PlayStation 4 is now more than four years old, and in that time it's amassed a substantial library of games. It was difficult to keep up with all of the quality releases even if you were onboard from day one; for those who have picked up a PS4 late, the number of games now available can be positively overwhelming.
You're unlikely to ever play everything PS4 has to offer, but we're here to help you ensure you play some worthwhile games without breaking the bank. As is to be expected from a system that's now several years old, there's a wide array of games that can be picked up for quite cheap. We're highlighting many of the best games that can be had for no more than $20 on the US PlayStation Store. Be sure to let us know your recommendations in the comments below.
2018 is poised to grow the PS4's library even further, with high-profile releases like God of War, Spider-Man, and Red Dead Redemption 2 on the way alongside a variety of lesser-known hidden gems that you should be excited for this year.
Nex Machina developer Housemarque has been focused almost exclusively on twin-stick shooters for the last decade. Starting with Super Stardust HD and running through games like Resogun and Dead Nation, it's experimented with different spins on the genre. Nex Machina feels like the culmination of those efforts, offering intense, high-octane action that constantly has you analyzing your surroundings and your options for disposing of enemies. It's an incredibly fun and satisfying experience to pick up and play, but it also features a variety of wrinkles and secrets for high-score chasers. Add in the gorgeous, neon-infused visuals, and you've got the finest output of Housemarque to date--which makes it all the more upsetting that the studio has decided to shift gears and go in a different direction. Still, you won't find a better example of its work than Nex Machina. | Chris Pereira
Plenty of games have stunning graphics, or heart-wrenching stories, or interactivity that stands head and shoulders above other offerings. Journey manages to have all of those and still amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Between traversing glittering sand and soaring to new heights with the help of your mystical scarf, you'll uncover hidden murals that hint at the game's story. For all that it does, Journey is also commendable for the conventions it abandons. The game does away with traditional dialogue and narration, preferring instead to let players interpret the adventure for themselves through sights and sounds.
You won't need to experience it alone, though. In most cases you'll share your journey with another player-controlled character who you communicate with only through audible chirps. While the turmoil of accidentally losing your new friend hits hard as the environment becomes more threatening, finding them again and keeping them close in times of hardship is an unforgettable emotional experience. The unmistakable style in developer Thatgamecompany's design colliding with Austin Wintory's enchanting soundtrack makes Journey a unique experience that can't be missed. | Jess McDonell
Created by members of the Sonic fan-hack community under Sega's watch, Sonic Mania exudes passion and reverence in its recreation of nostalgic visuals, sounds, and level designs. But the game isn't content with senselessly regurgitating the past; rather, it expands upon the familiar with new ideas of its own and delivers plenty of inventive concepts that diversify and build upon the series' fast-paced level design. Sonic Mania is smart and interpretive in its approach, leveraging the strengths of its design and visuals to craft not only the best Sonic game ever made, but an amazing platforming experience overall. If you've enjoyed Sonic at any point in your life, you owe it to yourself to play Sonic Mania. And even if you're not a longtime fan, the fast-paced platforming on display is a fantastic introduction to Sega's beloved blue blur. | Matt Espineli
Despite being nearly six years old, Fez is still worth playing today. While it initially presents itself as a 2D game, it quickly reveals a third dimension and unfolds into something truly special as a result. You can rotate the game's seemingly 2D environments in 90-degree increments, which allows you to bring elements from the background into the foreground, often to reveal a hidden path. It's a tricky system to wrap your head around at first, but with a simple selection of puzzles to get you going, you can pick it up in no time. From this point on, Fez pushes you to contort your problem-solving techniques as it escalates to truly complex brain teasers that introduce cryptic symbols to match the ever-more-mysterious atmosphere. It's one of the few truly unique games around, and with the sequel cancelled long ago, it seems that will be the case for the foreseeable future. | Peter Brown
Axiom Verge is another take on the Metroidvania style, but it distinguishes itself through its wide variety of weapons and tools--most notably, the Address Disruptor, which affects the environment and each enemy type in different ways. It's also a game with an impressive sense of scale and no shortage of secrets to uncover, encouraging multiple playthroughs. Add in an excellent soundtrack and tantalizing story, and there's a lot to like here. | Chris Pereira
The beauty of video games is how you're able to set foot in worlds you'd never want to visit in real life. Such is the case with Yharnam, the central locale of From Software's Bloodborne. You're a visitor and a hunter in a land without hope. Practically all its inhabitants are possessed with a zombie-like affliction and they want you dead. Still, every locale is inviting in its own haunting and disturbing ways; the more oppressive the environment, the more engrossing Bloodborne feels. The surrounding European-inspired architecture is as thoroughly pervasive as it is detailed. Between the gothic spires and array of imaginative melee weapons, Bloodborne often feels like an unofficial successor to Castlevania. Its enemies range from spectral maidens to more frighteningly supernatural creatures that bear much of the game's H.P. Lovecraft influence. And even if its gameplay and brutal combat borrows heavily from the studio's marquee series, Dark Souls, Bloodborne still manages to stand on its own. Bloodborne's backstories are less opaque than that of Dark Souls' mysteries, but that doesn't make this PlayStation 4 exclusive any less intriguing. | Miguel Concepcion
Undertale watches you. It knows you through your actions. You don't have to hurt anyone, but you can hurt everyone. The consequences are hardly laid bare, but they are always alluded to in this retro-style RPG by independent developer Toby Fox. Undertale is both a culmination of the most chilling creepypasta and the most adorable, lovable characters you could imagine. It's all wrapped into a throwback turn-based RPG that incorporates dialogue trees in combat with elements of the bullet hell style for its combat.
