Turn-based games are difficult to classify under the same genre, as the name itself only defines an important gameplay mechanic upon which the rest of the game is built. So today’s list of the best turn based games for the Switch will take you through a series of genres, with top recommendations in each.
Whether it’s RPGs, tactical games and even roguelikes, the Nintendo Switch offers plenty of turn-based titles for players to sink their teeth into, if they are into carefully planning each and every move. And even though these game won’t generally get the most out of the console’s unique control methods, they’re still fun to play.
And you get the top ones below, so let’s check out the best Nintendo Switch turn-based games to play in 2020.
The Civilization series is probably the best known 4X strategy game sseries in the world. 4X stands for explore, expand, exploit and exterminate, referring to the fact that players usually build, maintain and expand empires.
Civilization 6 is the latest entry in the series, and the most complex to date. Players start from 4000BC, and each turn will bring them closer to modern times in an engaging journey through time where they must develop their civilization. With 24 different civilizations to choose from and unique maps created each time, there’s a lot of replay value.
The complexity of Civilization VI was hard to translate to a portable screen, but developer Aspyr managed to do so masterfully, making this version of the game the one to get if you want to play the game on the go and don’t want to be limited to the small screens of smartphones and tablets.
Darkest Dungeon is one of the most interesting roguelike games released in recent years, thanks to only to its presentation, but also how it manages to represent the “stress” of adventuring.
Prior to the Nintendo Switch release, the game was already available for play on the go thanks to the PlayStation Vita release, but the bigger screen of the Nintendo consoles makes the on the go experience much better.
In Darkest Dungeon, players must recruit, train and lead a team of heroes through a variety of locations like forests, crypts, and other dangerous places.
While exploring, you will be facing some powerful enemies that are fought with a turn-based combat system. Battles will wear out your heroes, however, and if they die, they are gone for good.
With so many different heroes and gameplay mechanics, Darkest Dungeon is among the deepest and most engaging roguelikes, and one of the best experiences that can be had on the Nintendo Switch.
Disgaea 5 Complete
The Disgaea series is a rather atypical tactical role-playing game series, as the main focus of each entry in the series is creating the most powerful units possible to dish out huge amounts of damage, especially in the post-game.
The experience is definitely engaging, but it can be wearisome to play it on PC or regular consoles, so playing Disgaea 5 Complete on Nintendo Switch is definitely the best way to enjoy the game for those who don’t really have the patience grinding while sitting in front of a screen.
Disgaea 5 Complete is a true entry in the series in every possible. The story, which stars young demon Killia, is as wacky as ever, with so many over-the-top moments that players will be amused all the time.
Damage numbers are also as high as they can, so if you enjoyed previous entries in the series, you will feel right at home with Disgaea 5 Complete.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is among the most original game starring Mario and his friends ever released. Beneath its goofy exterior, however, lies an incredibly deep tactical experience that even those who are not exactly keen on the setting will surely enjoy.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is one of the few Mario games not developed by Nintendo, but Ubisoft managed not only to capture the magic of Mario but also to masterfully blend with the wackiness of the Rabbids.
As such, it becomes second nature to see Mario, Luigi, Peach, and others wield weapons, unleash special skills and so in classic turn-based fashion.
With its huge amount of content, including some meaningful DLC content, and solid gameplay experience, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is the game to get even if you just have a passing interest in turn-based games.
In the past few years, Square Enix has gone back to being a JRPG powerhouse. While the main Final Fantasy series has been struggling a bit, caught between tradition and innovation, the Japanese publisher has released some games like I Am Setsuna that are rather reminiscent of classic games. Octopath Traveler is only the latest game in this classic JRPG revival.
While the game’s story may not be everyone’s cup of tea, as it follows eight individual stories that don’t really converge, the gameplay mechanics are extremely engaging, as they are the modern take of those of older JRPGs.
The battle system, while turn-based, gives players bigger agency, as they can store turns to power up attacks and skills.
With such a solid gameplay experience and excellent presentation, Octopath Traveler is a game that no fan of turn-based JRPG should pass on.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole
The South Park series spawned a lot of video game adaptations, some extremely bad, some very good. South Park: The Fractured but Whole definitely falls in the latter, being one of the best RPG and one of the best turn-based games available on Nintendo Switch.
Despite its completely wacky setting, South Park: The Fractured but Whole is a rather deep role-playing game that allows players to customize the New Kid, choose its starting class, learn skills and employ them in an involving turn-based battle system.
The battle system is particularly interesting, as it’s an evolution of the one seen in The Stick of Truth. Each battlefield is divided into a grid, where both player and enemy can move. The grid also features hazards, which force players to think hard about their movement.
With so many features and a huge amount of content, South Park: The Fractured but Whole is the game to get for all South Park fans who also happen to be RPG and turn-based games fans.
The Banner Saga Trilogy
The Banner Saga is among the best tactical role-playing games ever released, and it’s just perfect for a handheld format. For this reason, the game is well suited to the Nintendo Switch and its hybrid nature.
