The best Indies
You don't need tens of millions of dollars and support from the biggest companies out there to make amazing games. Indie games are self-published and generally made by a small team of passionate developers, if not just a single person or two. PlayStation has indies that everyone wants to play and has racked up countless awards.
The Undertale craze isn't what it was a few years ago, but the game's still just as good as the day it came out. Its art style is instantly recognizable, and it became an instant classic for the way player choice drastically affects the game's outcome. Many other titles give the illusion of player choice, but Undertale takes it a step further.
Taking place in a realm known as the Underground, where monsters were banished, you play as a human who falls into this realm and must learn to navigate its intricacies while avoiding, befriending, or killing the monsters you encounter. Should you choose to complete what's known as a genocide run, you'll end up with the worst possible ending. If you go for a pacifist run, you'll get the good ending.
Few games approach player choice and consequence in the way that Undertale does. If you missed out on the Undertale renaissance after it was released in 2015, now's the perfect opportunity to pick it up and see what all the fuss was about.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Often dismissed as a simple "walking simulator," What Remains of Edith Finch is so much more. Players revisit the Finch household, once home to several generations of family members, years after being abandoned. By exploring the house and learning its secrets, you begin to uncover the reasons behind each family member's death. For example, the Finches believed that a curse caused all but one member of each generation to die.
The Finch household is a character in itself, as you'll come to find. Each room is filled to the brim with items that tell the stories of their previous occupants and the often tragic events that led to their demise. The narrative here is one that really pulls on your heartstrings, and it's something that I recommend everyone experience at least once, if not multiple times.
What Remains of Edith Finch
The Finch household is full of touching tales about its previous occupants gone too soon. As Edith explores, you'll learn more about her strange family history and the apparent curse that has plagued them for generations
This is the Harvest Moon spiritual successor that everyone was clamoring for. Stardew Valley is a cute little farming sim that takes place in the titular town where players can socialize with the townsfolk while they grow crops and raise livestock. The gameplay loop is as addicting as it is fun, and with every change of the seasons, you'll find something new to obsess over.
Multiplayer is now available on the PlayStation 4 version, so you can play together with up to three friends online and build the perfect farm. There's no shortage of things to do, and it's a lot of fun when you have friends to play with. If that's not your style, you can still start up a single-player game at any time.
Inherit your grandfather's farm and start partaking in all sorts of activities around the cozy little town. This is a game you'll keep coming back to for some relaxation.
Developer Campo Santo struck gold with Firewatch, complete with artist Olly Moss' signature graphic style. Firewatch is another "walking simulator" with a lot of depth beneath its surface. From its trailers, I originally thought it was some type of horror game, but that's not the case. What plays out is a mysterious tale of a fire lookout becoming increasingly paranoid by events happening at Shoshone National Forest.
Even if you're not in it for the story, I think it's worth playing Firewatch for the art direction alone. The style is absolutely sublime, and Shoshone just exudes a sense of awe and wonder, no matter the time of day. Luckily if you do want an interesting story, there's definitely one here for you. Not everything is as it seems in Shoshone National Forest, and it has a bit of a dark history.
Wyoming, 1989. A fire lookout. A radio. A woman named Delilah. Firewatch provides a ton of mystery to keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. You might even question if the events you experienced are real at all.
Developer Frictional Games is no stranger to psychological horror, considering it's the team behind the Amnesia series and all. SOMA brings the scares and keeps your blood pressure high in an underwater research facility that's overrun with ghoulish fiends. Thankfully, SOMA offers a safe mode so that you won't need to worry about getting killed by any of these creatures. Don't think that takes the fright out of it, though, because these monsters are still very much in the game, lurking around every corner.
After suffering a brain injury during a car accident, your character agrees to undergo an experimental medical procedure in hopes of receiving some help. After blacking out and waking up in the dilapidated underwater facility of PATHOS-II, you'll need to search for a way out while avoiding monsters along the way. SOMA deals with themes surrounding artificial intelligence, humanity, and consciousness.
From the creators of Amnesia, psychological horror fans are in for a treat with SOMA. And don't worry if you can't stomach scary games. There's a safe mode that takes out all combat, so you won't have to deal with any threats... too much.
Cuphead charmed everyone with its animation style reminiscent of golden age cartoons from Disney and Fleischer. Though it was originally console-exclusive to Xbox, Studio MDHR eventually brought the instant hit to PlayStation 4. This run and gun platformer is known for its high degree of difficulty and memorable — if extremely challenging — boss fights.
Playing as the titular Cuphead (or Mugman, if you'd prefer in co-op), you'll repay your debt to the Devil by collecting soul contracts across the Inkwell Isle. Not all of the Devil's debtors will easily give up their contracts, though, and you'll be treated to some of the best boss fights that gaming has seen in years. Of course, everything eventually works out in the end ... if you make the right choices.
An instantly recognizable art style meets near-perfect platforming, and boss fights to create a stellar game in Cuphead. It may be difficult, but it's well worth it to persevere.
If you haven't played Hades yet, you're really missing out. This rogue-like dungeon crawler has some of the best designs and art seem in gaming, and by its nature, it requires multiple playthroughs as you're sure to die and start over several times. That's part of what makes it so good. Each time you die, you'll become a little bit stronger and get a little bit further, eventually making it to the end.
Hades, as you can imagine, isn't exactly a great father figure. So when his son Zagreus attempts to escape the Underworld to find his mother, Hades does everything in his power to stop him. Luckily, Zagreus is aided by the Olympic pantheon along his journey. Hades was critically acclaimed when it was released and took home Game of the Year on several lists.
Escape the Underworld and reach Mount Olympus in this fantastic dungeon crawler. As Hades' son, you'll have plenty of foes to contend with, but you aren't without help.
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Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.