Up until Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart released, Insomniac Games’ dynamic duo had been wilting in the wilderness a little bit. The PS4 reboot, Ratchet & Clank, was well-received – but it felt lightweight compared to classic series entries, like Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time. Fortunately, while Rift Apart doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, it does deliver the series’ first full-scale adventure in well over a generation. This is a game that feels great to play, thanks in part to stunning DualSense integration and some of the glitziest special effects this side of the galaxy. It’s a little more throwaway than many of the PS5’s other exclusives, but its thoroughly entertaining while it lasts, and the introduction of new characters like Rivet mean there’s a lot of life left in this series yet.
Not that it needed to, but with Returnal, Housemarque has proven itself an incredibly capable studio. This PS5 exclusive is a frantic, ultra-tight third person shooter dressed up with some rogue-like elements to add variety and unpredictability to the mix, and the result is wonderful.
Trapped in a loop on a hostile alien world, Selene is forced to relive her fateful crash landing each time she dies. There's an amazing sense of accomplishment as you slowly progress through challenging boss encounters and explore six diverse environments full of randomised weapons, perks, and power-ups. It feels amazing to play, especially with amazing support for the DualSense's features, and the addictive gameplay is complemented by an enigmatic story that will leave you guessing.
The best part is that's just the start. A slew of additional modes flesh out Returnal, giving you a few extra ways to play when you're done with the single player campaign. The daily challenge mode provides all players with a fixed loadout and room layouts, with the goal of amassing the highest score possible by exploring and playing skilfully. Beyond that is the Tower of Sisyphus, an endless arcade mode that similarly tasks you with getting the highest score you can, only there's more of a sense of urgency. You're rewarded not just for skilled play but for fast play — your multiplier will start to tick down if you loiter for too long. The Tower also contains additional story, adding more layers to the mysterious narrative the main game offers.
Finally, there's two-player online co-op. This allows you to join or invite another player and go through the main campaign with a companion, potentially alleviating some of the challenge. While it isn't the primary focus of Returnal, the co-op works splendidly; resources are shared between you, forcing you to make decisions on who gets what, and a revival mechanic lets you bring each other back into the fight. It's just as much fun taking on the world of Atropos with a friend as it is alone, if not more so.
Whether you're in it for the world class gameplay, the atmospheric sci-fi setting, the intentionally mysterious story, or the variety of extra modes, Returnal is among the most robust, rewarding, and addictive games on PS5.
With creator Media Molecule focusing its attention on PS4’s boundless sandbox Dreams, LittleBigPlanet’s whimsical weaved hero deserved his Super Mario 3D World moment. Sackboy: A Big Adventure doesn’t pull up any trees like its predecessors, but is instead a robust co-operative platformer with some memorable musical moments. With a cutesy DIY aesthetic and some surprisingly tight action, it excels in an area that Sony has often been accused of overlooking: fun for the whole family.