The PlayStation Plus Deluxe service launched with a lot of very big games. From Sony’s massive blockbuster catalogue, to some of the biggest games from Ubisoft, 2K Games, Rockstar and others, you’re more than covered if you’re a fan of the big games.
However, people keep telling me that one of the main benefits of subscription services is the opportunity to “discover” games that they wouldn’t have otherwise played. PSPlus Deluxe also launched with a lot of those games, so let’s see how that pans out. To help you out, here are ten quirky, obscure, artful and interesting games to “discover” now that you’re getting them for “free”.
Ace Of Seafood
Ace Of Seafood is a majestic and surrealistic shooter game that is basically that Austin Powers joke about sharks with laser beams attached to their head turned into a video game. You cruise around the ocean, picking fights with other denizens of the underwater world, blasting away at them with the kind of arsenal that makes fighter jets blush. It’s chaotic and not necessarily easy to play, but its downright Dadaist tone makes it a rare kind of “anti-game” that is both wildly entertaining and fundamentally subversive.
GreedFall was dismissed as “Eurojank” by many. They thought it would be a D-list RPG with some neat ideas, but a buggy mess that could only dream of being the next Dragon Age. As it turns out GreedFall is right on the cusp of being an A-grade RPG. This thing is genuinely good, with an excellent combat system and large world to explore. However, what really stands out here is how aggressively critical it is of colonialism and the way foreign powers like to carve up and squabble over territory that isn’t theirs. This is a smart and unflinching game, and both interesting and provocative as a result.
Last Day Of June
This humble little adventure game is a bawler. An absolute tear-jerker. I’ve played it through three times now and every time it has me reaching for the tissues (and no, not like Dead or Alive does). It’s based on a song by an independent music artist (Steven Wilson) called Drive Home. This is a song about regret and trauma, and a guy that, in his rush to get home, has a car accident that kills his love. This game is about dealing with that trauma. I can’t emphasise this enough: this is not an “entertaining” game to play in the traditional sense. But if video games can’t support these emotional experiences and reflections, we don’t have any right to call gaming an art form, do we?
This is probably better-known than most of the games on the list here, but I’m throwing it in here because it doesn’t matter how many people play it, not enough people have played it. Pathfinder is a monumentally big game (from memory it took me around 120 hours for my first play through), and therefore is justification for a few months of PS Plus Deluxe in itself. At the same time, this isn’t content for the sake of it. Pathfinder weaves an epic, world-shattering dark fantasy tale that is very much what Baldur’s Gate 3 should have been. Where Larian failed, Owlcat Games succeeded, and this is the one and only spiritual sequel to the Baldur’s Gates and Icewind Dales of yesteryear that you need.
A lot of the PlayStation 2 games on the PSPlus service are pretty well known: Just about everyone who likes JRPGs or RPGs knows about Dark Cloud, Arc The Lad and Wild Arms, for example. FantaVision is relatively obscure, but it’s actually one of my favourite puzzle games of all time. It was a launch title on the PlayStation 2, and is basically about chaining together fireworks to create the most spectacular lightshow in the night’s sky. This game caused a lot of people to scratch their heads when it first launched, but it was a Sony Japan production (back when Sony had an interest in Japan), and fireworks mean a lot to the Japanese. Once you realise that, this game being a launch title makes much more sense, and the fact it’s held up so many years later makes it all the more pity we’ll never see another one.
Ghost Of A Tale
Imagine the Thief series (when Thief was great). Now, replace the titular, boring, Thief character with a cute little mouse. That’s Ghost Of A Tale. This is a stealth action game where you play as a humble little rodent, scampering around a medieval castle in a quest to rescue his beloved. Surprisingly open-ended and filled with variety, Ghost Of A Tale features exploration, disguises, side quests and multiple paths through environments that encourage creative play. The fact that the game looks and plays this well when a single person was responsible for around 90 per cent of it is all the more impressive.
If you like a bit of experience grinding in your RPGs, then Rainbow Moon is the ultimate game for you. This tactics RPG is almost exclusively about the grind, fighting endless waves of enemies, before running into a town for quests (“fight some enemies”) and delving into dungeons, filled with enemies, to unlock the key to the next area… and waves of enemies. I’ll not lie, you need to be in a particular mood to enjoy what Rainbow Moon offers, but there is a place for it. So many RPGs ask for our deep concentration and immersion. After all, we’re playing intensely story-and-stats-based games. Rainbow Moon goes the other way, allowing us to go through the motions of playing an RPG, but largely tune out and just… grind. I know that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but seriously, Rainbow Moon is just so good at it.
Bad North is a gorgeously minimalist little roguelike about defending islands from waves of Vikings. You’ll start out with a single unit of defenders, and one or two boatloads of enemies coming at the island. Eventually, you’ll unlock more of these units and start to specialise them in melee and ranged combat… but the waves of enemies attacking the island become more substantial too. Bad North is very challenging, and tasks you with making good use of terrain, as you’ll often be outnumbered. Successfully defending islands, therefore, is real 300 Spartans stuff, and it feels good.
Omega Quintet was Idea Factory’s very first PlayStation 4 game… and indeed, one of the very first JRPGs on the PlayStation 4. It has also become one of Idea Factory’s most forgotten titles, so hopefully people rediscover it with PlayStation Plus Deluxe. Omega Quintet is a game about an idol group that is also responsible for suiting up, magical girl-style, and saving the world from invading monsters. It’s a lot of responsibility to be laying on the feet of a team of cute girls, but armed with weaponised music and plucky determination, you just know they’re up for it. This is a cute, funny, and tactically interesting game. It’s also one of the last times Idea Factory implemented the ability to pan the camera low on girls wearing short skirts (they’ll cover themselves and yell at you for that, you dirty perv), and a jump button that exists almost exclusively for making those skirts whoosh up completely.
Finally for this little list, I would be remiss if I didn’t point people to Bound, as one of the last times Sony backed a truly artful project before pivoting completely to blockbusters. Bound is a platformer, but a platformer unlike anything you’ve ever played. It is about a dancer or gymnast, and all of your movements are choreographed in turn, with graceful leaps and precision pirouettes. Underneath this sits a story that goes some pretty dark places, but is well worth experiencing and mulling over.
Let me know if there are any other hidden gems you would recommend to people that are currently on the PlayStation Plus Deluxe subscription service!
So, in 2022 “discovery” means: accidental occurrence caused by passively bumping into things while bulimically gorging on a lot of stuff because it’s free. Nice to know! More like disc-over. Luckily there is still literature made of paper, i don’t need games THAT bad!