As much as some folk may turn up their nose at the idea of games being considered art, you can experience some of the best stories to date in the form of a video game.
Interactive story games are powerful mediums for telling vivid tales, and there’s a mountain of them to pick from. Both indie developers and big corporations have tried their hand at story-driven games, and the amount of choice can be quite overwhelming.
In this article, I’ve picked out the 15 best interactive story games on Nintendo Switch. A lot of them follow a visual novel format or focus predominantly on the story, but some contain more RPG and action elements too.
Please note that some of these games contain dark and upsetting themes. I’d recommend looking up trigger warnings where needed.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a sombre yet charming visual novel styled game with adventure elements and an intriguing storyline.
It has a coming-of-age theme, following the main character Mae Borowski as she returns to her hometown after dropping out of college. The game encourages you to explore and get to grips with Mae’s story, looking at why she left college and what happened in her past.
One of my biggest concerns when writing this article was keeping it spoiler free, and I’m not going to dive into the story any further as I implore you to try this game out for yourself.
It’s clear that a lot of love went into this game.The story is creative, with likeable characters and interesting environments. The game looks beautiful, and has a solid performance on the Nintendo Switch with no notable issues.
There’s plenty of hidden elements to explore in this game, with mini games like a top-down rougelite game on Mae’s laptop and a rhythm game where Mae tries to remember how to play songs from her old band.
Night in the Woods is a must play for anyone who enjoys slice of life content and wants a game that feels fresh yet familiarly comforting to play through.
What Remains of Edith Finch
This game is dark, intriguing and truly emotional.
What Remains of Edith Finch is an eerie story that takes place in the Finch family home, cobbled together in the midst of a dark and foreboding forest. The game follows the melancholic story of the Finch family, peppered with gruesome deaths and dark secrets.
The house in this game is the predominant location for the entire story, which works wonderfully. The house feels alive, with each room telling a different story and meshing together with the others to tell its tragic tale.
The overarching feeling in this game is sorrow, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Some scenes are deeply upsetting and unsettling. In amidst the tragedy, there’s horror and some dark, unforgettably beautiful moments as well.
It’s worth noting that this is the style of game affectionately dubbed a ‘walking simulator’, so if you’re looking for anything other than a story, it’s not for you. Aside from a few technical quirks here and there, this game looks beautiful and plays decently.
This is one of the most memorable ‘walking simulator’ games and it’s absolutely worth taking a look at.
In Firewatch, you play as Henry, who has just taken a job as a fire lookout in Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming. It’s a simple but emotional game that follows Henry as he tries to make peace with his demons and untangle the mysterious side of the forest.
There isn’t an overwhelming amount of interaction with other characters in this game, but the majority of the dialogue is had between Henry and another lookout, Delilah. They’re connected via walkie-talkies, and the acting performances are incredible to witness.
Visually, Firewatch looks great on the Nintendo Switch. It has certainly lost a little clarity on the console, but it plays well on the whole and creates a very immersive experience. There are no technical quirks or glitches, and the controls are intuitive too.
If you’re looking for an engaging adventure and story to lose yourself in, Firewatch is one of the best picks for you. The story is powerful, with a potentially divisive ending.
Reminiscent of shows like The X-Files and Twin Peaks, Thimbleweed Park is a quirky, eerie title with lots to offer.
This retro themed point-and-click game is a murder mystery title at its core, with plenty of twists and turns. You can play through as 5 different characters, with different levels of difficulty, and can even access the HintTron 3000 telephone service if you’re struggling.
I’ve included this game in this list as the story is vivid, detailed and quite confusing in places. The world is vibrant and the characters feel lifelike, with creative writing and plenty of silly quotes. The aesthetic matches the game perfectly, and it performs well on the Nintendo Switch.
If you’re looking for a linear, straight forward story, this is not the pick for you. It’s a twisty-turny game with a healthy dose of silliness. I’m a big fan of Thimbleweed Park and highly encourage you to check it out if you like mystery games and puzzles.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
This game is hard to categorize, but the intriguing story made it a must-have for this list. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is often put in the category of a horror game, but I’d also put it as a mystery and a drama game, too.
You play through as Paul Prospero, a psychic detective who is on the hunt for the titular character Ethan Carter, a boy who reportedly has the same powers as him. You’ll need to piece the story together, finding clues and getting to know the world around you in more depth.
