Want to play a great exploration platformer on Switch with puzzles instead of combat? Here are our recommendations.
Sometimes games can be a great way to unwind by journeying somewhere else for a while. If you love exploration platformers that focus on solving puzzles rather than combat, the Switch has several great options. Most of these games are meant to be an audiovisual treat, so you’ll need a great set of headphones for the best experience.
Wuppo is a game about losing your home and finding where you belong in a world full of crazy creatures. The game itself feels like a fever dream to explore like perhaps you’ve entered the world of Willy Wonka’s snozberries and more. There are lots of clever puzzles to solve and some light combat, but nothing too serious. Honestly, discovering new places in the world of Wuppo is much of the charm of playing the game.
Spiritfarer is a game about helping lost spirits navigate the world of the dead. Players take on the role of Stella, building and managing her ferry and collecting lost animal souls. It’s like the developers saw the beautiful art style of GRIS and the management portion of Stardew Valley and decided to create a mash-up game. The result is a truly heartfelt game that is one of the best exploration platformers on Switch.
Dandara is like a funky mix between a puzzle platformer and a hardcore action game like Dark Souls. It deserves its spot on this list as an excellent exploration platformer – but be aware the difficulty is no joke. The movement system is unique and you must master it quickly to progress through the game.
There’s a very light combat system with casting spells, but the meat of this game is exploring the world. A recent update for the Switch version has brought expanded lore, giving the player even more information about the Salt world.
7. Reed & Reed 2
Reed & Reed 2 take up just one spot on our list because both games control exactly the same. You play as Reed, a small cat tasked with collecting information cubes to reboot a super computer and stop the world from destructing. Between both games there are 100 levels of clever platforming and amazing secrets to find.
The games draw inspiration from Super Meat Boy and Fez with the hidden lore you can find. I don’t want to spoil too much, but you can delve into Reed 2 and 50 more levels of great puzzle platforming exploration immediately after beating the first game. These two games are also pretty cheap on the eShop and are available on mobile as well.
Himno is a procedurally generated puzzle platformer that focuses 100% on exploration, rather than combat. Players can parkour up the tower to unlock new soundtracks. As you progress, wisps fill you with temporary energy, boosting you to new areas of the map. It’s a very chill game with no stressful combat or boss fights.
The game’s districts are criminally small for the exploration focus, which is really the only flaw here. If the rooms felt bigger and had more to explore and puzzles to solve, it would feel more substantial. As it is, Himno is a great game to use as a palette cleanser between more intense games like Darkest Dungeon or Super Smash Bros.
Distraint is an interesting adventure game that focuses on telling the story of losing your soul in a Faustian bargain. It has mild horror undertones, but there aren’t any serious jump scares or horrific monsters chasing you. Rather, the game makes you deal with the consequences of your own actions in ways you never see coming.
Distraint 2 is a direct continuation of the story set-up in the first game. It’s worth checking out if you enjoy stories with a hopeful conclusion, rather than the bleak and dark setting explored in the first game.
Teslagrad is a unique Metroidvania about exploring a steampunk world inspired by old Europe. You’ll use the powers of magnetism and electricity to solve puzzles in the massive Tesla Tower. The game doesn’t waste any time in throwing complex platforming puzzles at you; within the first 30 minutes or so, you’ll already be equipped with a gauntlet able to reverse an object’s polarity and blink boots that allow you to teleport a short distance.
The puzzles and platforming all revolve around utilizing and switching between magnetic fields, causing objects to attract or repel. In this way, you turn platforms into barriers or elevators, move along ceilings or float over gaps, and more. Surviving the challenges requires both puzzle-solving and tight platforming as you time teleports between moving hazards or switch your own polarity to navigate around electric barriers.
3. Rain World
Rain World is a unique platformer survival game with over 1,600 areas to explore as Slugcat. You’re not at the top of the food chain, though. There are predators who adapt and learn where you hide. The game takes place thousands of years after an apocalyptic event has changed life on earth and the only survivors are those who escape the torrential downpours that flood through.
The game has a focus on avoiding combat, but death can and will happen if you’re not careful. You’ll also need to hunt for your survival since Slugcat must feed to evolve and find his family. It’s a stark look at what it is like to hunt and to be hunted, in a living, breathing ecosystem that feels alien at first – but like home as you soon use familiar tunnels to escape sure death.
2. MO: Astray
MO: Astray is an interesting narrative-driven platformer that sees the player avoiding combat almost entirely. It draws inspiration from Rain World and horror and apocalypse games where something terrible has happened. Most of the puzzles are about solving things by jumping and manipulating the remains of a world left behind. Will you discover what actually happened to the world?
GRIS by Nomada Studios is hands down the best exploration platformer you can experience on Nintendo Switch. The whole experience is free of death or combat, so you focus on the journey Gris is experiencing as it unfolds. Her dress can react with the environment and change, granting new abilities as the story unfolds. It is a worthy experience, especially for anyone who is coping with loss in their life.
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