Since its launch, the Nintendo Switch has become a haven for indie game developers, offering a platform to showcase their unique and innovative creations. Among the plethora of indie games available on the Switch, turn-based RPGs have garnered a loyal following of players who appreciate the strategic depth and immersive storytelling these games provide.
In this article, we will explore the top 15 best indie turn-based RPGs available on the Nintendo Switch that you should play in 2023, showcasing the diverse range of experiences that await RPG enthusiasts. While there are many exceptional titles to choose from, we have carefully curated a list that represents the cream of the crop sorted by release date.
You will find links to our reviews for many of the RPGs in this list so you can learn more about them. So, let’s dive in and discover these indie gems‘ captivating worlds and engaging gameplay.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Battle Chasers: Nightwar, the first game from Airship Syndicate, offers a richly detailed fantasy world and traditional turn-based combat. Set in the Battle Chasers comic series universe, the game doesn’t require prior knowledge of the source material. It features a stunning art style inspired by the comics, with hand-animated sequences and environmental details that bring the steampunk-meets-fantasy landscape to life.
While Nightwar modernizes certain aspects, it retains the hallmarks of classic RPGs. The game includes grinding, as characters only gain experience when directly involved in battles. Additionally, it introduces randomized dungeon layouts to reduce repetition. The world of Nightwar is filled with activities such as fishing, hunting, exploration, and treasure hunting.
The game’s standout feature is its combat system. Battles occur between three party members and one to three enemies, with characters utilizing health, mana, overcharge, and burst gauges. Overcharge adds to the mana reserve, while burst abilities provide powerful attacks. With numerous attacks, skills, perks, and status effects, each battle becomes a unique experience.
The game excels in progressively introducing mechanics, ensuring that battles remain engaging and not overwhelming. However, balancing issues and the need for grinding weaker characters can be frustrating. The story is acceptable but not groundbreaking, focusing on stopping an evil necromancer. The character interactions and voice acting stand out, offering depth and heart to the overall experience. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a visually striking game with complex mechanics that will appeal to fans of traditional turn-based combat and one of the best Switch Turn-Based RPGs available.
The Banner Saga Trilogy
The Banner Saga Series is set in a world inspired by Norse mythology, where different races and gods coexist. The story follows a group of survivors facing the impending threat of the Dredge, stone warriors who have emerged to wage war. The games feature branching narratives and difficult choices that affect the characters and the story.
The turn-based combat mechanics have been improved since the first title, introducing new units, abilities, and strategic options. However, the trilogy has flaws, including bugs and ambiguous choice descriptions. Despite these minor issues, The Banner Saga Trilogy offers a compelling story, memorable characters, and immersive visuals. It is recommended for those who enjoy a good narrative, mixed-genre gameplay and want to support the indie gaming scene.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Inside a list with the best Turn-Based RPGs on Nintendo Switch can’t miss Divinity: Original Sin 2, a groundbreaking role-playing game that has captured the hearts of players and critics alike. In a genre that seemed to fade away in the mid-2000s, Divinity: Original Sin 2 revitalizes the isometric CRPG genre with its immersive gameplay, captivating writing, and innovative mechanics.
The character creation process sets the stage for an unforgettable journey. Whether players choose from the game’s premade characters or craft their own, each character possesses their own unique personality, perks, and affinities. This allows players to dive into the game immediately with well-crafted characters or modify them later as they gain a deeper understanding of the game’s mechanics.
Unlike other games that may overwhelm players with a deluge of lore, Divinity: Original Sin 2 strikes a perfect balance in its pacing and structure. While incorporating callbacks and references to its predecessors, the game ensures newcomers feel at home, offering a comprehensible and accessible lore-heavy universe. It is a masterclass in delivering a rich narrative without sacrificing clarity.
The world of Divinity: Original Sin 2 is inhabited by a cast of compelling characters that rival those found in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. From the undead skeleton who condescends to the player’s human character to the humanoid lizard who behaves as if still at the imperial court, each character brings their own flavor to the high-fantasy setting. Their stories and interactions add depth and color to an already vibrant world.
Player choices have significant consequences, influencing the outcome of events and even closing off certain quests. Divinity: Original Sin 2 encourages multiple playthroughs, as actions such as triggering a trap or opening a door can shape the story unexpectedly. The game invites players to truly engage with the world, offering an immersion rarely seen in RPGs.
