Now that the PlayStation 5 exists, it’s a great time to start buying some of the best PS4 games, many of which are made by independent developers. There are still a few games that aren’t on the PS4, but almost all of the best independent games are there.
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Indie games are games that aren’t backed financially by a big publisher. However, the lines between what is and isn’t an indie game seem to have blurred. Most of the time, these games have a smaller scope, but they are great at coming up with new ideas.
Since there are so many independent games, it can be hard to find the best ones. We’ve done the hard work for you and put together a list of the best independent PS4 games. Remember that thanks to backward compatibility, all of these can be played on a PS5. There’s something for everyone, from top-down action games like Enter the Gungeon to scary puzzle games like Inside, so let’s jump right in.
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is one of the few adventure games that really works. This game is full of new mechanics, ideas, and themes that push the limits of what games can be about. What Remains of Edith Finch is a book about death. The main character, Edith, is trying to find out the truth about the curse on her family. It’s an interesting idea that works surprisingly well because of the smart writing, great acting, beautiful art, and good pacing. You can beat this game in one sitting, so even people who don’t usually play video games can easily recommend it.
The roguelike genre is hard to get into, but Hades makes it much easier. In most roguelikes, if you die, you start the game over from the beginning. This is true of Hades as well, but there are big changes at the beginning of each run. Depending on what happened in the last run, characters have new dialogue options and quests. This gives you a reason to go back to the hub area. Aside from that, the action combat is good, and you can try out different builds and weapons a lot. You can do pure close-range damage or attack from a distance, and there are many strategies in between. Hades is probably the best roguelike ever made, full stop.
In recent years, horror has come back in a big way, and Outlast, a PS4 game that was free with PS Plus in 2014, has a lot to do with that. The game sends players to a hospital that seems to be closed down to find out about cruel experiments going on there. Part of what makes it so scary is that it makes it hard to see, so you have to go into dark places with only a night vision camera (which can run out of battery quickly). In Outlast, you can’t attack, so all you can do is run and hide as enemies chase you. Outlast isn’t for everyone, but horror fans will probably like how violent it is.
Dead Cells has elements of Metroidvanias and a rogue-like system for moving forward. You play as the Prisoner, a humanoid made of dead cells (get it?). You move through a series of dungeons that get harder and harder as you go. At the end of each level, you can buy permanent upgrades, but if you die, you have to start from the beginning. Like most rogue-likes, a lot of Dead Cells is about trying things and seeing what works. When you die in Dead Cells, you usually don’t mind having to start over from the beginning. This is because the fighting is fun and the world is full of interesting things to see. If you like Metroidvania games and don’t mind fighting uphill, Dead Cells is one of the best independent games on PS4 in both of those categories.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale: Innocence, which takes place in France in the 14th century, is powerful because the setting is so well done. You play as Amicia, a young woman who leads her younger brother Hugo through the countryside of France in search of a cure for his strange illnesses. A Plague Tale is supposedly a stealth game, and most of your movement is based on sneaking past soldiers from the Inquisition who are looking for the siblings. Most of the puzzles are based on thousands of rats that have the plague. If you don’t stay in the light, they will eat Amicia and Hugo alive. The uncertainty and historical setting of A Plague Tale make it an exciting story. But what stands out most is how Amicia and Hugo feel about each other. Also in the works is a sequel called A Plague Tale: Requiem.
Enter the Gungeon
Enter the Gungeon is a fast-paced bullet hell shooter with a rogue-like system for moving forward. Enter the Gungeon, which was made by Dodge Roll and put out by Devolver Digital, is one of the best games in a very crowded genre. But instead of changing everything when you die, the rooms stay the same, but the items, enemies, and coordinates in each room change randomly. It has a top-down, pixelated look that makes it feel like an old game. But as you go deeper and deeper into its dungeons, its mechanics, story, and subtle depth make it feel decidedly modern.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice looks like a big-budget game, but it’s actually an indie game made by Ninja Theory. It’s a dark and moving story about a woman going crazy. Senua goes into the depths of a hellish landscape based on Norse mythology to get the soul of her dead partner. The game uses a creepy and effective whisper system to mess with Senua’s head over and over again. The whole time Melina Juergens plays Senua, she does a great job of showing what it’s like to lose control of one’s faculties. Hellblade is an action game because it has great swordplay that isn’t too flashy, but it really succeeds because of its unique way of telling a story. You can also look forward to Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, the game’s sequel, which will only be available for Xbox and PC.
The most ambitious RPG you’ll find on PS4 is also an indie game from a small team – Disco Elysium is jaw-droppingly well-written and lets you go about a complex murder investigation in almost any way you could think of. You play a hurt and forgetful detective, so there are a lot of ways to mess up.
All of them have been made to fit, and the dialogue system is very impressive. The PS4 version is a great choice because it has full voice acting, and the story won’t be easy to forget. A game that should be played by as many people as possible.