Developer: Guerrilla Games Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Available on: PS4
It was almost a pleasant surprise that Horizon Zero Dawn delivered in such a big way. Previous PS4 exclusives, such as the criminally hated The Order: 1886, have made gamers guarded about new franchises coming to Sony’s box, but nobody should have worried.
Horizon Zero Dawn is a game of such expansive beauty and depth that it’s almost a shock people weren’t more excited for it before launch. Offering a heady mix of satisfying hunting, a subtly unravelling story, and RPG-lite elements, Horizon Zero Dawn captivated plenty of people, including our own Nicholas Monahan, who basically wasAloy for a few days:
“Horizon Zero Dawn boasts a stunningly realized vision of the post-post-apocalypse, accompanied by a fascinating and chilling mystery surrounding the fall of civilization and surprisingly deep and strategic combat which combine to create one of the best new IP’s in years.”
Developer: Tequila Works, Tantalus Media Publisher: Grey Box Games Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4 (coming soon to Switch)
Was RiME worth the wait? It might have been years since it was first announced, but when gamers finally got their hands on Tequila Works’ voiceless platformer and heard the weep-worthy soundtrack and gawped at the gorgeous landscapes on display, their patience had definitely been rewarded.
Minimalist with a capital M, RiME doesn’t lead players by the hand, but rather allows them to explore and work things out on their own. It’s stripped-back and perhaps too “indie” for some, though RiME absolutely should not be overlooked. Mieke managed to tear herself away from listening to the soundtrack on repeat to type up her thoughts:
“With a magnificent soundtrack, stunning visuals and a compelling story, it ranks amongst the most memorable games I have played this year and probably will for a long time.”
13. What Remains of Edith Finch
Developer: Giant Sparrow Publisher: Annapurna Interactive Available on: PC, PS4
Once the end credits roll in What Remains of Edith Finch, you’re likely going to be slumped back in your seat, struggling to take it all in. Although its length is scant, the many stories told throughout Giant Sparrow’s deeply affecting, relatable piece of art make for an utterly unforgettable experience. Typing this out is reminding me about Lewis’ story and the goosebumps that come with it.
It doesn’t have the scale or the production quality of most of its peers on this list, but What Remains of Edith Finch deserves every sentence of acclaim it’s received since it released. I reviewed it a little while back and, much like its name, it remains with me:
“…it’s easy to call Giant Sparrow’s game the new standard-bearer for interactive storytelling, even if it stumbles along the way. Just like the tall tales passed through generations of the Finch family, What Remains of Edith Finch will stay with you for a long time.”
14. Yakuza 0
Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega Available on: PS4, PS3
If there’s a game that sums up just how congested 2017 has been for truly excellent games, it’s Yakuza 0. While technically a port (of sorts) as it was available only on PS3 in Japan until January, we’re going to make an exception for Sega’s almost ridiculously dense open-world gangster drama. You can sing karaoke, come on.
There’s a lot of content to be unearthed in Yakuza 0, and while some of it does come across as filler, it’s mainly killer. When you add a nonsensically fun combat system, a storyline that’s weird and wonderful, and the aforementioned karaoke, you get something a little bit special.
15. Night in the Woods
Developer: Infinite Fall Publisher: Finji Available on: PC, PS4, Mac, Linux
Night in the Woods might be a hard sell for some. It doesn’t have many “huge” moments, it’s just a series of small interactions between civilised woodland animals with a light smattering humour on top. There’s no quest to save the world, or corridors of bad guys to mow through. There’s just something going on in the woods. It’s a simple joy.
The word that sums up Night in the Woods best? Quaint. The world you inhabit is small, though the stories you hear and characters you meet are all important and likely to leave an impression. With visuals as attractive as these and a soundtrack that’s going to crawl in your ear and refuse to budge, Infinite Fall’s grounded platformer is an easy recommendation.
16. Thimbleweed Park
Developer: Terrible Toybox Publisher: Terrible Toybox Available on: PC, Xbox One, Mac, Linux
Much like Night in the Woods, Thimbleweed Park may not appeal to everyone. At first glance, it may even appear dated to some. Make no mistake, though – that’s by design. It’s a glorious point and click throwback with more mystery than David Lynch wearing an interrobang bodysuit.
Offering five different playable characters, it’s your job to uncover the truth behind a murder in a small town, one pixel at a time. If you’ve been searching for the next Escape From Monkey Island, look no further than the latest game from the people who helped to create an entire subgenre. Be warned: it’s quintessentially point and click, so you may end up punching yourself in the head through frustration after failing to find a puzzle solution for the second hour in a row.
17. Battle Brothers
Developer: Overhype Studios Publisher: Overhype Studios Available on: PC
There’s no need to rub your eyes, Battle Brothers isn’t a mirage. It really is one of the treasured few Early Access games to receive a full release and not disappoint. You may not fall in love with it immediately, but when you do, you’ll be off to the nearest jewellers to pick up a ring.
A turn-based strategy game, Battle Brothers may not look like much, but look beneath the surface and you’ll find a special little title that will have you roleplaying til your heart’s content before too long. Piotr found out that a mercenary’s life is a fine life indeed in his review:
“Battle Brothers is a phenomenal indie game, and despite some minor grindy tids and tads, as well as potentially frustrating randomness, it’s a platform for vast quantities of self-made stories, both cheerful and devastating.”
Developer: Team Ninja Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Koei Tecmo Available on: PS4
One of the best PS4 exclusives available, Nioh is probably going to drive you mad. Owing a lot to the worlds of From Software’s creation, it’s an immensely challenging action RPG from the misanthropes at Team Ninja that received its fair share of adoration from critics and gamers upon release.
Taking place in ancient Japan, Nioh doesn’t relent in throwing its weird and daunting enemies your way. It’s lucky, then, that the combat has been polished to the nth degree, giving it the same “one more try” appeal as its inspirations. It might not match the masterful themes of Soulsborne games, but it is a worthy peer in terms of rewarding patience and making the player feel like a god with each inch of progress made.
19. Gravity Rush 2
Developer: SIE Japan Studio, Project Siren Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Available on: PS4
The original Gravity Rush was almost sent out to die on the Vita, an ailing portable console with more promise than the finished product ever delivered on. It’s lucky, then, that its was ported and remastered for PS4 before Gravity Rush 2 came along.
The differences between the two games would make a short list, though when you have a premise this interesting and a core mechanic this innovative there was no need for a wholesale change. Instead, the use of gravity was split into three different playstyles and the game’s distinctive, enrapturing art was given a polish. It all came together to show some gamers what they might have missed when the series started.
20. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Available on: Switch, Wii U
Did you really think we wouldn’t include Breath of the Wild? It’s been months since its release and people are still waxing lyrical about it and finding new things to do. The wait has been long, but the amount of hours sunk into exploring every nook and cranny of its world means Breath of the Wild has been worth biding time for.
It might not be perfect (nothing really is), but it’s helping to shift Switch consoles by the bucketload thanks to the unbridled freedom and scope it offers. See that horizon? Go to it. Want to skip to the final boss battle? Give it a try. For those reasons and more, our own Mike gave it a 10/10:
“While you may find yourself intimidated by the scope and size of Breath of the Wild, persevere and you will find yourself playing perhaps one of the finest games you’ve ever laid your hands on. This game is truly something special and will be long remembered as the classic game it is destined to become.”