© Insomniac Games
The 10 best PlayStation games of the decade
Home of some of the biggest and best games this decade, we run through our favourite titles to land on the PlayStation since 2010.
The 2010s were a good decade for Sony. But then, so were the 2000s and the 90s. The PlayStation remains the go-to destination for many big budget, ambitious titles, while its embracing of indies post-2012’s Journey has ensured gamers are spoilt for choice, regardless of their preference. And so, with the dawn of a new decade before us and a new console on the horizon, we cast our eyes back at the best PlayStation games of the past 10 years.
Was Bloodborne the PlayStation 4’s first essential exclusive? While Sony’s flagship boasted some stellar titles way back in 2015, it’s hard to make the case against FromSoftware’s beautifully bleak adventure. Perhaps more than any other game on this list, Bloodborne’s fandom goes beyond simple enthusiasm for the game – instead, seeming to succumb to its deep, dark charms with an almost cultish fervour. And honestly, it’s easy to see why.
Bloodborne is both excruciatingly uncompromising and joyously rewarding, almost breaking a player’s resolve after each punishing excursion (and likely death) through its monstrously gloomy world, with boss battles designed to leave you in awe for the few seconds it takes for you to fall to a lethal blow. But, once you do master its tough-but-fair combat and learn to navigate the blood-soaked hellscape, the euphoria you feel once you do make real progress is unlike almost any other experienced in video games.
Couple this with its stunningly realised world – the crumbling period setting perfect for its classic literary horror allusions – and you’ve got a staggering achievement, still capable of luring players in for another nightmarish go-around.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Despite the fanfare which greeted the glimpses of Horizon Zero Dawn’s stunning world, giant robo-dinosaurs and astonishingly realised characters, we admit to being unsure of how the game would measure up once the long-awaited launch finally arrived. After all, while the Killzone series was solid, Guerilla Games hadn’t really hinted that they had a potential classic in their arsenal – especially one as gorgeous, inspiring and epic as Horizon Zero Dawn.
Offering an incredible journey of adventure with a protagonist so well-written she’d be the envy of most movie screenplays, an open-world for you to explore with immersive, challenging combat and story with enough emotional resonance to test the resolve of even the most stoic of gamers, Horizon Zero Dawn was both a stunning surprise, and no surprise at all. Aloy’s journey always looked to be astounding, and when we finally got our hands on HZD, we were happy to be proven wrong.
God of War
(SIE Santa Monica Studio)
Kratos’ arrival on PlayStation 4 was a long time coming. One of Sony’s greatest franchises, God of War III arrived in 2010 (and would also be a worthy entrant on this list) and seemingly closed the book on our favourite burly, randy god. Almost a decade later, however, and Kratos returned, sporting the same mean look on his face, but with a newfound maturity and red-headed son in tow. Oh and he was also wielding a massive axe.
What followed was a brilliant transposition of God of War’s Greek mythology into the world of the old Norse gods, with Kratos and Atreus journeying through an almost-open world in a bid to fulfil his late wife’s last wish (see, we told you he’d softened). Marking a change from the series’ previous instalments, God of War opted for an over-the-shoulder camera and a more action-RPG approach than its predecessor’s anarchic, outright bloodletting, with a stunning world, hissable villains and a central relationship filling the tale with a warmth previously missing from Kratos’ journey. A stunning achievement in almost every conceivable way, God of War is a true showcase of what the PS4 is capable of.
The Last of Us
Naughty Dog’s 2013 classic, The Last of Us, proved that regardless of how well-worn a formula may seem – journey through a post-apocalyptic world in a bid for salvation – new joy can be found if the storytelling is done right. And boy, is the storytelling on point in The Last of Us. It’s unlikely you need a recap of how the plot unfolds (hold on while we grab the tissues), but just in case – you play as Joel, a man suffering a great loss who’s tasked with escorting a young woman across a plague-ravaged USA. You bond, you fight, you kill disgusting creatures called Clickers.