Interactivity and variety are key strengths of Divinity: Original Sin 2. Players can interact with objects in the environment in countless ways, creating unexpected outcomes and opportunities for exploration. The combat system incorporates elemental manipulation, where players can exploit the environment to gain a tactical advantage. This high interactivity and gameplay variety ensures that every encounter feels fresh and exciting.
Disco Elysium has become a sensation in the gaming industry, earning accolades such as Game of the Year and recognition for its narrative, music, art, and voice acting. Developed by Estonian studio ZA/UM, the game has surprised players with its ambitious and philosophical approach, becoming one of the best RPGs on Switch.
The protagonist of Disco Elysium is Harry du Bois, an alcoholic cop with amnesia. Players make choices about Harry’s past and identity, shaping the course of the story. The game introduces inner voices representing Harry’s skills, which guide and torment him throughout the game. These skills, such as Inland Empire and Electro-Chemistry, are vital for character development and decision-making.
Disco Elysium offers four attributes and six skills for players to develop. There are no restrictions on skill progression, allowing players to focus on their preferred abilities. The game features a thought cabinet where players can internalize thoughts, granting advantages or limiting possibilities.
Set in the war-torn city of Revachol, Disco Elysium presents a corrupt and decaying environment that players must navigate. While combat is not a central aspect, turn-based elements reminiscent of pen-and-paper RPGs are present. The game emphasizes exploration, dialogue, and decision-making, with occasional skill checks and combat encounters.
The game stands out for its rich story, intriguing main quests, and captivating side quests. The writing is particularly praised for its brilliance. The music, voice acting, and art design contribute to the game’s immersive experience. The user interface is well-designed, allowing players to engage with the text seamlessly.
Disco Elysium offers a unique and thought-provoking experience with its narrative, character development, and philosophical themes. It has captivated players with its immersive world, memorable characters, and exceptional writing, solidifying its place as a standout title in the gaming industry.
Alder’s Blood, developed by Shockwork Games, is an inventive and visually stunning tactical stealth game that shouldn’t be overlooked in the crowded indie market. Inspired by games like Darkest Dungeon and X-Com, Alder’s Blood presents a unique story set in a land plagued by blight and monstrous creatures. As the leader of a band of hunters, players embark on a journey to banish the god’s corpse and restore peace. The game’s art style is fantastic, the hand-drawn aesthetic is visually compelling and adds to the overall experience.
Gameplay-wise, Alder’s Blood combines turn-based tactics and stealth mechanics. Players take turns moving, attacking, healing, and hiding, limited by a stamina gauge. The game emphasizes a stealthy approach, with hunters immediately attacked when spotted by enemies. The olfactory mechanic adds depth to the tactical gameplay, as hunters can inadvertently draw attention through scent trails affected by wind patterns.
One of the game’s impactful features is permadeath, making every damage taken feel harrowing. Health can only be recovered through items or camping, but taking hunters on missions increases their corruption level, putting them at risk. Sacrificing hunters at a campsite allows players to imbue their power in another character, adding a strategic choice element. However, leveling up feels less impactful, and some mechanics could use fine-tuning.
In addition to gameplay, players will interact with trading outposts and NPCs for story and side quests, earning crafting materials, money, and food. Crafting weapons and items, managing resources, and making choices add depth to the game.
While Alder’s Blood has a few issues, it excels as a well-designed turn-based strategy game in the indie space. Its unique blend of gameplay mechanics and compelling art style make it a standout title worth considering.
Indivisible, developed by Lab Zero and published by 505 Games, is a visually stunning game that feels like an interactive anime cartoon. With hand-drawn graphics and attention to detail, it immediately captures players attention. The gameplay combines elements of action, beat ’em up, platforming, and turn-based combat, making it difficult to pin down into a single genre.
The combat system is turn-based but with a rhythmic influence, requiring players to time attacks and recharge abilities. The inclusion of supercharged Iddhi attacks adds depth to the battles. The story follows the protagonist, Ajna, on a journey to confront the evil warlord Ravannanar who destroyed her village. Along the way, she encounters various characters whom she can call upon for help in battle.
Indivisible balances its heavier themes with humor, featuring stellar voice acting and a well-written script. The ability to see enemies on the field adds a strategic element to encounters. However, the game’s platforming sections can be frustrating, requiring precise movements and often resulting in repeated attempts.
Despite the platforming issues, the game’s engaging story and likable characters keep players invested. With its beautiful visuals, captivating soundtrack, and a blend of gameplay styles, Indivisible offers a unique and enjoyable RPG experience on Switch.
