Developer: SIE Santa Monica Publisher: SIE Exclusive? Yes
God of War hasn’t exactly been lacking in admirers since it released with more than a handful of awards to its name. It’s acclaim it deserves, too, a technical powerhouse that uses every last drop of power the PS4 has to give it.
Taking place entirely in “one shot” (think Birdman, sans the nonsense), God of War returns to Kratos, but not the Kratos of old who destroyed entire civilisations without blinking. A much more reserved character this time out, he takes on a quest to spread his wife’s ashes and take some names in the process.
The combat transitioning to an over-the-shoulder perspective may not have been endearing to everyone, but the overhaul makes God of War feel like something completely new and a successful refresh for the franchise.
“While the changes brought around for God of War may rankle some, it feels like the natural evolution for a series that you wouldn’t believe is now seven games deep, judging by just how re-energised it feels in its latest incarnation. Kratos is back, and so too is one of PlayStation’s least heroic heroes with great aplomb.”
12. Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerrilla Games Publisher: SIE Exclusive? Yes
You would have loved to have been in the room when Guerrilla pitched Horizon Zero Dawn to Sony: “Okay, so it’s not Killzone, but we’re thinking of an open world with robot animals and tribes that’s also post-apocalyptic. Thoughts?”
Such a bizarre concept shouldn’t work on paper, but it gels together so well in the final product. Basically Zelda meets Monster Hunter, Horizon Zero Dawn offers a gorgeous world to explore at your own pace with a great deal of wiggle room for role playing. Want to be a solitary warrior who hunts to survive? You got it.
We are bound to see many new entries in the series before long, possibly to coincide with the launch of the PlayStation 5. For now, though, HZD is a PS4 single player game that’s more than worth picking up on the cheap.
“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 IPs in years.”
13. The Last Guardian
Developer: Team ICO Publisher: SIE Exclusive? Yes
Whether it was worth the wait is up for debate (we were left waiting for a really long time), but Team Ico’s slice of lovely fantasy is as charming, if not more so, than any of their work to date.
That’s all down to the bond shared between the young protagonist and Trico, the bird-dog-thing who is your companion as you platform and puzzle your way through The Last Guardian’s sumptuous levels.
While it’s true that the AI shows signs of being a game long in the making, there’s no resisting the duo dynamic at its core. The Last Guardian will make you feel things that you didn’t know you could.
“But, between the stellar visual effects on display and the world-class soundtrack, the ultimately heart-wrenching story and the love between boy and beast, I’m finding it extremely difficult to not recommend this to absolutely anyone and everyone.”
14. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Developer: Insomniac Publisher: SIE Exclusive? Yes
While our childhood memories may tell us that Spider-Man 2 is the best adaptation of the webcrawler to date, it’s realistically the recent PS4 exclusive instead. It captures the slaw-jacked wonder of swinging around New York City while also adding plenty of new quirks.
A technical beauty, Marvel’s Spider-Man boasts fairly deep combat that feels lifted straight out of movie cutscene; the cutscenes themselves are nothing short of gorgeous, either. Adding to that, the storyline is surprisingly emotional and full of funny moments.
There’s a great wealth of content to be had with Spider-Man on PS4 as a brilliant throwback to when games were just games, as well as the ability to just swing around the city never truly getting old.
Now go and play this game or we will tell Spider-Cop.
“With all the freedom it gives you to web-sling through New York City and stick goons to walls, Spider-Man for PS4 is the best Spider-Story I’ve had the pleasure to experience, and even on its own is a brilliant game.”
15. Nier: Automata
Developer: PlatinumGames Publisher: Square Enix Exclusive? No
Trust PlatinumGames to somehow make the newest entry in a barmy series that never really had that much love one of the most critically acclaimed single player games on PS4.
While it’s not everyone owing to how “unconventional” it is, Nier Automata is a wild, seriously imaginative ride for those who are willing to have their expectations subverted. You won’t play anything else quite like Nier: Automata.
With many different endings and gameplay mechanics that barely settle for more than a second, Nier: Automata tries many different things and nails almost every single one. Which other games change perspective seemingly just because they can?
“I encourage you to try Nier: Automata. It’s unique and quirky, dark and exciting. It’s a challenge but not one so hard to put you off trying one last time.”
16. Persona 5
Developer: P-Studio Publisher: Atlus Exclusive? No (also on PS3)
Hey, you like going outside, talking to real people? Too bad: here comes Persona 5 to engulf your entire person. You belong to it now.
