It’s quite fair to say that there are more than enough sky-high budget, made-by-committee blockbusters on PS4 and PSVR to either sink a battleship or pay for a hundred new ones to be built. So in the spirit of discovery, and wanting to bring something a little different to your attention, we’ve compiled an ongoing feature that chronicles the very best independently developed games on PS4 (and by proxy PS5 – now that we know that Sony’s next-generation console will be backwards compatible and also capable of having its own indie games). So without further ado, here is our list detailing the very best PS4 indie games money can buy!
UPDATED 21/05/2020 – Added Void Bastards
Best PS4 Indie Games: Void Bastards
A beautifully twisted mixture of roguelike mechanics, BioShock, a comic book aesthetic and oodles of dark humor, Void Bastards casts players as indentured intergalactic corporate servants who must free themselves of their servitude by escaping the dangerous Sargossa Nebuka.
Deftly mixing superb shooter beats with tactical considerations and a constantly changing threat, Void Bastards is simultaneously one of the most enjoyable, thoughtful and funny roguelike games available on PlayStation 4 today.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Kentucky Route Zero
Weaving a superbly offbeat tale that takes players through a microcosm of American pop culture, Kentucky Route Zero is a text heavy, thought provoking adventure quite unlike any other.
Tasking players to travel a secret highway that runs under Kentucky state, Kentucky Route Zero will thrust all manner of odd and interesting characters in what is arguably the best roadtrip game ever made.
Best PS4 Indie Games: A Hat in Time
A Hat in Time is the sort of game you just don’t see a lot of on PS4. A cutesy 3D platforming adventure that evokes the likes of Banjo Kazooie (or really, Yooka-Laylee) from times past, A Hat in Time’s whimsical premise has players collecting the mysterious Time Pieces so that she can fuel her spaceship and make the long journey home.
Really though, what A Hat in Time’s narrative setup is an excuse for however, is some absolutely banging 3D platforming beats that fondly conjure memories of the genre’s heyday. Whether you’re scooping up coins, knocking out cartoon-style foes or collecting tickets to open goody-stuffed safes dotted throughout every level, A Hat in Time is a thoroughly charming and entertaining platforming adventure that easily earns its place as one of the best PS4 indie games you can buy right now.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Arise – A Simple Story
Developed by Spanish codehouse Piccolo, Arise: A Simple Story is a heartfelt and beautifully constructed affair that has players taking control of an elderly man who recounts the memories of his life in a vividly euphoric dreamlike adventure.
More than just a talented tugger of the heartstrings, Arise is deceptively clever too – weaving time manipulation mechanics around its already resoundingly solid third-person platformer shenanigans. There are few games you will ever play that will whisk you away to such an ornately rendered realm of emotional resonance as Arise: A Simple Story.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Cat Quest
Cat Quest is quite the anomaly. Push aside for a moment the fact that it is a fantasy adventure about a cat trying to save a cat kingdom which is cram-filled with cat puns, Cat Quest’s biggest boon is that it is the only action RPG I can really think of that you can pick up and play for five minutes and still manage to get a lot done.
With quests that can be conquered in between 90 seconds and two minutes, bucketloads of humor and a beautifully streamlined inventory and combat system that make it a perfect prospect for wannabe adventurers of all ages, Cat Quest is a fantastic little effort that shouldn’t just appeal to kids but also to grown-ups who don’t necessarily have the time investment needed for more sprawling and bloated affairs, too.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Dead Cells
The fact that the PS4 is already swimming in some truly great Metroidvania titles such as Rogue Legacy, Guacamelee! and Shadow Complex Remastered to name just a few, should show you just how good Dead Cells is when we say it’s at the very top of that genre.
With some of the most satisfying combat and platforming beats seen in a game to date, coupled with some eye-popping pixel art graphics and ultra clever roguelike elements that keep you coming back time and again, Dead Cells is one of the most essential games for your PS4 that you can buy right now.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Dear Esther: Landmark Edition
There are fewer titles on the market that have more atmosphere than Dear Esther does right now. Set in the Outer Hebrides, Dear Esther casts player as an observer who must explore a seemingly abandoned island, discovering clues and reliving memories in order to piece together what happened to the folks that used to be there before.
