The best adventure games of all time on PlayStation 4
Strap in and grab your favourite DualShock 4 for these epic PS4 adventures.
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If you're a PlayStation 4 owner looking for adventure, you have a lot to choose from (I started with a shortlist of around 40 entries that have been whittled down considerably). That being said, let's talk about what you will and won't see here in this collection of the crème de la crème.
For this list let's steer well clear of sandbox action-adventures where a lot of the experience involves side quests and making your own emergent fun. If you want a story laced through kilometres and kilometres of open-air open-world, this article isn't for you. We're focusing on extra intimate narratives and more linear journeys today.
Here's something you don't play every day. Hazelight has produced a rollicking prison break adventure that may only be played – no exceptions – split-screen co-op with another player. It's the video game equivalent of those three-legged races, because you're lashed together, for better or worse. And hey – like we said, incarcerated. Clearly it's for the worse.
From humble "new fish" beginnings in the prison yard where you're both total strangers to one another, you'll gradually come into one orbit as you find a common goal. It seems that Leo and Vincent both share two things: a need to pull an Andy Dufresne, because there's a mutual acquaintance of theirs who needs to "get got".
Thus begins a pretty darn unique gaming experience. You'll need to put your heads together in order to distract guards, smuggle tools from restricted areas, fight off would-be assassins and more. Even better, and once your Shawshank redemption has been achieved, you have to put your lug heads together in order to stay on the lam in the big bad outside world. Honestly, this really is something of an unmissable title for fans of tough decision-based adventuring. It's criminally underplayed.
This was the game that shot video game auteur David Cage into the big time. Heavy Rain is a cinematic psychological thriller that isn't taxing for your thumbs but also isn't for the faint of heart (it centres on a range of dark, adult themes). Like all good adventure titles, what's here primarily revolves around a plot of branching narrative threads that explore a moral proposition.
Better yet, you're not stuck in the boots of one single protagonist. In a series of perspective shifts you'll assume multiple characters with very different life experiences, goals and abilities. Who knows, you might have to make an agonisingly difficult choice that may benefit one of them while more or less dooming another.
The game focuses on four different characters: Ethan Mars, a father experiencing basically the worst situation a parent can face; Scott Shelby, a mysterious investigator; Madison Paige, a photojournalist; and Norman Jayden, an FBI agent. While these disparate heroes are complete strangers when Heavy Rain starts off, what, er, precipitates is a rich interactive tale that shall slowly nudge each of them into a fateful meeting with the Origami Killer.
Just to prepare you: you're going to see a lot of Naughty Dog developed titles in this list. Because whenever this talented team releases a game they more or less redefine the action-adventure genre all over again.
In fact, the three games that cemented this studio as a trend-setter are in this very pack – Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.
The middle entry in the trilogy is worth the full price of admission alone, as it's still widely regarded as one of the best video games ever made. Period.
In terms of gameplay, The Nathan Drake Collection is more or less a swashbuckling interactive Indiana Jones movie. Our titular bounty hunting hero is adept at three things: solving ancient puzzles, blasting and punching rival grave robbers, and platform leaping in ways that will make vertigo sufferers uneasy.
The cherry on top of all that: some of the best script writing and voice performances ever committed to game disc.
Auteur game director David Cage is already well known for delivering unique gaming experiences like The Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.
With Detroit: Become Human he turns his attention to the near-future problems of automation, synthetic humans and the growing irrelevancy of us, their creators.
Basically, this is a gorgeous looking, choice-driven adventure that will present you with an array of fascinating moral dilemmas.
The narrative is told from the perspective of three androids: Kara, a "maid bot" who defies her programming to protect an abused young girl; Connor, a Bladerunner designed to track his rogue brethren; and Markus, a messiah of sorts.
Whether these protagonists survive or get scrapped will all depend on your dialogue choices and reflexes during quick-time action moments.
This is slower-paced stuff, but you'll get your money's worth with an abundance of possible endings.
This episodic graphic adventure is shaping up to be a best in genre experience already.
Set three years after the events of the award-winning Life Is Strange, this sequel centres on 16-year-old Sean Diaz.
