There was once a time when the platforming genre dominated the home console market. Mascot characters like Mario, Sonic, and Donkey Kong were driving forces behind not just the sales of their own games but the sales of their consoles. The genre continued to succeed when gaming made the switch from 2D to 3D in the late 90s; Sonic and Donkey Kong struggled to adjust in the long term, but Mario continued to thrive, and new characters like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro began to emerge.
Unfortunately for platforming fans, the years that followed saw the genre fall from grace. The improved hardware of the PlayStation 2 allowed for more realistic games, paving the way for action games to dominate the console. Further hardware improvements with the PS3 and Xbox 360 saw open-world adventures & RPGs start to flood the industry, while platformers, a genre that is linear by design, have struggled to offer the same amount of content.
Despite the eighth generation of consoles offering developers the opportunity to make games at an even larger scale than ever before, the PlayStation 4 saw platformers, in particular side-scrolling platformers, make a return. The genre seems to have found its place in modern gaming by reducing its price to compensate for the lack of content in comparison to open-world adventures.
Updated on July 21, 2021, by Jack Pursey: With the ninth generation of home consoles in full swing, gamers are beginning to reflect on the heights and lows of the eighth generation. The platforming genre’s resurgence on the PlayStation 4 provided a plethora of excellent titles that will generally be available at low prices today, making now a great time to try some of the console’s gems, especially for those who are still struggling to get their hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S.
So, for those looking to revisit some of the PS4’s platforming highs, this list has been expanded by a further five entries. The release dates and available systems of each game have also been added to help platforming fans decide what to play next.
15 Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! (84)
• Available Platforms – PlayStation 4, Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch
• Initial Release Date – July 22, 2014
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! is a remake of the original entry in the Oddworld series Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, which was first released in 1997 and received an impressive 85 Metascore.
Like the original, New ‘n’ Tasty is a side-scrolling, cinematic platformer filled with tricky puzzles to solve and an excellent dark, atmospheric art design. A sequel was released in April 2021 titled Oddworld: Soulstorm, though the game failed to impress fans and critics, exemplified by its matching 66 critic score and 6.6 user score on Metacritic.
14 Salt and Sanctuary (84)
• Available Platforms – PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
• Initial Release Date – March 15, 2016
Platforming is just one of the many genres that Salt and Sanctuary incorporates, as the game also mixes in action, Metroidvania, and role-playing elements as well. This mix of gameplay styles may sound like a hot mess on paper, but the development team did a fantastic job of creating an experience that feels well-balanced and unique.
Salt and Sanctuary was developed by Ska Studios, who is best known at the time for its bizarrely titled games such as 2009’s I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1NIT!!!1 and 2014’s TIME VIKING!!!!!ANDSPACERAPTOR.
13 Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time (85)
• Available Platforms – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Windows
• Initial Release Date – October 2, 2020
The Crash Bandicoot series’ last few years have been a delight for fans of the franchise, with remakes for the beloved PlayStation 1 racing and platforming games being followed by a direct sequel to 1998’s Crash Bandicoot: Warped. The resurgence has given hope for those wanting to see their favorite childhood games getting a modern sequel and has been a prime example of how great remakes can be for an IP.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time sees the series return to its corridor platforming roots, with a few moments of adult humor and brutal difficulty level that shows the developers had Crash’s older audience in mind when making the game.
12 Super Meat Boy (85)
• Available Platforms – Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
• Initial Release Date – October 20, 2010
From one tricky platformer to another, Super Meat Boy was first released on Xbox 360 back in 2010 and was a pioneer of the indie platforming genre, which is thriving today. The game took platforming back to its roots with a side-scrolling perspective and small, contained levels while also implementing new ideas such as the instant resets and absence of lives which has become the norm in platforming today.
Super Meat Boy finally received a sequel over ten years after its initial release titled Super Meat Boy Forever, though that game struggled to impress with many people being put off by its auto-runner movement. The sequel received a respectable 70 critic score on Metacritic but only managed to reach a 4.2 mark from users.
11 Cuphead (86)
• Available Platforms – Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
• Initial Release Date – September 29, 2017
Originally released on Xbox One and PC in 2017, Cuphead finally made its way to Sony’s console in 2017. Cuphead was developed and published by Studio MDHR, who took inspiration from 30s cartoons for the game’s art style, which won Best Art Direction at The Game Awards 2017.
Except for a few run and gun levels scattered through the game’s overworld, Cuphead is essentially a boss rush. This doesn’t mean that the game is too simplistic or will be over quickly, though, as Cuphead‘s bosses provide some of the toughest challenges from the PS4’s lifecycle.
10 Spelunky 2 (87)
• Available Platforms – Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
• Initial Release Date – September 15, 2020
Released 12 years after the original Spelunky, Mossmouth brought its 2D side-scrolling IP back to critical acclaim. The game puts the player in the shoes of Ana, the daughter of the first game’s protagonist.
Mossmouth kept the core gameplay of Spelunky 2 similar to the game’s predecessor but found ways of improving the pre-existing mechanics while also throwing in a few new ones. One new mechanic came in the form of ridable mounts, taking players back to the nostalgic days of Mario and Yoshi.