A first-person narrative adventure that is single-handedly responsible for giving rise to the ‘walking simulator’ sub-genre and term, Dear Esther is a thoroughly compelling and relaxing story that finds itself bolstered by a truly haunting audiovisual presentation the likes of which we just don’t get a lot of these days. You don’t play Dear Esther in traditional terms, you experience it and as such, it stands as an experience that anybody with a curious mind or a hankering for offbeat storytelling should immerse themselves into.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Death Road to Canada
Death Road to Canada is insane in the absolute best way a videogame can be. A Canadian bound roadtrip set during a zombie apocalypse, Death Road to Canada has players mashing the shambling dead, scavenging supplies, meeting fellow survivors along the way and generally trying to do their utmost to survive. Where Death Road to Canada really excels though, is that its permadeath roguelike leanings mean that every playthrough is almost entirely different to the last. Then of course, there’s the mood of your party that must be managed too, as some members will agree with some decisions that you make whereas will not and thus affect the morale of the party.
In one playthrough for example, you could find yourself befriending a dog and assuming you have someone in your group who can talk to animals, that dog can then start contributing to the group by killing zombies, collecting gear or even driving your vehicle. Indeed, take that scenario to its natural end and its quite possible that you could end up with four, super-intelligent dogs driving a car with no human survivors remaining. Absurdly funny, great to play and stuffed full of value, Death Road to Canada is easily one of the most entertaining games of the year and a must for fans of zombie movies and well-constructed survival horror efforts.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Downwell
Brought to life by one man development team Ojiro “Moppin” Fumoto, on the face of it, Downwell’s visually arresting monochromatic veneer makes it look like a ZX Spectrum title that fell into a wormhole some 30 years ago, only to reappear today on contemporary systems unmarked by the passage of time. An extremely inventive take on the tried and tested vertical shooter that turns the concept (almost literally) on its head, Downwell has you tumbling down a well in pursuit of treasure and, naturally, the destruction of various horrible beasties along the way.
Equipped with a pair of rocket boots that also happen shoot various projectiles from their soles, Downwell’s core mechanic is that every time you shoot or rocket propel yourself over a crevice you expend one charge and when all shots have been used, like a regular firearm, the boots must then be reloaded. Even today, it’s a wonderfully innovative mechanic that combines the best sensibilities of platforming and vertical shooting genres. Beyond that irresistible hook, the great level design and roguelike elements of earning new power-ups also help to secure Downwell as one of the PS4’s most enjoyable platforming blasters.
Best PS4 Indie Games: FOX n FORESTS
Released in May 2018, FOX n FORESTS from Bonus Level Entertainment is a classic 16-bit style platformer that wowed us in our review. While some retro-themed games fail to capture the glory days of the 90s, FOX n FORESTS nails it with its stunning pixelated art design. Due to some slick level design, gameplay is challenging and satisfying as you take your magic crossbow and use melee or range attacks to take down enemies.
There’s so much more to it though. Upgrades, bonus levels, satisfying boss fights, and loot deliver much more than your standard platformer. It’s this blend of inspired retro gameplay fused with a more modern design and creativity that creates a near perfect platformer that’s full of charm. Sound design is great too, with an impressive soundtrack and all the beeps and electronic sounds that you’d expect when collecting loot, picking up power-ups, or shooting your powerful crossbow.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Frostpunk – Console Edition
From 11-Bit Studios, the same developer that brought us the morally challenging survival sim This War of Mine, comes Frostpunk – a sprawling city-building effort that expands the scope and premise of the Polish studio’s previous effort substantially.
As the governor of a small township of displaced survivors after the world enters a second ice age, it’s up you to carve out an enclave of your own in the mountains where your citizens can live and thrive. However, there’s more to this strategy effort than just foraging and building, as you’ll find yourself frequently having to institute new laws and deal with a variety of moral quandaries as you balance the survival of your people with your own conscience. Frostpunk is essential stuff.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
If there is one genre that we can’t get enough of at PSU Towers it would have to be the Metroidvania genre of games. With their tight platforming, character progression and focus on opening up new areas, games from this genre have kept gamers from all over the globe enraptured since the days of Castlevania and Metroid in the 1980s (hence the name).
The definitive version of one of the best Metroidvania efforts in years, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is a yarn quite unlike any other as players control a lowly farmer who gains powers when he puts on different Lucha masks, and must use these powers in turn to foil the ambitions of the nefarious Carlos Calaca, who aims to merge the worlds of the living and the dead into one.
