asylum demon dark souls remastered
Image via FromSoftware

The 18 best Nintendo Switch games for adults to lose yourself in

Immerse yourself for hours at a time.

The Nintendo Switch, much like the Game Boy and Nintendo DS before it, carries with it the idea that it’s a great console for kids. That’s undeniably true, because it’s Nintendo’s bread and butter, with characters such as Mario and Princess Peach starring in fantastic games appealing to a younger audience.

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However, the Switch is far from a console exclusively for kids. In fact, there are some amazing games for adults on it that regularly stop us from putting it down for far too many hours.

The best Nintendo Switch games for adults

Below, I’ve listed out what I believe to be the best Nintendo Switch games for adults. While not all of them are exclusively hardcore RPGs, with hundreds of hours required to finish their campaigns, each one has a world in which you can lose yourself.

The key difference between how I play games and how my kids play games is that I want an immersive narrative and world I can get lost in for several hours, without even touching the main story. My kids, on the other hand, want quickfire rounds and a constant influx of new content in levels, items, and mechanics. If it’s slow, they’re not interested.

It’s on this basis that I’ve built this list. I’ve explained why these games are great for adults with each entry, but bear in mind that they’re equally fun for children if you’re looking for a game you can play with your kids. There’s nothing wrong with swapping Joy-Cons upon death or having someone watch you carve a fantastical path through an ancient world.

18. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim on Switch
Image via Bethesda

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the best game in the series to date, and the Nintendo Switch version is just as good as any other. It’s a classic Elder Scrolls game, starting you off as a prisoner before throwing you into an epic story that sees you travel across the continent of Skyrim during a civil war. Throw in the fact that dragons are being resurrected and terrorizing everyone, and you’ve got a massive world to lose yourself in.

What I love most about Skyrim, and why I think it’s a great game for adults, is just how wide open it is. You can follow the main quests and complete the game quickly, head off in any direction and ignore that story completely, or do a mix of both. Every time I sit down with it, I tell myself I’ll complete one more main quest before heading off to do side activities. Of course, all I actually do is the side content. Sometimes, it’s just alchemy, weapon-crafting, and selling all my junk to traders.

There’s no end to the number of hours you can spend in the game. It’s been updated over the years to include DLC and mods from the community, meaning the initial 400-hour runtime to complete everything is a dot in the distance. You could get a Switch and Skyrim and not need anything else for a year apart from food and water. A great game to kick off your time with the console.

17. Animal Crossing New Horizons

Screenshot by Destructoid

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you take a trip to an island getaway and must work with the locals to create the most attractive little paradise you can. The game is so laid back, though, and the goal I’ve just outlined is extremely loose. Yes, there are certain stages you’ll grow the island through by upgrading it and collecting items for various NPCs, but the overarching goal is to relax.

This game drew in millions of players during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it sold so well that it became difficult to get a Nintendo Switch for a while. What I love most about it is how you can spend hours, days even, just tinkering with how everything looks. Be it your flower arranging or making short trips to try to convince one of the more than 400 Villagers to join you, there’s always something to do. Regardless of what you’re doing, you’re always immersed and relaxed.

16. Dark Souls Remastered

asylum demon dark souls remastered
Image via FromSoftware

If you want to get lost in a world with mechanics you’ll dream about, look no further than Dark Souls Remastered. This Switch port of the fantastic original is just as good as the home console versions, packing in the expansive world of Lordran for you to tentatively trek across while dying every 10 feet.

I really wish that was an exaggeration. This game is the one that popularized FromSoftware’s “Soulsborne” genre. Combat is challenging but fair; the NPCs all laugh in a creepy yet quiet way, and there are tons of bosses to overcome. I’ve struggled against every boss in the game for longer than I’d like to admit, but there’s something about the adrenal surge you get from finally beating one that keeps you coming back. It’s euphoric in the moment, but the game is ready to humiliate you all over again as soon as you turn the corner.

The grotesque enemies and incredibly dark world make this a game for adults. The lore of the game is littered about in every item description, and it paints a sad picture of a once-prosperous land that’s long been lost to darkness and madness.

15. Super Mario Odyssey

Screenshot by Destructoid

A staple game for any Nintendo Switch owner. Super Mario Odyssey is the console’s flagship Mario game, and it’s brilliant. The story is pretty easy to smash out if you want to rush through it, but that’s not why you should buy it. There are 880 Moons to collect in this game, which are akin to the Stars of other Mario titles.

Finding these takes dozens of hours and forces you to gain a deeper understanding of how every level works. I loved revisiting levels I thought I’d cleared and knew rather well, only to discover a new type of Moon that was present in every other. Odyssey is continuously surprising, and that’s rare given the series it’s a part of. I thought I’d be done with it long before I was, and I’ll never regret my Moon-hunting journey.