Persona 5 is a highly stylish JRPG with over 100 hours of playtime, and that’s just if you’re in a a bit of a rush. It’s simply overflowing with content and patient storytelling; you could almost view it as two different games.
One part social simulator and one part dungeon crawler, Persona 5 asks you to flip between building relationships during a school year and taking on beasties as your alter-ego. There’s a tonne of flair and depth to its combat system, but you may just be tempted to keep pausing in and out to take in the best menu system in any video game.
Persona is weird and not like much else out there, but that’s why we love it.
“With a gripping story, quirky characters, witty writing, and everything that you need to make a good game, Persona 5 will take hold of you for its 100+ hours of gameplay and have you wishing you didn’t need to take a break.”
17. Red Dead Redemption 2
Developer: Rockstar Games Publisher: Take-Two Interactive Exclusive? No
Rockstar were radio silent for a long time on new games, them seemingly content with the mountain of gold that GTA Online had produced for them. Was Red Dead Redemption 2 worth the wait, and did it prove that the developer still had it in them?
Yes. Red Dead Redemption 2 may be the most expansive and ambitious single player open world game out there, it not afraid to do things very differently to its peers. While you could argue that some of them are flashy for the sake of being flashy (animated horse balls, for instance), there’s no denying that the breadth and scope of Red Dead Redemption is almost unmatched.
It may also feature the best protagonist in any game to date. Arthur Morgan is a complex “hero”, someone who is a bad dude but has a lot of good in him. Once this epic is over, you just have to sit and absorb it all.
If we had to pick between playing Red Dead Online and another adventure with Arthur, we know what we’d pick.
“Despite it having some wrinkles, Red Dead Redemption 2 introduces more than enough innovations to provide one of the most immersive and captivating open world games ever made.”
18. Resident Evil 2
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Exclusive? No
There a reason why there aren’t that many remakes in gaming: you don’t want to mess with the classics. Following the success of the GameCube remake of the original game, it was a long old wait before we finally saw the remake for the second game in the series.
Our patience was rewarded with an utterly terrifying trip back to Raccoon City that stayed respectful of its origins while also bringing its own new ideas to the fore. Purists may hate that the Resident Evil 2 remake smoothens out the original’s less friendly aspects, but these just serve to make the zombies more of a terror than the outdated mechanics.
With four different playthroughs to deal with and a bunch of extra side content that actually comes bundled with the game instead of as DLC, Resident Evil 2 is one of the best video game remakes ever and a more than worthy refresh of a classic that may actually be the superior game.
“Whether you want to take a trip down memory lane or are just experiencing the disconcerting decadence of the police station for the first time, Resident Evil 2 is the first essential purchase of 2019.”
19. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Developer: FromSoftware Publisher: Activision Exclusive? No
From the minds behind Dark Souls and Bloodborne comes something that hates its players’ mental wellbeing just like the rest of their games. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a tough game that will damn you if you don’t learn the value of patience.
Sekiro is all about the art of combat, whereas Soulsborne is about rolling until you can roll no more, which is only really a half-joke. Using inch-perfect deflections and genuine strategies, you are able to become the ultimate shinobi. It’s hard not to feel empowered when you can grapple from rooftop to rooftop.
Sekiro also represents From embracing more story in their action games. Without wanting to spoil anything, it really is some of their more affecting and sombre work yet. Many might give up before the narrative even really starts to unfold, but they shouldn’t.
Although not for everyone due to its difficulty, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a truly great game that will have you coming back for more.
20. Shadow of the Colossus
Developer: Team ICO/Bluepoint Games Publisher: SIE Exclusive? Yes (even if it is a remake)
From one remake to another, Shadow of the Colossus is a light rework of the original classic that doesn’t drift too far from its source material, but that’s because it doesn’t really need to.
Tasked with felling giant beasts to save the girl you love, Shadow of the Colossus is a platformer by any other name, but instead of jumping on blocks, you climb up the insanely detailed fur of the Colossi.
The scale of these Colossi is just as breathtaking as it was back on the PlayStation 2, them ranging from hulking warriors to dragons and so much more in-between. The simplicity of climbing Colossi before plunging your sword into their weakspots also still appeals, especially the first time one of them dives underwater with you in tow.