I’d describe this as a slow-burning game, and would even consider it more of a visual novel in places. It’s not an easy game by any means, but it does have a slower pace and feel to it.
Despite this being a port of an older game, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter looks beautiful and plays impeccably in both handheld or docked mode. The world feels alive and beautifully melancholic, with thoughtful environments and set pieces.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is one of the most unique games on this list, and it’s one of the main games that I recommend to people no matter their preference in genre.
You play the game as Stanley, an office worker who spends his days inputting commands into a computer.
One day, the commands stop showing up and Stanley’s world flips upside down. Accompanied by a sarcastic narrator, you’re tasked with unravelling the mystery that is Stanley’s existence.
It’s a game with a lot of depth, with 40 potential endings. The game is very meta with its humor, poking fun at game design, gamers and the world as a whole. The writing is smart, and the dry delivery of each line from the narrator makes this game a unique experience.
If you enjoy movies like the Truman Show, you’ll love this game. It throws up a lot of existential questions and intriguing concepts, all while delivering funny lines and puzzles for the player to solve.
This short but sweet game is one of the most interesting indie titles on Switch right now, offering up bite-sized chunks of a beautiful and intriguing world.
In Valley, you play as an archaeologist who is heading into the Canadian Rockies via canoe, in order to find something called the Lifeseed.
Predictably, the canoe crashes and strands the player.
The story unfolds from there, introducing a narrative that features World War 2 experiments and local myths. Featuring an interesting combat exoskeleton suit called the L.E.A.F suit, the game picks up from there with plenty of puzzles and lore.
Valley is an intriguing game with a fascinating story and charming world. It’s certainly a lot deeper than it looks at first, and contains just enough challenge to keep things interesting as you progress through it.
Visual novels/interactive story games can raise a few questions about what defines an ‘actual game’ – and if you’re someone who scoffs at the idea of a purely story-based experience, Florence is not the game for you.
However, if you want a deeply beautiful and emotional experience akin to an indie movie that you’d see at a local festival, Florence is the game for you. It’s a very short game, but plays impeccably on the Switch with fantastic graphics and an entrancing soundtrack.
In Florence, you follow the aptly named Florence as she settles into her own skin, so to speak. It’s a coming of age story, complete with the joy and anxiety of new relationships and fresh starts, and the tangled mess that comes with figuring out where to go next in life.
There’s some incredibly clever mechanics in Florence, as with a lot of indie games that fit this style. It was originally a mobile game, and it suits the console nicely.
It’s a game that’s been made with a lot of love and attention to detail, and I implore you to take a chance on it. It’s a truly memorable experience.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
There are tons of great zombie games on Switch, but they don’t all contain an engaging story. The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season is a shining example of how the gritty zombie genre can meet deeply powerful, emotive writing.
In this game, you play as Lee, a former professor. He starts off in the back of a cop car on his way to jail for murder. As he’s being transported, the zombie apocalypse breaks out around him. He ends up caring for a girl named Clementine who has lost her parents, and the story unfolds from there.
The story in this game is intriguing, and it pairs perfectly with the high quality voice acting and graphics. This game is a visual delight, and it plays very well on the Nintendo Switch as well.
Even if you’re not usually a fan of zombies or horror games, I would still suggest trying this game out. It’s powerful and emotional, with intuitive controls and a great user experience. It’s one of my favorites on this list.
If you’re interested in mystery, Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the most interesting story-centric titles that you need to check out today.
Taking place in the 1800s, this game follows the story of a merchant ship which vanished at sea for 6 months before returning to port with a horde of corpses and a rich mystery to unravel. You play as an insurance agent, and you’re tasked with figuring out what happened on the Obra Dinn.
This game requires more thought and problem-solving than the majority of games on this list, and it’s ideal for seasoned mystery fans. There’s certainly a steep level of difficulty here, so if you’re looking for something more laidback then this is not the title for you.
Return of the Obra Dinn is a truly beautiful game, with 1-bit graphics and an interesting visual layout. It plays well on the Switch and the story is utterly compelling. It’s one of the first mystery games I ever played, and it’s stuck with me ever since. I highly recommend checking it out.
Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind
If you’re somewhat of a Nintendo geek or a fan of horror-themed visual novels, chances are that you’ve heard of the Famicon Detective Club games before.
