Somehow September is already almost over, meaning you only have five days left to grab this month’s free games from PlayStation Plus. This month’s selection is heavy on indie games, and although you might not recognize all of the names, it’s actually one of the better months for Sony’s subscription service. If you need to prioritize your hard drive space or download data, though, here’s how we rank ‘em.
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6. Twisted Metal (PS3): The latest update on Sony's venerable car combat game is best left ignored. Somehow both bloated yet empty feeling, this ugly, violent spectacle drowns the straight-forward simplicity of the early PlayStation originals in unnecessary excess. Fortunately the superior older games are available for download for the PS3.
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5. Teslagrad (PS3/PS4): There's been a glut of old-fashioned puzzle platformers over the last several years, but the electromagnetic pulse at the heart of Teslagrad is a powerful hook. You'll use magnetism like the gravity in VVVVVV, switching polarities to traverse the convoluted terrain of the game's vaguely European city. Long available for PC and Wii U, Teslagrad arrived on PlayStation this month. It's a charming trifle worthy of a download.
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4. Xeodrifter (PS4 / Vita): Another retro-styled indie first released for a Nintendo system, Renegade Kid's Xeodrifter is a simple but enjoyable retreat to the past. It feels like a game from 30 years ago, with all the positives and negatives that entails. Yes, it's a little hard and a little repetitive, and you'll constantly think of older, better games as you play it. It thoroughly realizes its modest ambitions, though, offering up a slight parcel of play content to aim merely for nostalgic fun.
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3. La-Mulana EX (Vita): Okay, if you aren't a retro-fetishistic nostalgia fiend this might not be the best PS Plus month for you. La-Mulana's been kicking around in various forms for a decade, starting on the PC in 2005 and garnering a lot of acclaim for a Wii remake in 2012. It hit the Vita earlier this year, and its heavy '80s art and play style are a great fit for the handheld. It might look like Spelunky, but it's a more traditional platformer, although it can be just as brutal. Its Metroid-aping action and MSX-inspired aesthetic might not be as refreshing as they were in 2005 (or even 2012), but if you don't tire of the past you can find thumb-breaking good times with this one.
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2. Super Time Force Ultra (PS4 / Vita): Can a game have too many bullets? Super Time Force Ultra could be one of those beloved Dreamcast or TurboGrafx shoot-'em-ups, considering how many bullets whiz around the screen. You're not flying but running, though, like a Contra buddy, and in a gimmick that the designers call "single-player co-op" you have a whole squad of expendable heroes to swap between. When one dies you can slip down the timestream and relive their run before continuing with a new character. Like the best shooters, it's incredibly hard to track what's happening at the game's most frenetic, and that stress blurs out into an almost blissful Zen state of reflex and reaction. Also, in a huge surprise, the art style looks like a game from pre-Clinton days. It's a cliché to call something a blast, but this ingenious game has enough firepower to merit the term.
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1. Grow Home (PS4): Ubisoft's endearing experimental game Grow Home came out of nowhere earlier this year, and although it may be lacking in big flashy flowers it's full of unique interactions with the world's plant life. Various sprouts, shoots, blooms and leaves exist largely to help mobilize chirping bot friend B.U.D. as they stumble and bumble their way around the area. It may be hilariously phallic when B.U.D.'s guiding new plant shoots around, but that doesn't make it any less neat.—Janine Hawkins