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The Penitent One fastening their helmet onto their blood-drenched face in Blasphemous. Image: The Game Kitchen

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Best Nintendo Switch games for grown-ups

Move aside, children — the adults are gaming

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The Nintendo Switch is known for its robust library of first-party games that prioritize fun and cooperative experiences for audiences of all ages. But what about games for grown-ups? Sure, it’s fun and all to somersault around as a mustachioed plumber who can transform into an elephant, but sometimes all you want is something a little more... challenging; more adult, for lack of a better word.

We pooled together our braintrust of gaming connoisseurs to find the best games on the Nintendo Switch for players looking beyond the plethora of family fun-for-all titles the console has to offer. From turn-based strategy games and ruthless roguelikes to fourth-wall-breaking horror and more, we’ve pulled together a list of only the best of the best.

Our latest update added Cult of the Lamb, Disco Elysium, and A Space for the Unbound.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Image: Vanillaware

13 Sentinels dares to blend hard sci-fi visual novels, real-time military strategy, and a mandatory in-game wiki into one sprawling narrative about how societies can collapse and rebuild. To appreciate its narrative — which threads together Evangelion, Terminator, Stranger Things, the works of Tarkovsky, and an abundance of hard-to-find retro anime — you’ll simply have needed enough time on this planet to experience all the reference material.

13 Sentinels continues Vanillaware’s legacy of beautifully drawn, shamelessly pervy art. So it’s for adults in practically every meaning of the phrase. Don’t be surprised to see, within minutes, naked teenagers piloting mechs to fend off mass death. Or teachers and scientists wearing skintight latex suits. The fan service is unavoidable and for some, that might be reason to go with another option on this list. But remember that artists like Vanillaware can have exceptional talent while indulging in the comically tasteless. Just ask Carl Barks, the writer and artist of the original Donald Duck stories who in his later years pivoted to sexy cartoon duck paintings. —Chris Plante


A giant skull with a golden face stands before a small soldier Image: The Game Kitchen via Polygon

Few games on the Nintendo Switch merit the description of “adult” as much as Blasphemous, the debut title from Spanish developer The Game Kitchen. This Metroidvania action-adventure is set in a gothic medieval world populated by demonic creatures, ruthless warrior zealots, and hapless commoners plagued by otherworldly misfortune. As the “Penitent One,” the last of a masked order of knights, players battle across the land of Cvstodia on a journey for revenge and absolution rife with esoteric symbolism and heavy religious overtones. It’s a hell of an action game, filled with deadly challenges, grotesque lumbering boss battles, and a wealth of hidden secrets. If you’re looking for something that will test your skill and concentration like a good FromSoftware game, Blasphemous is a blast. —Toussaint Egan

Citizen Sleeper

A screenshot from Citizen Sleeper. Image: Jump Over The Age/Fellow Traveller

Polygon’s #2 game of the year 2022 is also one of the very best games you can play on Switch. In Citizen Sleeper you’re a humanoid machine, owned by the Essen-Arp corporation — with a body designed to fall apart, unless you can take a certain serum that you need to survive. After escaping to a station called the Eye, you choose how to rebuild your life. You talk to people — like the food cart vendor, or the mushroom farmers, or the group repairing a huge spaceship — to try and find work, find friends, and maybe even find your way to freedom.

Citizen Sleeper scratches that Baldur’s Gate 3 and Disco Elysium roleplay itch. Your success — or simply which narrative branch you go down — is determined by a dice roll, influenced by the stats that you excel at. But there’s a twist: When you’re low on the machine-medication, you have fewer dice at your disposal, which means there are fewer things you can do. Scarcity means having to make tough choices, just to stay alive. —Nicole Clark

Cult of the Lamb

The lamb preaches a sermon in Cult of the Lamb Image: Massive Monster/Devolver Digital via Polygon

At first, you might think Cult of the Lamb is a game for children. It has bubbly, adorable characters and bright colors; you play a little lamb and they’re practically angelic. However, the deception pulled off by developer Massive Monster is in the title. This is a game about a cult, one that you build from the ground up, which means you’ll be performing a lot of questionable acts. They range from typical cult behavior, like punishing people for speaking out against you, to the absolute foul, like feeding your members poop or sacrificing them to appease the deity that saved your life. (There’s also the new Sins of the Flesh DLC, which allows you to commit… you know.)

