The PlayStation 4 is the second-bestselling console of all time, taking a narrow backseat to Sony’s own PS2. It should come as little surprise, then, that the PS4 is packed to the brim with games, many of which are made by independent developers. Although there are still a few titles missing — we’re still waiting on a Baba is You port — pretty much every major indie game is on the PS4.
The lines of what is and isn’t an indie game seem to have blurred, but typically we identify them as games that aren’t financially backed by a large publisher. These games often are smaller in scope but excel at having innovative ideas.
Because there are so many indie games, sifting through all of them can be tough. We’ve done the hard work for you, compiling a list of the best indie game on PS4. Keep in mind, all of these are playable on PS5, thanks to backward compatibility. From top-down action games like Enter the Gungeon to terrifying puzzlers like Inside, there’s a little something for everyone, so let’s jump right in.
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.
Read our full review of Dead Cells
A Plague Tale: Innocence
Set in 14th-century France, A Plague Tale: Innocence gets its power from its well-designed atmosphere. You play as Amicia, a young woman who guides her younger brother Hugo across rural France to look for a cure for his mysterious ailments. A Plague Tale is ostensibly a stealth game, with most of your movement revolving around sneaking past Inquisition soldiers who are searching for the siblings. The puzzles are largely designed around plague-ridden rats, thousands of them. They will eat Amicia and Hugo alive if you don’t stay in the light.
A Plague Tale‘s uncertainty and the historical backdrop make for a compelling adventure. The relationship between Amicia and Hugo is what shines the brightest, though.
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.
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 today. 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.
One of the most gorgeous platforming games we’ve ever seen — on PlayStation 4 or otherwise — Gris isn’t a typical puzzle-platformer in that its challenge is a relatively minor component. You will explore a colorful world complemented by atmospheric music, and the story is told with almost no text so you can experience the game regardless of reading level or language barrier.
For those in your life who don’t typically play games because they’re worried about being able to actually get through them, Gris is a great option, and its arrival on PlayStation 4 just means that even more players can experience it.
Derek Yu’s Spelunky started as an open source game in 2008 before gaining traction and eventually launching on Xbox Live Arcade and PC in 2012. Available on PS4 since 2014, Spelunky is one of the early examples of the rogue-like platforming phenomenon. You play as a nameless explorer known as a spelunker. The goal is straightforward: Make your way through 16 levels across four diverse worlds. You have limited health and only one life, though. Once you die, you lose all progress, including gold and items.
What makes Spelunky so great is its random generation and environmental interactions. Each time you play, the level layout changes, and it’s not uncommon to die from a completely different chain of events than you’ve ever died from before. Spelunky has great controls, a bevy of secrets, and an excellent soundtrack to boot. If you’re not afraid of the challenge, Spelunky is a gripping and satisfying platformer that rewards those who stick around to uncover its nuances and secrets.
Celeste does two things incredibly well. First, it’s an excellent precision platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy. Second, and more importantly, it’s one of the rare games that tell an authentic tale of mental illness. You play as Madeline, a down on her luck young woman who decides to scale Celeste Mountain, a mythical challenge that is said to help show people who reach the top their true identity. Along the way, Madeline grapples with her self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.
The dialogue is poignant, the characters you meet are memorable, and the platforming, which involves precise jumps and sequences, is expertly designed. The retro-pixelated aesthetic feels right at home here. Thankfully, you can still reach the end of Celeste‘s brilliant story even if you aren’t up for the tough as nails platforming sections. An excellent assist mode lets you modify the gameplay all the way up to the degree of being invincible.
Read our full Celeste review
A Hat in Time
A Hat in Time is a throwback 3D platformer in the vein of Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, and Spyro. You play as a young alien girl dubbed Hat Kid. All she wants to do is get on her spaceship and head home. Of course, it’s not so easy. To achieve her goal, she must make her way through four wide open levels containing puzzles, enemies, and items that can be excha