Ikenfell is a turn-based tactical RPG developed by Happy Ray Games, featuring charming pixel art and innovative additions to the genre. Players take on the role of Maritte, a girl who enrolls in the magical school of Ikenfell in search of her missing sister Safina. As Maritte explores the school, she encounters strange phenomena and dark secrets that unfold throughout the story.
The game allows relatively free movement within the school, with puzzles unlocking previously inaccessible areas. Exploring the different school installations, interacting with NPCs, and finding treasures is integral to the gameplay. Combat encounters with enemies allow character progression through experience gained from defeating foes.
Battles in Ikenfell take place on a 2D stage with a grid system, offering tactical positioning and target selection options. Players control a party of three characters out of six, each with unique skills and abilities. The protagonist, Maritte, specializes in fire magic, while other party members have diverse magic types and supportive or offensive roles. Traps add an additional layer of strategy to battles, and enemies also employ them.
The game features a variety of enemies, ranging from ghosts and monsters to whimsical creatures like sunflowers and chandeliers. Boss battles provide more significant challenges and require strategic thinking to overcome. The combat system incorporates a timing mechanic, rewarding players with increased or reduced damage received by executing attacks or defenses at the right moment.
Visually, Ikenfell impresses with detailed pixel art, creating a magical and immersive atmosphere. The soundtrack, featuring songs with vocals and an exceptional Spanish guitar theme, adds to the game’s appeal. With a playtime of around 30 hours, the game offers a substantial experience.
Overall, Ikenfell is a delightful and surprising Switch tactical RPG, featuring an engaging story with lighthearted and mature themes, diverse characters, solid combat mechanics, and a memorable soundtrack. It comes highly recommended for fans of the genre.
Star Renegades is a roguelite game with JRPG-style combat that offers an enjoyable gameplay experience. The core gameplay loop involves venturing through an introductory section and three planets, battling enemies, and collecting resources along the way. Each run takes around 6-8 hours to complete, and players can buy equipment and recruit new heroes between each zone.
During the exploration phase, players have limited charges to break through forcefields and explore different parts of the map. The objective is to gather valuable items, credits, and upgrades and engage in enemy encounters. It is essential to plan the exploration route carefully, as certain spots may become locked down by the enemy. Nighttime allows for camping, where heroes can use camping abilities to gain temporary bonuses, heal, and improve relationships between characters.
The battle system in Star Renegades stands out, with its turn-based JRPG mechanics and unique twists. Abilities are generally free to use every turn, with some utilizing a Fury resource. The time/initiative system adds strategic depth, allowing players to stagger enemies and disrupt their turns. Critical hits are triggered by attacking enemies before their turn, and the game also incorporates HP, shields, and armor as additional layers of strategy.
Meta progression in the game includes difficulty options, robot upgrades, equipment unlocks, hero unlocks, and class perks. Players can unlock additional heroes, upgrade their abilities, and customize their starting loadout. However, there are some issues and bugs in the game, such as visual bugs and achievements not unlocking correctly.
While the story and thematic elements may not be the main focus of Star Renegades, the game’s battle system and strategic gameplay make it an enjoyable experience. The length of each run may not appeal to everyone, but the ability to save and continue later provides flexibility. Star Renegades offers engaging gameplay with a unique blend of roguelite and JRPG mechanics.
Monster Sanctuary is a game that fulfills childhood dreams with its blend of monster collecting, platforming, exploration, and engaging combat. Inspired by Stardew Valley, it sets a new standard in its genre. Set in the magical Sanctuary, players become Monster Keepers who maintain balance by defeating wild monsters and hatching their eggs. The pixel art visuals and diverse biomes create a beautiful world to explore.
The mechanics revolve around the monsters themselves, with skill trees determining abilities. Skill points earned through leveling up unlock nodes, allowing customization. Equip weapons and accessories, feed snacks for stat boosts, and utilize an elemental system for strategic depth. Combat is turn-based, assembling a team of three monsters. Combo Counter amplifies subsequent attacks based on hits while managing mana is crucial. The puzzle-like combat requires strategic decision-making and consideration of weaknesses and resistances.
In summary, Monster Sanctuary delivers an enjoyable adventure with its monster collecting, platforming, exploration, and combat elements. Its intricate design, captivating visuals, and thoughtful mechanics make it a standout title. Whether players enjoy monster collecting, Metroidvania-style gameplay, or strategic turn-based combat, Monster Sanctuary offers a delightful and immersive experience.
