Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
There are loads of great mainstream AAA studio games coming this year to PlayStation 5, but what about the lesser-known indie games currently available for (and coming soon to) the console? We’ve rounded up our pick of the best PS5 indie games, as well as a few titles to look forward to.
The best PS5 indie games
Haven is a romantic space RPG adventure from The Game Bakers where you play two characters at once, and it’s one of the best PS5 indie games around. Yu and Kay escaped to an abandoned planet where you must explore to collect parts and materials to turn your ship into a comfortable home. Settle into everyday life as a couple: cooking, crafting, scavenging materials, making new friends and combining forces to battle foes who would tear you apart. This pick-up-and-play style game is easy to get into and features an electro soundtrack from DANGER. You can also play local co-op with a partner or friend, for even more fun.
Disco Elysium, from developer ZA/UM Studio definitely isn’t a game for everyone. The award-winning open-world RPG is more akin to traditional tabletop RPGs with cards and a roll of the dice. You play as a detective suffering from amnesia who must solve a murder mystery. Aside from the unusual oil painting art style, there’s no combat in the game. Instead, you have dialogue trees where you make choices, skill checks, and a Thought Cabinet that reflects your character’s personality traits. Disco Elysium is an involved, deep game that you’ll find yourself sinking many, many hours into, and it’ll stay with you long after the end credits roll.
We’re cheating a little here as Outer Wilds is only available for PS4, though you can of course play the PS4 version on your PS5. Developed by Mobius Games in collaboration with Annapurna Interactive, this critically acclaimed, award-winning game is an open-world space mystery about a solar system stuck in a time loop. Use your jetpack, ship, and other cool equipment to explore the solar system and uncover its constantly-changing mysteries. Find out why you’re trapped in a time loop, and if it can be stopped. The world changes over time, so each gaming session presents new things to discover and areas to explore, meaning Outer Wilds is a game you’ll find yourself sinking a lot of time into.
This highly stylized action-adventure from Heart Machine, creators of Hyper Light Drifter, sees you play as Rei, a Voidrunner who must save her planet from the Ultravoid. Set in a surreal, colorful dreamscape littered with the abandoned ruins of once-great ancient civilizations, you’ll explore, grapple, grind rails, and surf your way through the clouds as you take on deadly foes and massive bosses. Solar Ash is a lot of fun, and if you haven’t yet played Hyper Light Drifter, we highly recommend that too.
This roguelike hack-and-slash dungeon crawler from Supergiant games (of Bastion and Transistor fame) not only looks amazing, but it’s won over 50 Game of the Year awards, too. Though it’s been out for a while, it’s still a must-play, as you wield the powers of Olympus to defeat the God of the Dead and escape the Underworld. Play as Zag, a warrior who can wield six different weapons, with four variants that you can choose depending on your play style — so you can pick off foes from a distance with the bow or wield the Stygian Blade to dive into the heart of the action.
Hades melds fast-paced action with a deep, charming, progressive story and a cast of fascinating characters that includes mythic figures and deities from Greek mythology, like the surprisingly optimist Sisyphus and “Bouldy,” his affectionately-named boulder.
What do you get if you combine Groundhog Day, Rear Window, and Memento? A game like Twelve Minutes. When a quiet evening at home descends into a nightmare after a police detective comes to your home, accuses your wife of murder, and beats you to death, you strangely find yourself transported back in time to just before it all happens. Stuck in a 12-minute time loop, you must figure out what’s going on and prevent it all from occurring — but can you break the loop? With stellar voice acting from Willem Dafoe, James McAvoy, and Daisy Ridley, this is a compelling and at times frustrating little thriller from Annapurna Interactive.
From Wales Interactive, this first-person psychological gothic horror game isn’t for the faint of heart. Based on ancient Welsh folklore, Maid of Sker is set in 1898, where you find yourself in a remote hotel with a macabre history. Armed only with a defensive sound device, you must utilize stealth to avoid being caught and killed by the Quiet Ones, sound-based AI enemies, as you sneak through the hotel. A creepy soundtrack of Welsh hymns and folk songs helps set the mood, with a plot crafted by the teams behind SOMA and The Bunker.
Call of the Sea is a first-person adventure puzzle game set in the 1930s South Pacific. You play as Nora, a woman on the trail of her missing husband’s expedition. It’s your task to explore the mysterious island, uncover its secrets, find out who you really are, and solve clever puzzles along the way. The gorgeously realized, colorful island is packed with hidden secrets to explore, and Nora is voiced by Cissy Jones (The Walking Dead, Firewatch) making for a truly immersive experience.
