Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #30 PC Building Simulator
- #29 Cities: Skylines
- #28 Untitled Goose Game
- #27 Everything
- #26 Moving Out
- #25 Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
- #24 Pokemon: Lets Go Eevee & Pikachu
- #23 Yoshi's Crafted World
- #22 Littlewood
- #21 Steamworld Dig
- #20 Firewatch
- #19 Stardew Valley
- #18 A Short Hike
- #17 Minecraft
- #16 SnowRunner
- #15 House Flipper
- #14 Abzû
- #13 Donut County
- # 12 What Remains of Edith Finch
- #11 Gone Home
- #10 Gris
- #9 Katamari Damacy Reroll
- #8 Coffee Talk
- #7 Slime Rancher
- #6 What the Golf
- #5 Rime
- #4 Animal Crossing New Horizons
- #3 Night in the Woods
- #2 Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
- #1 Spiritfarer
We’ve sure become a busy bunch. From school, to work, to social media, it feels like everything’s hungry for a chunk of our time. While some things are unavoidable (that essay won’t write itself!) it’s still important to get some mental downtime. These Nintendo Switch games are perfect for casual play sessions in between other activities. (Please note all release dates are relative to the Switch.)
#30 PC Building Simulator
Publisher: Epic Games, The Irregular Corporation
Developer: Claudiu Kiss, The Irregular Corporation
Release Date: July 2019
The Ultimate PC Building Simulation is here! This title allows you to build your very own PC empire, doing everything from simple diagnosis and repairs to putting together unique creations that would make fanboys jealous. With real-world licensed components and comprehensive hardware and software simulation, you can bring your plan for your ultimate PC to life! There’s also a career mode in PC Building Simulator which puts you in charge of your very own business in which you build and repair PCs. You can even learn to build a PC with step-by-step instructions and useful information the game will teach you along the way. This simulator is great for any PC lover or someone looking to build their own computer in the future!
#29 Cities: Skylines
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Colossal Order
Release Date: March 2015
Cities: Skylines is a modern take on the classic city simulator. This game introduces new elements to make players realize the thrill and hardships of creating and maintaining a real city while expanding on some well-established tropes of the city building experience. It also allows the ability to mod the game to suit your play style as a fine counterbalance to the layered and challenging gameplay. It’s time to play and let your imagination run wild, so take control and like the title suggests, reach for the sky!
#28 Untitled Goose Game
Developer: House House
Release Date: September 2019
It’s a lovely morning in the village, and you’re a horrible goose. Untitled Goose Game is a slapstick-stealth-sandbox game, where you play as a goose letting loose on an unsuspecting village. You can make your way around the town, to peoples’ back gardens, high street shops, and the village green setting up different pranks, stealing people’s hats, honking a lot, and just ruining everyone’s day. You can now enjoy Untitled Goose Game with a friend in two-player cooperative mode, so go ruin everyone’s day together!
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Developer: David OReilly
Release Date: March 2017
Everything is a simulation game where players can take control of various life-forms and inanimate objects while exploring a procedurally generated world, finding tons of new things to take control of. This award-winning reality simulation, featuring thousands of playable characters, features an extraordinary soundtrack and narration from Alan Watts.
#26 Moving Out
Developer: DevM Games, SMG Studio
Release Date: April 2020
Moving Out is a crazy physics-based moving simulator that brings new meaning to “couch co-op!” As a newly-certified Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technician, you’ll take on moving jobs all across the bust town of Packmore. The Smooth Moves may not be the biggest moving company, but there’s no task too dangerous or strange for this busy team of movers. Grow your business to brave new heights, recruit colorful customizable characters, and save your town from furniture peril!
#25 Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
Publisher: Modus Games
Developer: ACE Team, Giant Monkey Robot
Release Date: July 21, 2020
Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break is a competitive tower defense arcade-action title combined with ACD Team’s quirky, Monty Python-esque humor. Create and share your own levels to compete with friends and strangers online in a real-time mix of hectic tower defense and epic boulder racing. Make your own levels, break everyone else’s, and enjoy this incredibly creative romp.