Bursting with great level design, hilarious humor and eye-openingly colorful visuals, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is hotter than a ghost naga Burrito covered in an extra hot sauce. If you have even the slightest inclination towards these kinds of game, then you’ll struggle to find one better than Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on your PS4.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Heaven’s Vault
We can guarantee that you’ve never played a game quite like Heaven’s Vault. Marking the PS4 debut of elite storytellers Inkle (seriously, check out 80 Days if you haven’t already), Heaven’s Vault has players take up the role of an intergalactic linguistic archeologist who must track down a missing academic colleague.
Placing a focus on the written word, Heaven’s Vault is all about discovering long lost artefacts and translating ancient languages and dialects to inch your away across a mysterious region of space in search of the missing academic. Throw in some hugely stylish cel-shaded visuals, non-linear story progression and some of the best writing seen in any game of the last decade, and it should be obvious that Heaven’s Vault is nothing less than essential.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Emerging from the extremely talented domain of Enslaved and DmC: Devil May Cry developer Ninja Theory, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice transplants the studio’s penchant for sublime visual presentation into a setting inspired by Norse mythology and Celtic culture. A third-person action adventure that casts players as the titular Senua, a Pict tribal warrior who must confront a variety of supernatural creatures in order to rescue the soul of her lover, Hellblade combines hack and slash, puzzle solving and horror elements to create a wholly unique experience.
Beyond its deft marriage of genres, Hellblade’s most significant aspect comes from how it deals with the theme of mental illness which is generously interwoven throughout its narrative. As a Pict warrior who has suffered extreme mental trauma as the result of a Viking invasion, Senua struggles with psychosis throughout the game and believing it to be a curse, finds herself harassed by voices, memories of the past and a malevolent presence known as the “Darkness”.
To do proper justice to a mental condition that has claimed sufferers the world over, Team Ninja collaborated with numerous mental health experts, neuroscientists and most crucially, individuals who actually suffer from the condition themselves. An eye-opening audiovisual experience (a decent pair of headphones are a must), Hellblade’s unexpectedly thoughtful meditation on mental illness, combined with its action adventure elements all help to underscore Team Ninja’s inaugural ‘AA’ game experiment as a successful one that acts as a beacon for other developers to follow in its ambitious footsteps.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Helldivers
A top down procedurally generated blaster, Helldivers has one to four players travelling across the galaxy to rid the universe of three different races of bugs, machines and, well, something else. Much more than a straightforward shooter, Helldivers has a real tactical component to it whereupon players can call down automated turrets, supplies, mech suits and more to aid in their struggle against the alien menace.
Where Helldivers really succeeds however, is in how it leverages its co-operative multiplayer beats. Quite simply, with additional players Helldivers becomes an absolute riot as you and your friends cover each others backs, take down bosses together, rush toward extraction points and *accidentally* teamkill one another. Chuck in oodles of Starship Troopers style humor, upgrade trees for days and some of the most responsive and satisfying twin-stick shooter action this side of Nex Machina, and it’s clear that Helldivers is one blaster you can’t afford to pass up.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Kingdom Two Crowns
Kingdom Two Crowns is a strategy game that is quite unlike any other. For start it adopts a side-scrolling perspective that very few other strategy games seem to adopt, but more than that, its uniqueness stems from how little it tells the player; instead preferring to foster a sense of wonder and discover in place of traditionally prescribed hand-holding.
As monarch your goal is simple – you must build, fortify and expand your empire in all directions – conquering one island after another as you learn new technologies and gain insights into ancient races and forgotten peoples. The problem however, is that a race of evil nocturnal creatures called the Greed are out to steal your crown and with it the claim to your Kingdom. Stuffed full of unexpected, emergent discovery, surprising tactical depth and a wholly enjoyable co-op mode, Kingdom Two Crowns is an easy recommendation for strategy generals and rookies alike.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is nothing less than a bespoke love letter to the retro platforming adventures of yore. A beautiful Metroidvania that has character and charm for days, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom also impresses on the robust merits of its platforming adventure elements too.