What separates TLOU from the pack, however, is just how well-drawn the characters are, how beautifully realised the slowly-returning-to-nature world is, and how expertly Naughty Dog weaves a story that delivers big action beats but also moments of incredible beauty and sadness. Its sequel (hopefully) arrives next year, and may well take its place on a similar list in a decade’s time, but for now, we’ll celebrate the best game on the PS3, and one of the very best of the decade.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy could well have been an afterthought. Removing the protagonist from a huge series to centre on two of the supporting cast would usually scream DLC, had Naughty Dog not clearly placed as much emphasis on delivering a standout, standalone adventure as it would if this were named Uncharted 5. Stepping into the boots of Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, The Lost Legacy delivered a more open, explorable experience than the usually on-rails main series, while still delivering the incredible locales, riveting firefights and blockbuster set-pieces that fans had grown accustomed to. It also added depth to two characters previously sidelined by the series’ Indiana Jones-alike lead, and proved that Uncharted wasn’t dependent on its wise-cracking hero. Indeed, what could have been an afterthought, turned out to be one of the best of the series.
Look, everyone wants to be Spidey. Just a little bit. Swinging through New York City, beating up bad guys, constantly quipping – it just seems like a really great time (OK, we may be neglecting to mention the constant peril, but whatever). Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man understood this, and delivered a no-holds-barred Spidey experience that was 100 percent, unfiltered Spidey, with extra Spidey. And it was glorious. Web swinging was exhilarating, the story was pulled-from-the-comics delightful, and even the quick-time events were fun. It also gave us a Peter Parker almost as spot-on as Tom Holland, loads of customisation and some top notch DLC to ensure that, however much you want to be Spidey, you’ll be left satisfied. Thwip!
You think you know what you’re going to get with Tetris. Blocks sliding into place, heart-rate quickening as you slowly realise you’ve fatally misjudged a block’s trajectory, eventual doom as the screen fills. And sure, you get this with Tetris Effect – but you also get so much more. A truly sensory experience, Tetris Effect responds to the player’s actions in such a way that the actual sliding in of blocks feels both secondary and absolutely vital. The main story, named The Journey, unveils different settings as you progress, making Tetris truly feel like, well, a journey.
Put simply: you come for Tetris, but what you get is the effect – swelling music, not-entirely unpretentious messaging, and beautiful visuals that give this classic formula a whole new lease of life.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
(Level-5, PS3, PS4, Switch, PC)
Yes, yes, you can now play this on a Nintendo console but for years, this was a Sony PS3 exclusive, and one of its very best. In fact there’s a strong argument to be made that this was the defining RPG of its generation. The appeal is obvious: with its stunning Studio Ghibli cinematics and sweeping Joe Hisaishi score, this is effectively an interactive, 70-hour long Hayao Miyazaki movie, with beautiful graphics and a rich, Pokémon-style system of collect-all-the-critters-and-make-them-fight-to-the-adorable-death. Don’t let its twee story fool you either: this is a formidable game with some serious difficulty spikes.
What also sets this apart: this is one of the most perfectly translated games we’ve ever played. Though originally Japanese, every snippet of text, every single name, has been been lovingly adapted to work better in English (the pirate cat Puss In Bouts being a particular favourite of ours). Sadly, without Studio Ghibli’s involvement, Ni No Kuni 2 fails to live up to much of this first game’s wonderful charm. Time for a replay, we think.
The very definition of short but sweet, Journey’s playtime may be brief, but it’s an experience that feels anything but slight. The indie resurgence of the 2010s made its way to PlayStation 3 in 2012 with this stunning exclusive from Thatgamecompany, and became a formative title for any number of devs, both indie and mainstream. Taking charge of a small, cloaked figure tasked with reaching a vast mountain in the distance, your sole options are to jump, shout and walk your way towards your destination. You even bump into other players on the way, forming bonds and helping each other reach the summit. A game with no interest in a traditional narrative, Journey is breathtaking nonetheless, steeping the player in its world and, come the end of its swelling, soaring finale, you won’t be ready for it to end.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End gave us just that – an ending. And what an ending it was! Nathan Drake bowed out in the style you’d expect – a trail of death and destruction behind him, a wry smile on his lips and remarkably coiffed hair.