If you want to play the best Nintendo Switch games, but don’t have the time to explore every crevice in Breath of the Wild, or grind your way through the interconnecting lives of Octopath Traveler, we have just the list for you.
There are a huge number of Switch games you can blitz through in a few hours, and are no less deserving of your time than the longer, bigger games available on the best-selling Nintendo console.
One of the biggest perks of the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite is their portability: you can play it on the sofa, while in the kitchen, the bed, or (in normal times) on your commute, and the handheld form factor makes it ideal for short and sweet play sessions that don’t need a huge time investment.
That’s why we’ve put together our favorite seven Nintendo Switch games that you can play from start to finish in an afternoon – or in a handful of short bursts. There are certainly more than seven out there, but it’s fitting, we think, to make sure this list isn’t too long either.
A Short Hike
A Short Hike was a standout Switch game from 2020. In it, you play as a young bird-lady called Claire as she attempts to climb a mountain. The game has a highly satisfying progression system – based around finding ‘golden feathers’ to help Claire fly higher – despite its brief playtime. You’ll meet an eclectic cast of characters, from hapless mountain climbers to shady feather dealers trying to fund their way through college – and the game’s final moments are definitely worth the trek.
How long to play? 2-4 hours
You’ll also find Florence on iOS, but the Switch is a natural home for the brief interactive romance, which charts the inception, duration, and ending of a romance between a young accountant and a sax musician. While its mechanics are simple (you can play it on an iPhone too, after all), it manages to feel full of heart and emotionally weighty, with gorgeous animations that truly do justice to the small moments that make up a relationship.
How long to play? 1 hour
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a pulsing rhythm action game, and one of the most stylish titles you can find on Nintendo Switch today. You play as a woman trying to piece her broken heart together, while running, jumping, and motorcycling her way through flashy neon levels to the tune of the Sayonara Wild Hearts’ pumping soundtrack. This is a game all about timing, and well worth replaying to get the most synchronous, on-the-beat experience you can.
How long to play? 2-3 hours
What Remains of Edith Finch
This award-winning walking sim from developer Giant Sparrow is a must-play game for the way it seamlessly blends environmental storytelling with interactive mechanics. You play as Edith Finch, who has returned to her ‘cursed’ family home to investigate the deaths of her family members, reliving their experiences as fragments from a diary play out in your surroundings.
But even in the midst of a towering, ramshackle home-turned-mausoleum, there is a lightness and playfulness that turns her family tragedies into fantastical tales, the truth of which is never quite pinned down.
The imagination in this game is, frankly, dizzying – whether you’re hurtling down a mountain as a great white shark, teleporting to another dimension, or figuring out how to unlock the door to the basement. It’ll only take 2-3 hours to play through, too.
If you’re hungry for more spooky walking sims around deserted houses, check out Gone Home (The Fullbright Company) on Nintendo Switch too.
How long to play? 2-3 hours
Switch games don’t get much prettier than this. Gris is a heartachingly animated 2D platformer, with soft brushstrokes of watercolor slowly filling in your surroundings as you progress through ruins, deserts and skies to try and leave the dark ink-blot of grief behind you.
There is a progression system of sorts, and a few nifty manoeuvres to help you navigate the game’s delicately arranged levels, but Gris is largely about bringing color back into a gray world – and the platforming is more than good enough to hold up for its short playtime. Everything from the shape-shifting dress of the protagonist to the game’s awe-inspiring, crumbling statues has a true artist’s touch, and it’s something we’d love to see more of on Nintendo’s handheld-hybrid console.
How long to play? 4-6 hours
No, it’s not really about donuts – but Donut County is a smart and playful puzzler very much worth your (limited) time. You play as a mischievous racoon in control of a sinkhole, one that gets ever larger as you figure out how to manoeuvre a town’s objects, cars, buildings and people into its endless void. Existential? Very. Delicious? That too.
How long to play? 2 hours
You don’t need to understand this game to have a good time. While Katana Zero is big on flashy world-lore, with a time-bending drug called ‘Chronos’ that lets your katana-wielding assassin undo their actions on the fly, it’s the moment-to-moment action that really gives it pulling power. The thrill of rewinding a level, second by second, to get that perfect run-through, is a real delight – while the quirkier sides of the game add a brilliant sense of spontaneity, whether that’s knocking someone out with a stone bust, debating life’s meaning with cosmic beings, or turning on your therapist. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
How long to play? 5-6 hours