It was a lot harder to whittle down this list than I thought it would be when I first started writing this, which was way back in 2015. Sony didn’t exactly get off on the right foot with their exclusive properties, one game after another not really hitting the expected standard.
Speaking back in May 2015, PlayStation president Andrew House admitted that first-party exclusives for the PlayStation 4 were 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.”
Since then, Sony have been on a tear with more than a few excellent exclusives for the PlayStation 4 and more to come as the console starts its retirement lap ahead of the PS5’s eventual release. God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man among many others have already delivered in a big way, which means that it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see where they land on this list of the best PS4 exclusives.
Now that Death Stranding has been confirmed as coming to PC in 2020, let’s not forget that the PS4 still has Ghost of Tsushima, WiLD, and Final Fantasy VII Remake as intriguing new exclusives still to release, either. Oh yeah, and The Last of Us 2. That’s the big one. 2020 will be the last year of PS4 as the main PlayStation console with the PS5 due in late 2020, so here’s hoping it goes out with a bang.
However, exclusivity could soon become a thing of the past and it looks like it’s already on the way out — there seems to be fewer 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? We’ve seen Sony start to team up with Epic to release some of their IPs on their platform, so could that become the norm for the next generation?
Until things start drastically changing, however, 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; exclusive means exclusive. Remasters are also excluded for the sake of variety — The Last of Us Remastered unfortunately can’t make the cut for that reason. Remakes are all good, however.
Some of the other notable exclusions from our list of the best exclusives are the majority of Yakuza games (only 6 is an exclusive now anyway, though that may also come to PC at some point) and Persona 5 (also on PS3, possibly coming to Switch too). We’re also avoiding talking about PSVR games, just to spice things up a little.
Without further ado, here are the essential PS4 only games that you can’t find anywhere else.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a living list, so if a PS4 exclusive gets a port to another system, it drops out. Likewise, if a new game impresses, it will be added.
Developer: Wish Studios Publisher: SIE 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.
34. Knowledge Is Power
Developer: Wish Studios Publisher: SIE 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. See also: Knowledge Is Power: Decades.
Developer: SIE Japan Studio Publisher: SIE 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.
Developer: Ready at Dawn Publisher: SIE 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 lists like these, though it still has its fair share of fans.
It’s been heavily reduced in price in the months since release and is probably worth looking at for a discount. That being said, we really wouldn’t hate seeing a sequel.
31. Hidden Agenda
Developer: Supermassive Games Publisher: SIE Release date: 2017
One of the best PlayLink games 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 Publisher: SIE 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 Publisher: SIE 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, so it’s good for pretty much everyone.
Developer: Flavourworks Publisher: SIE Release date: 2017
Never let it be said that Sony didn’t take some risks this generation. There’s hardly been a huge crowd for FMV games over the past two decades, yet Sony helped Flavourworks to bring the great-in-patches Erica to life and the PS4.
With all the action as part of cinematically recorded cutscenes, you are able to make choices for the titular Erica after she is suddenly plagued by visions — and death. With her life in danger, she resorts to hiding out at an insane asylum. As you do.
It’s definitely not a brilliant game, though Erica does bring a lot more interactivity to the table than most of its peers. Whether it’s using the touchpad or an app to light a fire or browse through files, Erica is certainly an interesting time.
27. Knack II
Developer: SIE Japan Studio Publisher: SIE Release date: 2017
Taking a lot of what made the original game so forgettable and giving it a welcome polish, Knack II is a considerable improvement on its predecessor. It’s more of the same, but just done far better. The introduction of a proper co-op mode also makes it a great distraction with a friend or a younger player.
However, and this is a complaint carried over from the first game, Knack 2 suffers from a weak story and forgettable characters – apart from Knack, nobody really stands out at all. It’s a real shame because with a world really worth caring about, Knack II could have been one of the very best platformers on the market. Still, it’s worth seeking out, as I alluded to in my review:
“Knack 2 has been developed to appeal to children and it surely will, even if the game’s difficult spikes may cause a few tantrums. It’s perfect for some bonding time, but if you’re playing solo, your results may vary. No matter what, though, Knack 2’s biggest achievement is something I thought I would never admit before I sat down to play.
“I would be totally down for a Knack trilogy.”
