Traditionally, summer has always been a quiet time for video games, with very few big retail titles releasing throughout June, July and August. However, this year hasn’t been quite as dry as usual, mainly thanks to the ridiculous amount of awesome PSN games that have arrived over the last few months. In truth, it was difficult thinning this list down enough to fit into a single article, but we somehow managed it, so here are 10 indie gems you may have missed over the summer.
The Bridge [PS4, PS3, PS Vita]
Ever since Jonathan Blow revolutionised the puzzle platformer with 2008’s Braid, the genre remains a hotbed for unique and interesting mechanics, and The Bridge is no exception. Originally released in 2013 on PC, the game is heavily influenced by the work of graphic artist M. C. Escher, featuring greyscale visuals, and many impossible objects and buildings. Later puzzles get seriously tough, so – much like the art that inspired it – the game takes a while to wrap your head around.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture [PS4]
It’s June 1984, and a strange phenomenon has caused the inhabitants of a quaint Shropshire village to mysteriously disappear. As you explore the surrounding area (which is almost completely devoid of life), the pieces of the mystery slowly come together, revealing exactly what happened to the townsfolk. With its brilliantly delivered story, awe-inspiring visuals and superb sound design, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture sets a new benchmark for story-driven video games.
Galak-Z: The Dimensional [PS4]
The strangely named Galak-Z: The Dimensional is a shoot ‘em up/roguelike hybrid, which was inspired by classic Japanese sci-fi cartoons of the 1980s; in fact, the procedurally generated levels are presented as episodes, and are split up into seasons. Dying in an episode will not only remove all of your collected upgrades, but also send you back to the beginning of the current season. Of course, being a roguelike, Galak-Z is difficult to master, but is extremely rewarding once you do.
Hatoful Boyfriend [PS4, PS Vita]
There’s something that makes Hatoful Boyfriend stick out like a sore thumb in this line-up. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a dating sim, which is a fairly niche type of game outside Japan. Or perhaps it’s because of the way the game is constantly subverting the usual traits of the genre. Oh, and there’s also the small detail of the playable character being the only human at a famous avian school, and consequently all of her potential partners are birds; yeah, that’s probably it.
Metanet Software has come a long way since releasing the freeware 2D platformer N in 2005. The Canadian developer’s first console game was N+ in 2008, which – after seven years of waiting – has finally been followed by N++ on PS4, completing the trilogy. Like its predecessors, N++ is all about speed, velocity and precision, in order to reach the exit of each single-screen level in the fastest time possible; but, with 2,360 fiendishly designed levels, that feat is a lot easier said than done.
Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut [PS4, PS3]
If you think Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut looks a lot like fellow first-person puzzler Portal, that’s because it does, but it’s also a brilliant game in its own right. Your job is to reach the end of the game by manipulating various coloured cubes. When done correctly, these cubes create platforms or staircases, allowing you to traverse each level. However, what begins as a fairly simple mechanic gradually becomes far more complicated; a statement that also describes the intriguing story.
Riptide GP2 [PS4]
What better way to spend the summer than speeding across the water on a jet ski, with the sun beating down. Don’t let its mobile origins fool you; Vector Unit’s Riptide GP2 looks awesome on PS4, and is great fun to boot, whether you’re playing through the singleplayer campaign or in split screen multiplayer (online multiplayer is also available via Share Play). Meanwhile, if you’re yearning for a kart racer on PS4, you should also check out Beach Buggy Racing, by the same developer.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter [PS4]
What happened to 12-year-old Ethan Carter and his family? That’s the question facing paranormal investigator Paul Prospero, as he arrives in the fictional town of Red Creek Valley, Wisconsin, USA. Despite its undeniable beauty, it soon becomes clear that the area harbours many sinister secrets, with the story growing steadily darker right up to its unexpected and thought-provoking conclusion. If you enjoy Myst-like adventure games, this is an experience you won’t want to miss.
Volume [PS4, PS Vita]
Developed by Mike Bithell (creator of Thomas Was Alone), Volume is a top-down stealth game, and a modern retelling of the Robin Hood legend. Early on, success is as simple as flushing a toilet to distract a guard, although you’ll soon have multiple enemies and other obstacles to contend with. Thanks to some awesome voice work by Thomas Was Alone’s Danny Wallace, YouTuber Charlie McDonnell and actor Andy Serkis, the story is just as satisfying as the smart gameplay.
VVVVVV [PS4, PS Vita]
It’s taken a long time for Terry Cavanagh’s 2010 PC hit VVVVVV to arrive on PlayStation consoles, but it’s finally here thanks to the porting wizards at Nicalis. Like N++, it’s a tough-as-nails 2D platformer, but that’s where the similarities end. You see, VVVVVV technically doesn’t even have a jump button; instead, a press of X will reverse gravity, which offers some unique (and extremely clever) puzzle platforming, as you search an enormous space station for your missing crew mates.