For a reason that’s always been unbeknownst to us, a lot of console gamers lash out against indie games. Perhaps they’ve seen one too many PlayStation Plus and Games With Gold months without a certified AAA title to make their investment seem worth it, or maybe it’s because they don’t seem like the real deal; graphics keep getting prettier and open worlds keep getting bigger.
But they’re really missing out, particularly when it comes to PS4 indie games. Sure, it can’t get anywhere near Steam in terms of the output of quality fare from smaller studios, but there are still plenty to sink your teeth into, whether it’s a throwback 2D platformer or a startlingly polished effort that looks like it came out from the likes of Ubisoft or EA.
With that in mind, we decided to delve into our handsomely expanding library and bring you some of the best PS4 indie games there are. This is by no means a definitive list, and most of them aren’t even exclusive to PlayStation, but they’re all games you should be checking out nonetheless. We’re chucking out games that might have been published in part by Sony or a publisher of similar stature, just so they keep that true ‘independent’ tag. Sorry, Journey, Little Nightmares, et al.
See a game you love or think we missed out on some? Drop a comment after the jump.
The Best PS4 Indie Games
1. Rogue Legacy
Developer: Cellar Door Games Publisher: Cellar Door Games
It’s always astounding to me that this roguelike is barely spoken about in the pantheon of the greatest games ever made. Without wanting to raise your expectations of it too much, imagine your childhood favourites were modernised with some of the most interesting mechanics you’re ever likely to see in a video game and you have a recipe for something special.
Taking place in an impossibly structured castle, Rogue Legacy sets you up to fail. You will probably die in the first ten minutes; it’s just that punishing. But instead of starting from a checkpoint, you must pick things up all over again (at least to begin with) as a descendent of the deceased. These new characters come with their own unique traits and skills, meaning that one playthrough is never the same as another.
Rogue Legacy is frustrating and endearing at once, so prepare to give yourself some hand cramp with this one.
Developer: Red Barrels Publisher: Red Barrels
With its sequel now out in the wild, a lot of gamers are looking back on the original Outlast with rose-tinted glasses. While I personally adored Outlast 2, Red Barrels’ original effort to terrify unsuspecting gamers makes the cut here purely because of how it became the standard-bearer not just for indie horror games, but also the wider horror market.
Plenty of imitators have come and gone in the years since Miles Upshur crept around a disturbing mental asylum, but it still retains that claustrophobic, visually uncompromising appeal that made it so viscerally inviting back in 2013. It’s also the first game review we ever published on Cultured Vultures, so check it out if you want a laugh.
3. Hotline Miami
Developer: Dennaton Games Publisher: Devolver Digital
Mr. Shifty owes a lot to Hotline Miami and its sequel, though it has to be said that it didn’t come anywhere close to matching the unforgettable aesthetic of the cardiac simulator from Dennaton Games. Looking like a pulp eighties action movie and boasting one of the best video game soundtracks ever made (it played a huge part in making synthwave as popular as it is now), Hotline Miami just stuck with the gaming consciousness. Do you like hurting other people?
It’s endlessly difficult and you may even have to “game” the game to make progress at some points, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as solving the violent puzzle required to clear a room full of bad guys. Or maybe you’re the bad guy? You’re just going to have to play to find out.
Developer: PLAYDEAD Publisher: PLAYDEAD
The war between Inside and Limbo will rage on for years with most gamers split down the middle on which Playdead title is the best. While Limbo was a captivating, almost horrifyingly brutal game that captured more than a few plaudits, Inside has to claim a spot on this list for taking the groundwork and running with it.
Almost everything that was great about Limbo has been upgraded for Inside. It looks better, offering denser and more gloomily vibrant environments while also managing to ramp up the fear factor – there isn’t anything that stays with you quite like watching a young boy be forcefully drowned. Better yet, the masterful ambiguity of everything in Inside means that it’s one of those rare times when a game allows you to come to your own conclusions without seeming like a cop-out.
Have you ever felt like a piece of meat? Not in a sexually objectified kind of way, just that you genuinely feel like you may be a reincarnated pork chop? Well, then, Super Meat Boy is the game for you, allowing you to flip and flop over its many challenging stages, all while giving you more cardiovascular problems than eating a whole cow would. Man, I’m hungry.
Super Meat Boy helped to change the landscape of modern 2D platformers, offering the simplest gameplay with the toughest difficulty ceiling I think I have ever encountered.
No matter how many times I was ground into mince, however, I kept coming back, refusing to be made out to look like a chicken. It has a delightfully sincere core to it, too, which never comes across as being hammy as you try to save your girlfriend from the clutches of a dastardly villain.
You may meat (heh) your match with Super Meat Boy, but beef yourself up with a whole load of caffeine an– I’ve totally lost control of all this meat talk. Just play it.