As a warrior that can take the form of other monsters and animals – each of which providing their own abilities in turn, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is never anything less than a refreshingly challenge, gorgeous to look at effort that easily stakes a claim as one of the best platform games you can buy on PS4. Simply sublime stuff.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Nex Machina
It seemed a little doubtful, even outright unlikely, that Finnish indie powerhouse studio Housemarque could outdo Resogun, arguably one its greatest works on PS4. Yet, that’s exactly what they’ve done with Nex Machina; the fruits of labour from an especially well considered collaboration with Eugene Jarvis, the father of the arcade shooter and creator of Resogun’s spiritual ancestor, Defender.
An eye-searingly furious top-down, twin-stick shooter, Nex Machina stands in a class all its own as players must blast through waves of neon-tinged enemies on hundreds of different levels, all the while attempting to save as many humans as possible and collecting a variety of different weapons along the way en route to the highest score they can possibly achieve. Achingly beautiful, wonderfully responsive and maddeningly compelling, Nex Machina stakes a resoundingly confident claim as PS4’s premiere top down purist arcade shooter.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Overcooked
It’s fair to say that Overcooked brings out a certain… side in people that you might not usually see. Indeed, extended Overcooked sessions tend to turn Mild-mannered friends into whip-cracking kitchen dictators while meek acquaintances undergo an horrific transformation into a Gordon Ramsey style creature right before your very eyes. The reason for this lay in Overcooked’s insanely tuned structure that is built around a simple concept; you (and your fellow chefs) are given a dish to create and you must co-ordinate everything from the ingredients, to the cooking of those ingredients and then finally the serving of the complete dish to proceed onto the next stage.
Crucially, one of the things that Overcooked gets so perfectly right is how, in co-op, it gives everyone a role and makes them feel important. Whether you’re in charge of chopping up the vegetables, cooking the meat or even cleaning the dishes, everything you can do in Overcooked feels properly rewarding and part of a much larger plan.
Where the madness comes in is how you must not only do all of this against an ever ticking timer, but also against the environment itself as you and your team of chefs furiously aim to serve up a range of dishes in kitchens separated by two moving vehicles, earthquakes, on slippery glaciers and many more perilous locations besides. Tense, fun and rewarding, Overcooked is one of the best local co-op games money can buy; just make sure everyone has a nice chilled out beer (or ten) afterward.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Owlboy
In development for over ten years, Owlboy finally arrived on PS4 in April 2018 and it clearly demonstrated where all that considerable time and resource had gone. A 2D platformer steeped in gloriously detailed pixel art and blended with some absolutely brilliant puzzle solving and shooting elements, Owlboy tells the underdog tale of Otus, the titular Owlboy who must rally himself and his socially-awkward friends against the forces of darkness that threaten to destroy the world.
Let’s not beat about the bush here; Owlboy is utterly brilliant and completely essential. Though it encompasses a deft marriage of supremely well tuned platforming, shooting and puzzle solving elements, Owlboy also soars on account of its thoroughly well realised cast of characters who each play a part in an emotionally resonant, epic narrative that leaves an indelible imprint on your mind long after the credits have ceased their roll. Owlboy might be inspired by the 16-bit and 32-bit efforts of the past, but honestly, they were very rarely this good.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Oxenfree
A 2D narrative driven adventure with 3D characters, Oxenfree takes players on a teenage boat journey to a mysterious island where all is not as it seems, and where the histories, personalities and hidden motives of those involved clash with dire results. Embracing a non-linear narrative with multiple endings and more supernatural shenanigans than you can shake a hairy stick at, Oxenfree is an infectiously adventurous yarn that offers a great deal of replay value beyond its initial play through.
Without a doubt however, the best thing about Oxenfree is the dialogue which at once both seems believable and genuine. A thankfully far cry from the cliche’, teen dialogue that developers tend to lazily shoehorn into their games, the conversations and interactions in Oxenfree are a joy to behold and participate in with the extremely well-written scripts being bolstered by a uniformly talented and passionate voiceover cast. So if you want to immerse yourself in a wonderfully told, multi-layered story with a host of interesting characters and great writing, then Oxenfree is absolutely your huckleberry.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Rocket League
High-powered car racing and soccer; who would ever think of putting those two seemingly mutually exclusive things together? Florida based developer Psyonix, that’s who, and the end result is Rocket League – a game which has evolved into a global phenomenon and one which arguably transcends whatever chunk of hardware it happens to be running on. Largely built upon the foundations of its much less popular PS3 predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, Rocket League splits players into teams of vehicles with the idea of using those vehicles to knock a massive floating ball into the goal of the opposing team.
