Best Role-Playing Games (RPG) on the Nintendo Switch [2021]

There are over 900 RPGs on the Nintendo Switch, but which ones are worth your time and money in 2021?

One of the most appealing aspects of the Nintendo Switch is its vast, ever-growing library of games spanning all genres, from inventive indie creations to massive first-party releases.

Each year, it’s the massive role-playing games that stand to be among the best-selling titles outside of the annual franchise releases; the storylines, character development aspects, and choice to roam lands appeal to millions of more traditionally-inclined gamers.

Here, we’re going through what we’ve found to be the best Switch RPGs available in 2021, but first, some honourable mentions.

Picking the best Switch RPGs

Naturally, this will be a rather subjective list, based on how we’ve experienced the games and our own preferences. That said, the main aspect is that we found the Switch RPGs to be enjoyable in one way or another, regardless of their price or theme.

Due to how so many games cross many different genres, some people perceive some games to be more of one genre than another, and the presence of newly-formed genre-combos, we’ve gone by the eShop listings. Even though this only narrowed the selection down to just over 900 titles, it did exclude some big-hitters that some would consider to be RPGs, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Monster Hunter Rise.  

We have narrowed down the featured section to the top ten best role-playing Nintendo Switch games. We’ve also included a range of price tags so that any budget can enjoy a top-class RPG on the hybrid console.

Stardew Valley (£10.99/€13.99/$13.99)

Few indie games have garnered such a sprawling, committed fan base as Stardew Valley. Despite the simulation RPG being launched into a saturated farm genre, it’s still doing incredibly well, with developer Eric Barone (also known as ConcernedApe) continuing to deliver updates and communicate with the game’s vast community.

Stardew Valley starts with you being gifted a house and some land, but it soon expands into a sprawling open-ended life simulation centred around improving your farm. Along with mining, growing, crafting, raising livestock, and making money through the Shipping box and vendors, you can also follow quests and get married. Essentially, this is the complete farm-life sim RPG, wrapped in glorious pixel art-like graphics.

Undertale (£11.99/€14.99/$14.99)

The most commonly thrown around term for Undertale is “masterpiece,” which is a fair assessment of this indie RPG gem. What stands out the most is the absurdly varied combat mechanics. While you can fight the enemies in dodge’em mini-games that take a different form each time, you can also choose to act, perform various actions, and try to work out how to quell your foe instead of killing them.

However, Undertale really wins over gamers with its humour. The story is funny, you get loads of silly but relevant options, and the NPCs help to keep this tone running throughout. That’s not to say that the story is just a bit of fun, though, as the Toby Fox-made game certainly entices you with its tale. While Undertale certainly plays fast-and-loose with the conventions of the genre, it ranks as one of the best RPGs out there.

Golf Story (£13.49/€14.99/$14.99)

In the sports world, golf has a bit of stigma for being boring. So, Sidebar Games decided to pump some excitement into golf, using it as the vehicle for the role-playing game Golf Story. Throughout the Story Mode, you get to enhance your skills and equipment by conquering bizarre courses and rising through the professional ranks.

While this is a list of the best Switch RPGs, the rest of the Golf Story offering can’t be overlooked. Along with the RPG-driven Story Mode, you get the Quick Play, which is remarkably enjoyable for some competitive co-op golf. The story is the highlight of this retro-looking game, but it’s also a great game to have in reserve for when you’ve got company.

Hopefully, the sequel to Golf Story, Sports Story, arrives soon and stakes a claim for a place on this list.

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (£13.49/€14.99/$14.99)

As the hero of an epic adventure of discovery, uncovering how the world came to be, and the evil corrupt plot that could destroy Veggieville, Turnip Boy couldn’t care less: he just doesn’t want to pay his taxes. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is perfectly tailored to showcase the protagonist as a pure sociopath, with your only options being to defy promises, tear-up heartfelt gifts, and bob with a silent smile.

From the core story to the outcome of each side quest, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is a hilarious adventure that never fails to pivot the way that defies RPG story convention. At launch, the core story and selection of playthrough settings made it an indie gem, but on the way is a dungeon expansion.

Monster Sanctuary (£15.99/€19.99/$19.99)

Infusing monster taming and battling with Metroidvania exploration, Monster Sanctuary offers, at the very least, a novel gameplay style within the storied Pokémon-esque genre. The central focus is certainly on building a great team of monsters, with there being over 100 to collect and combine in the three-vs-three battles; it’s necessary for the core game as well as the now-up-and-running online battles.

The team-building is excellent in this indie gem from Moi Rai Games, with you being able to pick from the six that you carry around as your main group in each encounter. Reinforcing this is the skill trees that are unique to each monster. There’s also a large map that features loads of different environments, mighty Champion Monsters, hidden areas unlocked by monster powers, and plenty of puzzles to solve.