One of Undertale's greatest achievements is its ability to portray emotion and frame scenes through writing and an old-school art style. However, the most impactful piece of the puzzle is music: Its soundtrack evokes such a strong emotional response that very few games capture. The cozy, heartwarming jingle that plays in Snowdin town makes you wish you could chill at the local bar Grillby's with its diverse community of monsters. Papyrus' theme is equal parts silly and catchy, perfectly encapsulating the character himself. Hotland's tense, foreboding rhythm gets an electronic remix in a later stage that empowers you to push forward. The list goes on, but the point is that Undertale's masterful use of music becomes inseparable from the story it tells.
It's a sort of love letter to Earthbound, but Toby Fox crafted a game that should be respected in its own right. Very few games evoke heartbreak, terror, and joy as powerfully as Undertale in such a short period of time; and in that regard, it's one of the best independent games ever made. | Michael Higham
Overcooked is like a Mario Party mini-game blown up into its own standalone experience in the best way possible. It's a game that becomes exponentially better when played with at least one other person. What starts out as a relatively tame game where you help each other chop some vegetables and get them served on a plate becomes a frantic rush to put out fires, get ingredients distributed between two moving vehicles, and other ridiculous scenarios. | Chris Pereira
There's no shortage of Metroidvania titles out there, but Iconoclasts stands tall as much more than a simple game about exploring the world while solving puzzles and fighting bosses. Sure, you swing a wrench that can interact with objects and whack enemies over the head, but the magic of this game goes far deeper than the tools at your disposal. Iconoclasts is a story about conflict: science vs. religion, nature vs. technology, old vs. young. And that serves as an incredible backdrop for dynamic characters that extend far beyond their 16-bit look. It's worth playing just to see where they--and you, as the mechanic Robin--end up. | Tony Wilson
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
You may have heard that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the final Metal Gear game to feature the involvement of series creator Hideo Kojima, has flaws. The last chunk of the game involves replaying earlier missions with small tweaks, and certain late-game story content was consigned to a special edition bonus feature. Despite all of that, The Phantom Pain stands as a seminal example of what an open-world action game can be. While still retaining much of what makes a Metal Gear game so distinct, it presents players with a vast open world and the ability to tackle its challenges in many, many ways.