So yeah, it’s Car Football, but what makes Rocket League become more than the seeming sum of its parts is just how well it all comes together. For a start the handling model for each of the vehicles (which should arguably make or break a game like this) is absolutely sublime being both hugely responsive and really satisfying to get to grips with.
Rocket League has branched far out into the eSports sphere too, with tournaments and an influx of themed season challenges that help to keep the game feeling fresh and compelling. If you haven’t picked up Rocket League yet, do it, do it now. Oh, and speaking of seasons, you can keep up to date with all the Rocket League season changes and details here.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Rogue Legacy
Developed by Canadian code-house Cellar Door Games, Rogue Legacy takes the best of the Metroidvania template and mixes it with some deep and rewarding roguelike elements to create an absolutely stellar PS4 title, indie or not. As a knight who must raid a two-dimensional, randomly generated castle and lay waste to four different bosses across a quartet of different environments, you earn money which, when you die, can be put into upgrading your castle which in turn provides new abilities and skills to your brave knight the next time they venture out.
The biggest trick that Rogue Legacy has up its sleeve though (aside from absolutely sublime platforming hack ‘n’ slash mechanics and stellar audiovisual presentation), is that each time you start again, you play a new generation of the knight bloodline, and as such, you get to inherit a number of characteristics that have a huge impact on how the game plays.
From ADHD which makes you move faster, to dwarfism which makes your character small and allows them to reach super secret areas, every play through in Rogue Legacy is markedly different from the last. Rogue Legacy then, could well be the best Metroidvania effort you can get on PS4 right now. In fact, scratch that; it is.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Slay the Spire
One of the rare games at PSU to get a straight 10/10 score, it’s fair to say that Slay the Spire is something rather incredible. A perfect marriage of roguelike and card battler genres, Slay the Spire is one of the most well designed and wholly engrossing games that money can buy. As with the best things in life, the premise of Slay the Spire is wonderfully simple – you have to reach the top of the tower, kill the spire boss and move onto the next – how you get there though is entirely up to you as each path is fraught with enemies, elite foes, traps, treasures, special events and much more.
Arguably the best thing about Slay the Spire is just how well balanced it is. Being a card battler you’d expect that the game would succumb to the RNG monster far too often – yet that is hardly the case. Because of a wide range of different decks, special items and buff providing relics, you never feel like things are unfairly stacked against you, and better yet, even when you die you feel much more capable on every consecutive playthrough owing to new cards that you can unlock and skills that can be gained. Look, even if you don’t like card battling games (I didn’t) you owe it to yourself to play Slay the Spire – a sterling effort that already is a solid GOTY contender.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Stardew Valley
Swallowing up and destroying more social lives than perhaps any other game in this feature, the scope of Stardew Valley is such that if you were so inclined, you could just play Stardew Valley and nothing else and still find your days more than adequately filled. A beautifully realized take on the slice of life management simulation genre that was pioneered by the legendary Harvest Moon series of games, Stardew Valley has players managing a farm whereupon they are tasked with growing crops, selling those crops and then buying new bits and pieces for their estate.
Much more than just a seemingly trite and banal exercise in farm management however, Stardew Valley overwhelms the player with a barrage of charm, allowing them to strike up relationships, take part in seasonal festivals, delve into deep mines, own pets and much, much more besides. If you don’t have Stardew Valley, it’s time to rectify that.
Best PS4 Indie Games: SUPERHOT
Time moves when you do – that’s the central premise behind SUPERHOT, a game which blends FPS and puzzle solving sensibilities in a way that no other game has managed to pull off either before or since its release. As an unsuspecting user who finds themselves locked within a game where they must kill all the ‘Reds’ to survive, SUPERHOT’s myriad of encounters might appear as if they place a premium on fast-paced combat at first, but soon it becomes clear that every encounter is really a brain-ticking conundrum that must be solved by violent means in order for you to proceed onto the next.
