The PlayStation 4 is home to some of the best blockbuster exclusives around. This year alone brought us standout hits like God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man. While big budget games like these offer staggering production value and immense polish, sometimes, you crave something different.
That’s where independent video games come in. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of excellent indies to sink your teeth into and if you’re unsure where to start, take a look at this list of the best indie games on PS4.
Dead Cells combines the trappings of Metroidvanias with a rogue-like progression system. Playing as the Prisoner, a humanoid composed of dead cells (get it?), you make your way through a series of increasingly challenging dungeons. Although you can purchase permanent upgrades at the end of each section, when you die, you start back at the beginning. Much of Dead Cells, like most rogue-likes, revolves around trial and error.
Since Dead Cells has such satisfying combat and a detailed, interesting world to explore, starting back at the beginning upon each death rarely feels like a chore. If you’re a fan of Metroidvanias who isn’t afraid of an uphill battle, Dead Cells is one of the best indie games on PS4 in both genres.
‘Enter the Gungeon’
Enter the Gungeon has the fast play of a bullet hell shooter sandwiched inside a rogue-like progression system. Created by Dodge Roll and published by Devolver Digital, Enter the Gungeon is one of the best in the crowded genre. Instead of revamping everything when you die, though, all of the rooms remain intact, but the items, enemies, and coordinates of each room changes through random generation.
Its top-down, pixelated aesthetic makes it feel as if you’re playing a retro game. But its mechanics, lore, and subtle depth make it feel decidedly modern the further and further you dive into its dungeons.
‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has the lavish look of a big budget game, but Ninja Theory’s dark and stirring game about one woman’s descent into madness is, in fact, an indie game. Senua wades into the underbelly of a hellish landscape inspired by Norse mythology to retrieve the soul of her dead partner. The game uses an effective and disturbing whisper system to repeatedly mess with Senua’s head.
Melina Juergens’ portrayal of Senua is superb throughout, as she accurately demonstrates what it’s like to lose control of one’s faculties. The understated but great swordplay keeps Hellblade in the action game genre, but ultimately it succeeds for its novel approach to storytelling.
Read our full Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice review
‘Hyper Light Drifter’
Hyper Light Drifter is a gorgeous top-down action game with a very distinct graphical style and even better combat. You explore a world in shambles, armed with a sword and a gun to slay enemy after enemy.
Make no mistake, Hyper Light Drifter is one of the most challenging games on this list. It takes trial and error and fast fingers to make it through the dreary world filled with vicious enemies. The moving, somber soundtrack and wonderfully detailed environments will keep you playing as you learn new tricks and make progress.
‘Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number’
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, the sequel to the standout top-down shooter, ups the ante. Serving as both a sequel and a prequel, Hotline Miami 2 retains the pixelated visuals and fast-paced action of the original but expands on it in new and exciting ways. Instead of playing as just two characters, you can experience the story from thirteen unique perspectives.
All playable characters have different abilities, and each character adds to the story of a world reduced to anarchy. While already difficult out of the gate, you can also play hard mode. And when you’re finished, you can use an intuitive level editor to create your environments and stories to play.
Alienation follows Housemarque’s trend of difficult but rewarding games. Instead of being a twin stick shooter, however, Alienation is a Diablo-esque science fiction adventure with a hearty emphasis on loot. Whether you play solo or cooperatively, Alienation is a grind. Though it never feels unfair, you have to play this action game with precision and forethought.
Excellent shooting mechanics, a satisfying role-playing loop, and a wonderfully realized science fiction setting make Alienation a sure-fire delight for anyone looking to play an experience similar to Diablo. It’s also a PS4 exclusive.
‘Mark of the Ninja: Remastered’
If you let Mark of the Ninja sneak past you in 2012, you can be forgiven by playing the remastered version on PS4. Starring a nameless ninja, this action-stealth game made us rethink what was possible in 2D. Rather than being able to see all enemies on screen, if the ninja’s eyesight is blocked, you can’t see them lurking either. Mark of the Ninja emphasizes both sight and sound across its cleverly designed environments.
The remastered version adds a fresh coat of paint to the stylish experience. If you’re a fan of action, stealth, or even platformers, Mark of the Ninja: Remastered should enthrall you.