Without spoiling too much, he and his brother Daniel become fugitives and must make a perilous journey from Seattle to Puerto Lobos in Mexico. Basic elevator pitch: this is an interactive road movie, inspired by Into the Wild and Of Mice and Men.
The modus operandi of the original game is still very much in effect here. You're looking at a fairly linear adventure whose ultimate outcome will be shaped by you via a binary decision-making mechanic and dialogue options with non-player characters.
Well scripted and laser-focussed on the turbulent political landscape of modern America, Life is Strange 2 ought to be at the top of your to-purchase list.
The biggest sleeper hit of the year so far. A Plague Tale centres on the bubonic-ridden times of the 14th century and follows the grim tale of young Amicia and her little brother Hugo.
Forced from their castle and lands by the dreaded inquisition, these two diminutive heroes must struggle to survive in a French countryside overrun by piranha-like swarms of vermin.
Consider yourself warned: This is one adventure that's not for the squeamish.
All that being said, this is absolutely the game for anybody who appreciates nuanced characters, nail-biting stealth sections and lushly rendered environments.
This is a bit more action-oriented too, so expect some light RPG elements, resource collection and the odd bit of ranged combat.
Bottom line: you're looking at 20+ hours of edge of your seat adventuring and an ending that will gnaw at you long after the credits have rolled.
This isn't even a remaster and for the longest time, I had this at the top of my list.
It's only because the PlayStation 4 release of this PlayStation 3 game hasn't had any changes (which felt like cheating) that this gem is so low on my list. Not that Journey needs any changes. It's already a perfect player-empowering adventure without it.
To date, I've yet to play a game that leaves me grinning like a kid playing a great game for the first time.
Journey ditches subgenre modifiers in favour of a pure adventure experience. There's little to no hand-holding, but it's not a hardcore game.
The whole point of the game is to discover what comes next in a subtly-told story. You'll occasionally come across other players in your world, but you can't do more than chirp at them to communicate.
Still, you'll feel compelled to work with them for mutual satisfaction in your joint adventure, even if that cooperation only lasts for a time. What isn't temporary are the memories of a game driven by its haunting soundtrack, that make for one of the greatest adventure experiences you can have in gaming.
What Remains of Edith Finch
- RELEASE DATE: 25/4/17
- DEVELOPER: Giant Sparrow
- PUBLISHER: Giant Sparrow
The less we tell you about the titular remains of Edith Finch, the more you'll get out of it. So do excuse us if we're a little vague on the details of this first-person narrative adventure. The basic elevator pitch is this: You're about to do your best to sticky beak through a collection of strange tales concerning a family in Washington state.
You're Edith, a prodigal daughter returning to explore the colossal, richly detailed Finch house. To say your upbringing was unorthodox is something of an understatement – the obviously wealthy and powerful Finch family tree is chock full of eccentric nuts. Before long, you'll be thoroughly hooked on the search for stories and weird flashbacks as you explore deeper into your family history, mostly in an effort to find out why you're the last of your brood still breathing.
The gameplay and tone of the stories are quite varied – each story you trigger will essentially allow you to relive a new family member's experiences on the day of their demise. It's slightly morbid stuff to be sure, but also a mystery that's the interactive equivalent of a good book you cannot put down.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a great game, and even occasionally fantastic, even if it's widely agreed that the Uncharted series peaked with Uncharted 2.
Among Thieves does provide a Return of the King-like second ending to a cast of beloved characters in a fitting final adventure.
The fact that the usually bolted-on multiplayer is now must-play (and at 60fps) means Uncharted 4 is even more appealing.
Oh, it's also one of the prettiest games you'll ever play on PS4, and is more memorable (with more content) thanks to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.
- RELEASE DATE: 31/05/16
- DEVELOPER: Night School Studio
- PUBLISHER: Night School Studio
A lot of these other adventure inclusions feel similarly themed, so it's good to have an option (well, two if I'm being honest) that has a prefix that's different to "action".
Cue the entry of Oxenfree, a horror-adventure game that will haunt you long after you're finished. Thankfully, you're incentivised to return by the promise of multiple endings (and it doesn't take long to beat it once).