14. In Other Waters

in other waters screenshot
Image via JumpOverTheAge

If you love exploring strange worlds and can use your imagination, then In Other Waters is a perfect game to lose yourself in. The entire game takes place using an interactive 2D UI shown above. You play as a researcher who finds a diving suit and explores ever deeper into this alien ocean. I don’t want to spoil anything because the narrative is the whole point of playing, but I do want to encourage you to play because it’s well worth your time.

If you have any interest in deep-sea fish, you’ll find something to love here. The game focuses a lot on the biology of the alien world where it takes place. You’re encouraged to scan lifeforms and explore to find all of them, even if they’re lurking in the brine pools.

13. Return of the Obra Dinn

body in return of the obra dinn
Image via Lucas Pope

It’s almost impossible to talk about Return of the Obra Dinn without spoiling it, so I’ll keep this short. This is a first-person narrative game where you study a ship that’s suddenly appeared. It’s intriguing and served as quite a successful follow-up to his previous game, Papers, Please. Don’t skip this one if you love a good mystery.

12. Xenoblade Chronicles 1, 2 & 3

Review Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Future Redeemed 1 (1)
Screenshot by Destructoid

The Xenoblade Chronicles games are some of the best JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch. The way each story is told is phenomenal, and the worlds are so vast and expansive that it’ll quite often feel like you can’t see everything that’s in them.

I recommend playing all three of these games from start to finish, just to see exactly what one of the most ambitious franchises on the Switch has to offer. The gameplay has action, but still lends itself to those who want to think through every move, and there’s very rarely a moment where you’re sat waiting for something to happen or an ability to recharge. These games all thread through each other and connect in interesting ways, too.

That’s why all three have to be a part of this list. You can’t go into the first game and not see things through to the third. You’ll miss the combat system, the characters, and the synergies too much. If it’s not the big, beautiful world you’re looking for, there’s no chance the gameplay will be a letdown.

11. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Screenshot by Destructoid.

Critically acclaimed upon release, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is one of the best games ever made, and it’s on Nintendo Switch. This is a Zelda game at its heart, with abilities unlocked over time to open up new avenues for gameplay in the world. However, it’s also the new standard for open world games.

As Link, you can go anywhere and do anything immediately after the tutorial. I hopped into it, having never touched the last game in the series, Breath of the Wild, and it didn’t harm the experience at all. The story is fantastic, but it’s the inviting world that will suck you in. There are signposted side quests, but also those that you’ll have to seek out for yourself. Combined with what feels like millions of collectibles, this is another game that you could own in isolation and never need another one.

10. World of Horror

world of horror early access pc switch playstation
Screenshot by Destructoid

In World of Horror, you’re handed four or five mysteries every time you play a new run and must reach your objective after solving them, without succumbing to the dangers that have overtaken the local area. This game is spooky, but its got a lot of runtime to delve into. I adore the aesthetics and world-building you get with every new bash at it, and it feels perfectly at home on the Switch, despite being an adult game with pretty harrowing visuals.

9. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Geralt riding a horse as he looks out into a foggy valley.
Image via CD Projekt Red.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a game that really needs no introduction. As the end of Geralt’s (gaming) trilogy, it’s the most grand adventure he’s ever been on. You play as Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, travelling across a fantastical world in search of his ward, Ciri. The journey is loaded with major plot points and plenty of smaller side quests along the way.

The thing that will keep you fully immersed in Geralt’s final foray, though, isn’t just the story. It’s the consequences of your actions. The Witcher is a series well-known for implementing choices quite well, and that’s never been better displayed than in this game. Some choices are telegraphed as having massive implications, while others aren’t. More choices still will just get you killed, and every single conversation is a lesson in how much you can agonize over a decision for an hour at a time.

8. BioShock: The Collection

big daddy in bioshock
Image via 2K Games

If you enjoy philosophical questions in your games, then you absolutely must play BioShock: The Collection. It brings together the original BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite. All three are interesting and worthy of being played in their own right. You can have all three in one package on your Switch, though.

Each of the BioShock games presents an alternative reality and explores it. What if the greatest minds in the world moved to an underwater city? What if a city lifted itself from the ground to be unshackled by the rules of the world? These questions and more are answered and created as you play. The reason you’ll lose yourself in them is because you’ll want to replay them so often. Whether it’s testing out Plasmid combinations or just reliving the best parts, you’ll never want to put them down.

