5 PSN games that are more creative than most
Blockbuster games cost a lot of money to make, so publishers are understandably cautious about taking any design risks. Thankfully, taking risks is where downloadable games absolutely shine, and the reason why they’re often much more innovative than big retail games. Below are five of our favourite PSN games, due to their incredible ingenuity, ambition and creativity.
Nearly four years after its original release, Braid is still the benchmark that other downloadable indie games aspire to. Created almost singlehandedly by renowned videogame designer Jonathan Blow, Braid tells the tale of Tim, an unlikely hero tasked with rescuing a princess who is always in another castle (if that story sounds familiar, it’s because it does).
At least, that’s what the game appears to be about. The reality is far more complicated, with layers upon layers of hidden meanings and metaphors scattered throughout the game. If the complex story doesn’t destroy your mind, then the time-bending gameplay definitely will; just make sure you have enough brain power left to process the unbelievable twist at the end.
Never has a game been more appropriately named than thatgamecompany’s Journey. Not only is it about one man/woman/cloth-thing’s enlightening climb to the summit of a mountain, but even the player goes through a sense of catharsis too, having experienced what is simultaneously the simplest and most complex game on the PlayStation Network.
That probably sounds disconcertingly vague, but that’s only because the game is also extremely ambiguous itself. All we really know for certain is that it’s about the protagonist’s journey to the top of a mountain; and it’s the player’s prerogative to interpret everything else. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you ‘get it’, then there’s little else that compares.
Here’s a hint; if you want to avoid nightmares, don’t play Limbo after dark. As if the black and white visuals weren’t frightening enough, you’ll also encounter a giant spider, creepy kids who want to kill you, and any number of deadly traps and pits. There are dozens of different death animations, so it’s almost worth triggering a trap on purpose, just to see what happens.
Like Journey, when it comes to story, Limbo is very much in the ‘less is more’ category. You play as a small boy who is searching for his sister, but pretty much nothing else is spelt out for you. Who is the boy? Where is he? Is he dead? What are the implications of the ending? To be honest, your guess is as good as ours (actually, it’s probably better).
Currently free on PlayStation Plus in Europe, Machinarium was originally released on Steam back in 2009, and received acclaim from critics and players alike. The point-and-click adventure game was also (very) recently released on the PlayStation Network, having been initially announced for the service what feels like ages ago.
We can forgive Czech developer Amanita Design for the long wait though; the hand-drawn visuals look amazing on a big screen, and the eponymous city of Machinarium is still as absorbing as it was three years ago. It also gets seriously challenging in places; if you can make it through the entire game without looking at any hints or using a guide, you’re a better man than we are!
‘Can we make our next game about matryoshka dolls?’; ‘Those Russian stacking dolls? Okay, let’s get cracking’: this probably isn’t how the conversation went when Lee Petty pitched his idea for Stacking to the rest of Double Fine. It must’ve been a tricky sell, but it’s a good thing Tim Schafer said yes, otherwise we wouldn’t have one of the PSN’s most original games.
Stacking is presented like a silent film, and takes place during the age of industry. You play as little Charlie Blackmore, who has the ability to stack into other dolls; this is handy, as it allows him to solve the game’s various puzzles, which is kind of the point of the game. It’s also positively bursting with personality, charm and fart gags, which is all you need in a videogame really.