The holidays are good chance to catch up on the torrent of fantastic games this year. Sony’s PlayStation 4 saw a number of terrific exclusives this year, as well some acclaimed games that just work better with a controller.

Here are a few that you might want to pick up for your friend (or yourself).

Hidden Agenda (Supermassive Games)

Above: Felicity Graves is a district attorney on a mission.

Image Credit: Supermassive Games

Price: $15
Where to buy: PlayStation Store

Supermassive’s previous game, Until Dawn, is a single-player horror game where your actions and decisions have a ripple effect throughout. Hidden Agenda explores a similar concept, but now up to six players can actively participate. You alternate between playing as detective Becky Marnie and district attorney Felicity Graves, both of whom are hunting down a serial killer called the Trapper. During the course of their investigation, players make decisions and hunt for clues — sometimes cooperatively, and sometimes at odds with one another.

Hidden Agenda uses Sony’s PlayLink, which enables folks to use their mobile phones as controllers. After you’ve downloaded the app, you use it to move a cursor around the shared TV screen. You can also use it to see private information meant for your eyes only, which is a crucial component of Hidden Agenda. In every scenario in the game, everyone takes a moment to check their phone to see if they have a secret mission to complete. Everyone else tries to accurately guess who has the hidden agenda.


Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)

Above: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is chilling tale of madness and faith.

Image Credit: Ninja Theory

Price: $30
Where to buy: PlayStation Store

Hellblade is an indie game that looks and plays like a triple-A release. It’s an unsettling and sometimes brutal experience as you join Senua on her journey into the Norse underworld to retrieve her lover’s head. A constant stream of voices accompany her, whispering encouragements and shrieking insults at her as she fights off huge nightmarish enemies.

As she travels further into the depths of her own personal hell, she begins questioning her reality and what’s happened in her past. It’s a haunting look at what it’s like to suffer from a mental illness … and a disturbing investigation of what happens when superstition is allowed to reign.


Nier: Automata (Platinum Games)

Above: Nier: Automata is among a crop of high-performing RPGs.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Price: $36
Where to buy: PlayStation Store

Nier: Automata is the sequel to Cavia’s Nier, which debuted in 2010. Bouncing between a full-tilt action game and an existential RPG, it explores post-apocalyptic cities and android angst. It sold over a million copies within a month of its launch and has garnered positive reviews from critics and players alike, according to Metacritic.

It’s definitely stylish, starring characters with a gothic Lolita look, but its narrative is deep as well. It examines the relationship between humans and machines and asks what happens when the two begin looking all too similar.


Horizon: Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games)

Above: Bow and arrow vs. robot dinosaurs.

Image Credit: Guerrilla Games

Price: $20
Where to buy: PlayStation Store

Horizon: Zero Dawn is an open-world action-RPG set in the 31st century, and you explore the untamed wilds while fighting robot dinosaurs with a bow and arrow. It’s a future that has reverted to hunter-gatherer society, but with the trappings of now-ancient technology that takes the place of magic and mythic beasts. When it launched, it sold 2.6 million copies in two weeks, and Guerrilla recently released The Frozen Wilds DLC for fans who want to continue exploring the world.


Hob (Runic Games)

Above: Solving the mystery of a beautiful ruined world.

Image Credit: Runic Games

Price: $20
Where to buy: PlayStation Store

Hob is an action-adventure game that has you jumping, fighting, and solving puzzles in a mysterious world studded with mechanical artifacts. It’s lush and stylized, its ruins and arcane structures overgrown with vines and plant life that hints at a wonderfully strange past. It is available on PC, but the platforming and combat seems better suited for PS4.

Unfortunately, Hob is developer Runic Games‘s last game before shutting down earlier this month. The studio was well known for its action-adventure Torchlight series.


Everything (David OReilly)

Above: Doing deer things, like lying down and thinking some deep thoughts.

Image Credit: David OReilly

Price: $15
Where to buy: PlayStation Store

Everything is all about expanding horizons and exploring different points of view. The goal is simply to be everything, transferring your consciousness from one thing to the next and collecting them for an encyclopedia of all that is. To do so, you ascend and descend into larger objects and smaller ones, dancing to create tiny duplicates of yourself and singing to bond with others.

Sometimes you’re a cow, other times you’re a serpentine wooden fence, snaking your way through the landscape. As you explore, you can read the thoughts of things around you. Philosopher Alan Watt accompanies you on your journey, ruminating on topics like tribalism and identity. Though it might sound like it’s a melancholy trip down existentialism lane, it’s a relaxing game that poses questions about perspective and the nature of the self.


Pyre (Supergiant Games)

Above: The Downside is the purgatory you must escape from. The upside is it’s beautiful.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

Price: $20
Where to buy: PlayStation Store

Like Supergiant’s previous titles Bastion and Transistor, Pyre is visually gorgeous. Another rousing soundtrack by Darren Korb is the backdrop to your journey through the Downside as you participate in a series of sacred rites that promise to set you free.

Though Pyre is available on PC, it’s definitely worth getting on PS4 simply because of the controls. Each of these rites is a fast-paced three-vs-three game of fantasy dodgeball where you control all the members of one team. Once you’re done with the main story campaign, you can also challenge a friend to couch co-op with a two-player competitive mode.

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