Almost everything you do in Cult of the Lamb is for them. You’ll not only build a cult full of dedicated worshippers (you hope) but also fight your way through five areas to take out four bishops who seem to have chained up your god. The game uses roguelike mechanics and randomization to change up your runs, so on one you can make it to the end boss, and on another, you find and rescue a new cult recruit. You can also use these sections to gather resources, which help to build amenities like bathrooms and crops for farming and craft recipes for more robust meals. All these systems work seamlessly together to create a challenging yet darkly humorous experience. —Carli Velocci

Dead Cells

The Prisoner launching a ranged attack at an armored enemy in Dead Cells. Image: Motion Twin

It stands to reason one of the earliest entries in the now-ubiquitous roguelike craze might be showing its age in 2023, but Dead Cells is aging like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In one of today’s most saturated genres, this 2D-brawler-meets-Metroidvania is still one of the most complex, challenging, and satisfying roguelikes around.

It doesn’t hurt that Motion Twin’s 2017 title just received a Castlevania-themed DLC with new map sets, weapons, abilities, and enemies in March. And far from being a mere promotional crossover, Return to Castlevania serves as a stark reminder of the game’s timeless, fluid combat and enticing “one more run” repetition. It’s a difficult game to put down, yes, but it’s not mindless — building a strong character with a steadily growing collection of weapons and power-ups requires foresight and careful risk assessment, not to mention developing muscle memory with each vastly different weapon. In Dead Cells, variety, dexterity, and wisdom collide; I’m willing to bet that I’ll still be playing it in another six years. —Mike Mahardy

Disco Elysium - The Final Cut

A screenshot of all the character builds in Disco Elysium Image: ZA/UM via Polygon

When Disco Elysium launched in 2019, people in the video game world were caught off-guard. This was a heavy narrative role-playing title with overtly political messages about communism and fascism, and it was made by a small team. The stakes are also very low; sure, it starts off with a murder mystery, but that quickly takes a back seat to the union-busting drama, arguing with locals, and hunting for cryptids.

Regardless of your preconceived notions, Disco Elysium is one of the most story-rich, funny, and deeply moving experiences you can have in a video game. You play as Harrier “Harry” Du Bois, a cop who has woken up one morning in an unfamiliar city without his memory thanks to an intense drunken stupor. Then it gets more absurd from there. You’ll navigate this world by engaging in dialogue with other characters and performing skill checks, which is typical of this kind of game, but your Thought Cabinet allows you to have conversations with your own thoughts, too. Disco Elysium is less about solving mysteries or saving a city as an outsider and more about building yourself up with new ideologies, connecting with others (if you can), and just being an absolute hot mess, and you won’t find another game like it. Best of all, the version on the Switch is The Final Cut, so you’ll get the complete picture. —CV


A fishing boat heads toward a lighthouse while the sun rises over the horizon in a screenshot from Dredge Image: Black Salt Games/Team17

Imagine you’re a fisherman; you arrive at an island, ready for your first day of work. You’ll need to catch fish to make the money needed to upgrade your gear and storage — a familiar life sim activity — but, then again, some of these fish are a little strange. Oh, yeah, and don’t operate your boat after sundown, because you’ll start to take psychic damage from your terror-driven hallucinations.

