The Best Games On The New PS Plus

The Best Games On The New PS Plus

Sony’s games-on-demand library has hundreds of PS4 games—here’s where to start

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The headless from Dead Cells stands next to Jack from Ghostrunner and warriors from Ashen.
Image: Motion Twin / 505 Games / Annapurna

For ages, PS Plus was simply a perk program for people who played video games on a PlayStation console. Following a relaunch in June 2022, it’s now also a true games-on-demand service, replete with a library of games that you can download and play on your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 (provided you’ve signed up for the correct tier).

Unfortunately, PS Plus is hobbled by a needlessly flummoxing tier system, which determines what perks you can actually make use of. It breaks down as follows:

  • PS Plus Basic: $10 a month gets you the same perks PS Plus has always allotted: two free games per month in addition to the option to play multiplayer games online.
  • PS Plus Extra: $15 a month adds access to a deep library of PS4 and PS5 games.
  • PS Plus Premium: $18 a month, in addition to the benefits of Extra, gives you access to games from the PS1, PS2, PS3, and PlayStation Portable libraries. You also can demo some blockbusters.

Right now, given the paltry state of the service’s classics library, we’re focusing this on games included in the Extra tier. PS Plus has no shortage of tentpoles, including many first-party games (Ghost of Tsushima, Marvel’s Spider-Man, the Demon’s Souls remake). It also includes marquee games from the world’s biggest publishers (everyone, say hi to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla). You’re probably aware those exist, and are worth checking out. These are the deep cuts. Here, without further ado, are the best games to check out in Sony’s revamped PS Plus.

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Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines

People stroll down an elevated walkway in Cities: Skylines.
Screenshot: Paradox

There are city-builders, and then there’s Cities: Skylines, a city-building game so good it’s favored by actual urban planners and transit experts. Instead of placing individual buildings, you zone swathes of your city as residential, industrial, retail, or corporate districts. Your citizens will do all the building. (This makes sense: In real-world cities, the mayor hardly ever deigns to get their hands dirty.) You do have some creative leeway, of course, though your efforts are focused on improving the city in tangible ways: constructing transit, switching to green energy power sources, and setting aside enough funds to construct a bike lane on every road. Right? Right???

Rough Average Playtime: Up to 128 hours

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Dead Cells

Dead Cells

The Headless shoots an enemy with an arrow in Dead Cells.
Screenshot: Motion Twin

Dead Cells is one of those games that teaches you without teaching you. Boot up this side-scrolling roguelike, and you’ll probably die within, oh, two minutes. But as you play, and as you slowly fight your way through its gothic-horror biomes, you’ll slowly unlock new gear that can randomly spawn during your runs. That gear will help you make it to further areas, where you’ll unlock even more gear, which helps you make it even further. (You might even need to spread runs across two sessions.) Before you know it, you’ll be so good at the game your PS4 will rename it “Alive Cells” on your home screen.

Rough Average Playtime: 28 hours

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Observation

Observation

An astronaut floats toward an airlock in Observation.
Screenshot: No Code

Observation, a first-person sci-fi puzzler, is about an astronaut trapped on a derelict space station, but you’re not cast as her. No, you play as an artificial intelligence program named SAM. Through a series of progressively vexing environmental puzzles, in which you hop between a variety of tech devices, Watch Dogs-style, you start to piece together why this station is derelict—and why the astronaut is trapped on it. Riveting every step of the way, Observation almost instantly makes clear that it possesses the one throughline any good mystery needs: You think you know everything. But you don’t know anything at all.

Rough Average Playtime: 6 hours

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Ghostrunner

Ghostrunner

A fan spins behind a building in Ghostrunner.
Screenshot: 505 Games

Like the human body, Ghostrunner can’t tell the difference between anxiety and excitement. A first-person parkour game, you play as the last in a line of murder cyborgs. Every person in the game’s cyberpunk setting, including you, dies in one hit. Your goal is to figure out how to traverse levels without taking a single hit, using your toolkit—which comprises time-dilation abilities and a kickass sword—to do so. Sure, levels can be frustrating. (Players report death counts in the hundreds or thousands by the time they hit the credits.) But split-second respawns belay any impulse to bang your head against the nearest desk. And the sheer exhilaration you feel upon completing a level is like nothing else in video games.

Rough Average Playtime: 8 hours

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Dark Cloud 2

Dark Cloud 2

Two farmers chat to each other in Dark Cloud 2.
Screenshot: Level 5 / MobyGames

At the moment, despite it being a core pillar of the service’s marketing, PS Plus doesn’t exactly have a robust classic game library. (Games from before the PlayStation 4 generation are only available with the highest-priced Premium tier.) But it’s not entirely devoid of the originals. Case in point: the excellent JRPG Dark Cloud 2. Easily one of the standouts of the era, Dark Cloud 2’s gimmick revolved around leveling up weapons through hack-and-slash combat, set in procedurally generated dungeons. Pretty ahead of its time, huh! All told, if you’re pining for a walk down memory lane, it’s worth perusing the classics section. Just don’t expect to find much (yet).

