The independent scene continues to thrive on PlayStation 4, meaning this category becomes tougher and tougher to judge each and every year. A whole host of quality indie titles made their way to Sony's current-gen system across 2019, from late ports that may have not gotten their due to ones others that were the talk of the town upon launch. While AAA games somewhat fluffed their lines across 2019, those experiences that didn't need a major publisher continued to break boundaries and put a lot of its competition to shame. These are the best PS4 indie games of the year.
Bronze Trophy: Knights and Bikes
Knights and Bikes is an experience fuelled by the nostalgia of childhood. A tale of two friends in search of long lost treasure plays host to humour and all manner of emotional moments, while the characters themselves are just as charming in the moment. Friends Nessa and Demelza must solve puzzles and defeat enemies with various abilities, making for a game that delights in more aspects than just its storytelling and design.
Those visuals are rather special, however. Brimming with colour and life, Knights and Bikes's hand-painted art style turns the fictional British island of Penfurzy into just as much of a character as the two protagonists. It's that in combination with enjoyable, comedic gameplay which makes Foam Sword's latest an indie experience you won't want to miss.
Silver Trophy: Wargroove
Wargroove is up there with some of the best independent titles of all time, but it feels like the PlayStation 4 release became a complete afterthought by the time it finally arrived on the console. Launching six months after its Nintendo Switch counterpart, this tactical, turn-based strategy game was very much a known quantity, but that didn't take away from what is still an excellent war of attrition.
Deep, rewarding gameplay pits you as the commander of an army, with all manner of units and roles to deploy and fulfil. Tactics can change on the fly, planning ahead is crucial to success, and online co-op play means you can either bring your friends along for the ride or add them to the list of defeated foes. It was all far too late, but Wargroove is still one of the very best strategy games on PS4 right now.
Gold Trophy: The Messenger
The Messenger is a game of two halves, quite literally. Initially inspired by the classic Ninja Gaiden, the simple quest of delivering a scroll quickly gives way to intense, frantic 2D action and unique platforming mechanics which give you reason to engage in combat as much as possible. That is until the undertaking is turned on its head with Metroidvania elements that give new meaning to each and every area you've already visited in the past.
The game seamlessly switches between 8-bit and 16-bit visuals and audio to create an experience full of nostaliga, but one that also manages to differentiate itself from everything else with its own neat twist on the idea. Phenomenal writing breaks the fourth wall with self deprecating humour, the controls remain tight throughout, and the pixel art visuals are a joy to behold. The Messenger may present itself as a typical indie hoping to capitalize on nostalgia, but it quickly delivers a gut punch to circumvent those expectations completely -- making it one of the PS4's most creative indie titles to date.
Platinum Trophy: Return of the Obra Dinn
From the maker of Papers, Please comes this 1-bit adventure game in which you write up an insurance document about a ghost ship. It sounds like it shouldn't work at all, but Return of the Obra Dinn is a masterful puzzle game that truly tests your deductive skills. With incomplete information and a time-rewinding pocket watch at your disposal, you must figure out the identity and fate of everyone aboard the ill-fated vessel.
Doing so is tricky, but slowly filling your report with the correct information is brilliantly satisfying, making you feel like a sea-faring Sherlock Holmes. It's completely unique, from its head-scratching mystery to its dithered, two-colour visuals. Obra Dinn also compels you through with a fragmented story of tragedy, deceit, and greed. A fascinating experience from start to finish, it rightfully earns its spot as our top indie game of 2019.
What do you make of our picks? Which indie game tops your list for 2019? Place your vote in our poll and share your thoughts in the comments below.