Choosing a game to play is a major decision, at least for me. I’m a completionist so I pick my games very carefully, knowing I’ll spend many hours exploring a world, getting to know its rules, characters and lore. It’s exciting but daunting at the same time.
So, I do a lot of research. I read reviews. I talk to my teammates and I try to pay attention to what’s breaking through the noise out there. When I finally do make the choice to jump in, there’s no feeling quite like being fully absorbed in a completely new reality, experiencing a creative team’s unique vision.
1. The Last of Us Remastered
Even though this game first released on PS3, this remastered version brings something extra to the PS4 that every PlayStation fan should play. Naughty Dog has created a gritty, yet personal masterpiece that is more immersive than anything I have experienced on any platform. While the gameplay is incredibly absorbing, the emotional journey of both of the protagonists is what has had a permanent effect on me.
2. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This game marks a major achievement for open world games. Its scope is insane, yet its world, story and characters remain consistently connected throughout. Besides the seemingly infinite amount of gameplay, what made the biggest impact on me was the depth, variety and richness of its secondary quests.
INSIDE is a masterpiece of game design. Limbo was already a favorite of mine but with INSIDE, the team at Playdead has perfected the craft of telling an interactive, tension-filled story without words. The puzzles are challenging without being impossible and the mechanics are beautifully layered on as the game progresses. Most of all, I think the game’s subversive social commentary should leave players thinking deeply about how repression exists in many forms and must be fought in our own world.
4. Horizon Zero Dawn
Hunting robotic dinosaurs is just…so…satisfying. Add to that a sprawling, gorgeous world, strong heroine and super compelling game loop, this is a game I couldn’t put down. As someone who loves stealth gameplay, I found that HZD set a new standard for making stealth feel fresh. Given the game’s immense scope and depth there are many ways you can play. For me I dove headfirst into the trapping/sniping/stealth-kill paradigm and was hooked for a long, long time.
5. Dead Cells
I’ve always been a Metroidvania fan and while roguelikes can be an acquired taste for some, Dead Cells somehow manages to bring together the best of both genres to present an experience that simply doesn’t get old no matter how many times you play it (and I’m still playing it after many months). The core mechanics are incredibly polished and the retro visuals help set it apart from every other game on this list.
6. God of War
What else can you say about a game that has deservedly won every major industry award? From the opening heart-stopping battle through every major twist and turn along the way, the game continued to surprise me with its perfect blend of well-honed action, clever puzzles, humor and raw emotion. It’s clear that the Sony Santa Monica team poured their heart and soul into this unbelievably polished gem of an experience.