You see because time only moves when you do, you are granted with an otherworldly level of dexterity that allows you dodge bullets, evade attacks from multiple angles and return attacks with whatever weapons come to hand. In one fight for example, three guards might be rushing you, and in this instance, you might decide to throw a right hook at the first, smash an ashtray into the face of the second, causing his gun to fly up into the air before catching said firearm and using it to shoot the third.
SUPERHOT is absolutely crammed with battles like this; conflicts which are fought as much with your mind as they are your reflexes, and as such, there is truly nothing like SUPERHOT on PS4. Oh and if you’re lucky enough to own a PSVR, get SUPERHOT VR, too, as it is a built-from-the-ground-up effort for PSVR that stands as one of the every best games you can get for the device.
Best PS4 Indie Games: The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga is a wondrous curio. An epic story that spans three games (the third of which is due out this summer), The Banner Saga liberally cribs from Nordic tales and parables to fashion a breathtaking tale of warrior clans, giants, magic and demonic creatures. Cementing this sweeping tale of battling clans and furious demons is the jaw-dropping, hand-drawn art style that right away recalls the works of famous 80s animators and artists such as the incomparable Don Bluth and Ralph Bakshi.
Peer beyond the extremely attractive audiovisual presentation that these games boast however, and a fiendishly clever and satisfying RPG/strategy hybrid that resembles the excellent XCOM games soon reveals itself. In every battle, the characters that you take with you can be killed and lost, and likewise, each encounter demands a level of aggressive strategy that fans of Firaxis Games will be familiar with.
Add in a branching dialogue system and a multi choice, decision-based structure from which the consequences are felt across all three games, it’s clear that The Banner Saga effortlessly presents itself as an easy recommendation for fans of deep, well-written stories and in-depth tactical combat.
Best PS4 Indie Games: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
A screen by screen top-down dungeon crawler with rogue-like elements, the events chronicled in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth take inspiration from the biblical tale that carries the same name whereupon Isaac, a lonely child, flees into the basement of his house to escape his mother’s murderous, religion-fueled psychosis. Once there, Isaac (or any other the 10 playable characters that you can unlock later on) find themselves surrounded by all manner of foul creatures which must be dispatched, along with the power-ups to make said dispatching that much easier.
The outrage over The Binding of Isaac’s subject matter though shouldn’t overshadow what is otherwise a ridiculously entertaining and extremely well crafted top down rogue-like shooter, as the game boasts range of different endings, a staunch (though not unfair) level of challenge and a neat power-up stacking system that makes The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth a must-have for top down shooter and rogue-like fans everywhere.
Best PS4 Indie Games: The Hong Kong Massacre
Taking its cue as much from Hotline Miami as it does from the late 80’s/early 90’s Hong Kong action epics directed legendary auteur John Woo, The Hong Kong Massacre is a stylish top-down shooter that has players taking the role of a vengeful police officer looking to lay waste to the criminal underworld responsible for murdering his partner.
With one-hit deaths and the ability to slow time down, use cover and dive acrobatically, The Hong Kong Massacre is a top-down shooter that is absolutely overflowing with style and satisfying gunplay.
Best PS4 Indie Games: The Last Door: Complete Edition
The Last Door: Complete Edition is a gem. A massively atmospheric point and click episodic adventure, The Last Door casts players as a former student in Victorian England who, after receiving a troubling letter from a former friend, sets out in search of him in order to divine his fate.
With its winding and twist-laden cosmic horror narrative, charmingly stylish retro veneer and some of the best sound design ever heard in a point and click adventure, The Last Door: Complete Edition is simply essential for fans of horror and the point and click genre at large.
Best PS4 Indie Games: The Mummy Demastered
Videogame movie tie-ins have long had a bad rap and that’s because, well, they’ve been bad. Shantae and Double Dragon Neon developer WayForward however have something to say about that whole deal in the form of The Mummy Demastered, a game which as per its moniker aims to streamline a movie license into something far more accessible, digestible and more importantly, enjoyable.
A side-scrolling Metroidvania effort, The Mummy Demastered puts players in the boots of a Prodigum agent (the faceless corporation from the 2016 movie that tried to abduct the mummy in the first place), who is tasked with going to locations from the movie and destroying the evil that lurks there. An eminently enjoyable take on the Metroidvania formula, The Mummy Demastered frequently thrills with an array of massive bosses, great weapons and superb level design. Oh, and it has a lovely little Dark Souls esque mechanic whereupon when you die, you must venture back to your now animated corpse and kill it to retrieve your gear.
