in here, and handled honestly within a brilliant narrative setup that allows us to watch a lifetime deconstructed, layer by layer, revealing the very human mistakes and unavoidable interruptions of fate that shape how our lives ultimately turn out. All in a matter of four or five hours.
A passionate love letter to a bygone age, 198X celebrates 2D, arcade-based gaming brilliantly and wraps it up in some of the best hand-drawn art we've seen in years. The soundtrack is also exceptional, and, in terms of pure presentation, it's really hard to fault what's on offer here. 198X's biggest weakness is its brevity; you can finish it in around an hour, but the experience will remain with you for long after the credits have rolled. While we're sure many people will consider the game's shortness a cardinal sin, we'd still recommend you give it a try if you're a fan of '80s and '90s gaming, appreciate lush 2D artwork and desire an experience which firmly lodges itself in your consciousness – even if it doesn't last all that long.
The Touryst is a joyous little adventure that sinks its blocky hooks into you and doesn't let go until it's done. It's got a perfect balance of atmospheric puzzling, leisurely exploring and minigame madness that'll keep you thoroughly entertained from start to finish, and its collection of tiny little voxel islands are a joy to discover, bursting with surprises to uncover and presented in a truly dazzling art-style that's achieved whilst performing flawlessly on Nintendo's console. The puzzles might not be the most taxing you'll ever come across and you'll blow through the whole thing pretty quickly, but overall this is a top-notch – and perfectly priced – little gem.
Florence is an evocation of the beauty, sadness and hope that comes from any human connection we make in our lives, whether with art, nature or another person. It's a succinct and incredibly successful exploration of moments you'll recognise from your own life, and the way it mirrors thoughts and feelings through small gameplay mechanics makes it one of the most affecting experiences we've enjoyed on Switch, or any other platform.
Concise, carefully crafted and beautifully malleable in its meaning, When The Past Was Around is a rather gorgeous little art game that remembers it needs to be interesting in its puzzles as well as its narrative. Taking the principles of escape room-style gameplay and fitting them around its theme lends them a gravitas that belies their simplicity and elevates this game into more than just the indie flavour of the month. Sure, you're not likely to play it twice, but you'd be hard-pressed to forget about it.
If you’re looking for something substantial in the gameplay department, Old Man’s Journey probably isn’t for you. Its main mechanic is neat, but it doesn’t build upon it and due to the lack of any surrounding substance, you may be left feeling short changed. But for those that connect with it, Old Man’s Journey will offer up a memorable experience that comes equipped with a meaningful message and a stunning graphical palette.
Going in with diminished expectations no-doubt coloured our impressions of Toree 3D, but our brief time with this 99-cent gem was undeniably delightful. For significantly less than the price of a decent cup of coffee, you get an enjoyably bite-sized, colourful 3D platformer with great music and a fun aesthetic that doesn't take itself seriously in the slightest — and it doesn't stick around long enough to get boring.
Can it compete with the scale and depth of the Switch's finest 3D jump-fests? Of course not, but this low-poly PS1-style platforming experience is a joyous breath of fresh air that's more than worth the asking price, as is its similarly breezy sequel. A great way to spend those Gold Points.
A Short Hike is a fat-free experience from top to bottom – or should we say bottom to top? It's the kind of game that makes us just sigh with happiness when we recall our time with it, and even having played it through to its ostensible conclusion multiple times, we know for a fact there are still things to see and do on that mountain. What we have here is something of an apotheosis – a milestone in indie games akin to Cave Story, or Spelunky. The very best bits of multiple game genres, stripped of all padding and bloat, mixed perfectly into a delicious video game stew that only gets richer and richer the more you play. An exploration in every sense of the word, A Short Hike is cute without being twee, challenging without being obnoxious, and emotional without being cloying. A landmark game for all ages. Don't miss this one.
Ah, 120-hour RPGs are all well and good, but it sure feels good to tick off some of the backlog, hmm? Let us know if we've missed any fabulous gaming nuggets below with other suggestions of short games (around three hours is perfect, although we'll go to six at a push).
This article is one of our Switch Essentials guides which cover a wide variety of genres, including the Best Switch FPS Games, the Best Switch RPGs, the Best Switch Games For Kids, the Best Switch Couch Co-Op Games and the Best Switch Fitness and Exercise Games. We can also help out hunting down the Best Switch Horror Games, the Best Switch Racing Games, the Best Switch Action-RPGs, the Best Nintendo Switch Roguelikes, Roguelites and Run-Based Games, the Best Free Switch Games, the Best Remakes And Remasters, the Best Switch Music And Rhythm Games, Best Feel-Good Switch Games, Best Switch Open-World Games, Best Switch Soulslike Games, Best LGBTQ+ Switch Games, and even Games to Play After You've Finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Whatever your favourite genre, we've got you covered: Strategy Games, Metroidvanias, Puzzle Games, Party Games, Online Multiplayer Games, Local Wireless Multiplayer Games, Shmups, Twin-Stick Shooters, Visual Novels, Kart Racers, Fighting Games, Football Games, Funny Games, Golf Games, 'Walking Sims' And Narrative Games, Switch Games For Lovers And Lonely Hearts, Detective Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Puzzle Platformers, Tabletop Mode Games, Run and Gun Games, LEGO Games, Sports Games, Survival Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Camera Games, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, Card Games and Deck-Builders, and Life Sims And Farming Games.
Still hungry for more? Elsewhere we look at Wholesome Games, TATE Mode Games, Flight Sim and Space Combat, Point and Click Adventure Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game, Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch, plus the Best Switch Ports, Best Wii U-To-Switch Ports, Best Switch Collections And Compilations, Best Cheap Switch Games, Best Switch Demos, Games That Are Better On Switch OLED, Switch Games Under $10, $20, $50, and Switch games with the Best Soundtracks and the Best Graphics. Phew!
If you're looking for the best Switch games regardless of genre, our reader-voted selection of the Best Nintendo Switch Games should help you out, and you can also find the Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best GBC Games, Best GBA Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, Best NES Games, Best SNES Games, Best N64 Games, Best GameCube Games, and Best Wii Games, and Best Wii U Games, as well as Every Available Nintendo Switch Online Retro Game, and ranked lists of Every Nintendo Switch Online NES, SNES, N64 and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive Game.