At last! An entry that ties into the choose-your-own-adventure book origins of the game genre.
PlayStation 4 owners had to wait patiently for a few months for Oxenfree to release, while Xbox One and PC fans raved about this unique adventure.
Oxenfree isn't particularly deep when it comes to gameplay mechanics, but the realistic convo options (including the option to cut people off) means you're constantly engaged with this stellar supernatural tale.
It may be almost entirely driven by dialogue, but saying that's a bad thing is like saying that nothing happens during the opening of Inglourious Basterds beyond two dudes talking.
Talented developer Fumito Ueda is responsible for some of the most out-of-the-box and beloved video games in history. You need only look at titles like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus to confirm this – and hey, the good news is that The Last Guardian is "in-universe" and chronologically related to these masterpieces too.
All that being said, it's very much its own beast. Literally. Where Ico had us running from beasts and Shadow of the Colossus had us hunting down behemoth ones, The Last Guardian has you babysit a monster called Trico. Being an unarmed, basically useless boy left to rot in an ancient prison, your only hope of solving the puzzling prison system around you is to join forces with your gigantic dog/cat/bird friend.
Here's the trick, though: Trico isn't some tool that can be used as you please. Great effort has been put into making him a living, thinking being who's driven by his own wants and needs. Learning what drives this vastly oversized mythological pet, and then using that to achieve otherwise insurmountable feats, is the magic here. Honestly, there's simply no other adventure out there like The Last Guardian.
Take note: this is how you execute a gamified interactive drama. I want to focus on that word "execute" because it's particularly relevant in Until Dawn.
You're being hunted and unfortunately for you and your in-game pals, you're the kind of teenagers who attract serial killers.
The story is pretty much cliché 80s horror territory, but that provides a safe backdrop for a game that plays out in a very unsafe way.
That unsafeness mainly applies to the characters' longevity and they can die horrible deaths if you make stupid decisions for them.
The thing is, you'll soon find yourself endeared to these weird and wonderful characters to the point where, when they die it's actually upsetting. Sure, you might want some of them to meet ugly fates more than others, but you'll fight to protect your favourites.
When you find yourself ranking the characters in terms of which ones you'd like to die least, you'll know that Until Dawn has you in its clutches. This is an adventure where your decisions can have big bloody consequences for the game's heroes.
When visionary developer David Cage wrapped up Heavy Rain, he earned the critical praise and clout to go knocking on the doors of Hollywood for top-tier actors. Beyond: Two Souls, another decision and narrative-heavy experience, drew the star power of Elliot Page and Willem DaFoe to respectively play a haunted child and a father-figure scientist out to unravel her supernatural gift.
The interesting gameplay twist here is that you will essentially need to play two characters: Jodie, the child who grows into womanhood with an incorporeal force, and Aiden (said overbearing, often violent poltergeist). Honestly, it's a pretty fascinating dynamic to be a part of – you're simultaneously an exploited innocent and an all-powerful being whose telekinesis skills continue to grow. Will you leverage your gift as a means to liberate the individual, or will you buy into your government handler's pitch to instead weaponise Aiden for the greater good of the homeland?
We'll not spoil much more than this. That said, it's worth noting that Beyond: Two Souls is unexpectedly awesome when played via its Dual Mode co-op system. Why adventure alone when you can actively try to help (or mess with) the "on-screen soul" of a friend?
This, ladies and gentle-gamers, is how you make a sequel.
The Last of Us Remastered is absolutely the best way to play one of the greatest games of all time. That's coming from someone whose primary gaming platform is a PC, and who was in truth more of a fan of my Xbox 360 than my PlayStation 3.
There's really only one fault with The Last of Us Remastered, a carry-over from the PS3 version, which only becomes a negative if you notice it, so I'm not even going to point it out. Outside of that, even at my nit-pickiest, The Last of Us Remastered is a delight.
That doesn't really encapsulate how heart-breaking it is, at times – in a very beautiful, very satisfying way – but it's so perfectly executed and so damn stunning on PlayStation 4 that the appeal to stop writing and just go play it again is so damn tempting.
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