Considering that it’s played host to about fifty FIFA and Call of Duty games, has seen a couple of revisions, and also came out the same year that Margaret Thatcher died, it shouldn’t be a surprise that some games on Sony’s PlayStation 4 have just been forgotten over the years.
With 3000+ games for players to choose from since the console’s launch in 2013, it’s almost a marvel that as many PS4 games get the time to shine as they do. Just like every console ever released, the PS4 has had its fair share of award winners right alongside the abject stinkers, but sometimes a game doesn’t even need to be bad to be forgotten. Sometimes it’s all about that “secret sauce”, a tricky to define trait that made games like Fortnite into mega-properties while others like Darwin Project kind of just limped along.
It also maybe doesn’t help some games that GTA V, a PS3 game, continues to sell like ethically questionable hot cakes and hog a great deal of the spotlight either, but that’s neither here nor there. At least on the PS5 there won’t be yet another port of–ah.
If you’re in need of a refresher of what you might have missed over the last ten years or so years of PlayStation, or you just want to look like that Leo meme when you recognise some long lost gems, here are some of the most forgotten PS4 games over the years, ranging from those that deserve to be lost to time to those that never really got time.
1. ReadySet Heroes
Developer: Robot Entertainment Publisher: SIE Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Announced during the very first State of Play, ReadySet Heroes barely even got out of the blocks. A weird sort of dungeon crawler for younger players, ReadySet Heroes was one of a few Sony-published multiplayer games on PS4 that just flat out didn’t connect.
Despite being aimed at kids and families, ReadySet Heroes doesn’t really have the easy accessibility to make it a game that players of all ages and experiences can jump into, as well as just generally being very ordinary to play. There simply isn’t a spark to be found here, which is a large part of why ReadySet Heroes crawled to a 57 on Metacritic, with reviews also lamenting poor matchmaking and its animal characters somehow being completely indistinct.
However, ReadySet Heroes actually owns a small bit of gaming history, as it was the first new game Sony published on the Epic Games Store on PC as the two strengthened their working relationship, which coincided with it also being one of only a handful of first-party cross-play games on the console.
2. Let It Die
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment Release Date: December 3, 2016
A one-time PS4 exclusive that was live service before live service was cool/the blight of the industry, Let It Die from Grasshopper Manufacture is a free-to-play hack and slash that mixes Dark Souls and The Raid to fascinating effect.
While not everything about it clicks and the paywall arrives pretty sharply after you die for the first of many times, Let It Die feels like a Suda 41 spin on the GaaS designs we all know and mostly tolerate today. There’s layers upon layers of confusing, almost cynically designed mechanics to Let It Die that mean it’s certainly not for everyone, but it also has its own fair share of brilliant ideas, like dead players coming back to grief you in the form of “Haters”.
Shame about all the pay-to-win stuff, though.
A PC port helped Let It Die to reach six million downloads by early 2020, which isn’t a bad total by any means. However, the fact that it took nearly four years to hit that milestone as a free-to-play game when Dark Souls 3 sold ten million in a similar timeframe suggests that it’s simply been forgotten by many.
3. Hardware: Rivals
Developer: Connected Content Group Publisher: SIE Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Hardware: Rivals is another multiplayer game, though this one could have only hoped for the steady audience of Let It Die. Despite backing from Sony, Hardware Rivals neither appealed to Twisted Metal fans or the twenty fans of its predecessor Hardware: Online Arena, the online multiplayer game for the PS2 that released at a time when even SOCOM couldn’t nail the technology.
Developed by the SCE Connected Content Group, an internal development studio who made this and then seemingly got absorbed back into Sony considering they produced nothing after its failure, Hardware: Rivals was a vehicular combat game that got old very fast. Much like the PS5’s Destruction AllStars, which could technically still turn it around, Hardware: Rivals was certainly fun, but only for the first couple of hours.
With weak reviews and even weaker staying power for most players, Hardware: Rivals just kind of bobbed along until it was quietly delisted in, well, I have no idea. Its delisting isn’t mentioned anywhere online, but it’s no longer available when searching on the PS5’s PlayStation Store or the website, so I guess there’s some breaking news for you. It’s still available to download if you added it to your library previously with servers apparently somehow still active, though.