This award-winning game, developed from the critically-acclaimed mod that racked up over three million downloads, is something you have to experience on PS5. When you discover the ruins of an ancient underground city, you’re propelled 2,000 years into the past, to Ancient Rome, and must uncover the mystery of how the city was destroyed. Violence won’t get you far here and you must use a combination of bribery, charm, reason, intimidation, and moral choices to question a colorful cast of detailed characters to break the time loop. The non-linear mystery has multiple endings, so great replay value, and a stunning, historically accurate, open-world ancient Roman city to explore. It can be frustrating at times, but successfully manipulating the time loop to solve puzzles is undeniably satisfying.
In this mythic adventure from Giant Squid, you play as the Hunter, a master archer tasked with dispelling a curse of darkness from a mysterious island. Alongside your trusty eagle companion, you must explore a vast open world without a map to guide you, along the way solving puzzles, unearthing ancient lore, and hunting ancestral spirits with your bow. Unlock awesome trick shots and perform fluid acrobatics as you take on epic bosses in battle and uncover the mysteries of the island.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is, well, colorful! This adventure game from indie developer Greg Lobanov lets you use painting to solve puzzles, explore, and restore color to the world. Chicory is the wielder of The Brush, a magical artifact that brings color to Picnic Province. When it suddenly vanishes, and Chicory alongside it, you must wield the Brush and fill in for her. Solve puzzles by drawing, interact with the Province’s inhabitants using paint, unlock new abilities, and draw on everything you see. There’s even co-op fashion, so you can share the fun with a friend.
No list of the best PS5 indie games would be complete without a racing game, and we’ve chosen Art of Rally. From Funselektor Labs, the creator of Absolute Drift, this stylized rally game features an elegant, dream-like art style and is packed with nostalgia. Drive over 50 iconic rally cars from the 60s to the 80s and explore the history of rally racing in Career Mode, with 60 global stages taking you from Finland to Japan. The top-down view, authentic handling, and charm-packed visuals ensure this is a rally game that will appeal to everyone. There are beginner-friendly modes for those new to rally games, with modes fit to challenge expert drives too, plus daily and weekly challenges. Art of Rally is as fun to play as it is gorgeously good-looking, and a must even if you’re not usually a fan of rally games.
Heavenly Bodies is a challenging physics game from 2pt Interactive, set in space. You must clamber, pull, and push your way through a scientific research station as you solve puzzles, all in the absence of gravity. Your only assistance comes from radio contact with mission control. The game can at times be frustratingly challenging, but you don’t have to go it alone, as there’s local co-op too, so you can get a friend on board and team up to face challenges together.
The best upcoming PS5 indie games
There are plenty of upcoming PS5 indie games, some arriving later in 2022, some coming next year, and others with a release date yet to be confirmed. Here are our picks to watch out for:
- Stray: One of the most anticipated PS5 games, Stray sees you play as a cat exploring a cyberpunk city seemingly home to only robots. Coming from Annapurna Interactive on July 19.
- The Plucky Squire: From All Possible Futures comes this gorgeous new adventure game, where two storybook characters discover a 3D world outside their book’s pages. Coming 2023.
- Animal Well: From Shared Memory, this pixel-art game lets you explore a forsaken labryinth where you must manipulate your environment in mysterious, meaningful ways to survive — but something is lurking in the dark. Release date TB.
- Hello Neighbor 2: Explore the strangely quiet town of Raven Brooks and uncover the residents’ dark secrets while investigating the case of Mr. Petersen (Hello Neighbor’s original antagonist). With characters powered by a neural network AI, learning from all players, gameplay is tough and complex to outsmart. Available to pre-order now, coming December 6, 2022.
- Atomic Heart: From developer Mundfish, Atomic Heart is set in a future USSR after a global system failure causes machinery to rebel against humans. You play as Major P-3, and must prevent classified info from leaking, taking down enemies, and eliminating the consequences of this accident. Explore vast test sites and research facilities with a huge array of weapons and special abilities. This game looks stunning, but the release date is still TBC.
- Chia: Tchia is a physics-driven open-world sandbox adventure game inspired by the tiny Pacific island of New Caledonia, home to developer Acaweb’s co-founders. Climb, swim, sail, and glide your way around this beautiful world, meet a diverse cast of characters, enjoy a heartfelt story, and even take control of any animal or object with Soul Jumping, accompanied by your fully-playable companion ukulele. Release date TB.
These are our picks for the best new and upcoming PS5 indie games to keep an eye out for. We’ll update this list as games are released, and new titles are announced.