Rough Average Playtime: 70 hours

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Overcooked 2

Overcooked 2

Four chefs cook in the kitchen in Overcooked 2.
Screenshot: Team17

Any loved ones in your life you need a momentary break from? Easy solution: Play a few rounds of Overcooked 2 with them! The top-down party game simulates the high octane pressure-cooker environment of a real kitchen, only with fewer grease stains. Your collective goal is to successfully prepare and deliver meals to restaurant patrons. Each player needs to tackle a different task, whether it’s chopping veggies or washing dishes or actually moving plates to the front of house. Naturally, people will fuck up. That’s when the yelling and finger-pointing starts. Like the genre’s best (worst?) games, Overcooked 2 will drive a wedge between you and your friends—until you’re ready to play a second round.

Rough Average Playtime: 11 hours

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Desperados III

Desperados III

A gunslinger sets up an overwatch in a western town in Desperados 3.
Screenshot: THQ Nordic

Desperados III may look like XCOM: Red Dead Edition, but don’t let the isometric perspective and squad-based gameplay fool you. If anything, it’s closer to Hitman or Dishonored. Each level is an elaborate sandbox, wherein you’re tasked with eliminating a target. You start out with fairly run-of-the-mill firearms and weapons at your disposal. As you play, you unlock an infinitely more interesting toolkit: bear traps, mind-control darts, even a kitty who distracts enemies while you sneak up behind them. Desperados III is less about experiencing a story and more about messing around in an expansive sandbox, coming up with a plan for ridiculous hijinks, and then executing it.

Rough Average Playtime: 38 hours

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9 / 14

Virginia

Virginia

An FBI agent stares forlornly out a car window in Virginia, the game, but also the state.
Screenshot: Variable State

There isn’t a single line of dialogue in Virginia, but that doesn’t mean it’s missing a killer story. You play as an FBI detective, tasked with investigating the disappearance of a child in small-town Virginia. Though it ostensibly presents you with environmental puzzles, Virginia is almost more movie than game, doling out information in bite-sized parcels, with tight, intentional cuts. It’s complimented by a score that fits each scene flawlessly. It all coalesces in a package that keeps you on the edge of your seat—again, without a single line of dialogue. For fans of mystery films, it’s a must-play. Just don’t expect a clear-cut ending.

Rough Average Playtime: 2 hours

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Nidhogg

Nidhogg

Two ninja sprint toward each other in Nidhogg.
Screenshot: Messhof

Few multiplayer games keep you on the edge of your seat like Nidhogg, a side-scrolling reverse tug-of-war. You and an opponent start out facing against each other on a platform. Your goal is to run to the other side of the screen. But you both have swords, which are one-hit kills. Also, you respawn almost instantly, but not so instantly that your adversary doesn’t have time to run toward their exit. It’s the type of formula that could be an elegant dance, but more often than not, matches turn into mad dashes. Yes, Nidhogg has a sequel, and yes, it has “better” graphics—think more Amiga in comparison to the original game’s deliberately chunky, Commodore 64-style look—but the simpler visuals are a more suitable fit for the gameplay. If you’re gonna play one, go with the original.

Rough Average Playtime: 2 hours for the campaign, but many more for multiplayer

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11 / 14

Ashen

Ashen

An explorer holds a sword and shield and stands in front of a building in Ashen.
Screenshot: A44

There are a million “soulslikes” out there, let alone actual Souls games (referring to the series of nail-bitingly difficult action-RPGs out of FromSoftware). Few handle the subgenre more elegantly than Ashen, a third-person fantasy adventure game. Monsters are tough, fights can be brutal, and dungeons are often exhausting. But the minimalist visuals give Ashen a fairy-tale touch that softens the blow. A number of compelling companions prevent you from feeling lonely, as is so often the case with From’s oeuvre. Also, there’s a multiplayer component too.

Rough Average Playtime: 20 hours

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Rez Infinite

Rez Infinite

Bright lights and vivid colorful displays fill the screen of Rez Infinite.
Screenshot: Enhance

Pretty much the video game embodiment of trance, Rez Infinite is all about getting into a flow state. The core concept—using lasers to take out waves of enemies in a 360-degree cyberspace—is easy enough to grasp. But you’re really here for the neon lights and heart-pumping electronica. Rez Infinite is one of those intangible experiences, elusive and ephemeral in the same way you can’t fully grasp the laissez-faire thrill of a summer evening rave without physically attending one yourself. Rez Infinite approaches that sensation too, by the way, thanks to VR-optional capabilities.

Rough Average Playtime: 2 hours

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13 / 14

Valiant Hearts

Valiant Hearts

Soldiers stand in the trends of World War I in Valiant Hearts.
Screenshot: Ubisoft

Valiant Hearts will likely break yours. A side-scrolling puzzle game set during the first world war, you follow four characters, all doing their best to discern their place in a war driven by power-hungry men. The quote-unquote “gameplay” varies from scene to scene. Some segments are stealthy and involve sneaking; others are more action-packed, typical warfare fare. But the real draw here is the people you follow, seeing their decisions amid one of the most traumatically violent periods in human history. So often, video games explore this era while looking down the barrel of a gun, a perspective that lends itself more to cruelty than kindness. Valiant Hearts is the opposite. It shows you that people can care.

Rough Average Playtime: 7 hours

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