Famicon Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind is a chilling, intriguing addition to the world of horror games on the Nintendo Switch. It follows the story of a supernatural school rumour, including everything from murder to blood-soaked ghost girls.
This game is heavily tied to another title, called Famicon Detective Club: The Missing Heir and I considered adding that one into this list as well. This game won out, though, for the creative writing style and interesting characters that you meet throughout the story.
With simple controls and decent graphics, this game plays well on the Nintendo Switch and presents an enjoyable user experience. If you’re a fan of solving mysteries and playing through visual novel games, this is the pick for you.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
The Ace Attorney games are charming and intriguing, with a style of play that falls in between a visual novel, point-and-click game and an adventure title.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles takes place in Meji-era Japan and Victorian England. The game follows Ryunosuke Naruhodo, the ancestor of fan favorite Phoenix Wright, and puts the player in charge of unravelling mysteries, solving crimes and working with Herlock Sholmes.
This title is a mystery game at its core, and some of the solutions to mysteries in a case can be a little frustrating in places. It’s incredibly satisfying to find the right answers, though, and there’s a real sense of progression to this game.
It’s clear that a lot of work went into The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, with heaps of historical research and smart puzzles to sink your teeth into.
The game looks great on the Switch and performs well too, and I’d suggest checking it out if you’re looking for a mystery game to get to the bottom of.
Tales from the Borderlands
Borderlands is a legendary franchise with a handful of truly iconic games that are worth sitting down and playing through. This game is simply one of the best in terms of writing, creativity and character development.
In this game, you follow con artist Fiona and arrogant Hyperion rep Rhys as they chase after a vault key that will help them get their hands on a legendary treasure known as the Vault of the Traveller. This vault has the tendency to teleport around the world at will, which as you can imagine, makes it difficult to find.
Split up into episodes like the aforementioned Walking Dead game, this title is a delight to sit through. The writing is creative and each choice that you make feels impactful. The overall aesthetic is great, and there are no notable performance issues or quirks either.
Complete with some fantastic voice acting and a heap of groan-inducing puns, this is a title that I highly recommend checking out. It’s more hands-on than a lot of the games featured in this list, but still accessible and enjoyable for gamers of all skill levels.
Life is Strange: True Colors
Life is Strange is a series that has developed a reputation for thoughtful writing, interesting characters and beautiful environments. This game continues that trend perfectly, presenting a well made and beautiful experience for gamers to sit through.
You play through as Alex, who discovers that she’s got a unique ability to sense intense emotions in others. Alex has just left the foster care system and arrives in the sleepy town of Haven Springs to spend time with her brother. The story unfolds from there, involving everything from a murder mystery to potential romance.
This is a relaxing and well-written game where your choices as a player feel impactful. Alex’s powers to sense emotions, take them on and read minds are very interesting, and they add to the overall story nicely.
While the character design and environments are great, they don’t look very polished and the gameplay isn’t always smooth. There are no game-breaking issues, but it’s worth noting regardless. Other than that, the controls are intuitive and there’s a fantastic soundtrack to go along with the game.
If you can look past the slightly clunky visuals, this is a game that’s really worth experiencing for yourself. It’s immersive and enjoyable, with thoughtful writing and a host of vibrant characters dotted throughout the story.
Sumire is a beautiful yet tragic game. It deals with grief, which seems to be a common theme for interactive story games on the Nintendo Switch, and it handles the topic in a sensitive and relatable manner.
In this title, you play as Sumire who is dealing with her parents getting a divorce and her Grandmother dying. After her Grandmother’s death, Sumire experiences odd dreams and ends up finding a mysterious glowing seed that then, naturally, turns into a talking flower.
From there, the world unfolds around Sumire and she can talk to the objects and people around her to gain interesting quests and bits of lore. The game is simple but the inner world is very beautiful, and there’s plenty of interesting puzzles to keep you busy.
Sumire’s charm comes from the intricate artwork and the beautiful soundtrack. No matter if you’re playing in docked or handheld mode, this is a game that performs very well and looks fantastic on the Nintendo Switch.
The music is particularly beautiful, and fits the aesthetic well.
Other than a few minor quirks like spelling mistakes, this game is a gem and is worth experiencing for yourself.