Cris Tales is a Switch turn-based RPG that introduces time-shifting mechanics, allowing players to manipulate past, present, and future events. The protagonist, Crisbell, is a Time Mage who discovers her abilities during the invasion of her hometown, Narim. As players journey with Crisbell, they will encounter new companions, explore dungeons, and visit various cities, uncovering a profound story with unexpected twists.
The ability to view and influence the past, present, and future of cities and their inhabitants adds a unique dynamic to the gameplay. Player decisions can alter the course of events and change the future, although the impact on the main story is limited. Crisbell is accompanied by Mathias, who aids in solving puzzles and completing quests related to the past and future.
The game features a colorful hand-drawn world, with vibrant colors contrasting with pockets of darkness. The world map allows players to explore different locations, discover hidden treasures, and engage in combat encounters within dungeons. In cities, the screen is divided into past, present, and future sections, providing opportunities to interact with NPCs and affect their future outcomes.
Combat encounters occur through random encounters in dungeons, and players control a party of characters with unique abilities and skills. Crisbell’s time-manipulation skills allow enemies to be aged or made younger, resulting in different weaknesses and stat changes. Combos and synchronicity attacks can be utilized to maximize damage while leveling up unlocks additional team attacks.
While Cris Tales introduces new mechanics and an intriguing story, some elements, such as decision consequences and time-manipulation limitations, may feel less impactful than expected. However, the cute graphics, a fitting soundtrack, and voiced characters contribute to the overall experience.
Despite its mixed feelings, Cris Tales offers exciting gameplay mechanics and engaging characters, making it an appealing choice for turn-based RPG enthusiasts who enjoy charming designs.
Rise of the Third Power
Rise of the Third Power, developed by Stegosoft Games, is a Nintendo Switch indie RPG set in a world loosely inspired by the political landscape of Europe in the late 1930s.
The story takes place in a world recovering from a devastating war and focuses on the conflict between the Kingdom of Arkadya and the Tariqqi Republic. The protagonist, Rowan Val Serino, a former navy member turned pirate, joins forces with Corrina Aiya Tourea, a street-smart fighter, and Princess Arielle I Liriatta, who is caught in a political marriage. As tensions rise, players must navigate a world on the brink of war and make choices that shape the outcome.
The game features a pixel art style reminiscent of classic RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. Battles are turn-based, with a focus on strategic encounters and ambushes. The game’s music and battles are particularly appealing, creating an immersive experience.
The menu offers options for saving, tracking quests, managing items and equipment, crafting, checking character stats, allocating talent points, viewing the map, adjusting settings, and quitting the game. The dungeons can be challenging to navigate, with hidden treasure chests blending into the environment.
The game’s story and war power struggle can sometimes feel circular, raising questions about the motivations behind certain events. The game also includes unexpected character development and choices that trade one war for another.
Despite a few flaws, Rise of the Third Power offers a unique RPG experience on Switch with an exciting setting and engaging battles. Players who enjoy classic RPGs and are interested in a story inspired by European political history will enjoy this game.
Edge of Eternity
Another great Turn-Based RPG on Nintendo Switch is Edge of Eternity. An open-world, turn-based JRPG set in the dying world of Heryon. The game follows the protagonist and their sister on a quest to find a cure for the deadly Corrosion illness that has plagued their mother. The world of Heryon is filled with quests, puzzles, and enemies to confront, providing a rich and immersive experience.
Exploration is a key aspect of the game, allowing players to explore the world of Heryon between story missions freely. There are various types of quests and events to undertake and puzzles to solve. The day-night cycle affects the availability of NPCs, quests, and enemies, adding depth to the gameplay.
The turn-based battle system in Edge of Eternity is tactical and engaging. Players can use four characters in combat, each with their own skills and abilities. Battles take place on a hexagonal grid, and strategic positioning and elemental powers play a role in combat effectiveness. Crafting and equipment customization is also necessary, with the ability to buy items, obtain recipes, and level up weapons and crystals to enhance character abilities.
The game’s graphics and environment are visually stunning, and the soundtrack adds to the immersive experience. While there may be occasional frame rate drops and minor menu issues, they do not significantly impact gameplay.
Overall, Edge of Eternity offers a captivating and recommendable experience for fans of turn-based JRPGs. Its expansive world, engaging combat system, and customization options make it a worthwhile adventure in the dying world of Heryon.
