Updated with several new entries. Enjoy!
The Switch is the perfect console if you travel a lot, for work or pleasure. The console’s portability makes it the perfect choice if you’re spending any time at all in planes, trains and automobiles.
Of course, you may choose to pass the time playing a trusted standby, or grinding through your favourite RPG, but if you’re after a wholesome, bite-size game to chew on and digest entirely in a single sitting, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’ve got no travel plans at all and you just want an amuse-bouche in between sweeping epics. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of smaller experiences on the eShop, and we’re here to help you find the best short games on Switch.
All of the games below can be completed in a few short hours — potentially in one gaming session, subject to skill and the battery life of your Switch (owners of the revised model or Switch OLED will have an advantage here). So, whether you’re jetting off on holiday or squeezing in a whistle-stop business trip, you can travel safe in the knowledge that the following short Switch games will keep you company on your trip, and you’ll have them wrapped up by the time you return. Who’s got the patience to wait until hour 30 when a game supposedly ‘gets good’, eh?!
Let’s kick things off in our list of the best short Switch games — in no particular order — with a short, sugary treat…
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: Ben Esposito
Donut County is perfect if you’re looking for a short, relaxing, funny puzzle game. It’s an enjoyable experience that has just enough charm to justify its existence, and although some might find the relatively high price tag a tough pill to swallow for three hours max of content, it’s a tasty little treat of a game that you can devour in a single sitting. Short and sweet, indeed.
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: Giant Sparrow
What Remains of Edith Finch is a ‘Walking Simulator’ that doesn’t just tell an unforgettable story – it’s genuinely unforgettable. As tragic as its tale is, it always manages to entertain. As one section ends and as you fight back tears, you’ll always carry on, because the next story is as engrossing as the last. If you want a strong feature-length story that doesn’t waste a minute, Edith Finch is the one you need.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Doinksoft
With tight controls, retro-styled minimal art style and a superb sense of progression, Gato Roboto is the perfect Metroidvania to play whilst you’re waiting for an actual Metroid or appropriate Castlevania game. Only its difficulty leaves a bit to be desired at times – anybody with a lick of experience will likely breeze through it in no time, and its quality is such that you may end up wishing it lasted a little longer. Nevertheless, it’s chock full of meaningful upgrades, secrets and spectacular boss battles to keep you joyously busy for a few hours.
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: Annapurna Interactive
Several years on, there’s no denying the cultural and developmental impact Gone Home has had on the game industry. Both as a near-perfect exercise in interactive storytelling and an example of how to handle complex and very real ideas in a game, only Life is Strange has ever come close to matching its significance. While there still isn’t much ‘game’ to be found here, the story you unravel through exploring an empty home will stay with you long after you’ve put down your Switch. Essential.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Devolver Digital
We struggle to recall a dystopia quite as cheerful as the one found in Pikuniku. It’s a short game, but one packed with heart and imagination, with a great single-player component and excellent couch co-op that can genuinely be enjoyed by anyone. It makes us remember the fun we had cutting pieces from our friends in Snipperclips, but where we occasionally hit a brick wall with that game, Pikuniku sidesteps frustration in favour of a breezy and charming adventure; a perfect salve if you need a break from the backlog, but don’t dive in expecting endless hours of gameplay.
Publisher: Campo Santo / Developer: Campo Santo
Firewatch is just as engrossing and enchanting on Switch as it was the first time around. From the warm glow of its forests in the morning summer light to the subtle tension of exploring a rocky gorge in the isolating silence of night, Shoshone National Forest is a character in its own right. With a story that’s both funny and heartbreaking – and enhanced by some brilliant performances by its two central actors – this is an essential purchase, irrespective of whether you’re playing it for the first time on Switch or simply using it as an excuse to revisit an old favourite.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Nomada Studio
We’re very careful when we use this word, but Gris is a masterpiece. Its jaw-dropping visual style and heart-wrenching score combine for one of the most emotional pieces of interactive art you’ll ever play. It may be too short for some, its puzzles may be on the simple side and the lack of any real challenge may not be to everyone’s taste, but this is a game focused more on fragility than ability and as long as you’re willing to go along for the ride, it’s one that will stick with you for a very long time indeed.
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive / Developer: Simogo
Sayonara Wild Hearts is the video game equivalent of Prince: it’s extremely short and its journey maybe ends a little sooner than you’d hoped, but it packs so many varied and beautiful ideas into its brief life and masters so many different styles that even though there’s a real disappointment it’s over so quickly, what it did give you will remain with you for an extremely long time. A true creative masterpiece.
Publisher: 505 Games / Developer: 505 Games
Abzû is certainly a standout release on the eShop, offering up an experience that breaks from the norm of goal-based gaming in favour of something that’s more focused on simply existing in a world and enjoying all its little intricacies. Those of you who appreciate casual adventures like taking a walk in a forest will be sure to enjoy what Abzû has to offer, as the dreamlike visuals, entrancing orchestral score and deliberately sedate pace do a fantastic job of drawing the player into this alien world. We’d give Abzû a high recommendation to anybody looking for something a little more gentle for their Switch; it’s not a game about winning, but about the journey (no pun intended) you take getting there.