With Sony’s second handheld now at the end of its twilight years, it can be easy to forget just how many great games and experiences the PS Vita has played host to over the years.
Though Fortnite for PS Vita isn’t a thing, the platform has plenty of superb games all the same. From the near bottomless imagination exuded by efforts such as Tearaway, to the hundreds of hours of gameplay provided by challenging titles such as The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Rogue Legacy and Darkest Dungeon we’ve got a feature that chronicles the best PS Vita games that money can buy.
And don’t worry – this feature is will very much be an ongoing thing, where we’ll strive to add more of the best PS Vita titles over time.
Updated 18/06/2019 – Added Shakedown: Hawaii
Best PS Vita Games
Without wasting any more time then, and in no particular order, we kick off with…
A brutally brilliant sequel to previous top-down, open-world crime fest Retro City Rampage, Shakedown: Hawaii expands the scope of things massively by allowing players to buy and run shell corporations, re-zone land, shake down shops for protection money and a whole host of other activities to keep all that money rolling in.
Nonetheless, despite turning an eye towards such management elements, Shakedown: Hawaii is still overflowing with all the explosive, open-world chaos and humor that made its predecessor so very memorable.
Media Molecule’s enchanting papercraft platforming adventure Tearaway was a revelation when it released back in 2013. Famed for not just its arresting visual veneer, Media Molecule’s PS Vita standout earned its place as one of the portables best games in how it channeled the British developer’s breadth of imagination to utilize almost every single function of Sony’s second-generation handheld.
Boasting an adorable premise, Tearaway has folks navigating their way through a charming papercraft world to deliver a message to the player in one of the most underrated meta-narratives seen in recent times. From encouraging players to use the rear trackpad to mimic pushing their fingers up through the paper world to cutting out different paper shapes for use in the world, Tearaway is overflowing with imagination and simply essential for PS Vita owners everywhere.
Rogue Legacy excels on account of its hugely easy to grasp premise and its super-solid action platforming beats. As a knight that must raid a castle and defeat the boss, each time you die you give birth to a successor who in turn can inherit one of a number of positive and negative genetic traits, such as gigantism, blindness or deadly allergies.
Couple this with wholly unique mechanic with a castle that can be continually upgraded to buff your character, a superb New Game + mode and some of the best chiptune music ever heard, and it’s no surprise that as one of the best roguelike Metroidvania offerings in recent memory, Rogue Legacy confidently stakes its claim as a resolutely fantastic game and a must-have for PS Vita owners everywhere.
Odds are that you’ve never played anything like Papers, Please. A puzzler that presents players with unique set of conundrums, Papers, Please puts players into the shoes of an immigration officer at the border of a fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc country. The goal, seemingly, is to let in the good folks in order to meet a quota, whilst also striving to keep out the bad folks – however, that is easier said than done.
By using your powers of observation to analyze their documents and history against the clock, Papers, Please keeps things interesting by adhering to an ever-fluctuating immigration policy – folks from one country that were deemed fit to pass for example, may not be the next day you come to work. Challenging and thought provoking, Papers, Please is the Good Stuff.
A roguelike platformer adventure with procedurally generated levels and challenge to spare, Spelunky is absolutely a natural fit for PlayStation Vita. Casting players as a cave diving treasure hunter, Spelunky perfectly nails that roguelike hook of challenging and punishing you for carelessness, but also in keeping you coming back for more.
With a massive range of differently themed levels to conquer, treasures to collect, creatures to meet and secrets to discover, it comes as little surprise that one of the best indie games ever also makes a strong case for itself as one of the best PS Vita games available, too.
Developed by same talented, practiced hands that brought us superb Metroidvania Guacamelee! Severed takes Drinkbox Studios penchant for excellent design and transplants it into the equally colorful, though completely different perspective of a first-person dungeon crawler.
With a heavy focus on touchscreen controls to hack and slash your enemies, as well as an interact with a stylishly realized Aztec world, Severed is all about exploring ruins, catacombs, forests and temples as you seek out new abilities which allow you access new areas, and new combat capabilities to aid in you doing away with your colorful, monstrous foes. Severed is simply essential
Steeped in lively Latin American color and drowning in humor, Guacamelee! is a toweringly good Metroidvania effort that knows how to have fun. As Juan Aguacate, a humble farmer, players embark on quest to save the daughter of El Presidente’. Sadly, Juan is killed by her abductor, the villainous Carlos Calaca, and wakes up in the underworld where he is given super luchador powers from a deceased wrestler called Tostada to continue his quest.
Combining pixel-perfect platforming with lucha-libre combat and oodles of Metroidvania exploration, Guacamelee! isn’t just a super-solid genre entry on design and technical merits, but also on the fact that it is very often so rib-bustingly charming that you’ll never want to put the controller down. Also expect chickens – lots of chickens.
SteamWorld Dig 2
If there was one complaint about the otherwise excellent SteamWorld Dig, one of the most inventive Metroidvania adventures of recent times, it was quite simply that it wasn’t long enough. Not content to merely address just this, SteamWorld Dig 2 also builds upon its predecessor in a number of other ways too, adding in a range of new gadgets, artifacts to uncover and pouring a huge amount of polish onto the whole thing.
A direct continuation of SteamWorld Dig, but taking place before SteamWorld Heist, SteamWorld Dig 2 has players taking the role of Dorothy, a robot who must discover the whereabouts of Rusty, her friend and the protagonist of the first game. Decked out in a gorgeous steampunk aesthetic and super easy to pick up and play, SteamWorld Dig 2 is an easy recommendation for PS Vita owners everywhere.