The mechanics of Ground Zeroes have been fine-tuned, and you can leverage them in a multitude of ways as you take part in the game's consistently excellent, thrilling missions. Just as enjoyable are the emergent hijinks you'll encounter along the way, and all of this is made better by the consistent progression of building up your own personal army. Although it's undoubtedly an experience best played after playing making your way through the prior games, The Phantom Pain is a game that everyone should ultimately try. It holds up now, even after a few years; all that's changed is the price tag. | Chris Pereira
Celeste may look like another pixelated platformer with a youthful protagonist, but it quickly transforms into a brutal, tightly orchestrated gauntlet of death that only the best players can master. It challenges you to traverse spike-lined caverns with a modest selection of skills, with alternate pathways that push your mettle even further as you strive to acquire every last hidden item. You will die hundreds of times, but with quick restarts and a catchy soundtrack, there's never any downtime to wallow in defeat, only a new opportunity to show the game what you're made of. The action and difficulty curve are accompanied by a surprisingly engaging story that adds just the right amount of context to make your arduous journey feel justified, and to solidify Celeste as one of the biggest surprises so far of 2018. | Peter Brown
This is admittedly a bit of a cheat, as you're best off buying Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, which includes all three of the campaigns released so far (and more content to come) for $25. But just $10 will get you a single campaign which is more than worth the price of entry. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment puts you in the shoes of one of the main game's antagonists, Specter Knight, as he takes his own unique journey through the same levels featured in the original game. As with Plague Knight's campaign, the unique mechanics at play here (like the dash attack) make for a much different experience. You would be best-served by starting with the base Shovel Knight campaign, but whichever version you play, you'll be treated to a modern take on retro platformers that bests many of the classics it draws inspiration from. | Chris Pereira
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
If there was one first-party PlayStation 3 series that was deemed essential, Uncharted would be it. The Tomb Raider-inspired mix of treasure hunting, puzzle solving, and gunplay was a fitting match for Naughty Dog's penchant for character-driven action-adventure games. Every installment has it share of large set-piece moments, but these dramatic sections do not overshadow the games' engaging journeys of Nathan Drake and his many collaborators. And even though Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is considered by many as the series' high point, the first and third games are nonetheless rich in delightful archeological discoveries and engrossing battles.
Experiencing the first three games remastered on the PlayStation 4 is a no-brainer, especially when Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection was handled by Bluepoint Games, the studio responsible for the recent Shadow of the Colossus remake. Upgrading this trilogy to 60 frames per second alone is enough to command the attention of any Uncharted fan, let alone any fan of the genre. The addition of a photo mode, improved textures, and new Trophies only sweetens the deal. | Miguel Concepcion
Supergiant Games' debut, Bastion, set the stage for everything else the developer created. This isometric action RPG tells a gripping story of a world destroyed by a catastrophic event referred to as The Calamity in the city of Caelondia. You control Bastion's protagonist, The Kid, who is led by the charismatic narrator named Rucks in a journey to piece the city back together. Very few survivors are left, and hostile monsters litter Caelondia, which is the impetus to put a varied arsenal of melee and projectile weapons to use. The Bastion acts as a sort of home base that slowly comes together as you progress and collect cores at the end of each level.
Rucks' deep, instantly recognizable voice (that of Logan Cunningham) adds a level of grandeur to the story that's superbly supported by a truly remarkable soundtrack (by Darren Korb) that's vaguely Celtic, Western, and trip-hop all at the same time. Bastion's fantastical hand-painted art style (by Jen Zee) breathes life into a world nearly devoid of it, torn apart by a conflict of different cultures. These elements came to be staples of Supergiant's work, and Bastion is still a sterling example of the team's ability to craft a game that's both fun and heartfelt. | Michael Higham
Transistor, the follow-up to Bastion, would take many of the striking features of that game (like the hand-painted art style, for one) but twist them for a sci-fi, cyberpunk tale. Red was a singer who had her voice physically stolen in an attack on the city of Cloudbank, and she's the one you control in this unique isometric action RPG. The Transistor, a sword-like weapon that killed a man in the attack, becomes Red's tool for fighting back against an army of robots known as The Process, controlled by an evil collective known as The Camerata. Yes, it has a lot going on, but that's how it is with Supergiant's games. The Transistor glows and speaks; it trapped the consciousness and voice of the man it was used to kill, which means this dead man becomes Red's companion throughout the game, similar to the narrator in Bastion (also voiced by Logan Cunningham). What sets Transistor apart is that it incorporates a layer of strategy on top of the action RPG gameplay. There are countless permutations to Red's movesets since each individual move, or functions, can be mixed with another to create an attack which can be used to make short work of enemies that took over your neon-lit city. You also get to pause the action for a limited timeframe to craft a plan of attack and come up with clever ways to string together functions.
Not only does Transistor's soundtrack stand out for its folk-tinged electronica, but it's the focal point for characterization and acts as a driving force from start to finish. Music is at the forefront and Darren Korb's vision for complementing the futuristic world is fully realized, which makes Transistor an absolute joy to play. | Michael Higham
Pyre, the latest from Supergiant Games, diverges from the action RPG gameplay the studio is known for. The fantastical, hand-painted art by Jen Zee returns. A western, electronic, trip-hop fusion soundtrack from Darren Korb also makes a comeback. But instead of controlling a single protagonist who destroys the enemies in their path in search of answers, Pyre revolves around a mystical sport that's played in an underworld populated by those who've been exiled from the normal world. You are The Reader, found in Purgatory (where reading is forbidden) by a band of exiles who befriend you. The Rites are rituals of sport that determine your worth, and this is where the meat of the gameplay happens.
