It was a lot harder to choose the best PS4 exclusives than I first thought it would be when I started writing this.
With the wide interest in cross-platform play, exclusivity could soon become a thing of the past and it looks like it’s already on the way out – there seems to be less exclusives than ever before. If your game cost millions and millions of dollars to make, can you really take the risk of limiting sales to one platform anymore?
Speaking back in May 2015, PlayStation president Andrew House admitted that first-party exclusives for the PlayStation 4 are a little hard to come by:
“We are working very hard to continue very strong support from third-party publishers and developers. Our first-party lineup is a little sparse this year so I think this places an even greater emphasis on getting good third-party support.”
In fairness, PlayStation 4 has a quite solid array of exclusive games coming out this year. Horizon Zero Dawn has already delivered in a big way, which means that it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see where it lands on this list. Let’s not forget Days Gone or Death Stranding, either. Oh yeah, and this little sequel.
With that being said, here are the best PlayStation 4 exclusives that you can’t find anywhere else. That means it can’t be on Xbox One, PC, or even the Switch – heck, no other PS system, for that matter. Remasters are also excluded for the sake of variety – The Last of Us Remastered would be the runaway winner otherwise. We’re also avoiding talking about the best PSVR games, just to spice things up a little.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an living list, so if a game gets a port, it drops out. Likewise, if a new game impresses, it will be added.
28. That’s You!
Developer: Wish Studios
Release date: 2017
That’s You! (the exclamation mark is sadly required) is the first in PlayStation’s PlayLink series: an attempt to revitalise party games and to drag non-gamers into the fold. You don’t need controllers as it’s all done through smartphones; handy for when you want everyone to take part.
While it lasts, That’s You! is a decent amount of fun as you and your friends sketch each other or make calculated guesses about what they think of themselves. Sadly, the content well runs dry pretty quickly, meaning that you will have seen and done everything there is to do within an hour or so. A neat experiment that points towards a brighter future for PlayLink, but nothing more than that. It’s worth playing if you’re a few beers deep and you can’t bear the sound of silence for a few minutes, mind you.
27. Knowledge Is Power
Developer: Wish Studios
Release date: 2017
Another PlayLink game, another PS4 exclusive that you would be hard-pressed to call essential. Similarly to That’s You!, Knowledge Is Power is a party game that’s far better with at least a few players and after at least a few litres of something alcoholic have been drank.
Primarily based on trivia questions, KIP does a decent job of spicing things up with mini-games, such as linking the right question to the right answer. Noting here really reinvents the wheel and the content is a little on the light side after a couple of hours and it isn’t exactly the “game-iest” of games, though it’s worth seeking out if you have company around your house.
Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Release date: 2013
Despite what you might have heard, Knack isn’t a bad game. The only offensive thing about it is just how inoffensive this PS4 launch title is, a so-so platformer that doesn’t do anything exceptional or even look like getting near doing so.
Featuring a plot that was pushed out of my mind to make room for football scores from 2012, Knack pits you as Knack: a morphing collection of blocks and bits. He can change in size and transform himself to get past certain obstacles, but the game never makes full use of the interesting mechanic’s potential.
Still, the kids will no doubt love it.
25. Drawn To Death
Developer: SIE San Diego Studio, The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency
Release date: 2017
David Jaffe’s Drawn to Death isn’t a good game, neither is it a bad one. It’s just sort of okay. That’s not to say there won’t be something here for some players to latch onto, though. As far as acquired tastes go, this is right up there with the most divisive.
Puerile and pretty immature, its premise is the best thing it has going for it: a kid’s violent drawings brought to life. Across deathmatches and other kinds of homicidal mayhem, you can take control of a wide selection of nicely-designed creations that are intentionally ugly – whose doodles are ever that artistic, really?
It’s the actual gameplay where Drawn To Death squanders its novel ideas, however. Weightless and unsatisfying, Drawn To Death can’t quite compete with some of its peers, as Nick Coleman found out in his 6/10 review:
“Drawn To Death has a few things going for it, like its unique art style and creative arsenal of weapons and special abilities. But its strengths aren’t enough to counteract the game’s faults or offputting design choices and raise it above being an okay game.”
24. The Order: 1886
Developer: Ready at Dawn
Release date: 2015
I told you this was a hard list to write. The Order: 1886 is really only here to make up the numbers. It’s an ordinary third-person shooter with extraordinary graphics and an insulting completion length – you can complete it three times in one day, if you’re feeling weird.
It was supposed to be one of the games that would catapult the console to the next level, but just ended up being a distinctly average effort that’s used to bookend arbitrary lists like these. It’s been heavily reduced in price in the months since release and is probably worth looking at for a discount.
23. Hidden Agenda
Developer: Supermassive Games
Release date: 2017
The best PlayLink game to date, though that really isn’t saying anything much. Billed as a police procedural with a mystery you can uncover on your smartphone, Hidden Agenda’s neat hook allows players to battle it out with each other to comple secret objectives. It’s great in concept, but really requires at least four players to get the most out of it.
For an evening’s worth of entertainment that costs less than a cinema ticket, however, you really can’t go wrong, even if it has some very annoying technical issues with the connected app that hold it back. Here’s a snippet of my verdict from my review:
“Minor and major quibbles aside, I still had a lot of fun with Hidden Agenda and would probably revisit it in the unlikely event that I had more than four people in my house at one time. If you’re stuck for something to do with the in-laws, try some bonding with a murder mystery, just like they did in the good old days.”
Developer: NapNok Games
Release date: 2018
Arguably the best PlayLink game to date, Frantics is the last game released from the original slate announced for the series at E3 2017. Some more time “in the oven” clearly worked a treat for the game as it has much better implementation of smartphone controls and just more innovation with the unusual format than its peers.
Much like most games built around mini-games, however, the fun can only last for so long before it becomes rather ordinary. That being said, Frantics’ impressive variety and the level of competition it instills in its players means that it’s absolutely perfect for entertaining guests. It’s not revolutionary, but it doesn’t really need to be when it’s this sincere.
“Even with some basic design flaws and the eventual monotony of playing the same mini-games over and over, Frantics is a fun distraction that could tide you and the family over for hours. Worth the price of admission.”
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio, Plastic Studios
Release date: 2016
Santa Monica’s peaceful game about a ballerina mentally escaping to a fantasy land probably didn’t get as much attention as it deserved, but, while it certainly has its problems, Bound is absolutely worth dancing on over to if you catch it for a sale. It’s one of those games where you can sit back, look at the lovely landscapes and thoughtlessly unwind.
The gameplay is, to put it bluntly, almost absent. As an unnamed princess, most of the game revolves around walking (or dancing) from point A to B with some dance moves used to get past obstacles and enemies. That’s almost entirely your lot for Bound, though getting from point A to B is a visual feast. As a small bonus, it’s one of the only PlayStation VR games that doesn’t make certain people violently unwell, myself included.