Best PS4 Indie Games: The Sexy Brutale
Imagine, if you will, that somebody decided to stick The Secret of Monkey Island, Cluedo and Groundhog Day in a blender to see what would come out the other side. Well, The Sexy Brutale came out the other side and as it turns out it’s darned good puzzler with wit and charm to spare. Controlling a mysterious clergyman, players must prevent the murders of numerous well-to-do folk who have decided to attend a masquerade party at a mysterious aristocrat’s mansion. Unable to prevent the first murder by gunshot, you soon realize that you can rewind time and stop the would-be assailant by removing the bullet and thus prevent the dastardly act from even occurring.
And it’s here, when you foil that very first murder, that The Sexy Brutale truly opens itself up as with each solved murder your character gains extra abilities which in turn can be used to not only solve other foul crimes, but also delve a little deeper into the darkness that lay behind mansion in the first place, too. Hilariously offbeat and brilliantly well written, The Sexy Brutale is a scandalously good little game that stands as an easy recommendation for anyone looking to get their teeth into something a little different.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Tacoma
Set aboard a high tech space station in 2088, Tacoma has players trying to piece together the events which lead to the disappearance of all of the crew. As such, and very much like Gone Home before it, Tacoma is an narrative adventure predicated around exploring the past and the role that various individuals played in it. Whereas in Gone Home this was manifested through discovering notes, books and other such revelatory texts, Tacoma’s heady sci-fi setting instead allows developer Fullbright to be a little more ambitious, with such secrets spilling out through holographic playback of events that have occurred long in the past.
Though the method of divining the acts, motivations and behavior of the characters that are inextricably tied to the narrative has changed, Tacoma still retains that same considered meditation on the human condition that Gone Home proffered. With a deepening mystery, an array of compelling and evolving characters, Tacoma is one of the better narrative adventures you can get on PS4 right now.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Thimbleweed Park
It’s certainly not unreasonable to say that in the 25 or more years since Lucasarts redefined the point and click adventure genre with such classics as Day of the Tentacle and The Secret of Monkey Island, that no other developer has really been able mimic that now-defunct studio’s sense of style and uniquely sardonic brand of wit. Enter then Thimbleweed Park. Developed by Terrible Toybox, a team staffed full of veterans from the Lucasarts golden era, Thimbleweed Park does a stunning job of bringing those point and click games that we enjoyed kicking and screaming onto contemporary console hardware.
After a dead body has been discovered in the titular Thimbleweed Park, players must control and switch between five different characters in order to discover the truth as your conversation and puzzle solving skills are pushed to the absolute limit. Charmingly stylised, beautifully odd and boasting some of the funniest writing seen in the last ten years, Thimbleweed Park not only provides a highly effectively blueprint for reinvigorating the classics of old, but it also makes a convincing case for being one of the very best adventure games you can get on PS4, too.
Best PS4 Indie Games: This War of Mine – The Little Ones
Shining a spotlight on the civilians caught in the crossfire of war (rather than focusing solely on the soldiers as is typically the case), 11-Bit Studios made something truly special with This War of Mine – The Little Ones. Beginning in the confines of a shelled out multi-story house, each game in This War of Mine begins differently. As a small clutch of three random civilians, you must scavenge around the house collecting whatever food you can as well as building materials to not only make the premises more secure, but to construct crucial equipment such as beds, cooking stoves and workbenches to name just a few of the important things you need to survive.
Once the sun goes down on any given day, you are then given the opportunity to go out to other buildings and dwellings to hunt for supplies and its here that This War of Mine reveals its grim underbelly; if one of your group is in dire need of medicine, do you steal it from an elderly man living by himself (resulting in his slow death), or, do you let that member of your group suffer?
Likewise, when you’re out on the hunt, who do you have defending your home and are they capable of fending off any robbers or similarly unsavory types? With the addition of children to care for (hence The Little Ones subtitle) and the constant push and pull of morality versus survival, rarely have the stakes ever felt higher or more emotionally resonant in a videogame.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Valfaris
A side-scrolling effort that calls on the classic heritage of titles such as Contra and Turrican, Valfaris is a brutal effort that somehow feels like a pitch perfect marriage of DOOM, Contra and heavy metal music.