The Banner Saga games are not only incredibly good turn-based games where players must lead the members of their caravan to victory against other human enemies but also fearsome creature, but they also feature a very deep and moving story where the fact of an entire civilization rests on the protagonists, characters die and the consequences of players’ choices play out in the most brutal way possible. Characters can also die in battle, so every action counts!
The Banner Saga Trilogy includes all three entries in the series, offering players the whole story from the beginning to its very conclusion. If you’re into moving and involving stories, this is the game to get.
The Advance Wars series by Intelligent System, the same developer behind the Fire Emblem series, is one of the best turn-based series ever created by a developer associated with Nintendo.
Sadly, no new entry in the series has been released in a very long time, so those who are longing for a new Advance Wars game have to look for another game to play.
Tiny Metal is far from being the most original turn-based around, but it’s the perfect game for newcomers to the genre to get acquainted with its most basic mechanics.
Veterans will not fail to notice all the nods to Advance Wars, but will still get an enjoyable experience thanks to its rock-paper-scissors mechanics, variety of tactical scenarios and so on.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
The Valkyria Chronicles series is on the exact opposite side of Tiny Metal on the turn-based games spectrum, as its among the most innovative series released in recent times. Valkyria Chronicles 4 takes everything that made the first entry in the series great and expands on it vastly.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is set once against in a fictional world that’s extremely reminiscent of the early 20th Century Europe. The main characters are involved in a war that’s tearing apart Europa, and will often find themselves face to face against their enemies, risking their lives on the battlefield every day.
What makes Valkyria Chronicles 4 stand out from the competition is not only its beautiful graphical style, but also the BLiTZ battle system, thanks to which players can move units freely on the battlefield, with some limitations, and aim directly at enemies as if the game were a third person shooter.
The Valkyria Chronicles 4 battle system gives players so much tactical freedom that it’s possible to complete missions in a lot of different ways.
If you can only get one turn-based game, and you’re looking for something unique, get Valkyria Chronicles 4. You will not be disappointed.
The Fire Emblem series has changed a lot over the course of the years, and Fire Emblem Three Houses seems like will continue bringing innovation to the series, with a much bigger focus on character interaction.
Those who prefer the first entries in the series, however, have lost something on the way, but thankfully Wargroove brings back many of these classic features.
Wargroove is a turn-based, tactical game where players take control of a variety of characters belonging to different classes, which are, in true Fire Emblem fashion, more effective against other specific unit types but also weak to others.
Added to the tactical mix are terrain types, which influence units stats, village conquering, special abilities and extremely varied maps with a lot of different victory conditions. Lacking several RPG mechanics, Wargroove puts the emphasis on tactics, and it brilliantly success.
These mechanics are only the tip of the iceberg. With an engaging story, charming characters, a map and campaign editor, an arcade mode and multiplayer, Wargroove is the game for turn-based games fans who want their decisions, and them alone, to make difference between victory and defeat.
Into the Breach
We love these retro-themed, pixelated games here at Touch Tap Play and Into the Breach fits the bill perfectly. We’re sure you’ll love it too, with its perfect approach to turn based tactics and battles.
In this game, you will play in a post apocalyptic world in the future, controlling huge mechs that fight equally large monsters coming from the depths of earth. As a bonus, you can fully customize your mechs and make them unique each time you play… and each time will be different as the game throws at you procedurally generated greatness.
Into the Breach comes from the makers of FTL: Faster than Light, which is also an amazing game (but unfortunately not available on Switch). But this game will do just as well – if not better!
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this game, which is brilliant at times and frustratingly annoying at others. But one thing is sure: this is an extremely well made game that’s perfect for those looking for some intense turn based tactical gameplay.
Set in the far future, where humans have been eradicated from Earth and replaced by intelligent yet mutant animals of sorts, Mutant Year Zero mixes real time exploration with deep turn based battles and everything in between.
The game itself is very complex, mixing elements from classics like Jagged Alliance, Xcom and more recent titles like Divinity Original Sin for example. And, despite all these, remains a uniquely amazing game like nothing you’ve ever seen before. So it’s definitely worth playing!
A futuristic, post-apocalyptic version of the classic The Oregon Trail, Overland puts you in charge of a group of survivors that roam around the United States fighting to stay alive (and find gas for their car).
An indie gem in my opinion – one that doesn’t have glowing reviews, though – Overland it minimalist and well done, mixing a somewhat casual approach with very deep stratgies and especially hard to make decisions.
Battlestar Galactica Deadlock
I might be biased a bit here since I absolutely loved the TV series when it aired, but the truth is that I haven’t heard anybody to say that this is a bad game. On the contrary!
Of course, it’s not a game for everybody as it does take the strategic gameplay to brand new levels of depth and all those space exploration and fights are time consuming, require a lot of thinking and planning and are slow paced.
The game that it reminds me mostly of is Stellaris – another brilliant game that’s unfortunately not available on Switch consoles – but more focused on the fighting elements. So if you liked the Battlestar Galactica TV series, but especially if you like these deep space strategies generally, you’ll fall in love with this game instalty.
These are only a few of the turn-based games available on the Nintendo Switch, but we would say that they’re certainly the best. Any notable game we missed? Let us know in the comments!