#24 Pokemon: Lets Go Eevee & Pikachu
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: November 2018
Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee! & Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu! are adventure games great for beginners curious to see what all the excitement is about. In the beginning, you can explore Viridian Forest to catch wild Pokémon and battle Trainers with a randomly selected partner—either Pikachu or Eevee. You’ll be able to bring the experience of a classic Pokémon RPG to your Nintendo Switch, with gameplay that is easily approachable for newcomers to the series but also deep enough to keep veteran Trainers on their toes.
#23 Yoshi’s Crafted World
Release Date: March 2019
Jump into a new Yoshi adventure in a world made of everyday objects-like boxes and paper cups! Playing as Yoshi—any color Yoshi, for that matter—you’ll be able to leap high, gulp down enemies, set out on a treasure hunt for different collectibles, and do all the things a Yoshi does. On the flip side, stages can be played backward, providing new perspectives to explore and more treasures and hidden items to find!
Developer: Sean Young
Release Date: June 2019
While playing Littlewood, you defeated the Dark Wizard and the world of Solemn is finally at peace, but at what cost? You can’t quite remember.
Customize your own town by harvesting materials like wood, bugs, fish, and much more. Fulfill your townsfolk’s requests to unlock new relationship paths. Explore the world of Solemn and see the enchanted forest, bustling fishing towns, and dark mining caves. Collect rare items found across the world to bring back for crafting and selling. The list goes on! Get started on your Littlewood journey today.
#21 Steamworld Dig
Publisher: Image & Form
Developer: Image & Form
Release Date: August 2013
Steamworld Dig is a platform action-adventure game where players control Rusty, a steam-powered robot who arrives at the small Western mining town of Tumbleton after having received a deed for a mine from his long-forgotten uncle, Joe. Sounds cool, right? The objective of this game is to dig through Tumbleton’s mine, which also involves solving many puzzles and platforming to avoid traps and enemies. Have fun exploring your very own mine and digging up treasure!
Publisher: Campo Santo
Developer: Campo Santo, Panic
Release Date: February 2016
This quiet emotional roller-coaster takes place in the mountains of Wyoming. Firewatch is a mystery game that puts you in the shoes of Henry, a down-on-his-luck forest ranger apprentice who just needs an escape. Naturally, you’ll be entrusted with preserving the wildlife and get lots of spelunking opportunities. But Henry gets a little more than he bargained for when something odd lures him away from his lookout post.
Firewatch was released during something of a narrative-game boom. Life is Strange, Journey, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture all preceded it, which put Firewatch in a somewhat precarious position; ultimately, Campo Santo’s gripping choice-driven dialogue and striking visuals helped it stand out from the walking-sim pack. Check out our Before You Buy if you’re still on the fence.
#19 Stardew Valley
Release Date: October 2017
An indie phenomenon inspired by the likes of Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley is a cozy farming sim with endless charm. It’s also unmistakable proof that player interest drifts far beyond the realms of Fortnite, PUBG, and Counter-Strike (no shade intended). Stardew Valley initially launched as a PC exclusive, inviting players to cultivate overrun pastures, level up their virtual fishing skills, customize their homes, and even get hitched. The game’s popularity is more remarkable when we bear in mind it was created by a solo developer. Just last month, Stardew Valley surpassed 20 million sales, an impressive achievement that places it just shy of the top 50 best-selling video games of all time.
#18 A Short Hike
Publisher: Adam Robinson-Yu
Developer: Adam Robinson-Yu
Release Date: August 2020
Classifying games into different categories is mostly a simple process. The presence of fighting indicates an action game; blocked passages and hidden keys indicate a puzzle game. But there’s an unofficial, newly-minted subgenre that has steadily gained traction over the past few years—wholesome games—and this is where A Short Hike exists. A Short Hike is a compact, joyous coming of age adventure that follows the story of Claire, an anthropomorphic bird. As Claire explores Hawk Peak Provincial Park, she meets assorted characters, collects trinkets, and braves the wintry weather in a quest to reach the mountain summit.
