After almost a decade on the market, the PlayStation 4 built up one of the most impressive gaming libraries in history. You’ve probably made your way through the big hits like The Last of Us Part II, God of War, and Bloodborne by now, but there are still plenty of lesser known games worth checking out before you finally make the jump to the PS5.
These are 25 of the best underrated PS4 games that may have fallen under your radar but are absolutely worth your time. Best of all, you can probably find most of these in bargain bins or at a discount in the PlayStation Store by now!
2015 | Arrowhead Game Studios
We’ve all played twin stick shooters to death, but Helldivers feels like the ultimate evolution of the well-tread genre, with huge, procedurally generated levels, tons of weapons, and missions that actually require some real strategy to complete. And good luck trying to get through the lengthy campaign on your own — Helldivers is much better (and much easier) as a multiplayer experience.
But probably the best part is that the game’s world and story are heavily influenced by the sci-fi classic Starship Troopers. It almost makes up for us never getting a good Starship Troopers game.
24. Shenmue III
2019 | Ys Net
Shenmue III is exactly what those of us who waited nearly 20 years for this sequel wanted. That’s both a blessing and a curse. If you played and enjoyed the first two games when they first came out, you’ll feel right at home with the clunky mechanics, awful voice acting, and monotonous yet addicting daily activities. Anyone new to the series will be baffled by what the big deal is and why anyone was clamoring for this sequel.
But kudos to director Yu Suzuki for taking his time and delivering an uncompromising vision of the game he always wanted to make. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another couple of decades for the next chapter.
23. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments
2014 | Frogwares
Frogwares has been quietly toiling away at Sherlock Holmes adventure games since 2002, with mixed results. The series certainly has its fans, but Crimes & Punishments is the closest the series has come to a mainstream breakthrough. The gameplay is fairly standard for the genre: investigate crime scenes and gather clues to nab a suspect. But what sets the Sherlock Holmes titles apart is that you can always come to different conclusions, so there’s plenty of reasons to replay each mission.
Crimes & Punishments also has some of the best writing in the series. This Sherlock Holmes is grittier, amoral, and much closer to the detective envisioned by Arthur Conan Doyle than what we typically see in media adaptations.
2014 | Supergiant Games
Supergiant Games put themselves on the map with 2011’s critically acclaimed Bastion, but the follow up, Transistor, didn’t quite sit as well with gamers. Maybe the futuristic setting was a little too generic compared to Bastion’s more whimsical, narrated atmosphere. Maybe the ability to pause the real-time combat and plan your moves was a turn off to more action-oriented gamers.
Regardless of why gamers didn’t seem to embrace Transistor as much as Bastion, those who took a chance on it found another masterfully told story with deep, addictive combat.
21. Cat Quest
2017 | The Gentlebros
Nobody would blame you for thinking that Cat Quest is another shovelware title based on the artwork, but if you actually take a chance on it, you’ll find a surprisingly high quality action RPG with solid combat, plenty of equipment to upgrade, and cats. Lots and lots of cats.
There are also tons of side content, and plenty of nods to other classic series like The Elder Scrolls, The Legend of Zelda, and Dragon Quest. Pretty much the only reason to avoid this one is if you really, really hate cats for some reason.
20. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
2017 | Nihon Falcom
Ys is virtually the poster child of underrated series at this point. Since the very first title on Japanese personal computers more than 30 years ago, each entry has been praised for its flat out fun combat and exploration. Ys VIII proudly carries on that tradition as one of the most enjoyable action RPGs on the PS4.
But more importantly, this entry in the long-running saga adds something previous games have always seemed to miss: an engaging story focusing on escaping a mysterious island. Unfortunately, this title still didn’t get a ton of attention from gamers. Give it a try!
2019 | Spiders
It’s a tough time for a new IP to break into the RPG genre, which is why you probably haven’t even heard of Greedfall. Yes, it’s a little rough around the edges and feels kind of like a mid-2000s BioWare game. But on the plus side, it feels like a mid-2000s BioWare game!
That means tons of well-written characters and moral ambiguity in a swashbuckling fantasy world. Admittedly, the combat can be clunky, and you’ll probably run into quite a few bugs, but if you can look past those issues, you’ll find a real role-playing gem.
18. The Evil Within 2
2017 | Tango Gameworks
It’s hard to understand why The Evil Within games have never clicked with more gamers. Produced by Shinji Mikami, the legendary director of the Resident Evil series, The Evil Within 2 builds on the ideas of its predecessor with more combat, bigger open world areas, and deeper weapon crafting. Plus, it’s super scary, with some of the creepiest looking enemies in any game ever.
With the Resident Evil series experimenting with first-person gameplay now, The Evil Within 2 feels more like the proper Resident Evil 4 sequel that never materialized. There’s no reason for action and survival horror fans to not check it out at this point.
17. Gravity Rush 2
2017 | SIE Japan Studio
Gravity Rush is a franchise that can’t seem to catch a break. Plenty of gamers missed out on the first title since it was initially a Vita exclusive, and then the physical release of the remaster was bafflingly only released on Amazon. Finally, Sony dumped this much-improved sequel immediately after the holiday season, ensuring it would be ignored by the masses.
