After three short years, the amount of quality games available on Switch is simply staggering. Nintendo’s system has quite literally thousands of titles to enjoy, many of them absolutely free to download and play, and many of the others with free demos available on the Switch eShop, so you can try before you buy.
Below we’ve collected together some of the best demos on the eShop. It’s a genre-spanning, motley mixture of AAA releases, indie gems, undeniably brilliant titles and others that may be more of an acquired taste – and therefore perfect fodder for a gameplay demo to see if you like what’s on the menu before placing your order.
The length of the demos below varies (the first RPG on the list is one of the most generous demos in living memory), and some of them handily carry over your progress should you decide to purchase the full game. Regardless, each of them gives you an excellent idea of the larger experience, all for the princely sum of nada.
So, let’s take a look at the best demos on the Nintendo Switch eShop…
Publisher: Square Enix / Developer: Square Enix
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition has a heartwarming, well-paced narrative supported by a cast of fantastic characters, a dense and interesting overworld packed with dozens of hours of content, and one of the finest soundtracks we’ve heard in a JRPG. It’s an unforgettable modern classic, but if effusive critical praise doesn’t sway you, perhaps a chunky 10-hour demo might. Your progress transfers to the full game if you decide to take the plunge (and you really should).
And while we’re on the subject of Dragon Quest, the Dragon Quest Builders games both have lengthy demos, too, and are worth checking out once you’ve finished this epic.
Publisher: Berzerk Studio / Developer: Berzerk Studio
One of our favourite indie gems on the Switch, the energy and verve of Just Shapes & Beats is utterly infectious. True to its name, the elements are simple, but Berzerk Studio explores and executes on its modest premise with an exceptional level of polish in this self-described ‘musical bullet hell’. The demo features the first four tracks of the Story Mode, plus the first Boss level and local multiplayer support, so plenty to help you decide if it’s for you. Which it is.
Publisher: Square Enix / Developer: Square Enix
Trials of Mana proves itself to be a successful revival of a lost classic, smartly infusing new design and content where necessary while still maintaining the spirit of the original. Multi-threaded storylines, an enjoyable combat system and flexible character progression combine to make this one a fantastic experience from start to finish, even if occasional performance problems hinder the experience somewhat. The demo provides a couple of hours of gameplay and gives you an introduction to the six main characters. Your save data will also carry over to the full game.
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Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Brace Yourself Games
Brace Yourself Games crafted a unique Zelda game which fit in perfectly with the rest of the family. A transfusion from Crypt of the NecroDancer gave the old top-down template a fresh spin but it still manages to feel like Zelda. Cadence of Hyrule is not just a brilliant game, it’s a brilliant Zelda game, but its beat-based gameplay can take some getting used to. Handy, then, that there’s a demo available to download.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Marvelous Entertainment
Daemon X Machina is a solid mech action game that controls well and gives the player a generous helping of customisation options. Its mission structure can get repetitive, and its plot is so difficult to grasp it may as well be soaked in grease, but as long as you’re willing to put up with these and get through its initially bewildering array of gauges and icons you should have a good time with it. Given its divisive status, the eShop demo is a godsend for anybody sitting on the fence.
Moving Out can be great fun, but in our view it’s just too slight to be a lasting classic. Still, if you’re a sucker for crazy co-op mayhem, the four-level demo available on the eShop will let you know if the game’s for you. What have you got to lose? Besides close personal friendships, of course.
Yoshi’s Crafted World is a delightful side-on platformer overflowing with colour and charm that does exactly what it says on the tin. For Yoshi fans, it contains few genuine surprises, which is perhaps the worst thing we can say about it. Still, if you’re new to the series, or just want to sample the light-hearted gameplay before investing the full RRP, the demo gives a great taster of Yoshi’s irresistible world.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Square Enix
The Octopath Traveler Prologue demo showcases the game’s dazzling art style and mechanics with a 3-hour opening section of the game. You can choose any of the eight characters and your save data carries over to the full game.
The only demo on this list for a currently unreleased game, this gives us a taste of what to expect when Bravely Default II releases later this year. Fans of the original 3DS titles will feel immediately at home, although the Switch entry obviously looks significantly prettier than its predecessors. One word of warning, though: it’s a tough one, so be prepared to do some grinding.