In every way that a sequel can be, Velocity 2X is a superior offering to its prequel. Whereas the first Velocity title was solely concerned with being a solid vertical shooter, Velocity 2X takes things a step further. Not only do you do the whole vertical shooting lark, where you must clear the screen of enemies, rescue folks and use a teleportation drive to warp yourself around the screen, but you can actually land at certain points now too whereupon the action shifts to a scrolling, side-on 2D platforming shooter.
With its inventively designed bite-sized challenges and easy to pick up and play sensibilities, Velocity 2X is a great game to play on the move and one which effortlessly cements its place in the PS Vita’s library of must have titles.
With its beautiful pixel-art visuals, wistful soundtrack and skillful platforming beats, it’s no surprise that Fez would make it to the PlayStation Vita in the end. With loving homages to Super Mario Bros, Tetris and the Legend of Zelda, Fez is a platformer quite unlike any other as it tasks players with solving QR code puzzles, ciphered alphabets and the ability to rotate the perspective by 90 degrees at a time – allowing access to previously unreachable areas.
As much a test of platforming dexterity as it is one of mental guile, Fez remains a hugely compelling and innovative title to this day, and on PlayStation Vita it arguably soars among the best that Sony’s muscular handheld can offer.
Don’t let the early 1980s retro aesthetic of Woah Dave! fool you – underneath that simplistic veneer lurks a murderously challenging and resolutely addictive frenetic platformer that draws on the earliest arcade platforming efforts of yesteryear. Like all the best things in life, Woah Dave! has a beautifully simple premise.
Viewed from a side-on 2D perspective, as the titular Dave players must defeat enemies by throwing eggs, skulls or screen-clearing bombs at them, with the goal being to collect as many score coins as possible without losing all of your three lives. The trick? On each level the lava level begins to rise and swallow the platforms – worse still, if enemies fall into the lava they evolve into a more deadlier form of their previous selves, but dish out more coins when killed as a result. Devilishly addictive, Woah Dave! excels on PS Vita.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Inspired by the biblical story of the same name, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is arguably the definitive edition of one of the most intriguing roguelikes in years. Controlling the titular Isaac from a top-down perspective, players must venture down into the depths as they vanquish monsters, discover secrets and attempt to escape the horrors that lay beneath.
With procedurally generated levels, monsters, over 450 different upgrades, a variety of characters to choose from and 13(!) different endings spread across some 500+ hours or so of gameplay, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a monstrously essential proposition for anyone looking for well-designed dungeon crawler with longevity and challenge to spare.
Pix The Cat
No list of the greatest PS Vita games currently available can be considered complete without the addition of Pix The Cat. A supremely simple, though immensely challenging offering, Pix the Cat has a brilliantly accessible premise. As a neon-hued cat (don’t ask) you have to collect eggs which follow behind you in a conga-line of sorts.
As the eggs hatch and the ducks reveal themselves, so too does the tempo increase, as you must complete each level by reaching the exit and not hitting any walls or obstacles along the way. Beautifully psychedelic and unfailingly compelling, Pix the Cat is the epitome of score chasing brilliance and deserves a place on every PS Vita system out there.
From Japanese developer Vanillaware, the same studio that brought us the likes of Odin Sphere and Muramasa Rebirth, Dragon’s Crown is a side-scrolling brawler set in a stylized world of swords and sorcery as players work together to murder monsters, secure loot and improve their characters with neat abilities and equipment.
Influenced by the Capcom Dungeons & Dragons side-scrollers of old, Dragon’s Crown is an in-depth take on that classic formula, with massive, non-linear levels, drop in/drop out co-op multiplayer support for up to four players and a generous dollop of RPG style progression mechanics. If you like side-scrolling brawlers and action RPGs, then you’ll find few better efforts on the PS Vita than Dragon’s Crown.
One of the most fiendishly difficult RPG roguelikes in recent years, Darkest Dungeon is a gothic set, turn-based effort which challenges players to manage not only the gear and traditional progression of their team of heroes, but also their appetites, mental states and other status effects that afflict them along the way.
With a range of different classes to choose from, a neat narration system that chronicles your successes and failures and a beautiful, painterly visual aesthetic, Darkest Dungeon is a deeply challenging mobile strategy RPG that will last you for hours on end.
Persona 4 Golden
Arguably one of the greatest JRPGs of all time, Persona 4 Golden is the full-fat Persona experience on your PS VIta – and it is glorious. An enhanced version of the already hugely impressive PS2 original, Persona 4 Golden adds new characters, additional Personas, a brand new anime cut-scenes to spice things up.
A JRPG that easily stretches into the hundreds of hours, Persona 4 Golden combines traditional dungeon-crawler adventuring with slice of life school shenanigans where you actually have to manage a social schedule to great effect. Boasting one of the most enjoyable plots of any JRPG in recent memory, to own a PS Vita and not have Persona 4 Golden on it, is the quite the crime indeed.
If you enjoyed this feature on the best PS Vita games, why not check out some of our other features below:
- 2019 PS4 Games: PlayStation 4 Titles You Won’t Want To Miss
- Best PS4 Exclusives – Amazing Games That Everyone Should Play
- Best PS4 Indie Games – Excellent Games Everyone Should Play
- Best Free PS4 Games – Great Games At Zero Cost
- PS5 Specs, Rumors, CPU, GPU, PSVR 2 & More
- PS5 Vs Xbox Scarlett Comparison – What We Know So Far
- 50 Best PS3 Games of All Time