That’s a real shame because Gravity Rush 2 now offers three different ways to control gravity and explore the massive world in a much lengthier, 20-hour adventure. And it looks fantastic since it didn’t start off as a portable game. Now if only Sony could figure out how to properly market the series, Gravity Rush could be its next big franchise.
16. Tearaway Unfolded
2015 | Media Molecule
Whether you consider Tearaway Unfolded to be more of a platformer or a puzzle game, it’s undeniably charming. The world, made entirely out of paper, is constantly surprising with both new locales and how to traverse them, and each character you meet on your journey as a deliveryman (or woman) is instantly likable. This is one of those games that will just always put you in a good mood.
Media Molecule also deserves a lot of credit for successfully porting the Vita controls of the original to this console remake. It’s a breeze using the touchpad to move and create objects. Few other PS4 games have even tried to emulate the innovative use of the DualShock 4.
15. Dragon Quest Heroes II
2017 | Omega Force
There’s no shortage of Musou games on the PS4, with most of them inspired by various anime series. Dragon Quest Heroes II sets itself apart though thanks to its setting. The iconic monsters of Dragon Quest have never looked better, and the new RPG mechanics, like visiting towns and being able to change classes during the lengthy story, add some welcome depth to the traditional hack and slash gameplay. It almost feels like a new action RPG take on the typical Dragon Quest offering.
But unfortunately, as with most Dragon Quest games in the west, gamers were mostly ambivalent to the release of Dragon Quest Heroes II. While the series is big in the Japan, it just doesn’t seem to have widespread global appeal, no matter what developers try.
14. The Order: 1886
2015 | Ready at Dawn
The Order:1886 is a classic case of a great game being dead on arrival due to overhyped expectations. In retrospect, it’s not clear exactly what gamers were expecting. Blame a misunderstanding about what the PS4 was capable of early on in its life, or maybe what the developers were going for. The game looked great at release (and still does), and the steampunk-inspired hunt for vampires and werewolves is unique among third-person cover-based shooters. Maybe people were expecting an open-world game.
Regardless of why so many people seemed disappointed with it, The Order: 1886 is a fun game, even if it’s super short and there’s not much replay value here. Still, it’s a fun ride while it lasts and well worth picking up on sale now.
13. Killzone: Shadow Fall
2013 | Guerilla Games
Remember when Killzone was hyped up as the “Halo killer?” Yeah, that never quite panned out. But Killzone: Shadow Fall is easily the best game in the series, building on its predecessors with more open-ended levels and new stealth abilities. It also brings in a whole new cast, so you don’t even have to be familiar with the other games. And while multiplayer is kind of dead now, it was actually a lot of fun when Shadow Fall launched alongside the PS4.
Then everyone kind of forgot about it. Even Sony seems to have abandoned what was once a flagship series. Oh well, it’s still worth checking out Shadow Fall and thinking about where the series could go next.
12. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
2015 | Ubisoft
The last “traditional” Assassin’s Creed game before Ubisoft went full RPG easily ranks among the best in the series, with two likeable protagonists and a story that embraces the good, the bad, and the ugly of Victorian England. The rope launcher opened up all sorts of new ways to climb up and across buildings, and while driving carriages and fighting on top of them isn’t quite as cool as captaining your own pirate ship, it’s still pretty damn fun.
Ultimately, Syndicate didn’t get much attention at release because it was the ninth outing for an aging game engine. Ubisoft desperately needed to evolve the Assassin’s Creed games, but if you’ve seen everything in Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla, now is the time to go back and enjoy the swan song of the old style of Assassin’s Creed games.
11. Code Vein
2019 | Bandai Namco Studios
Code Vein’s pitch is simple, yet awesome: Anime Dark Souls. If you’ve played any of the games in that legendarily difficult series, you’ll know what to expect here: slow, strategic combat; big, horrific enemies; and lots of brutal deaths. The big twist is “blood codes,” which are essentially classes. Eventually, you acquire more than two dozen of these, which you can switch on the fly to better tackle each enemy encounter.
Code Vein isn’t quite as polished as the Souls series, and at times its pacing can be a real problem, but if you can look past those flaws, it’s one of the better Souls clones out there. Here’s hoping a sequel irons out those issues.
10. The Surge 2
2017 | Deck13 Interactive
The Surge was one of the more welcome surprises of this console generation, a fun sci-fi take on Dark Souls that emphasized futuristic weapons and dismemberment. While it didn’t quite exceed FromSoftware’s classic games, it offered the best spin on the genre yet.
The sequel doesn’t fix what wasn’t broken. The basic gameplay is the same, but you can now customize your character, and there are more weapon types than ever in a bigger and more interesting world. It’s easy to get lost in the world of The Surge 2 for dozens of hours, and it’s a welcome change of pace if you’ve finally exhausted everything there is to do in Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
2016 | Housemarque
While Alienation has plenty of weapon upgrades and opportunities to level up its three classes, it’s missing some of the depth found in Helldivers. Still, for what it lacks in complexity, it makes up for by being a pure joy to play, as you destroy its massive alien hordes.
