It’s a hard ask, we know. Fallout 4 has to occupy your time this winter. And once you’ve finally got some closure there, it’s back to The Witcher 3 for that massive DLC pack that’s far bigger and more entertaining than it has any right to be. How are you supposed to find the time to play all the amazing PS4 indie games available on the PSN store right now?
Look at it this way though: some of these games take only a few hours to complete, some are best played when your mates are round (definitely not the case for Fallout), and absolutely none of these games will require you to take the disc out. So it’s not really cheating on Bethesda and your painstakingly created wasteland adventurer, is it? With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best low budget indie games you can find on the PlayStation 4 right now.
That name may be a shameless homage to the fiendishly difficult Dark Souls series, but make no mistake, Titan Souls is its own game. It takes the unforgiving fantasy bosses of FromSoftware’s cult series and transplants them into a pixelated top down world, then ratchets up the difficulty even further: one hit will kill you, and you only have one arrow. Which you have to go and fetch if you miss. The story behind the game’s creation couldn’t be more emblematic of Sony’s blossoming relationship with indie developers on PS4 either: the team at Acid Nerve Studio formed after creating the core concept and prototype for Titan Souls in one weekend at a game jam, so support grassroots gaming and have a blast while doing so.
What do you get if you cross charming platformer Thomas Was Alone with the VR missions from early Metal Gear Solid games? Not something anybody else was asking for, but then that’s the genius of British indie dev Mike Bithell, who somehow managed to secure the voice talents of Danny Wallace and Hollywood rent-a-monster Andy Serkis for his sophomore game. This shrewd and entertaining title boils the third-party stealth genre down to its core elements of shapes, sounds, radar and visible range, then charges you with escaping a labyrinth using an inventive set of tools. User generated levels will keep you coming back for more after you’ve cleared the initial campaign.
Journey is one of the biggest indie hits of the last two console generations, but some had doubts as to whether developer thatgamecompany could repeat its success after the departure of founder Kellee Santiago, who now works for Google’s Play Games team. They needn’t have worried: Flower is a winner. The premise – you control the wind, lifting flower petals in the breeze, changing the environment and building up a stunning audioscape in the process – is simple and certainly not for those who prefer to play The Witcher 3 on Death March mode. You can even complete it in an hour, but what an hour it is. You can also play the game on PS3 and PS Vita, though doing the latter will definitely get you some strange looks on the bus. As charming as it is bewildering.
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture
Everybody except you, that is. You find yourself slap bang in the middle of an abandoned English village, and are left to hunt for clues as to where everyone went (surprisingly, the answer is not “down the pub”). Think Journey meets The Leftovers and you’re not far off: it’s arguably an interactive experience more than it is a game, but that doesn’t make developer The Chinese Room’s game any less essential.
The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth
Easily the darkest game on this list, The Binding Of Isaac somehow fits a haunting tale of child abuse and misguided faith into the confines of a roguelike dungeon crawler – and pulls it off. We won’t go into any more detail, but even if you have played this haunting game, the Rebirth edition is still worth your time, as this PS4 HD makeover includes a new soundtrack, new artwork and levels.
Velocity remains one of the top reasons to get a PS Vita, whether Sony has abandoned the platform or not, but you can and should play its sequel Velocity 2X on PS4. This hybrid mix of vertical scrolling shooting and platforming is an old school genre refined for the current generation, with massive puzzle levels that gradually become time attack challenges as you unlock the secrets of each. It’s perfectly balanced to keep you coming back for more, in other words, and you will.
Sony’s partnership with tiny London studio Roll 7 helped make the original 2D skateboarding game a hit, and its sequel is even better. It’s no less infuriating, of course, but that’s the whole point: you’ll keep practising and practising until throwing manuals is as easy as hurling your DualShock across the room. Which you will do.
The Ouya Android console’s breakout hit (and well, arguably its only hit) boasts a superior PS4 version with more levels and the same addictive core concept. Much like Titan Souls, you’re an archer with just one arrow you’ll have to retrieve if you miss. The difference is you’re trying to shoot your best friend in the face over and over rather than take down a gargantuan monster from HP Lovecraft’s worst nightmare. It sounds simple, but throw in a few clever mechanics – opponents can actually catch arrows if they’re hot with their reflexes – and before you know it, you’ve forgotten to eat and shave and lost your job and where did the time go? Splitscreen gaming may be on the way out, but this indie PS4 game proves local multiplayer is still going strong.
Given that this multiplayer smash hit is a system seller at this point, it’s hard to believe that the game was made by an indie studio. But as Psyonix’s boss Dave Hagewood revealed to us in an exclusive interview last week, the team of a few dozen almost had to abandon the project entirely late last year. It was only their resolve after a failed PS3 game they believed had something that helped them through. You know the rest by now – rockets plus cars plus football equals awesome – and if you don’t, you really need to shut this tab and head to the PlayStation Store already.
We could put Transistor in this list, sure. But as one of the first high profile indie games to launch on the console, you’ve probably played it already – and if not, you’ve probably played it on iPad or Apple TV. What Sony fans may not have had the chance to experience however is Supergiant Games’ debut title, Bastion. Originally an Xbox 360, it’s since been ported to mobile and PC, but never to a PlayStation console until recently. Though four years old it still retains all of its charm thanks to its mesmerising narration and artwork; Transistor fans meanwhile will be right at home with the isometric action gameplay.