26. Everybody’s Golf
Developer: Clap Hanz, SIE Japan Studio Publisher: SIE Release date: 2017
As well as teaching me that I really struggle to type golf instead of gold, Everybody’s Golf is a fun introduction to golf for people of all ages that doesn’t ever take itself too seriously. It’s a leisurely ride through pick up and play gameplay that probably won’t convert people into golf fanatics but does a good job of getting the family swinging (not in that way) all the same.
“Ultimately, Everybody’s Golf is the same charming and rewarding golf experience it always has been, with enough simplicity to cater for beginners and enough depth for players who decide to master the game. Whilst the single player Tour Mode has a lot offer, the online options need bolstering further if the game is to truly succeed.”
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions Publisher: SIE Release date: 2014
A perfectly decent standalone game related to Infamous Second Son (more on that one later), First Light is a superpowered open-world action game with a likeable heroine. It takes the basic template from Second Son with a fraction of the powers available, limiting you to just Fetch’s.
It’s about as long as you would expect a spin-off to be as you can speed through it in about six hours. There’s plenty of collectables to hunt down for Platinum trophy hunters, which is also pretty straightforward to accomplish. If you’re a fan of the Infamous series and want the full experience, don’t discredit First Light.
Developer: Housemarque Publisher: SIE Release date: 2017
The second game from Housemarque in 2017 in quick succession, Matterfall didn’t exactly capture the imagination quite like the earlier Nex Machina did, or any other Housemarque game for that matter. Whether it was because they were trying to do too much at once or not is neither here nor there, but Matterfall still retains hints of the Housemarque magic.
A side-scroller with a heavy retro aesthetic, Matterfall’s brand of throwback charm doesn’t always charm as it much it should, though there’s plenty enough here to tide you over for a few hours. Don’t expect the universe of this sci-fi distraction and you could walk away from it relatively impressed. Shame that Housemarque are abandoning arcade games altogether, really.
23. Killzone Shadow Fall
Developer: Guerrilla Games Publisher: SIE Release date: 2013
Launch titles seem to be always doomed to obscurity once a console is fully established. Admit it, you forgot that Killzone Shadow Fall even existed, didn’t you? So did I. It’s a great game that was never quite good enough to lead the charge for Sony’s newest console, but it still has some hooks to enthuse FPS lovers.
Adding in a lot of sometimes awkward functionality with the Dualshock 4 (still one of the only games to try do something interesting with the controller), Shadow Fall had more than competent gameplay and beautiful graphics to negate its underwhelming story. It’s just unfortunate that so many were still struggling to decide if they could make the console leap. I’d really be up for a new Killzone game.
22. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Developer: Team Ninja Publisher: Square Enix Release date: 2018
There have been so many spin-offs and side-distractions in the Final Fantasy franchise that it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all. Dissidia, one of the PSP’s brightest lights, went onto become a cult classic but never really a system-shifter. So when it was revealed that Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, an updated sequel that was previously only available in arcades, it was quite the surprise.
NT, despite often being a little overwhelming, was worth the wait, a spellbindingly frenentic game where Final Fantasty’s biggest names would kick the chocobo out of each other. It’s confusing to begin with, but if you can keep up with the madness of 3-on-3 combat and all of the things going on at once, it’s one of the most unique and worthwhile fighting games out there.
“Dissidia was a unique experience for me. What they gave in one hand they were not afraid to taketh away in the other, only what they took away was small and it didn’t completely ruin my experience. Fans of the PSP games will get a tremendous kick out of this and while newer fans may find the control scheme a little daunting to grasp with, they will get into the swing of things very easily.”
Developer: Other Ocean Emeryville Publisher: SIE Release date: 2019
Credit where credit’s due, Other Ocean Emeryville’s remake of the original PlayStation classic certainly stays true to the source material, helping older PlayStation fans to relive their memories as the hapless Sir Daniel Fortesque in lovely high-definition. Problem is, it’s maybe too close to the original game.
While the experience still holds up, it’s a shame that Other Ocean didn’t do much to modernise the MediEvil experience; the camera is quite wild, and it certainly feels dated in terms of the combat. Despite some disappointments, the MediEvil PS4 remake still holds up well enough to show a new generation of gamers what made it so special to begin with.
Next up: MediEvil II on the PS5.
Head on over to the second page to see what lands in the middle of the pack of PS4 exclusives.