More than just an eminently compelling mish mash of ideas and tropes, Valfaris is a hugely enjoyable genre effort that boasts enough disgusting enemies and awesome, badass weaponry to kill them for days as the whole thing thunders along to a thumping heavy metal soundtrack. Simply put, Valfaris is better Contra game than anything Konami has come up with in the last decade.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Victor Vran
In the nearly four years since the release of Diablo III on PS4, though there have been numerous efforts of a similar ilk, none of them have managed to come close to matching the heady heights of Blizzard’s seminal dungeon crawler. All that changed with the release of Victor Vran in 2017. Developed by Bulgarian codeshop Haemimont Games, Victor Vran puts players in the leathery boots of the title character who just happens to be a hunter of undead beasties with plenty of charisma and ass-kicking acumen to spare.
Clearly, the developers know what makes the combat in Diablo III feel so good and have successfully transplanted that sensation into Victor Vran – with encounters that feel governed by solid physicality which in turn is underscored by weapons and magic that all feel great to use. Beyond taking inspiration from its template, Victor Vran also sets special missions and objectives for the player to complete which in turn award extra loot and experience points for developing your character.
We’ve not even started talking about the brilliantly executed Motorhead themed expansion content either so look, if you loved the pants off of Diablo III and simply want more of that, Victor Vran is without a doubt your best bet.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Virginia
The first game from British developer Variable State, Virginia plonks players in the finely shined first-person shoes of rookie FBI agent Anne Tarver who, during the summer of 1992 in the fictional town of Kingdom Virginia, must investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young boy in addition to managing the tense working relationship with her veteran partner, Special Agent Maria Halperin.
Completely and refreshingly dialogue-free with some eye-popping flat shaded visuals, Virginia puts an onus on physical performances that many other first-person ‘walking simulators’ simply do not share. In taking liberal inspiration from the likes of Twin Peaks and The X Files, Virginia weaves an attention-ripping tale that cements its place as a haunting, eminently atmospheric odyssey that lingers in memory long after the controller has been put down. It also doesn’t hurt that Virginia boasts one of the best soundtracks in recent memory, too.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Wargroove
Well look, there’s no getting around it – Wargroove owes a visual and mechanical debt to Nintendo’s legendary tactical treat Advance Wars, regardless however, it’s still one of the best strategy games you can buy on PS4.
Developed by British indie developer Chucklefish, Wargroove is a vibrantly colorful turn-based strategy effort that puts players in charge of an army across a massive campaign that is generously decked out with some gorgeously retro audiovisual presentation. Fans of turn-based strategy really shouldn’t sleep on Wargroove.
Best PS4 Indie Games: What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is simply a revelation. As the titular Edith Finch who is visiting her family home, players uncover the memories and shared experiences of other members within the Finch family in a first-person narrative adventure that balances the juxtaposition of life and death with delicate maturity and resonating verve.
A touching, sad and emotional journey, What Remains of Edith Finch tugs on the heartstrings with all the skill of a practiced auteur; its beautiful story underpinned by a delicious audiovisual veneer that makes it as much a treat for the eyes and ears as it is a balm for the heart. There’s no getting around it; What Remains of Edith Finch is nothing less than completely and utterly essential.
Best PS4 Indie Games: Wulverblade
Imagine the movie Centurion, Final Fight and The History Channel were chucked into a blender. You imagining that? Good, because if you were doing the whole imagining thing right what you’d come up with is Wulverblade, a handsomely made side-scrolling brawler that is among the most brutal and eminently enjoyable of its genre on PS4.
As one of three tribal warriors you are tasked with taking the fight to the invading Roman legions in an odyssey the spans the geographical backbone of dark ages Great Britain. More than just a regular take on the side-scrolling brawler, Wulverblade features fantastically violent and satisfying combat with secret rooms, towering bosses and a butt-load of stuff to collect. More than than that, Wulverblade also goes into great depth on the history and events of the time, with a welcome smattering of text based factoids and videos all helping to lend the game a sense of place that no other side-scrolling brawler can lay claim to.
If you enjoyed this feature on the best PS4 indie games, why not check out some of our other ‘best of’ features, such as the best PS4 FPS games, best PS4 fighting games, best Yakuza games and best Asssassin’s Creed games that money can buy.