The main thing holding back an otherwise fantastic game is its multiplayer options. While you can always hop online with three other players, there’s no couch co-op, which is a baffling design choice for a game like this.
8. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
2018 | Media Vision
The Digimon franchise may not be anywhere near as popular now as it was in the late ‘90s, but this is actually a renaissance for games featuring the biggest rival to the Pokemon juggernaut. The gameplay here is actually pretty standard JRPG fare, but damn if it isn’t fun to catch as many Digimon as possible, and the story is actually pretty enjoyable.
Between the higher production values and more engaging story, I’d wager that Cyber Sleuth may actually surpass Nintendo’s recent Pokemon games, even if there aren’t quite as many monsters to catch.
7. Knack 2
2017 | SIE Japan Studio
The original Knack was essentially a tech demo for the PS4 launch meant to showcase the more impressive graphics and the ability to make a cool looking character out of a whole bunch of constantly moving objects. It looked great, but the high difficulty and shallow gameplay turned off a lot of people.
It’s rare for a flawed launch game to get a second chance, but Knack 2 takes advantage of the opportunity with better platforming action and much more balanced gameplay. It may not be the best PS4 platformer, but it’s still worth checking out for fans of the genre.
6. Infamous First Light
2014 | Sucker Punch Studios
In 2014, Sony was making a big deal about Infamous Second Son, it’s next-gen superhero sequel featuring a new protagonist with fire-based powers. It’s a decent game, but First Light, the standalone DLC released a few months later, is actually the superior game thanks to its flawed anti-hero and her unique neon light powers.
Maybe Sucker Punch learned from the criticism of Second Son, which is why First Light feels like a better, tighter game. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard anything about another Infamous game since, so for now First Light remains the pinnacle of the series.
5. The Legend of Heroes: Trail of Cold Steel III
2019 | Nihon Falcom
Imagine if instead of being standalone titles, the Final Fantasy games all took place in the same world, with an epic winding story spanning multiple sub-series and protagonists. That’s essentially The Legend of Heroes franchise, which actually dates back to the late ‘80s, and The Trail of Cold Steel series is just the latest in a long line of deep, well-written JRPGs.
Of course, it’s hard to follow along with what’s going on in this third installment without playing the first two games, which have also thankfully been remastered and ported to the PS4, but once you work your way through those, this third entry is easily the best in the saga thanks to its improved graphics and refined gameplay. And if you love the first three, there’s a fourth installment, too!
4. Astro Bot Rescue Mission
2018 | SIE Japan Studio
When the current slate of VR headsets were announced, most gamers envisioned massive first-person adventures that would make it feel like they were exploring another world. Those titles are starting to trickle out, but in the meantime one of the best uses of VR is the tried and true 3D platformer.
The basic gameplay of Astro Bot isn’t terribly revolutionary. You run, you jump, and you collect things. But playing from the view of a giant robot that can also interact with the world is literally a game changer. Astro Bot nails a perfect balance between the fresh and the familiar and stands out as one of the best reasons to invest in a PSVR headset.
3. Until Dawn
2015 | Supermassive Games
When discussing the best horror movies of the 2010s, a few titles always seem to pop up: The Cabin in The Woods, Get Out, or It Follows. Until Dawn deserves to be in that conversation, even if technically it’s not a movie. But gameplay is light. It’s more about your choices and trying to keep eight young adults alive during a trip to an isolated mountain lodge.
Or try to kill all eight of them as quickly as you can. That’s the beauty of Until Dawn: ultimately, you’re the director, but no matter what you choose, it’s a top tier experience for any genre fan.
2. Mad Max
2015 | Avalanche Studios
Mad Max received decent reviews upon its release, but critics didn’t quite seem to know what to make of it. Yes, the open world can be a little empty at times, but that actually fits the source material, and the story is excellent. Plus, the idea of constantly upgrading your car, the Magnum Opus, with new weapons and abilities is still something that no other games have pursued.
In many ways, the post-apocalyptic atmosphere echoes the Fallout series, even if the action-focused combat is much smoother. Maybe launching too close to Fallout 4 took away some of Mad Max’s thunder, but that’s no excuse to avoid it now, especially if you love the movies.
1. Tetris Effect
2018 | Monstars
There have been a lot of different versions of Tetris. Like, way too many. And even though you’d think it would be hard to screw up such a simple and fantastic concept, many gamers would say that a lot of these games haven’t been very good. Some say the original Game Boy version of Tetris has still never been surpassed.
Well, if anything has ever come close to topping the handheld version of Tetris so many of us fell in love with, it’s this. The classic gameplay is here, but now overlaid with tons of bright and mesmerizing graphical effects, plus thumping electronic beats in same vein as Rez and Lumines (also produced by Tetuya Mizuguchi). Add in what is quite possibly the best use of VR on the PlayStatio, and you have a must-play game that everyone needs to experience at least once.