It’s a deeply affecting game, too, so you better bring some guilt snacks for when you play and end up feeling like the biggest piece of work in the world.
“Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 does the original justice, and then some. It cements the legacy of Team Ico’s classic while bringing a few new things to the table, creating the perfect introduction to a masterpiece in design and understated storytelling in the process.”
21. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Developer: Naughty Dog Publisher: SIE Exclusive? Yes
A few years after release and few games have managed to even come as close to the beauty of Uncharted 4, a game so pretty that you could invite it out to dinner after staring at Nate’s wrinkles for an hour and a half.
In terms of gameplay, there’s not much here to discuss if you’ve ever played an Uncharted game in the past, except for the exceptionally cool grappling hook. It’s more about the spectacle, how close Naughty Dog can bring a video game to the cinema screen.
There’s also a great story here to uncover with fantastic performances at its center. The dynamic between Nate and Sam is one of the most natural and lovable in all of gaming, as well as Rafe being someone who you just to hit in the face with a heavy object so much that it compels you to keep playing to give him his comeuppance.
“Naughty Dog certainly know how to end on a high, and I cannot wait to see what they start working on next.”
22. Until Dawn
Developer: Supermassive Games Publisher: SIE Exclusive? Yes
It feels a little like Until Dawn is being forgotten in the annals of great PS4 exclusives, this despite it being one of the only good PS4-only games at a time when Sony were struggling to make their exclusives count.
Years later, Until Dawn is still a hell of a ride, one that can even be played by those without much gaming experience, which isn’t to say that it’s a “walking simulator” or something lacking gameplay. Far from it.
Until Dawn is a horror classic that tasks you with making hard decisions as a bunch of teenagers are stalked at a ski lodge. One mistake and a character is gone for good.
What this results in is a charmingly twisty and fun time that isn’t afraid to get dark. Featuring great performances from the now Oscar-winning Rami Malek, Hayden Panettiere, and Jordan Fisher, you have to play this if you haven’t yet.
23. What Remains of Edith Finch
Developer: Giant Sparrow Publisher: Annapurna Interactive Exclusive? No
What Remains of Edith Finch may be shortest game on this list, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable — we couldn’t shift the memories of its stories for months after our playthrough.
Investigating the Finch family curse, you travel to their abandoned household and discover tragic tales aplenty, each told in different ways. One features you swinging up and down while another takes you on the journey of an imaginary king, with this kind of variety always making to feel like a new game with each tale.
There are those who may erroneously call What Remains of Edith Finch a walking simulator as an insult, and while it lacks the action or high stakes of its peers on this list, it’s arguably just as essential as any of the others.
See what remains of your tear ducts after the credits roll on this masterpiece. It’s more than just a “walking simulator”.
“At the end of its scant two hours of gameplay, What Remains of Edith Finch will likely leave you feeling a range of emotions. Hope, sadness, almost apathy. For delivering all of that while offering something new to the much-maligned subgenre it belongs to, it’s easy to call Giant Sparrow’s game the new standard-bearer for interactive storytelling, even if it stumbles along the way.”
24. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Developer: CD Projekt Red Publisher: CD Projekt Exclusive? No
Hailed as the best game of its generation by many (alongside basically all of the superlatives and awards you can think of), The Witcher 3 is often held up as an example of the value of single player games.
An utterly gigantic adventure that will end all your social commitments if you allow it, The Witcher 3 is the final hurrah for Geralt of Rivia and, most impressively, so good that you don’t need to have played the previous two games to enjoy it.
While modern western RPGs just keep on taking features out to streamline the experience, CD Projekt Red keep putting them back in. This is a dense, supremely layered RPG with questing that’s the emphasis, not an afterthought.
It will be interesting to see if they can top this with Cyberpunk 2077, that’s for sure.
25. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio Publisher: Sega Exclusive? Yes
The Yakuza series, despite being pretty widely available over here thanks to remakes of its older titles, still feels like a bit of an underrated cult franchise in the West. Yakuza 6 may not have won many new fans, but it was quintessential and essential Yakuza at the same time.
The final ride of Kazuma Kiryu was just as ambitious and crazy as many Yakuza fans hoped it would be. The combat feels just as great and ridiculous as always as you punch your way through Kamurocho one last time, but the mini-games and wild plot are what most come to Yakuza for.
Featuring the same bonkers attitude but with an emotional core it leans on when it needs to, we can’t sing the praises of The Song of Life enough.