(Pocket-lint) - Indie games are the font of so much refreshing, interesting and radical game design and writing that if you're only sticking to mainstream releases from major publishers we can confidently say that you're missing out on some really singular experiences.
The PlayStation 4 has been home to a huge number of indie games over the course of its lifespan, with more coming out all the time, so it's been a challenging task to narrow down the very best options for you on the platform. Here, though, are our top picks for indie games on PS4.
|Our other PS4 game buyer's guides|
|• Best games overall|
|• Best platforming games|
|• Best shooters|
|• Best role-playing games (RPGs)|
What are the best indie games for PS4?
- Disco Elysium
- Hollow Knight
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- Stardew Valley
- The Pathless
The most ambitious RPG you'll find on PS4 is also an indie game from a small team - Disco Elysium is jaw-droppingly well-written and lets you go about a complex murder investigation in almost any way you could think of. You play a damaged and amnesiac detective, so the scope for bad decisions is just huge.
They're all adapted to, and the dialogue system is incredibly impressive. With full voice acting, the PS4 version is a great choice and we can guarantee you won't forget the game's story in a hurry. A game that as many people as possible should get to play.
Another marvel from a tiny team, Hollow Knight builds on the ace traditions of Metroid and Castlevania with a side-scrolling adventure through a huge map that you'll uncover piece by piece while getting stronger and acquiring new skills.
It's a fabulous time with beautiful hand-drawn art and loads of enemies to fight, with excellent and difficult boss encounters. Once you're on top of the mechanics, the optional post-game content is a feast for the most hardcore gamers among us.
What Remains of Edith Finch
A ravishing story about a family of unlucky individuals, Edith Finch is told with dazzling invention. You explore the life stories of family members through short vignettes that transport you to other worlds and have you controlling toy frogs, bundles of kites and more besides.
It all looks and sounds gorgeous, and there's a melancholy offbeat tone to it all that lives with you afterwards. What Remains of Edith Finch is a masterpiece, but also happens to be an ideal game for those new to gaming.
With incredibly tight combat a structure that changes every time you begin a new run, Hades is a superb roguelike that can take ages to really master. However, what elevates it into the stratosphere is its wonderful approach to the story, which constantly lays out breadcrumbs for you as you try and try again.
You'll try to escape the realm of the death god countless times, but each one will teach you something either about a gameplay mechanic or about a character, and that rewarding progression is an endless treat, even once you've drained the story dry.
A lovely story about companionship and loss, Firewatch takes place in the rural American countryside as you spend a season in a fire tower watching for signs of wildfire. You'll explore a lush landscape over time, having conversations by radio.
It's gentle and calming, and its use of colour means that Firewatch has some of the most beautiful, painterly landscapes in gaming, worth the price of admission on their own, but a satisfying story means it's well worth checking out.
A short and sweet treat, Inside is a bizarre side-scroller that silently tells a crazy story of dystopian technology gone wrong - to say much more would be to spoil a simply sublime late-game twist, but you absolutely have to play it all the way through.
With some simple puzzles, the pleasure here is more in just seeing how things unfold, and it gets pretty hectic by the end. That it's bundled with the also-iconic Limbo makes sure you get two superb games in one, too.
One of the most popular indie releases of all time, Stardew Valley has attracted legions of fans thanks to its chilled-out and laid-back gameplay loop, in which you escape a city's drudgery to take over your grandfather's rural farm.
You'll make friends and form bonds, learn how to work the land, go mining and fishing, and much more besides, and do all of it with lovely background music and charming art, all of it hand-crafted by its sole developer.
Journey is titled accurately, offering the chance to go on a pilgrimage that looks like it'll be a solo adventure before you find yourself paired up with strangers over the internet at opportune moments. With beautiful, simple geometry and lovely rhythmic traversal, it's got some memorable sights to see.
Its themes are simple, but they're evoked really skillfully, and the music that accompanies the game is sublime, making for a really contemplative, even meditative experience that we dip back into every few years.
One of the toughest and most accomplished platformers released in recent years, Celeste will have you performing maneuvres you didn't think yourself capable of by the end of its climb to the top of a frightful mountain.
Along the way, it tells a heartfelt story about self-belief and identity that's delicately handled but still makes a nice impact, and it's a superb shout for anyone who yearns for a retro platformer that takes some time to master.
We really enjoy the artistic look that The Pathless brings to proceedings, along with its soothing and satisfying core mechanic, which sees you timing arrow shots as you move to build up speed.
You journey around ravaged lands helping to cleanse huge monsters of corruption, fighting back against an evil presence that is slowly killing the world, and each area looks beautiful and distinct from the last. It's a simple game, but a really well-made one, and we'd recommend it to anyone.
More about this story
Every game in this list has been tested and played through by our team to make sure that it merits inclusion.
We've played through their campaigns, sunk hours into their multiplayer offerings, and carefully compared them to direct competitors to make sure that they represent the most satisfying and rewarding options out there on their platform.
With any roundup, though, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user. That's why we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid with these guides are needless details - we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each game is like to play.
PC Gaming now has a dedicated hub page!
PC Gaming Week in association with Nvidia GeForce RTX may have come to an end, but you can still find all of that great content as well as all future PC gaming news, reviews, features and more on our dedicated hub page.