I can’t get our reviewer’s description of this game out of my head, which I think absolutely nails it: “Dredge invents and perfects the fishing-horror genre.” The game mixes the satisfaction of filling a Pokédex with the suspense and thrill of unexpected cosmic horrors. There’s a gorgeous amount of open ocean to ride around, little archipelagos and outposts to visit. It’s the perfect chill set up, wrapped in an inventive, frightening package that makes it suitable for a slightly older crowd. —NC


Zagreus speaks to Hades while Cerberus naps nearby in a screenshot from Hades Image: Supergiant Games

A Diablo sequel from another universe, Hades is a game of dying, dusting yourself off — or rather toweling off the blood — and making yet another doomed-to-failure escape attempt from the Underworld. But it’s also a game of mature, complicated relationships. It’s a story of mothers and sons, lovers and rivals, and an ever-extending family whom you learn to love (again) through healing. Its story, which slowly reveals itself over the course of many hours and many escape attempts, is filled with humor and sadness.

Hades is equally rewarding for its challenge. Supergiant’s tight, carefully honed roguelike gameplay mechanics are a constant, pleasurable surprise throughout — not in spite of how many times you may die, but because of it. Hades pushes you to play it differently, to experiment beyond your comfort zone, with each run. And if you’re a busy adult with no more than 30 minutes of free time to play a video game every day, Hades fits with your schedule. Runs take 15-30 minutes, depending on your progress and skill. The trick is actually knowing when to stop, because you may find yourself hours into back-to-back attempts, wondering where the time’s gone. —Michael McWhertor

I Am Dead

The lighthouse of Shelmerston in I Am Dead. Image: Hollow Ponds/Annapurna Interactive

Full of morbid whimsy, I Am Dead casts players as Morris Lupton, the recently deceased curator of a museum learning about what the afterlife is like. Ironically, it is overwhelmingly concerned with the living: Lupton is meant to find other ghosts that have yet to move on by locating objects of sentimental value to them, employing his supernatural snooping powers to solve puzzles and find things hiding in plain sight. A rumination on the stories we write in what we leave behind, I Am Dead celebrates all the wonderfully mundane things a life can be, and the ways our stories bleed into others’, never really beginning nor ending. —Joshua Rivera


Characters stand on a game board in Inscryption Image: Daniel Mullins Games/Devolver Digital

The less said about Inscryption, a deck-building roguelike and Polygon’s 2021 game of the year, the better. It’s full of surprises, not just in its mechanics, but in its unraveling story. (By the way, if “deck-building” turns you off, know that Inscryption also includes escape room-style puzzle elements and a heavy dose of atmospheric horror.) If you’re averse to the deck-building genre altogether, Inscryption may not change your mind, but it does a good job of easing the player into its strategies and teaching you how to play.

Inscryption is designed to throw you off right from the start menu. Its secrets are better kept secret — don’t look up any spoilers. And while this horror-tinged deck-builder is fairly tame in its violence, the blood and foul language contained within keep it firmly in grown-up territory. —M. McWhertor

Into the Breach

Into the Breach - laser attack Image: Subset Games

Into the Breach proves that knowing your opponent’s next move doesn’t guarantee victory. In fact, the second game from FTL: Faster Than Light developer Subset Games often highlights the opposite: Clairvoyance can interrupt an otherwise sound strategy.

In Into the Breach, your task is twofold. You must deploy an ever-growing collection of mechs from kaiju-like monsters, but also protect as much of Earth’s property as possible in turn-based battles. Crucially, you can always see the monsters’ next move on the isometric grid, a mechanic that can help you plan where to move your mechs next, but also show you just how impossible it will be to save everyone. It’s a challenging, chess-like strategy game about futility and calculated risks, and it takes dozens of hours before the intense skirmishes ever feel old. —M. Mahardy

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1

(L-R) Raiden and Solid Snake aiming weapons in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Image: Konami

Most come to Metal Gear in their youth, but it’s the way it lingers in your mind as an adult that makes it a classic. The first volume of the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection (a second has yet to be officially announced) collects the first 17 years of Hideo Kojima’s espionage epic. Across three bona-fide classics (and two 2D curiosities), the story of Solid Snake, a lone soldier on a mission to stop nuclear war, expands into a generational epic about How We Got Here — a story of memes, genes, and the post-truth world we were building, decades before we realized we were building it. Few games are so idiosyncratic and prescient, full of satisfying challenge and philosophical quandaries to ponder long after you’ve stopped playing. —JR

