Sony’s awesome Play At Home initiative will see the addition of nine free new PlayStation 4 games today – you can find out exactly when the titles will be available in your region through here. These are completely complimentary: you don’t need an existing PS Plus or PS Now subscription to redeem them – and they’re yours to keep forever. While we’re sure many of you are familiar with the titles, some of you may not be, so we figured it’d be fun to introduce each title individually – and explain why you should give them a whirl.
For more information on Play At Home, refer to our All Free PS4 Games, Offers Included in Play At Home 2021 Initiative guide.
Everything’s better under the sea – a legendary Homer Simpson song taught us that. ABZÛ, with its fancy French characters, shares a lot in common with Journey – a former Play At Home favourite. This artistic experience can be appreciated by pretty much everyone, and its use of bright colours and soothing music should help to give you a feel good factor during lockdown.
From our review: "ABZÛ is a triumph of exploration and atmosphere. Its gorgeous underwater playgrounds are a joy to explore thanks to its perfectly tuned controls, awe-inspiring visuals, and beautiful sound design. A somewhat predictable story does little to hamper what is otherwise an utterly unique and rapturous experience."
Those of you who own a PS5 will be all too familiar with Astro Bot from the excellent Astro’s Playroom – but did you know the character already had his own full-length PSVR game? Inspired by a minigame in The Playroom VR, this outstanding platformer rivals some of the genre’s very best, utilising Sony’s headset to embed you in its colourful environments. You’ll be smiling from start to finish.
From our review: "Astro Bot Rescue Mission is an imaginative and innovative platformer which plays to the strengths of PlayStation VR and delivers an immersive experience that isn’t easy to forget. Stunning presentation elevated by insanely good animation ensure that you always feel present in the release’s virtual world, while tight controls and genuinely clever level design will keep you engaged. This is the kind of game that will leave you beaming long after you’ve taken the headset off – and we can’t give it higher praise than that."
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Rogue-like games are ten a penny these days, but a few stand out among the crowd, and one of those is Enter the Gungeon. Essentially a twin-stick shooter, it has you exploring randomly generated floors of the titular dungeon, fighting all sorts of bullet hell enemies as you wield a frankly ludicrous variety of weapons. With potentially endless replay value and an addictive gameplay loop, it's well worth exploring what the Gungeon has to offer.
From our review: "Enter the Gungeon is another in a long line of fantastic roguelikes. Its razor sharp twin-stick gunplay, huge variety of passive and active weapons, and clever world building make it an absolute joy to sink countless hours into. The lack of leaderboards or a daily run mode is a frustrating oversight, but you'll be too busy running, gunning, and dodge-rolling your way through its many caverns to notice or care."
Moss shares a lot in common with Astro Bot Rescue Mission: it’s a PSVR platformer with a unique 3D perspective. While this is overall a shorter and less polished game, its lead character is no less lovely, and the fantasy story should provide you with some escapism during these admittedly testing times.
From our review: "Moss is sublime throughout, but it’s so good that you’ll wish there was more of it. Much more of it. Clocking in at just a few hours, the game feels like the prologue for a much bigger adventure, and it’ll leave you yearning for more. As a virtual reality experience, only minor technological limitations detract from its lush fantasy world and cunning use of the medium. There's no doubt that Polyarc's built the foundations for something truly special here; it now needs to write a few more chapters in Quill’s tale."
If you're looking to play something a little more laid back in PSVR, Paper Beast may be for you. Set in a mysterious landscape where paper animals roam, you're able to interact with these creatures in all sorts of ways, from feeding them treats to picking them up and throwing them across the environment. It's an atmospheric, wondrous game that lets you play at your own pace, allowing you to explore what's possible in its paper craft sandbox.
From our review: "Paper Beast is an unusual but well realised world in PSVR. The interplay between you, the environments, and all the plants and animals is fun to discover, and it really does offer up some great moments throughout the story. Some of the puzzles are a little too obtuse, but overall the freedom you're given to experiment leads to a greatly unique experience. The Sandbox mode adds some longevity, and allows you to really tinker with all the game's elements. We're not sure we'd call this an absolute must-have, but it's utterly unique and captivating in a way only VR games can be."
If life is feeling a little drab during lockdown, then let Rez Infinite into your life. This game actually first released on the Dreamcast almost 20 years ago, but it’s just as euphoric today. You can play the game either on a standard television or with PSVR, but we’d recommend you opt for the latter if you own the headset as this classic borders on biblical in virtual reality.
From our review: "Magnificent many years after its original release, Rez Infinite finally feels at home on PlayStation VR – and virtual reality has got its first killer app. A sensational sensory overload, this sublime shooter may be short-lived, but you'll be hard pushed to find an experience more deserving of your attention this year."
One of the tenser titles on this list, Subnautica takes you deep underwater – but expect choppier waters than those found in ABZÛ, for example. This is as much about survival as it is exploration, but its unique setting sets it apart from similar titles on PS4.
From our review: "Subnautica sees you submerged in a vast and utterly breathtaking underwater world, teeming with secrets and polished off with an unsettling atmosphere that instigates a real sense of thrill as you play. The game has a rewarding crafting system that encourages exploration. Furthermore, the story is full of endearing twists and turns that will take you to the deepest, darkest parts of the alien planet, even against your better judgement. Whether survival adventure is your genre of choice or you’re just a sucker for a gorgeous open world begging to be explored, Subnautica truly is a must-play."
Thumper is a very unique take on rhythm games. It might not look it on first inspection, but it's all about following the beat of the music, guiding that metallic space beetle through the cosmos. As far as rhythm games go, though, you're unlikely to find one that goes harder or faster than this. When it's at full pelt, Thumper is a force to be reckoned with; unrelenting challenge, blistering pace, and a moody soundtrack make it truly something to behold — especially if you opt to play it in PSVR.
From our review: "Thumper makes an incredible case for the future of virtual reality. With an incredible level of quality paired with a reasonable price of admission, this should absolutely be one of the first titles that anyone interested in making the most out of their new PlayStation VR headset buys. With blistering speed and intensity to go along with some easy to learn, difficult to master gameplay mechanics, the future of rhythm games – and, by extension, virtual reality – is bright."
Ah, The Witness — easily one of PS4's best puzzlers, and among the machine's best games in general. In it, you explore a beautiful but mysterious island, one that's been peppered with countless panels featuring miniature puzzles. Your main job is to solve as many of these (seemingly) simple line puzzles as you can, but it's not always as easy as it seems. What's astounding about the game is its ability to indirectly teach you a whole puzzle-solving language without uttering a word. With lots to do and many mind-blowing secrets to find, this is highly recommended.
From our review: "The Witness is an intelligent, expertly crafted puzzle game with ceaselessly satisfying gameplay. It becomes bafflingly complex, yet the free-roaming nature of the island means that you'll never be stuck for long. In addition, the way in which it communicates new elements is nothing short of masterful. All in all, Jonathan Blow's latest is an enormous triumph."
Which of the free Play At Home games are you most looking forward to trying this week? Let us know which you'll be downloading and why in the comments section below.