It's easy to forget about the little guy. With so many big-name studios flooding the market with their blockbusters, many smaller games -- typically independently developed -- get lost in the cloud of pre-order bonuses, season passes and exclusive content. That's not to say that larger titles can't deliver, but it's easy to overlook some pretty incredible games when the hype-train is always roaring in the forefront.
Today, we wanted to take some time to get to know a few of the independent titles that are lurking in the shadows, and maybe even reconnect with some old friends that we haven't spent enough time with lately. If you're looking for some hidden gems to help you get through the holiday season, take a peek at some of our picks for the best indie games on the PS4. It also doesn't hurt that you can buy most of what's on this list for the price of one AAA title, give or take.
Don't Starve (Buy for PS4)
Although it got its start on Steam, Don't Starve eventually made it to the PS4, and at one point was free for PlayStation Plus users. An uncompromising survival game full of science and magic, players will step into the shoes of Wilson, a scientist who must explore and exploit his environment, with the sole purpose being to survive as long as possible. Purchasing Don't Starve through the PlayStation Network will entitle users to both the PS4 and PS Vita versions, so there's the added bang for your buck element as well.
Flower (Buy for PS4)
Flower came out all the way back in 2009 for the PS3, but was a no-brainer when it came to stocking the indie shelves on Sony's shiny new PS4 late in 2013. It's a beautiful game that doesn't feature any conflict or enemies, but rather allows the player to explore a gorgeous world without being inhibited by a bunch of pesky objectives. Flower was well received by critics, something that surprised developers due the artistic approach that the game takes.
Surgeon Simulator (Buy for PS4)
It's our duty to advise you to play Surgeon Simulator first, then switch over to Flower in order to calm yourself down. Maybe Sony should throw these two titles together and call it The Emotionally Balanced Indie Experience. You heard it here first.
Since you may be wondering what Surgeon Simulator is all about, it's about horribly hilarious surgery, and it's a game that you should likely play when you're about eight beers deep, and never before you are headed for a procedure of your own. Also, it was developed in 48 hours... what more can we say?
Resogun (Buy for PS4)
As USgamer's very own Editor-in-Chief, Jeremy Parish put it in his review, "Resogun is little more than a simple shooter from 1982 designed to be played in two-minute spurts..." From the creators of Super Stardust and Dead Nation, this shoot 'em up was praised for its graphics, fast-paced gameplay and soundtrack, and was even nominated for Action Game of the Year at the 2014 DICE Awards. If you're more into peer feedback than awards and nominations, it currently holds a perfect five star rating from nearly 70,000 players on the PS4.
Hotline Miami (Buy for PS4)
If Flower didn't calm you down after your stint with Surgeon Simulator, Hotline Miami might just be the cure for your woes. Set in an alternate 1989 -- wait for it -- Miami, players will take on the role of an antihero who is on a murderous rampage against the city's underworld, and it's all inspired by voices from... your answering machine? Seems reasonable enough. After all, when did vicious gunplay and skull cracking goodness in video games ever require sound reasoning?
Never Alone (Buy for PS4)
Never Alone, also known as Kisima Ingitchuna, was developed with the help of the Iñupiat, an Alaskan Native people. With the assistance of nearly 40 Alaskan Native elders, storytellers and community members, the game features a young Iñupiat girl and arctic fox that set out to find the source of a blizzard which threatens their survival. That may not be a huge selling point for some gamers, but as our very own Jaz Rignall put it, "It delivers a message and makes you think. A video game that does that is a rare and special beast – and deserves to be treasured."
Fez (Buy for PS4)
Although gamers seem a bit unsure of what to make of Phil Fish, founder of Polytron and designer on Fez, most people tend to agree that this indie title is worth checking out. A 2D puzzle platformer set within a 3D World, the objective of the game is to collect cubes and cube fragments, which of course will help to restore order to the universe. What Fez really brings to the table, however, is a beautiful open-ended world full of puzzles, secrets and mysteries, just like Mr. Fish.
Spelunky (Buy for PS4)
It would seem that indie game fans love their platformers, but in the case of Spelunky -- best video game title of all time? -- they are completely justified. Players will have to navigate through caves that are filled with traps, bats, snakes and spiders, each of which is randomly generated to keep you on your toes. As our very own Mike Williams commented, "Spelunky is painfully-hard, but that's why you'll feel that sense of triumph when you do slightly better than your last run."
Outlast (Buy for PS4)
Hold onto your butts, because it's about to get kicked repeatedly and relentlessly by the homicidal patients of a dilapidated psychiatric hospital. One of the best games to watch someone live stream, Outlast will thoroughly test the fortitude of your heart, assuming it doesn't get ripped out of your chest and used as a makeshift soccer ball by the terrifying -- and sometimes naked -- foes that wish to do you harm. Things aren't all bad though, players do get to use the night vision option on their camcorder as a source of light... although batteries tend to be kind of scarce.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Buy for PS4)
Our list has included flowers, surgery, naked survival horror and now... poop. Well, not just poop, as The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth features many more bodily fluids, because it's not cool to limit your showcase of disgusting human goo to one orifice and not another. This game is more than just poop and puke, however. It's an RPG shooter with rogue-like elements that -- poop aside -- bear a striking resemblance to some of the features and mechanics found in the Zelda franchise.
Escape Plan (Buy for PS4)
Games don't have to be perfect to be make an appearance on a best of list, but they do have to do something better than everyone else, which in the case of Escape Plan happens to be its gruesome yet hilarious tone throughout its puzzle solving goodness. While it was noted for making great use of the multi-touch display offered by the PlayStation Vita, the previously mentioned vibe, along with crisp black and white visuals were enough to vault it onto our PS4 list. If that doesn't sell you on Escape Plan, how about the fact that the game features sausages blasted at your face?