Everyone loves free things. No matter what old adages say about the best things in life, the truth is that free things are just wonderful. Especially if that free thing is something you can get hours and hours of enjoyment from, like a videogame. Sony has done a superb job beefing up its premium service, Playstation Plus, with the Instant Game Collection. These are free games subscribers can download and play as long as they’re signed up for the service. In the last six months or so, Sony has stepped up by offering truly great, and relevant, games as a part of the collection. No longer the dusty titles of Best Buy bargain bin doom, the Instant Game Collection has grown to offer a variety of interesting, captivating and worthwhile games that all players should download.
There is an abundance of choices for PS Plus subscribers, but if you need help choosing what games to use your precious hard drive space on, here are ten selections you need to play.
Platform: PS Vita
The only Vita title on the list (though several nice options exist), Gravity Rush is an action-adventure game that allows players to fly through the town of Hekseville by manipulating gravity. How does the main character, Kat, get such powers? From a magical black cat, of course. The project originally began in 2008 as a PS3 game before switching over to the handheld, a move that director Keiichiro Toyama (Silent Hill) thinks was for the better. “I think the overall feeling of the title and the comical expressions in the story match perfectly to the handheld device due to its handy and accessible nature,” Toyama told Gematsu in 2012. “Additionally, by tilting the system, the player gets the impression of a different world existing beyond the screen. This surreal experience is something only PS Vita could have offered.”
Though not without its faults, the somewhat cumbersome combat among them, Gravity Rush is easily one of the most interesting experiences available on the Vita.—Eric Walters
The better you are doing at the tunnel shooter Dyad, the less clear it is what is going on. Colors explode across the screen, the music swells and you attempt to navigate audio-visual chaos. There’s no fetishizing clear feedback here. There are times when I was playing this game when I couldn’t tell you whether or not my input was having any effect on anything. Itemizing Dyad does it a disservice. It creates an impression of the game as a series of moving parts that happen to interlock. It misses the point: the smashing of those parts together. Synaesthesia by (and as) design.—Brian Taylor
Sony has done a great job developing a relationship with indie developers for the new generation. It began at launch with Contrast and Resogun and it has continued into 2014. In January, PS Plus subscribers got to jump into the world of Klei’s twistedly charming roguelike Don’t Starve, and February brings something even more devilish with Outlast. From developer Red Barrels, a company comprised of folks who previously worked on AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and Uncharted, Outlast is a first-person survival-horror game set in an asylum. The player controls Miles Upshur, a journalist who receives a tip about the asylum and heads to investigate (just a terrible idea, Miles). As one would expect, things do not go well and the upstart journalist is left fighting for his life inside the walls of Mount Massive. Only, there is not fighting. Not really, anyway. Outlast removes combat from the game, outside of certain scripted moments, leaving the player a small number of options which are really just different ways of saying “run for your life.” It. Is. Terrifying.—EW
Resogun could have existed at any point in the last 30 years. It feels like a classic old arcade game, a dual-joystick version of Defender, but upgraded with modern day graphics and sound. It’s an exciting, tension-filled shooter with multiple goals that often work at cross-purposes. Beyond surviving each wave of each level, you have to save ten humans from death or abduction while increasing your score multiplier and driving up your points total as high as possible. That means precise dodging, quick reaction times to rescue humans, and canny juggling of the game’s three special power-ups, bombs, overdriven weapons and a lightning-fast blitz maneuver. And it all feels like you’re in a rave, with pulsing lights and overpowering dance music both distracting you and spurring you on. Resogun is the best exclusive on the PlayStation 4, and it’s free if you subscribe to PlayStation Plus.—GM
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers is likely unlike any game you’ve played before, and it all starts with the gamepad. Instead of controlling a single character, using one analog stick to move the body and the other the camera (as in most games), here the player is in charge of two. It’s not complicated, each character is mapped to either the right or left analog stick and each has their own action button. That’s it. But it forces the player to completely rethink how they play videogames, taking all of the preconceived notions about how to traverse a virtual world and feeding them to the wolves. Any game could get a few plays based on an uncommon control scheme, but Brothers isn’t a one trick pony. It shines in its storytelling, crafting a heartwarming and heartbreaking tale of two brothers working together to save their father. Easily one of the most rewarding ventures the medium has taken in recent years, if you missed it in 2013, you have no excuse not to pick up Brothers from PS Plus.—EW
Beyond its striking visual aesthetic, its unusual fusion of classical and electronic music (no doubt an homage to the game’s futuristic French Revolution theme), and the memorable lead character of Nilin, Remember Me also has a lot to offer narratively and thematically. Many videogames are metaphorically about videogames already, but Remember Me manages to go beyond just that initial trope to also juggle a narrative about class, corporations and systems of power.—Maddy Myers
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
The Uncharted series provided some of the best moments during the PS3’s reign, before little brother came along last November. Though its hard to choose which game was the pinnacle of the series, its easy to choose which one you should play on PS Plus. That would be the third, Drake’s Deception. Why? Well, in Uncharted 3, Naughty Dog created the action-adventure game it always intended to when it embarked on the journey with Drake’s Fortune. The game is a fully cinematic, incredibly rewarding interactive experience filled with impeccable writing, voice-acting and stunning visuals. You might be thinking, “Didn’t Naughty Dog do that with Among Thieves, too?” And you’d be right.
But Drake’s Deception is the only one available on PS Plus.—EW
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
This faithful remake of the classic early ‘90s strategy game makes tactics accessible to console gamers. Clever strategy is crucial during the turn-based battles, but you’ll have to be just as smart running the bureaucratic side of XCOM and planning what new facilities to build and trying to balance the concerns of numerous panic-stricken nations. It will infiltrate your brain and keep you up at night.—Garrett Martin
Metro: Last Light
The Metro games are heavily invested in world-building, and that level of detail is one reason why the universe has such appeal. Last Light succeeds more than its predecessor in this regard, if for no other reason than it works better: Refinements in level design, combat, and environmental storytelling make it a smoother experience without sacrificing any of the claustrophobic immediacy of the franchise. But what works best about Last Light is what makes the fiction resonate. Despite the glowing mushrooms, mutant monsters and supernatural horror, this is a deeply human story.—J.P. Grant
Not much needs to be said about BioShock Infinite. If you’re even remotely aware that videogames exist, you’ve heard of it. The game stars Booker DeWitt, a former detective who is sent to the floating city of Columbia in search of a young woman named Elizabeth. Once he finds her, though, Booker begins to see that there is a lot more going on in Columbia than he ever imagined. It’s an incredibly ambitious (perhaps too much so) story-driven game that, despite its faults, received almost universal acclaim. Plus, it’s got guns and magical things.—Eric Walters