Not quite dead on arrival(s), but not exactly a rival to the halcyon days of vehicular combat games either.
Developer: Blue Isle Studios Publisher: Blue Isle Studios Release Date: August 24th, 2016, 2016
Valley is the second game from the developers of Slender: The Arrival, a sophomore effort that was so different from that jumpscare factory that it’s as if they were saying, “look, we make games for more people than just YouTubers, promise!”.
It’s actually quite ace, too, even if the range of scores on Metacritic are enough to give you whiplash. A mixture of Mirror’s Edge, Skyrim, and something from the team at The Chinese Room, Valley has you leaping and zipping across grand landscapes long before The Pathless made it vogue again.
While it’s a little too short, the world of Valley is absolutely worth diving into, even if the game never quite gives itself enough time to fully flesh it all out. Still, Valley deserved more attention than what it got, likely not due to it being the easy Slender sequel their established fanbase were hoping for, as well as the fact that it wasn’t promoted all that heavily.
If you’re yet to experience it, strap on your L.E.A.F. suit and prepare for what might be a very nice surprise on your PlayStation 4.
5. Just Deal With It
Developer: Super Punk Games Publisher: Super Punk Games Release Date: November 13th, 2018
PlayLink deserved better. It did. Not a single game from Sony’s drive to get more casuals into couch co-op gaming has made any kind of lasting impression, which is a damn shame. Yes, the disposable nature of the party games and that weird cop game didn’t help, but PlayLink was a fun idea that few seemed to have responded to.
Few PlayLink games were glossed over quite as much as Just Deal With It, which tried to take classic card games and put some fantasy spins on things, as well sprinkle a little bit of sadism with players able to mess up others’ turns. It was pretty ordinary and got some less than ordinary reviews, which, judging from just how few people downloaded the apps on the mobile stores required to play them, likely contributed to the apathetic response.
The fact that there was like one minute of music in the whole game didn’t help dissuade the feeling that it was some Mario Wienerroither parody with added Blackjack either.
However, while the game itself might be plenty forgotten, and yeah, perhaps that’s fair, there’s a little factoid about Just Deal With It that’s worth bearing in mind. Thanks to the PS5’s backwards compatibility and the fact that it’s one of a handful of PS4 games that don’t work on the console, it’s the one truly exclusive game left on the PS4.
6. Black Mirror
Developer: KING Art Games Publisher: THQ Nordic Release Date: November 28th, 2017
THQ Nordic has published a lot of games over the last few years, like a lot a lot — almost too many. There’s all manner of remakes, reboots, and sequels from the publisher that could claim a spot here, but 2017’s Black Mirror probably stands out the most as a forgotten game. Or should that be the least?
A reboot of a point and click cult series on the PC that also has the same name as a massive TV show, it should already be clear why Black Mirror simply didn’t connect. With some pretty poor reviews that pointed out its equally poor optimisation and production values, Black Mirror’s prospects on PS4 were about as bright as an October morning in the middle of Glasgow.
Black Mirror is available now for pretty much pennies if you can find boxed copies, along with a whole host of other oddly admirable THQ Nordic misfires. Say what you will about them as a publisher, but THQ Nordic do seem to take risks with games that a lot of their peers are either too lazy or busy drowning in their microtransaction money to care about.
That said, it doesn’t stop this reboot from being a poor reflection on a cult classic series, though. Go back to the point and clicking and leave this modernisation behind.
7. The Technomancer
Developer: Spiders Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Release Date: June 28th, 2016
Before they made it relatively big with the also flawed Greedfall, the RPG obsessives at Spiders made The Technomancer, a truly odd sci-fi game that’s almost too ambitious for its own good. It’s also not too good itself, though does have some weird charm to it.
Set on a colonised Mars where humans are, you guessed it, trying their damnedest to destroy another planet, The Technomancer is a fascinating blend of Jedi-like combat (if that Jedi was someone a bit rubbish like, I dunno, the lizard lad out of Attack of the Clones), somewhat deep but clunky role-playing, and equally clunky prequel era dialogue. There’s nobody lamenting the texture of sand here, but that may have made it a little better, come to think of it.