7. Dead Cells

DEad Cells boss
Screenshot by Destructoid

Dead Cells is one of the best Metroidvania games in recent memory. It was supported with regular, meaning full content updates for years and now stands as a complete package that you don’t even begin to master until you’re a few hours in. The goal of this game is to escape the ever-changing combination of rooms and biomes you must battle your way through for eternity. Helping you do this is a range of randomized weapons and items that make for some truly ingenious combo synergies in combat.

The reason you’ll get lost with Dead Cells is that you won’t be able to stop thinking about your next run. It’s not necessarily about beating the next boss. It’s about getting the right gear to make your build and pin that boss in place while it slowly dies without you moving a muscle.

6. Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors Emergency Meeting gameplay
Screenshot by Destructoid

You may have heard of Vampire Survivors because of its simple gameplay and fairly regular updates and DLC. The thing is, you don’t know anything about it until you start playing. In the beginning, you move a slow character around a screen while they automatically fight enemies before dying.

After a few runs, you’ll see that the game is actually more about the items you pick and choose and how they can help you get to the end of a run. This is true reverse bullet hell. You’ll become engrossed by the menus as you pour over every available item and evolution. You’ll go from wanting to survive to wanting to beat Death. As long as you have the time to spare, this can become a game for adults that consumes entire weekends.

5. Bayonetta 2 & 3

Screenshot by Destructoid

The Bayonetta series is, in my opinion, better than any Devil May Cry game. While Capcom’s fast-paced action series inspired these Switch games, Bayonetta finds its own footing with its main lead, Bayonetta. She’s a sassy witch who can use her hair, which is also her outfit, to summon demons into the world to do her battling for her.

Of course, there’s so much more to the game than this. There are weapons and powers to upgrade, various goals to return to older missions to hit, and stories that keep on getting bigger no matter how many times you think they’ve hit the roof. I love these games, and so do most Nintendo Switch owners, which is why you’ve got to give them a go as an adult if you haven’t already.

4. Dave the Diver

Dave the Diver Lusca stunned
Screenshot by Destructoid

On the surface, Dave the Diver is a fishing game in which you catch fish out at sea and then sell them to be eaten somewhere else. But that would be too easy. This game eases you in with that premise before showing you the depths to which you’ll have to swim if you want to master it.

What makes this game so good for adults are the jokes, the minigames, and the sheer breadth of stuff to do. There’s never a dull moment, whether you’re uncovering a new minigame scene, hunting down a powerful fish, or cooking up a storm. Dave the Diver has something for everyone, making it a great starting point on the Switch.

3. Cult of the Lamb

Cult of the Lamb Mate between two followers
Screenshot by Destructoid

Cult of the Lamb is a cutesy little action-RPG / management simulator in which you run a cult and sacrifice your followers. Its complex systems are easy to learn and will keep you engaged for the entire runtime. There are also fun features that you’ll unlock over time that help prolong your cult’s existence, such as cult babies.

There really is so much management to get stuck into that you won’t want to stop playing. There’s never a dull moment while you’re trying to appease the dark gods. Just don’t be fooled by the visuals; this is mainly a game for adults, and you’ll see why as soon as you start playing.

2. Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1

If it wasn't obvious, a second Metal Gear Solid Master Collection is likely on the way
Image via Konami

The first three Metal Gear Solid games are masterpieces. Thankfully, Konami re-released them alongside a couple of classic entries in Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1. This package gives you three incredible stealth games to learn and play through before attempting to master the top-down 2D ones that came before them.

With this collection, you have to master sneaking around as a super-spy. They’re all about hiding around corners, luring guards to their deaths, and getting stuck in incredibly long cutscenes. Every game in this collection is a classic in its own right because they set a respective standard for stealth gameplay, and now you can enjoy them all in one place.

Another nice part of these games for adults is how they reference real-world events. I’m talking about the Cold War and all the various conspiracies around it. The alt-history fiction that’s been built for the games to exist in is grounded, yet completely unbelievable with all its theories brought to life.

1. Dredge

Dredge Header
Screenshot by Destructoid

If you love fishing games but want some cosmic horror thrown into the mix, Dredge is the perfect game for you. After crashing into a small island community dock, you’ll gain a ship and must start earning a living by fishing. After a few days, it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems. Some of the fish are corrupted in odd ways, the people around you have lost their minds, and there’s a strange red light in the distance.

Over the course of the story, you’ll recover certain items required by an acquaintance. This journey takes you all around the game’s world, upgrading your boat and fishing as you go. Every biome is interesting and unique, and you’ll end up playing so much that you’ll complete it before you want it to be over. Dredge feels ideal for the Switch, so it’s going to be one of the best running games in this list as well.

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Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie is a Staff Writer on Destructoid who has been playing video games for the better part of the last three decades. He adores indie titles with unique and interesting mechanics and stories, but is also a sucker for big name franchises, especially if they happen to lean into the horror genre.