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You’ve got to hand it to Sony in the indie gaming department.
Ever since PlayStation 4’s early E3 announcement, the company made it clear they would be supporting independent gaming by making it easier than ever for publishers to get their games on to the console. And that means there’s now a ton of amazing indie titles to sink your teeth into.
But where to start? We’ve put together a list of the very best, spanning all manner of genres.
Already one of 2016’s indie highlights, Firewatch is one of the most intriguing gaming experiences in years. You play Henry, a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness watching for smoke and keeping a patch of national park safe. But a small, handheld radio is your only contact with the rest of the world, and strange things are afoot…
Ever played through another survival horror game only to find its cheap jump scares and over-reliance on gore a total snooze? You won’t get that with SOMA, which uses its surprisingly high production standards to present an atmospheric underwater research base that’ll freak you the hell out. Its philosophical implications are also the stuff of genuine nightmares.
OlliOlli2: Welcome To Olliwood
You can give up on the Tony Hawk’s series ever being as good as it was 15 years ago, and EA’s Skate series shows no signs of coughing out a fourth entry, so OlliOlli is now officially the best skating game going. Side-scrollingly exhilarating (and a little bit mental), it offers hour upon hour of fun.
This isometric action-RPG comes from the creators of indie darling Bastion – and features a gorgeous art style and some really robust combat as you wield the titular giant sword. An amazing combination of action and narrative not seen from even most AAA games.
The Talos Principle
Ever since Portal blew our minds with its space-altering puzzles, first person puzzlers have been ten a penny. The Talos Principle is one of the best though, challenging players to overcome a wide range of puzzle rooms set in compelling environments that cross the ancient with the futuristic.
How could we not include Rocket League? The closest thing to an actual new virtual sport sees you scoring goals with remote control cars. Chaotic and skillful in equal measures, the indie smasher is a must play.
And we thought “Welcome to Olliwood” was a strong pun. This stealth-em-up combines sneaking tactically with XCOM inspired, turn-based gameplay as you control a group of spies, each with their own abilities, that force you into thinking differently with each play through the procedurally generated levels.
Volume is a sort of modern day Robin Hood set in the VR mission-style of Metal Gear Solid. It’s an utterly captivating stealth-em-up with a unique visual flair that really isn’t comparable to anything else out there today. Featuring a voice cast that includes Andy Serkis, Volume is a slick treat.
OK, so the fact this was published by Sony Computer Entertainment sullies its indie cred a little bit, but then you remember the fact that it was developed by ONE PERSON. Tom Happ of Thomas Happ Games did all the legwork, and this Metroid-style platformer in which you play through beautifully designed sci-fi environments is simply amazing.
The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth
The gloriously difficult Super Meat Boy was known for its dark and hilarious cartoon style, and developer Edmund McMillen does the same thing here. Except this time he’s telling the story of a monstrous, psychologically disturbed mother trying to murder her own child, in a roguelike RPG style. An incredible experience.
2016’s most mysterious game is a first-person puzzler with real depth, tasking you with solving copious mazes around its captivatingly realized island setting. Jonathan Blow practically kick-started the indie revolution with Braid – and continues it in fine style here.
Journey is more of an experience than a traditional game, and that’s what makes it so outstanding. With a boldly distincitve art-style and a truly innovative approach to multiplayer, the PS4 version of this PS3 original brings in 1080p graphics and looks all the more amazing for it.
An oft-forgotten genre, point and click adventures have given us some of our fondest gaming memories over the years. So it was an absolute blast when this title from Tim Schafer’s Double Fine came along, with its beautiful hand-painted tale of the intertwining stories of Vella and Shay. Amazing stuff.
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture
The term ‘walking simulator’ gets bandied about almost as an insult to games in which exploration is the main objective. But when the world is so well realised as it is in Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, it’s hard to argue with the popularity and critical acclaim it’s received. You explore a fictional Shropshire village as you piece together its inhabitants’ lives, and seeming apocalyptic events.
The Swapper is an atmospheric sci-fi puzzler with one major twist: you can clone yourself to solve puzzles with multiple versions of your own body. Thanks to beautiful environments and a soundtrack of eerie excellence, this is a puzzle platformer you simply have to check out.