Publisher: Mojang Studios, Xbox Game Studios, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Mojang Studios
Release Date: June 2018
Every excavation enthusiast’s dream comes true in the form of Minecraft, a sandbox experience that needs no introduction. Minecraft lets players build almost anything. From houses to cities to space stations, the possibilities are damn well endless. There are several modes including creative, adventure, and survival, the last of which makes hunting down resources to last through the night especially important. Although Minecraft was released over a decade ago, its popularity remains widespread to this day. Players remain dedicated to finding the best seeds and making weird mods. It’s safe to deduce that the regular updates might have something to do with that. The only question now is, will the movie be any good?
Publisher: Focus Interactive
Developer: Saber Entertainment
Release Date: May 2021
There’s nothing quite like tearing down dirt roads in an oversized truck. Saber Interactive is aware of this, and that’s why it went ahead and unleashed a sequel to MudRunner. Sure, SnowRunner ticks a lot of the same boxes. At its core, it’s an off-road automobile simulator where you plow through extreme terrain. But this time around, Saber has updated gameplay with contracts and a much heavier emphasis on snow physics, as well as a stream of new open-world maps post-release. All that without mentioning the significant improvements in the graphics department.
#15 House Flipper
Publisher: Frozen District PlayWay S.A.
Release Date: May 2018
If you’ve ever secretly harbored a desire to fix messy, derelict homes, you could always audition to be on the cast of Hoarders…but for those of you who don’t care for television fame, or simply feel like smashing things, there’s House Flipper. In this design sim, your role is pretty self-explanatory: renovate, renovate, renovate. Each house presents an opportunity to clean rooms, knock down walls, paint interiors, and refurnish until the property looks good as new. Aside from the therapeutic benefits of tidying up, profiting from your handiwork come sale time is another incentive to do a thorough job.
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Giant Squid Studios
Release Date: November 2018
One gaze at Abzû‘s beautiful underwater universe is all you need to realize this game speaks not through words, but art. If the stylized visuals seem familiar, it’s because Abzû’s art director was also involved with Journey. The main objective in Abzû is exploration. As you progress, interacting with marine life, swiping collectibles, and solving puzzles along the way, you discover what secrets lie below the waves. Check out our Before You Buy for a more in-depth look.
#13 Donut County
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Ben Esposito
Release Date: December 2018
A mysterious hole appears and starts swallowing everything in sight. The good news? You’re the one controlling the hole. The bad news? The entire world could disappear if the hole keeps getting bigger. Donut County takes place across several levels through which you progress by gulping down objects and stealing trash. Also, it turns out there’s a broader conspiracy at play: adorable raccoons are responsible for everything and it’s their remote-controlled devices that have set the holes to infinitely devour.
# 12 What Remains of Edith Finch
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Giant Sparrow
Release Date: July 2019
Imagine living in a mansion with half the rooms mysteriously sealed off. Then imagine each of your family members meeting an untimely demise, leaving you as the sole living heir of your brood. Most people would flee to avoid what undoubtedly seems to be a curse. But not Edith Finch. In What Remains of Edith Finch, you get to see the world through Edith’s eyes, returning to the place where it all began and flipping through the pages of the unfortunate family history. Check out our Impressions piece for more detailed insights.
#11 Gone Home
Publisher: Fullbright, Annapurna Interactive
Release Date: September 2018
Another first-person narrative mystery unfolds in Fullbright’s Gone Home. This is an exploration game that prioritizes a slow, steady examination of seemingly mundane clues left behind in an ordinary house. Naturally, there’s more than meets the eye. Discarded notes and letters hint at a carefully guarded secret—which can only be unveiled if you persist till the end. Go read our review if you’d like a spoiler-free deep dive.
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Nomada Studio
Release Date: December 2018
Gris is a game where art, beauty, and sorrow collide. Her dress acts as a metaphor, not only showcasing her pain but granting her new abilities with which to maneuver across magical platforms to an unknown destination. The beautifully, bittersweet soundtrack courtesy of Berlinist packs a powerful emotional punch as you play. Nomada Studio evidently struck gold with Gris, which in 2020 tipped over one million in sales.
#9 Katamari Damacy Reroll
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: Monkeycraft Co. Ltd.
Release Date: December 2018
For enjoyers of weird (but wonderful) puzzle games, there’s Katamari Damacy Reroll, an HD remake of the 2004 title. You control the Prince, whose job involves steering a giant, adhesive ball around multiple areas to pick up objects. The reason? The King of All Cosmos (his highly eccentric father) accidentally destroyed all the stars in the universe. If the Prince manages to collect enough materials, the King can then reverse his astronomical error.
