Why you should be knee-deep in PS4 indie games right now

Towerfall Ascension
Stop worrying about the graphics and start having fun

It's totally understandable. You've just bought a PS4 - a shimmering onyx slab of bleeding-edge technology; a portal to undiscovered and unimaginable worlds.

Its LED gently throbs in preparation for the wondrous journey you're about to embark on. The best title available on your impossibly futuristic PlayStation 4?

According to Metacritic, it's five-year-old PSN title Flower. Hmmm.

A PS4 port of Rayman Legends occupies the silver medal slot. The first non-remaster is three games down the list and it's Towerfall Ascension, which I'm pretty sure could run on my wristwatch at a silky smooth 60 frames per second.

Towerfall Ascension

You're looking at one of the absolute best games on PS4 right now. If that makes you feel a bit sad, it's time to get in with the indie crowd

Indie is where it's at

"I know it hurts. I know you don't want to hear this right now. But you're doing it wrong"

You're frustrated. All this firepower, and not all that much to let it loose upon. The Killzone Shadow Falls and Infamous: Second Sons are out there, but they're hardly coming thick and fast. You feel like you bought a Bugatti Veyron just before the government changed the national speed limit to 6 MPH.

You're vocalising that pain all over the internet, every time a positive review of a 2D indie goes live. Every time a 16-bit game gets announced on the PlayStation blog. I think I even saw a comment trashing Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on an article about Russia's occupation of Crimea.

I know it hurts. I know you don't want to hear this right now. But you're doing it wrong.

You could be having the time of your life with Towerfall Ascension this very minute (I came pretty close to giving it a perfect score when I reviewed it) but instead you're calibrating your TV in preparation for Watch Dogs.

Luftrausers might look like a broken GameBoy emulator, but underneath its pseudo-sepia pixels lies as modern and compulsive a shmup as you could wish for. Admit it: you only gave the mesmerising voxel-verse that is Resogun a try because it was free on PS Plus for a bit.

That's not to say you shouldn't crave the silicon-melting mega-games with draw distances better than Neil Buchanan's and some new kind of anti-aliasing that adds money to your bank account as you look at it.

They'll arrive eventually, but sadly for you and me they cost more money than ever before to produce, and the big publishers aren't exactly in a devil may care mood about investment right now.

Killzone Shadow Fall

Titles with lustrous looks like Killzone Shadow Fall don't just happen overnight, and their budgets are comparable with Hollywood summer blockbusters these days.

Graphics aren't everything

For context, I've been worshipping at the altar of mouse and keyboard even longer than I've been a proud PlayStation Gamer. Our systems eat the latest games for breakfast, and 4K gaming is a genuine option for those willing to stuff the funds into it.

Do we PC gamers spend every waking hour playing the titles that make our graphics cards whizz like jetliners taking off? Do we occupy nothing but 1080p60 environs, torturing our poor systems with high-res texture packs?

Yeah, we do a bit. But most of the time we're larking about with Goat Simulator, trying to get Interstate '76 working on anything newer than Windows 98, or managing our mental health in Don't Starve.

Right now I'm playing Diablo III, and to my PC that as taxing as waking up at 11AM and finding a post-it note saying 'jobs for today: prepare Pot Noodle. Eat.'

Interstate 76

PC gaming is perpetually capable of ever higher graphical standard, but often looks like this - why won't you play nice with Windows 7, Interstate 76?

Embrace the new age

"You now have a banquet of indies bursting with new design ideas, witty writing, impeccable systems and striking art styles"

Sadly we're just not in a climate that funds endless high-budget projects. That means it's going to take longer to build up a library of games that push the technological envelope. But it also means the triple-As that do arrive are more likely to be worthy of your time and money.

PS4 won't get its own Rogue Warrior or Ride To Hell: Retribution, because wherever the next generation of terrible game pitches are they're never going to get approved.

The worst we'll get are the dreaded 'solid 7/10's that play a bit too safe.

But the really good news is that you don't have to occupy the time between blockbusters with 'double-A' titles like Alpha Protocol, as you would in previous generations. You now have a banquet of indies bursting with new design ideas, witty writing, impeccable systems and striking art styles.

It's glass half full time. Don't be a graphics snob, get stuck into the indie community that Sony's chasing after so hard this gen. Who knows – you might find more enjoyment in the 2D, 16-bit plane than in the homogenised open worlds of blockbuster gaming.

Bio: Phil Iwaniuk is games editor at Official PlayStation Magazine UK, and can be found occupying his spare time with a cup and ball between high profile next-gen games.

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Phil Iwaniuk

Ad creative by day, wandering mystic of 90s gaming folklore by moonlight, freelance contributor Phil started writing about games during the late Byzantine Empire era. Since then he’s picked up bylines for The Guardian, Rolling Stone, IGN, USA Today, Eurogamer, PC Gamer, VG247, Edge, Gazetta Dello Sport, Computerbild, Rock Paper Shotgun, Official PlayStation Magazine, Official Xbox Magaine, CVG, Games Master, TrustedReviews, Green Man Gaming, and a few others but he doesn’t want to bore you with too many. Won a GMA once.