Jack Move, developed by So Romantic, is a bite-sized RPG that impresses in several ways, making it worth time for those who enjoy turn-based RPGs. Set in a cyberpunk world where corporations have taken over after a global blackout event, players impersonate Noa, a hacker vigilante seeking to save her kidnapped father from the hands of the overreaching corporation Monomind.
The gameplay follows the usual RPG formula, allowing players to explore the map, interact with NPCs, and take on sidequests. Random encounters occur in certain areas, but the game offers the ability to adjust encounter rates, giving players control over the frequency of battles. Combat involves a rock-paper-scissors system between Wetware, Electroware, and Cyberware attacks, and players can equip software and hardware to enhance their abilities. The Jack Move bar fills during battle and allows to unleash powerful super attacks, which involve a rhythm game-like challenge.
While the game’s short length of around six hours may disappoint some RPG enthusiasts, it helps maintain a tight and engaging experience. The game has a few bugs and occasional crashes, but frequent autosaves prevent significant progress loss. The final dungeon’s gimmick may be frustrating, but the satisfying boss sequence compensates for it.
Visually, Jack Move shines with its pixel art, complemented by a fantastic soundtrack. The cyberpunk aesthetic is well-executed, and NPCs have side stories that add depth to the world. For fans of the cyberpunk genre looking for a short RPG experience, Jack Move represents a perfect choice.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the righteous
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, the follow-up to Kingmaker, has arrived with significant improvements and a host of new features. The game opens with the protagonist suffering from amnesia in a city attacked by demonic forces. As part of a ragtag group of heroes, players embark on a crusade to reclaim the land and defeat the hellspawn.
The game boasts a robust selection of classes, offering a wide range of choices and customization options. With various subtypes and class combinations available, players can create unique and diverse characters. Equipment and magic also add to the depth of character progression, with a variety of options and spell choices to explore.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous introduces Mythic Paths, additional leveling mechanics that enhance gameplay and offer unique abilities. Players can choose from various paths, such as the path of the angel or lichdom, which significantly impact the game both in and out of battle.
Despite its strengths, the game is not without flaws. The pathfinding for mounted characters, in particular, is plagued by bugs, causing frustration and wasted turns. The alignment system is also criticized for its extreme dialogue options, limiting subtlety and potentially conflicting with players’ desired character motivations.
The game includes large-scale battles reminiscent of Heroes of Might & Magic, where players lead armies against demonic forces. While these battles add variety, they may feel like a tacked-on feature that lacks surprises and deeper strategic elements.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is a solid Switch RPG with entertaining gameplay, exciting character progression, and an engaging story. Although it may not convert new fans to the genre, existing fans of tabletop-inspired RPGs will find much to enjoy. The game’s bugs are being addressed through regular updates, promising a more polished experience in the future.
Chained Echoes is an impressive RPG developed by solo indie developer Matthias Linda after years of hard work and a successful Kickstarter campaign. Set in the continent of Valandis, the game follows a diverse group of characters whose fates become intertwined in their quest to prevent a war from engulfing the land. The game’s narrative focuses on the relationships and development of the entire team rather than a single protagonist, offering a refreshing approach. The open yet manageable environment design allows for exploration and discovery of secret paths, treasures, and optional boss fights. The Reward Board provides a variety of objectives to pursue, encouraging players to explore each area thoroughly.
The combat system features turn-based battles with unique elements to keep it dynamic and engaging. Players can switch partners during battles, strategically considering the team’s synergy. The Ultra Move and Overdrive meters add depth and strategy, allowing players to unleash powerful abilities and balance the risk-reward mechanics. The combat mechanics, inspired by classic JRPGs, are well-implemented and offer a fresh take on the genre.
Character progression in Chained Echoes is handled through Grimoire Stones, which unlock new skills for each character, allowing for customization and specialization. The game also introduces gear upgrades, gemstone enhancements, and class items, providing multiple avenues for character development. The 32-bit art style perfectly captures the retro aesthetic, and the soundtrack creates an immersive atmosphere.
Chained Echoes stands out as a nostalgic yet innovative RPG, offering a well-paced story, tactical combat, and an expansive world. Its unconventional progression system, captivating gameplay, and attention to detail make it one of the best Switch RPGs available, showcasing the dedication and talent of its solo developer. Whether a fan of the genre or not, Chained Echoes is a must-play for RPG enthusiasts and a testament to what makes RPGs great.
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