#8 Coffee Talk
Publisher: Toge Productions
Developer: Toge Productions, Chorus Worldwide
Release Date: January 2020
This visual novel has hints of high fantasy and the supernatural thrown in. You’re the barista at a Seattle café, but in this case, most of your latte-sipping patrons include elves, orcs, and dwarves. Its operating hours are also pretty unusual—have you ever seen somebody down a triple espresso at midnight? Aside from serving customers their preferred blend, your duties involve listening to their problems. Additionally, branching storylines pop up and are determined not through dialog choices, but by what beverage you make. There’s a demo on the eShop for those who are keen.
#7 Slime Rancher
Publisher: Monomi Park
Developer: Monomi Park
Release Date: August 2017
Despite bearing resemblance to an FPS, Slime Rancher is in fact a saccharine sandbox game that assigns players the job of eradicating slime. You play as Beatrix LeBeau, who spends her days scooping up the cute, multicolored blobs with a vacuum pack in exchange for ‘newbucks’ (the local currency), expanding her ranch residence, and generally being badass. There’s an abundance of slimes to discover, and Slime Rancher cleverly grabs player interest by allowing for the existence of hybrid slimes with the right combination.
#6 What the Golf
Publisher: Triband, The Label
Release Date: May 2020
There are quite a few golf contenders out there: Mario Golf, Everybody’s Golf, Party Golf, the upcoming Turbo Golf Racing…you get the idea. It’s hard to put a unique spin on a sports game so many companies have reinvented. Nonetheless, Triband has managed to triumph with What the Golf, an absurdist take on the sport which uses physics-based shenanigans (we’re talking hot dogs and toasters strewn about the course) to delight and confuse players.
Publisher: Grey Box, Six Foot
Developer: Tequila Works
Release Date: May 2017
Rime is a puzzle-oriented adventure game that starts on a forsaken island. You control a young boy who, washed ashore with no explanation of how he came to be marooned, must solve ancient riddles in order to ascend to the apex of the island’s highest tower. Danger lurks ahead, but a friendly fox is there to help guide the boy towards what he seeks. Rime‘s developer, Tequila Works, was recently purchased by Tencent—a deal that may help a sequel come to fruition more quickly.
#4 Animal Crossing New Horizons
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Release Date: March 2020
Let’s add some context here—this game was released right at the start of the pandemic, so immersing oneself in an island getaway full of things to do was the perfect escape. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the latest entry in the franchise but retains classic gameplay elements like fishing, decorating one’s house, making money, and socializing with villagers. Overall, the game offers an open-ended experience where relaxation is derived through anything from creating and customizing characters that reflect the player’s own identity, to hunting down rare items. Check out these tips and our Before You Buy if you’re new to the game.
#3 Night in the Woods
Developer: Secret Lab, Infinite Fall
Release Date: February 2017
Night in the Woods is an unconventional adventure game starring Mae Borowski, a cat who’s suffering from a bit of an existential crisis. When she returns home to Possum Springs, time has seemingly moved on without her; school friends have jobs, old shops have shut down, and there’s something odd in the woods. Infinite Fall’s cast of cartoon characters belies the more complex themes of growing pains and finding purpose in one’s life.
#2 Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Release Date: July 2018
Mario’s a swell guy, but it sure is nice to finally see Toad get some time in the spotlight. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker challenges players with navigating Captain Toad through compact obstacle courses littered with coins, super gems, and a power star—the last of which is required for completing each course. Although Captain Toad cannot jump, players are free to rotate the camera to reveal previously unseen objects, and this puzzle-solving element makes it a more cerebral experience compared to something like Super Mario Odyssey.
Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games
Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Release Date: August 2020
From the studio that brought you Sundered and Jotun comes Spiritfarer, a management game about letting go. You play as Stella, a ferrywoman who basically transports the dead into the afterlife. Aside from customizing your ferry, you’re free to fish, cook, and gather resources, but the main appeal lies in comforting passengers on their journey to the great unknown.