Hades (£22.49/€24.99/$24.99)

The big-money, highly-publicised The Last of Us Part II may have swept game of the year awards last year, but if you look across the articles of individual outlets, Hades looks to be the consensus pick, as highlighted by Forbes. Drenched in Greek mythology, Hades received stellar reviews across the board, hailed as the epitome of the rogue-like genre.

It’s as epic as it is unforgiving, with the fast-paced action and quest to gain the powers of the gods being given all the more value by the death and arena-change mechanic. Complementing the incredible gameplay is the superb design and art style, with the presence of the gods felt every time that they arrive. If you have an affinity for the mythical beings of ancient Greece, you’ll really appreciate Supergiant Games’ magnum opus.

Divinity: Original Sin II – Definitive Edition (£44.99/€49.99/$49.99)

Divinity: Original Sin II fully embodies what would be best termed as the modernised form of a classic RPG. With tabletop RPG mechanics at its heart, the Larian Studios title embraces its capacity as a video game with tactical and remarkably deep combat mechanics, excellent world design, and a huge range of side quests and NPCs to deal with as you see fit.

There’s just so much that you can do in Divinity: Original Sin II, from its range of game modes to the upgrades that you can apply to your character and each of the items that you pick-up. While you’re essentially free to do as you please, you do have a welcomed Journal and on-screen map so that you can be more quest-driven whenever you’re ready. Furthermore, you can play this with up to four players online, but it can’t be played in co-op on the Switch.

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition (£49.99/€59.99/$59.99)

The showcase title that proved the power of the Nintendo Switch before ‘Switcher’ came alone, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is a superb entry to the storied franchise. There is so much to like about this game, from its turn-based team combat to the deep character builds and, of course, its powerful story loaded with likeable characters.  

While not as interchangeable as would be optimal, Dragon Quest XI S has a splendid retro-switch feature, allowing you to play the game in its more modern aesthetic or a 16-bit style. So, you can enjoy the same game – bar the open-world enemy encounter mechanics – as a sprawling 3D RPG or more of a classic JRPG. Both forms look great, so it just depends on how you want to experience the game.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (£49.99/€59.99/$59.99)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is nothing short of an era-defining game, and even though many complain about Bethesda porting the game repeatedly rather than working on the sequel, it’s worthy of each re-release. While its predecessor, Oblivion, broke ground, Skyrim vaulted high-fantasy role-play video gaming to the very top, similarly to how The Lord of the Rings did on the silver screen.

Everything about Skyrim feels epic and important, from earning the shouts as the fabled Dovahkiin to picking your side in the civil war – and that’s just the main story. The game is just as enjoyable when exploring the world and collecting materials as it is following the many quests, regardless of the sides that you pick. Along with its superb gameplay, the Skyrim soundtrack is spectacular, enhancing every key point in the story and epic battle along the way.

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition (£49.99/€59.99/$59.99)

If Skyrim is the Lord of the Rings movies of modern high-fantasy RPGs, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is the show Game of Thrones, earning its 18/M rating by being darker and grittier through its intriguing storylines. Hailed as one of, if not the greatest RPGs of modern gaming, The Witcher III throws you into a brutal, massive open-world that you’ve got to navigate to complete the enormous array of quests as the gruff Geralt of Rivia, and sometimes Ciri.

Combat is smooth and bloody, the characters are unique and interesting, the monsters are scary and gruesome, and your choices influence the rest of the world. The core game is excellent, but with the expansion Blood and Wine, CD Projekt Red crafted something very special indeed. So, the Complete Edition is worth the extra cash. Regardless of which version you get, you’ll find The Witcher III to be an incredibly sophisticated, deep, and immersive RPG that, if nothing else, proves the power of the Nintendo Switch.

Honourable mentions

Here’s our list of honourable mentions, but it should be stressed that each of these are great Switch RPGs, but we only had so much room for the featured games above.

  • Bastion (£10.99/€12.49/$12.49)
  • Final Fantasy VII (£12.79/€15.99/$15.99)
  • Punch Club (£13.49/€14.99/$14.99)
  • Valkyria Chronicles (£15.99/€19.99/$19.99)
  • Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (£15.99/€19.99/$19.99)
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth (£29.99/€39.99/$39.99)
  • Ashen (£31.99/€35.99/$35.99)
  • Dark Souls: Remastered (£34.99/€39.99/$39.99)
  • Borderlands: Legendary Collection (£39.99/€49.99/$49.99)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (£49.99/€59.99/$59.99)
  • Octopath Traveler (£49.99/€59.99/$59.99)
  • The Outer Worlds (£74.98/€84.98/$84.98 – including expansions)
  • Pokémon Sword and Shield (£76.98/€89.98/$89.98 – including expansions)

Right now, those in the honourable mentions list and the games featured above are what we deem to be the best role-playing Nintendo Switch games in 2021. As the year progresses, we’ll see if any more can be added to the list.

If you think that another Switch RPG title should be included in this list, let us know in the comments below – especially if it’s an indie gem!

Ben Chopping

Will give almost any game a chance, particularly those that include wildlife, monsters, or prehistoric creatures of any kind.

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