In a Rite, you assemble a team of three from a pool of allies you meet along the way. You face another team of three and fight for the single orb placed in the contained arena with the objective of dunking or shooting the orb into the other team's goal (or Pyre). Only one player from each team can move at any given moment. Each type of player has a varied skillset that can make the sport easier, depending on your playstyle. It sounds like a bit much at first, but once you get a hang of the flow, there's just nothing quite like it. Many have described it as Rocket League meets Dota meets Transistor. Outside of sick orb dunks is the intriguing visual novel-style story about sacrifice and the ties that bind. | Michael Higham
Vertical arcade shoot-em-ups typically deal with far-flung futures where an ace pilot is defending Earth from a swarm of technologically advanced aliens. By taking place in an alternate timeline where Mars was colonized by England in the 17th Century, Jamestown immediately sets itself apart from its peers. The unique, tongue-in-cheek setting goes a long way to make the game enjoyable, but it's the excellent gameplay that makes Jamestown easy to recommend. You have multiple attack ships to choose from, each with their own weapon loadouts and special abilities. They are easy to control and feel distinct enough that you won't mind replaying levels to extend your time with the game, all the while combatting cleverly constructed swarms of enemy ships that gradually escalate from level to level. It's not as punishing as most games in its genre, but the progress you make as you inch your way towards the conclusion feels rewarding nonetheless. | Peter Brown
Point-and-click adventure games have experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, and Thimbleweed Park--from adventure game legends Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick--is a prime example. The X-Files-inspired journey puts you in the role of two FBI agents that bear more than a passing resemblance to the classic TV show as you relive the glory days of adventure games. Playing on any console means dealing with a gamepad-based control scheme (as opposed to the more natural mouse controls on PC), but Switch makes up for this with touchscreen support when played in handheld mode. | Chris Pereira
Although it's a game arguably best-suited for VR, Thumper is an incredible experience however you play it. It provides a unique blend of rhythm-based gameplay and action--what the developer calls "rhythm violence"--that provides a far more intense version of the basic mechanics you see in other rhythm games. With an incredible soundtrack and levels well-suited to chasing high scores, Thumper is a game with the potential to stick around on your home screen for a long time. | Chris Pereira
Playdead games won the admiration of its now-large audience when it released Limbo, a slow-paced puzzle-platformer that relied heavily on the use of light and negative space. For the studio's follow-up, Inside, it delivered yet another somber world to explore. It presents a tale that unfolds effortlessly before your eyes as you advance from one scene to the next, with nary a word from any of its characters. Through the power of inference and suggestion, you realize the infiltration of a malicious organization and bear witness to its sinister deeds. Inside will test your ability to think creatively, but it's the narrative--and the way it's delivered--that makes it a game worth playing. Inside reinforces the notion that, sometimes, less is more. | Peter Brown
Crypt of the NecroDancer
Roguelikes (or at least roguelike elements) have been one of the most popular trends in gaming over the past handful of years, but few have taken as interesting of an approach to the genre as Crypt of the NecroDancer. It tasks players with navigating a dungeon to the beat of the music. Rather than simply move in the direction you wish or attack the enemy that's in your path, you and your enemies' actions are tied directly to the (always excellent) soundtrack. It's essential that you always be doing something--not taking an action at the next beat resets your combo, meaning you'll earn less gold or deal less damage, depending on the items you've acquired. Particularly as the music becomes more fast-paced, this lends a real sense of tension and excitement to every moment: you need to constantly be considering your next action while accounting for how nearby enemies will react to your movements. It's an experience with few points of comparison, but it's nonetheless one that you'll certainly want to try. | Chris Pereira
SteamWorld Dig 2
The first SteamWorld Dig was most notable for its distinct blend of mining mechanics and Metroid-style exploration, but it ended right as it began to come into its own. Its sequel is twice as long and puts that added runtime to good use, as both the story and mechanics are given time to flourish. The game put you in control of a steambot named Dorothy searching for her missing friend, Rusty--the protagonist of the first game. There's a surprising sense of momentum that runs through the adventure; it's as if developer Image & Form sifted the original in a pan, removing its redundancies while expanding upon what made mining treasure and exploring so fun in the first place. The result is a brilliant and varied evolution of the first game that not only expands upon its hybrid formula but presents it in its best light. Where the first game was a diamond in the rough, SteamWorld Dig 2 is a polished jewel. | Matt Espineli