2022 will be ripe with exciting new games, but this year wasn’t that bad, was it? Despite some disappointing last-minute delays like Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and God of War Ragnarok, PlayStation managed to maintain a decent pace with new releases. This is particularly true if you take into account a spectacular first half of 2021.
Because of this, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of the biggest games published for Sony’s consoles this year. It’s worth noting that we’ve decided to take both exclusive and multi-platform games into consideration, so whether or not these games come from third-party or PlayStation Studios developers doesn’t matter. Here are the ten best games of 2021 for PS4 and PS5.
After Demon’s Souls, Returnal served as further proof that PlayStation doesn’t just want to offer mainstream action-adventure experiences – it’s also interested in exploring other, less popular genres. Returnal is the roguelite title that finally allowed Housemarque to get into the PlayStation Studios family, for three particular reasons. First, it’s a hybrid of fresh roguelite gameplay mechanics and the kind of cinematic storytelling that has made PlayStation exclusives so acclaimed.
Second, it allows you to feel all the charm, mystery, and lethality of an alien planet. And third, Returnal gives you a proper idea of what next-gen will be able to offer once it truly kicks off. Not only amazing graphics, but experiences that feel different, both in terms of gameplay and audio.
Deathloop is yet another testament to the extraordinary talent of Arkane Studios (Arx Fatalis, Prey). This is another roguelite game, although this time the formula is juxtaposed with the genre Arkane does best: immersive sim. Timeloops might not be the freshest concept you’ll encounter this year, and going back to the same mission over and over again can get tiring – fortunately, Deathloop is aware of this issue and knows exactly how to counter it.
Deathloop’s gameplay is much closer to Dishonored than you might expect. Exploration and finding the right way to approach a mission in a thrilling spy story are still key to the whole experience, keeping each individual loop fresh and filled with opportunity. Add a charming ‘60s-inspired art style and you get Deathloop, one of the ten best games of 2021.
More than just a video game, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a Saturday morning cartoon. It’s a colorful and light experience you can enjoy both by yourself and with a younger member of your family. That’s not to mention its status as a perfect demonstration of just how big of a technical leap the PS5 has made.
This is evidenced by the game’s multiple graphics modes with ray tracing and/or 60fps. On top of that, Rift Apart comes equipped with ridiculously fast loading times thanks to the system’s proprietary SSD. Pair all of this with a beloved cast of new and familiar characters and you’ll see that Insomniac’s latest is the most advanced entry in this signature PlayStation series to date.
A heart-warming action-adventure experience, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is like a CGI Pixar movie with delicious art direction and graphics that really showcase the gap between PS4 and PS5.
Gameplay-wise, it might not be the most innovative title of the year, but if you’re looking for a game for your younger sibling or want to enjoy a lighter single-player adventure, this is worth keeping an eye on.
Game of the year according to The Game Awards 2021, It Takes Two clearly displays what Josef Fares and his team at Hazelight are capable of doing. The game features a colorful art style and a variety of absurd scenarios that help build a rare example of romantic comedy in gaming, where you’re tasked with convincing a married couple on the brink of divorce to stay together – all while resisting the allure of nonsensical monologues delivered by a talking book.
It might not have A Way Out’s mature atmosphere and sublime ending, but it has lots of heart, and offers a ton of fun minigames you just have to try with a close friend or partner.
Resident Evil Village leaves Resident Evil 7’s claustrophobic environments behind to explore a wider setting inspired by the beloved Resident Evil 4. Capcom managed to bring in a charming cast of side characters – including fan-favorite Lady Dimitrescu – and a story that connected the Ethan Winter saga to the origins of the series. There’s a reason why you can’t stop reading Resident Evil 9 rumors all over the place…
Speaking of long-standing series, Tales of Arise clearly underlines how, with a good dose of creativity, even the oldest franchises can rediscover what made them special back in the day. The latest entry in the Bandai Namco series redefines its core principles by veering towards action-RPG territory, setting users free from the constraints of the more traditional turn-based games. Tales of Arise offers a believable and multi-layered cast of heroes and villains, and focuses on social and cultural themes that go well beyond the genre’s usual cliches.
Outside of the combat system, the game could definitely use some deeper mechanics and polish, although these are minor grievances. If you’re looking for a way to get back in touch with the Tales brand, you might have just found it.
Hades was released in 2020, but technically it only came to PlayStation this year. The new edition has allowed lots of PS4 and PS5 players to discover one of the select few titles capable of running for GOTY in the same year as The Last of Us Part II.
Hades is an action-packed roguelite with ferociously fast combat, as well as weapons and perks that can constantly be reappropriated for new builds. On top of that, Supergiant Games penned a deep storyline and offered an original take on Greek mythology. Regardless of how familiar you are with the genre, you should definitely give this a try.
Psychonauts 2 was arguably the safest game Double Fine Productions could’ve worked on, but electing to actually do so was the best decision it could have made. Thanks to how few 3D platformers have been released over the last ten years, Tim Schafer helmed a project with the ability to make the genre shine again, adding wider, more varied levels alongside fun characters and powers. This is one of the best games from the last couple of console cycles – even if PlayStation versions have not been equipped with a next-gen upgrade like Xbox.
Higher resolutions and frame rates don’t really matter here: Alan Wake Remastered makes it into our top ten by right as it’s the first time PlayStation users can enjoy one of the best action-adventure games of the last 20 years. The original Alan Wake helped establish one of gaming’s most undervalued icons while reinforcing the idea that video games had the capacity for serious storytelling. If you’ve never played it, consider this a gaming history lesson ahead of the recently announced sequel.
Written by Paolo Sirio on behalf of GLHF.