As I grow older, I really appreciate games that emphasize quality over quantity. Being an adult with two kids, my free time is much more limited than it once was. So I’ll take an excellent game that can be finished in under 10 hours over a “just okay” 40+ hour game any day of the week! This is a big factor in why I’ve gravitated towards indie titles in recent years. There’s such a diverse array of gameplay and styles that they never get old. For this post, I want to specifically talk about stellar games that can be finished in roughly 2 hours or less. These are my picks for the best “short and sweet” Switch games!
This list is in no particular order. I’m going to include a bit about who might most enjoy it if you’re looking the pick the perfect game for you. Hopefully you find something you want to try out!
Gone Home starts with a simple premise. You’re the daughter in a family returning to your family’s large home in the middle of the night. Mysteriously, no one is there. So you explore the house and piece together what happened! The main gameplay simply involves walking and interacting with certain objects in the house. It sounds mundane but the care that went into the details of the house and progression of exploration make it a delight to play! Just FYI: there are no enemies and no jump scares, though exploring a few areas will heighten your anxiety a bit. The games spins a fantastic tale in just two hours; I recommend playing and finishing it a single night like my wife and I did. A classic that’s easily one of the best short and sweet Switch games!
Perfect for: anyone who enjoys a good mystery, anyone who appreciates a lot meticulous detail in game design, anyone nostalgic for the 90s
Donut County is just great, silly fun. You control holes in the ground that progressively get bigger as you “swallow” objects. The story revolves around a raccoon named BK who is behind the creation of the holes as he tries to explain himself to all his friends who are now trapped underground. The script is pretty hilarious (at one point BK says “we’re going to do a boss fight”, which I need to say more often), the graphics are colorful, the music is fun, and it’s really evident a lot of love went into the game. My girls enjoyed this one too, though they did tell me I was “not nice” to swallow people with a giant hole!
Perfect for: anyone wanting a zany, comical game that doesn’t take itself seriously, fans of Katamari Damacy, fans of devious racoons
What Remains of Edith Finch
Similar in gameplay to Gone Home, but with a very interesting twist. You play as Edith Finch, returning to your abandoned family home in search of answers about a mysterious curse. Each member of the Finch family seems doomed to die “before their time” in an often bizarre way. As each person in the family passed, their room was forever sealed off from the rest of the house and kept the way it was a sort of moment frozen in time. You explore the house and slowly open the rooms to relive the last moments of each family member before their death. A fascinating twist is in the presentation of each vignette-each death memory embodies a different graphical style, gameplay mechanic, and perspective. Not all bits land as much as others, but absolutely worth playing to experience them all!
Perfect for: gamers okay with confronting all that comes with death, anyone wanting something more contemplative or looking for something that will spark discussion
Sagebrush was a recommendation from Arlo, one of my favorite YouTubers. You’re in the shoes of someone exploring an abandoned religious cult compound, returning to piece together former memories. The graphics are PS1-era 3D blocky, which somehow adds to the creepiness. Like Gone Home and Edith Finch, there are no enemies or combat, but it can still be quite unnerving! My wife and I played through it together in a single night and then had trouble sleeping because we kept thinking about it-the game definitely sticks with you, for sure.
Perfect for: anyone fascinating by cults, anyone looking for a short yet very affecting game, anyone who thinks PS1-era Resident Evil graphics are still the scariest and enjoys being creeped out!
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Do you need to play this addictive musical fever dream that is somehow narrated by Queen Latifah? YES. YES YOU DO. I first saw this game reviewed in Nintendo Force, and once I started playing there was no stopping until the end. Each level has different sort of gameplay gimmick to it and is the length of the song that plays. When the song ends, so does the level! None of them are super difficult to complete-the fun mostly comes from the gorgeous, trippy visuals and phenomenal OST. Seriously, the soundtrack is spectacular and frequents my Spotify ALL THE TIME. Get some friends together and check this one out!
Perfect for: anyone who enjoys music and/or life. Seriously, please play this game at some point (or at least listen to the soundtrack)
The Gardens Between
The Gardens Between is a short puzzle game about the friendship of two young people who live next door to each other. Between their homes is the titular “garden” they spend time in together. Uniquely, the game is experienced through their memories, and your controls during them are very limited. You can only move backward or forward in time, and each character has one way to interact with the environment. It’s pretty straightforward (though some of the later puzzles do get a bit challenging). One of the reasons I find it so calming is that there’s no dialogue at all. Regardless, the memories recreated as you play are so beautiful, and resonate universally. It’s also one of the most relaxing Switch games!
Perfect for: fans of puzzlers, fans of relaxing games, and anyone feeling nostalgic for childhood
A Short Hike
The title really encapsulates it! You’re on a “short hike” through a big park as an anthropomorphic bird, trying to get to the tallest peak to get cell phone reception and call your mother. You spend the brief experience exploring Hawk Peak, engaging in mini-games and talking to other folks who are camping. All the while you build up your endurance to fly for longer by collecting a specific item. You can head straight for the peak or take your time to enjoy the sights and sounds! And just like a few minutes outdoors can be a breath of fresh air, A Short Hike is one of the best short and sweet Switch games. I even bought a shirt for it from Fangamer!
Perfect for: fans of the outdoors, hikers, fans of adorable animals represented in Nintendo DS-era graphics
Think Journey but underwater! I started playing this one late one night and couldn’t go to bed until I had finished it. I’ve always loved being in the water, so I think that was a big part of the appeal for me from the start. The environments and life within in the sea are absolutely beautiful and mesmerizing-I kept wanting to explore and see what was next! The overall story ends up being a bit convoluted, but that doesn’t make it any less of a beautiful and touching journey.
Perfect for: fans of Journey, anyone who loves the ocean or being in water, anyone who loves visiting aquariums
Okay, bear with me here. I know Night Trap is an infamously terrible game released way back when for the Sega CD that caused an equally infamous panic over violence in video games. But it definitely falls into “so bad it’s good” territory! The FMV heavy “game” sees you playing as a special agent trying to protect girls at a sleepover from vampires. You do so by triggering various traps around a mansion to ensare the vampires. Completely embracing “B movie” tropes in every possible way, it’s simultaneously a delight and absolute nightmare to play. My wife and I downloaded in on sale for $1.49 one night, opened a bottle of wine, and attempted to beat it multiple times. After realizing it was nigh impossible without a guide, we just watched the full FMV story on YouTube (while still drinking wine). I strongly recommend this course of action for a fun night!
Perfect for: anyone looking for campy, ridiculous fun, anyone who lived through the early 90s, those who don’t mind terrible gameplay
Have you tried out any of these titles? What would you add to a list of “best short and sweet Switch games”? Let me know in the comments below!