Return of the Obra Dinn

Return of the Obra Dinn - looking at a corpse on the deck Image: Lucas Pope/3909

A real note-taker’s game, Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the most satisfying interactive mysteries you can play. Something went wrong on the merchant vessel Obra Dinn and, using your supernatural pocket watch, you can only glimpse fragments of it. Wander around charmingly rendered dioramas of violence in a style that evokes both silent films and lo-fi video games, filling up your notebook (both an in-game digital one and, it’s very likely, a physical one) to piece together what happened on this doomed voyage. There’s nothing quite like The Return of the Obra Dinn, and solving its mysteries makes you feel like the most accomplished detective alive. —JR

A Space for the Unbound

Atma, the main character in A Space for the Unbound, standing in a burning room. There’s a well in front of him and a map on the wall behind him. Image: Mojiken/Toge Productions

A Space for the Unbound starts off quietly weird. You play as a teen named Atma, who gains the ability to go into people’s minds with the help of a magic book. You soon learn that your girlfriend Raya also has reality-warping powers. But this all takes a back seat (for now, anyway) to you two running around town and checking off bucket list items now that you’re almost done with high school. Make a cat your friend, go to a special cat world, hop into the minds of people at a movie theater who are acting like cats — the usual. But then the stakes get increasingly more dire, as you not only have to help your friend finish her bucket list but also stop her from herself.

This retro-styled visual novel has everything. It’s funny, heartfelt, surprising, supernatural, and utterly human. It might be a pixelated throwback to the 90s, but it feels so modern in how it centers the relationships between the characters and uses established plot points to throw the player off guard. Most of the point-and-click gameplay involves walking around, petting cats, and doing favors for people, so it’s not the most dynamic game, but it’s still exciting to watch the story unfold. It was one of our top indie games in 2023, and if you missed it, now is the time to check it out. —CV

Vampire Survivors

Imelda fires a lance at enemies in Vampire Survivors Image: poncle

Vampire Survivors is an incredibly easy-to-marathon roguelike with a very simple premise. You operate a single character, dodging and defeating mobs of various enemy types. But attacks basically just emanate from your character; the only buttons you use are for movement. As you defeat enemies, you get power-ups that stack and interact — adding more attack, defense, or heal to your toolkit.

The joy of the game is much like that in Hades. There are so many strategies to try out across various maps and characters (each of whom have their own perks), in terms of stacking various buffs. Different maps require different strategy types. And the minute you end a run, it’s so easy to just dip into another one. Blink and suddenly three hours have passed, and yet you could just get one more run in — after all, you might just defeat Death on this one. —NC

World of Horror

A giant shadowy figure looms over a small port town with a lighthouse in the foreground in World of Horror. Image: Panstasz

Polygon’s audience is young, so most of you didn’t grow up playing spooky text adventures on the Mac II. Trust me, that’s for the better. As charming as the retro aesthetic looks, actually playing the ultra retro adventures required superhuman patience. And the rewards were, at best, a few crudely drawn visuals.

World of Horror is a chance for folks to experience the magic of the early days of video games without all the headaches. Beneath its old-school exterior, developer Paweł Koźmiński constructed a clever, modern roguelike role-playing game. And the setting, an alternate 1980s Japan overrun with horrors inspired by Junji Ito and H.P. Lovecraft, is fresher than the dusty dungeons of fantasy games of yore.

To set expectations: World of Horror may be easier to navigate than its inspirations, but it’s not an easy game. This is horror, after all. You will be challenged and terrified before inevitably falling short of victory. But the complete version — the game exited early access this year — has a variety of stories and items to keep you returning to its inky, pixelated shadows. —CP