Courtesy of digitaltrends.com
The current generation of video game consoles (Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, and Nintendo Wii U) is nearing its final days. Sony and Microsoft both announced their latest consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X respectively, and Nintendo has already released their next-generation console with the Nintendo Switch.
To celebrate this generation, I’ve decided to countdown the best games that are available on the highest-selling console from this generation: the PlayStation 4. I’ve included all games that were initially released during the console’s lifespan (November 2013-present). They don’t have to be exclusives, nor do they have to be big-budget AAA games. This also seems especially timely given the current shelter in place mandate due to the COVID-19 virus, which has prompted many to turn to video games for amusement.
Since we’re celebrating the PS4, there will be no remakes or remasters, but games like “God of War III: Remastered”, “Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy”, and “Shadow of the Colossus” are still excellent and well worth your time. I’d also like to make the disclaimer that I haven’t played “Uncharted 4”, “Persona 5”, or “God of War (2018)” so those games won’t be on here either. Without further adieu, here’s the list!
While superhero-based video games have had a rocky history throughout most of the art form’s life, recent endeavors like Rocksteady’s “Batman Arkham” series and Insomniac’s “Spider-Man” have made the genre something special. To quote every game journalist outlet ever, this game made me “FEEL like Spider-Man!” Memes aside, it’s a fun action game that executes everything it tries to do beautifully.
The combat is satisfying and allows for creative ways to take out enemies, the stealth sections are tense and engaging, and traversing through a big city by web-swinging as Spider-Man is exhilarating. On top of this is a story that I found to be more interesting than most of the actual movies in the Spider-Man franchise.
“[“Spider-Man”] is a really fun game,” said Shayne Lacy, senior. “They really nailed the superhero setting and it reflects in the gameplay as well”.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Genre: Action/Adventure, Beat ‘Em Up, Open World, Superhero
4. “The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth”
Indie developer Edmund McMillen of “Super Meat Boy” fame continues to surprise players with his distinctly dark and cartoonish approach to game design. “The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth” is a disturbing and occult journey that gets more and more complicated with each playthrough. In the game, your character explores a set of randomly generated rooms that get more difficult as the game goes on. Since everything is randomly generated, from the enemies you face to the items you get to defend yourself, the game is infinitely replayable and very addictive.
Admittedly, the roguelike aspect of the game is both its biggest strength and its biggest weakness. Your success in “The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth” is luck-based to some degree. If the game doesn’t give you good items, there will be times where you’ll feel like you’ve made no progress even after playing for several hours. That being said, this is easily the game that I’ve spent the most time with on this list and one that I still revisit to this day.
Genre: Top-Down Shooter, Roguelike
From Software’s “Dark Souls” series has held some of the most important games of the past couple of console generations. In an era where most AAA games hold your hand and don’t pose too much of a challenge, “Dark Souls” offers an experience that is as difficult as an old school NES game, but with a breathtaking world to explore. “Bloodborne” is more or less a spiritual successor to these games, with similar gameplay, but a more distinct atmosphere.
The gothic London setting makes for beautiful setpieces that are well complemented by its art style. The story is told by unconventional means, without the use of cutscenes or heavy dialogue. Rather, information is given to the player in the form of item descriptions, and clues hidden throughout the world. While “Bloodborne” may be challenging, with even the weakest of enemies posing a threat, the simple, but its addictive combat system is what makes playing it so enjoyable, and why I never got too frustrated even after countless deaths.
Developer: From Software
Genre: Action RPG
2. “Hollow Knight”
The first game to be officially released by Australia based indie developer Team Cherry is a beautiful 2D platformer that’s brimming with personality. You traverse through an open world, collecting new abilities that allow you to explore new areas as you go along. Of all the games that I’ve played in this style, “Hollow Knight” offers a more intriguing world than its contemporaries, nailing its simplistic, but charming art style, and having an excellent soundtrack to tie it all together.
The gameplay has everything a game like this should have: challenging platforming sections, tense combat situations, and creative level design. All of these aspects make “Hollow Knight” a rewarding experience that makes it hard to put down once you begin playing it.
Developer: Team Cherry
1. “Death Stranding”
After legendary developer Hideo Kojima’s public falling out with longtime publisher Konami, he created his own company and began work on a brand new game called “Death Stranding”. While it has a more mixed reception than anything else on this list, it is, without a doubt, my favorite game that the PS4 had to offer. I feel this generation was lacking in big new games that truly defined it, as many of the most acclaimed titles were either a continuation of an existing franchise or straight-up remakes of older games. “Death Stranding” is a postmodern experience that’s unlike anything else out there.
The game takes place in a futuristic, but post-apocalyptic America. The outside world has become too dangerous for normal humans to inhabit, so everybody lives in underground bunkers, but still needs supplies to get by. You travel from one location to another, delivering cargo and rebuilding the country. The gameplay is unique in the way it combines tense stealth sections and item management with relaxing minimalism. While its sheer oddity and unique gameplay may have put some people off of it, it’s a game that I could see becoming more appreciated as time goes on.
Developer: Kojima Productions
Genre: Action/Adventure, Surrealism