9 Sonic Mania Plus (87)
• Available Platforms – Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
• Initial Release Date – July 17, 2018
Despite an incredible amount of attempts, SEGA has never quite been able to recapture the magic of the classic 2D Sonic games. In 2017, Sonic Team and SEGA released their latest 3D game, Sonic Forces. It was yet another source of disappointment for Sonic fans, as the title failed to impress with Metascores that only narrowly surpassed the 50 mark.
Thankfully for SEGA, Sonic Forces wasn’t their only Sonic game of the year, as they also released a separate title with PagodaWest Games and Headcannon, Sonic Mania. The game took the series back to its roots, redesigning some of the most beloved Sega Genesis stages. Sonic Mania Plus was released the following year, with a physical retail release and additional content.
8 Dead Cells (87)
• Available Platforms – Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android
• Initial Release Date – August 7, 2018
The Metroidvania genre had a surprising but welcome resurgence during the eighth generation of console, as titles like Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Hollow Knight proved that the classic style of play had a place in modern gaming.
Dead Cells is an extremely ambitious game that tried to combine a range of genres including platforming, action, roguelike, and Metroidvania. The game was highly praised for how well it blended the many genres and for the design of its procedurally generated levels.
7 Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (87)
• Available Platforms – Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
• Initial Release Date – April 9, 2013
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is yet another excellent modern Metroidvania title. The game was initially released on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita in 2013 before the wonderfully titled Super Turbo Championship Edition brought the game to eighth-generation consoles and PC.
Much like Dead Cells, DrinkBox Studios’ Guacamelee! integrates multiple genres into its gameplay; platforming and beat em’ up-action are the game’s main styles of play as players progress through the beautifully designed Metroidvania map.
6 Fez (90)
• Available Platforms – Xbox 360, Windows, Linux, OS X, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Nintendo Switch
• Initial Release Date – April 13, 2012
Originally released on the Xbox 360 in 2012, Polytron Corporation’s Fez came to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vista in March 2014.
Fez is a puzzle-platformer that blends 2D and 3D gaming by letting players rotate a three-dimensional world to change their two-dimensional view. Along with reaching the elusive 90 mark on Metacritic, Fez won multiple awards, including Best Story/World Design from IndieCade.
5 Rayman Legends (90)
• Available Platforms – Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia
• Initial Release Date – August 29, 2013
Once Ubisoft’s leading game series, Rayman carved a space in the crowded 2D side-scrolling genre of platformers with the original Rayman in 1995, before drastically changing styles with the 3D Rayman 2: The Great Escape four years later; ensuring that the mascot character didn’t fall behind after Super Mario 64 revolutionized the genre.
Rayman Legends, along with its predecessor Rayman Origins, was fundamental in bringing side-scrolling platformers back into the mainstream. The games combined beautiful modern visuals with smooth platforming gameplay that even managed to make underwater levels enjoyable.
4 Shovel Knight (90)
• Available Platforms – Amazon Fire TV, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita. Wii U, Xbox One
• Initial Release Date – June 26, 2014
Released by Yacht Club Games one year after Ubisoft’s Rayman Legends, Shovel Knight has found its way onto almost every major console under the sun since its humble beginnings on Kickstarter.
Shovel Knight takes players on a nostalgic trip back to the side-scrolling platformers of the Nintendo Entertainment System with its 8-bit graphics. The game was showered with awards upon release, including Best Platformer and Best Music from IGN, as well as Best Independent Game from The Game Awards.
3 Inside (91)
• Available Platforms – Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, macOS
• Initial Release Date – June 29, 2016
The successor to Limbo, Playdead initially released Inside on the Xbox One in 2016 before coming to all other major systems. Much like its predecessor, the game has an ambiguous story that is still being debated today.
Much like Limbo, Inside is a puzzle-platformer that has a far slower and more methodical speed than the usual fast-paced platforming games that most players are accustomed to. The game takes a “less is more” approach to its sound, as the game is predominantly silent except for sound effects and musical cues; this approach was clearly successful, as the game won the accolade of Best Audio at the Game Developers Choice Awards 2016.
2 Celeste (91)
• Available Platforms – Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia
• Initial Release Date – January 25, 2018
Celeste was developed and published by Matt Makes Games, who also released the critically acclaimed action title TowerFall. Celeste puts players in control of Madeline, who attempts to climb Celeste Mountain.
Despite how impressive the PS4 iteration’s 91 Metascore is, it’s a few points short of the Xbox One release, which scored an eye-watering 94, making it the console’s fourth highest-rated game.
1 Journey (92)
• Available Platforms – PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, iOS
• Initial Release Date – March 13, 2012
Journey was originally released on the PlayStation 3 in 2012, before being ported to the PlayStation 4 just over three years later. The adventure-platformer will only take most players a couple of hours to beat, though its gameplay experience still lives fondly in the memories of many players.
Due to its short length and emphasis on trying to invoke a sense of emotional attachment to the protagonist and any companions, the platforming sections in Journey are few and far between. Still, it’s worth checking out for fans of the genre for the encapsulating journey that the game takes players on, partnered with its wonderful art design.
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https://gamerant.com/best-platformer-games-ps4/ | Best Platformers You Can Play On The PS4 (According To Metacritic)