While reviews were as customarily mixed as you might expect from a Spiders game, The Technomancer does seem to have a dedicated yet small band of defenders who can see past the many flaws to something that’s a nice kind of naff.
Greedfall, an all-round better but still traditionally jank Spiders RPG, may have taken the spotlight away from The Technomancer, though this may be worth looking into if you were too busy playing games like Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, and DOOM in 2016. What a fine year.
And also a year with this next entry.
8. Carmageddon: Max Damage
Developer: Stainless Games Publisher: THQ Nordic Release Date: July 8th, 2016
Remember Carmageddon, one of the most controversial games of all time that made parents around the world beg governments to think of the children? Well, it got a sequel in 2016, yet this version of vehicular murder barely made any headlines, good or bad.
Max Damage isn’t a bad game and it’s not entirely bothered about being good either. Instead, it wants you to careen around and mow down whatever crosses in front of you without really paying attention to deep mechanics or anything that might make the third digit of your IQ itch. It’s not for everyone, hence how it managed to rack up a mighty 51 on Metacritic with tonnes of complaints about how driving handles like a cow surfing on a fridge.
Along with the also forgotten Fear Effect Sedna, Max Damage is proof that controversial properties simply can’t get by on controversy these days. Max Damage didn’t need to worry about censorship or replacing people with zombies and then also dinosaurs as times had changed, yet it barely had.
If you’re looking for a brainless game to help you work out some anger, give Max Damage a try as nothing more than a guilty pleasure, but don’t expect it to turn your life around.
9. Song of the Deep
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: Gametrust Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Insomniac has a truly fascinating history as a studio. From starting out with DOOM clones to creating iconic purple dragons to flirtations with Xbox to VR excursions and then all the way back to PlayStation’s embrace, they’ve had a story that’s as varied as it is long. The same cannot be said for Song of the Deep.
An underwater Metroidvania, Song of the Deep follows Merryn as she looks for her lost father in a submarine. The game is good with a charming art style and some lovely narration, but it’s hardly up to the caliber that we’ve come to expect from the guys who put PS6-level graphics inside someone’s eye reflections. Song of the Deep sits on a 69 on Metacritic, which is not a nice number for a studio who seemed to be trying out new things that didn’t entirely come together.
However, the game itself is actually a bit of a weird coming together between two names who are about as likely a duo as Kratos and Fat Princess. GameTrust Games, the publisher of Song of the Deep, had a mission to get more indie games out in the wild but they were also created by GameStop. Yes, the GameStop who defy all business sense and continue to exist. Judging from the official website being down though, their odd experiment in GameTrust Games went the way of plenty of hedge funds thanks to Reddit.
Song of the Deep is a bit of a deep cut nowadays, but if you can find it on sale, you can show it to your mates and tell them all about its unlikely story — and then laugh about those poor hedge fund managers all over again.
10. Kill Strain
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: SIE Release Date: July 12th, 2016
It’s almost surprising to discover how hard Sony has tried in the multiplayer space over the last ten years, what with them having a reputation as a single-player third-person cinematic action game type of publisher. In amidst a sea of quickly sunsetted multiplayer attempts, Kill Strain is probably the worst offender.
A MOBA-lite that seemed to have watched too much Reign of Fire without the dragons, Kill Strain felt about as cheap to play at launch as it looked, with the basic functions of multiplayer games as we know them missing. Need to know more about how the infections and mining actually work? Sorry, this paper-thin tutorial is all you get. Have a specific faction you prefer playing as? Tough. Want to play with friends? Too bad.
Kill Strain could have been a neat distraction, but even as a free-to-play game at a time when they weren’t half as common, it flattered to deceive and the confused playerbase abandoned it faster than any first-party Sony game in memory. Less than a year after it was released, the Kill Strain servers were shut down and the game was delisted, rendering it Kill Strained. Strain Killed? Basically, it was put out of its misery.
The misery wouldn’t stop for San Diego Studio, who then had to watch another of their games, Drawn to Death, follow a similar fate. Hey, if you’re going to make games with “death” and “kill” in their names, you’re tempting fate to be subjected to a lifetime of annual MLB games as a result.
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