(Pocket-lint) – No console is truly complete without a burgeoning independent gaming scene – from the days of the Xbox 360 and PS3 onwards, these smaller games have provided huge amounts of fun for gamers, often through digital storefronts and with lower prices.
They’re often a bit more experimental than mainstream AAA studio efforts and might have funky art styles or direction that make them really unique, and we love experimenting with them. The PlayStation 5 has plenty to host, since all the same games from the PS4 will work on it too. Here are the very best on offer, after some links to our other game guides in case a different genre is in your crosshairs.
What are the best indie games for PS5?
- Disco Elysium
- Hollow Knight
- The Forgotten City
- Outer Wilds
- The Pathless
- Solar Ash
This role-playing game (RPG) really takes the genre to new places simply by virtue of how much it commits to the theme, letting you interact with not just a range of characters and places but also your own psyche in internal conversations.
No two playthroughs will be alike, as you take on the role of a depressed and self-defeating cop trying to solve a grisly murder, all set in a bleakly realistic dystopian future port city. There’s a lot going on, but all of it is brilliant.
The template laid down by the likes of Metroid and Castlevania is perfected in the form of Hollow Knight, a 2D sidescroller that lets you explore a vast map piece by piece as you grow your power and vanquish a succession of challenging bosses.
It’s made by a tiny team with wonderful hand-drawn art and a sense of tone that’s completely irepressible and we are huge fans of it. You’ll find loads of value, too, if you’re a hardcore fan, since there’s plenty of tough postgame content.
The very definition of an indie darling, Hades has a huge fanbase for good reason, with an expert blend of roguelike action and heartfelt storytelling. You’ll try to escape the Underworld over and over, learning new tactics and using a new range of powers each time.
As you do so, you’ll be drip-fed a gorgeous story about family and grief, with the story beats ensuring that no failed escape attempt feels like a real defeat. It’s a brilliant mixture that is sure to suck you in.
The Forgotten City
Another game with classical themes, The Forgotten City drops you into a time-loop in an ancient Roman haven, where everyone dies if even a single person commits a sin of any sort. Your job is to figure out why and how this is happening, and to see if you can escape.
It’s a brilliant mystery game that will see you meet a devilish cast and decide who you can trust over time, according to the evidence, and with multiple endings to discover you’re sure to blaze your own path through it.
If you like the sounds of a mystery game, then another recent classic comes in the form of Outer Wilds, and its expansion DLC Echoes of the Eye. It’s a brilliant game that also revolves around a time loop, this time tasking you with figuring out why a small solar system is collapsing each time.
You’ll slowly piece things together as loops pass, deciphering ancient texts and working out exactly what happened to light the touchpaper and end this solar system’s life cycle. It’s a mesmerising experience and we recommend going in with as little knowledge as possible.
A game all about the joy of movement, The Pathless is a sumtuous experience. You play a huntress dispatched by her people to stop the spread of a corruption across the land, and you’ll do so by taking down giant beasts occupying areas in turn.
The twist is that you move around by timing shots with your bow, hitting targets in sequence to build up speed, and it’s intensely satisfying just to move around its beautiful open world finding new secrets and upgrades.
A game all about art and self-worth, Chicory sees you take on the power of a magic paintbrush, and the responsibility to keep a delightful little world colourful as its colours drain away. It’s about much more than that, though, touching gently on themes of mental health and imposter syndrome.
You’ll have freedom to paint and draw your way through cleverly-designed puzzles and gain powers as you go, all of it with a lovely soundtrack, great art and impressive writing. This is a treat for any art fans.
Like The Pathless, this game is all about movement and the feeling that it gives you. It’s set at the end of days, as a civilisation collapses in ruin, and you set out to see if you set things right, again taking down giant monsters to clear their corruption from the land.
It’s got an art style that we’ll remember for years and years, and the feeling of skating around its huge environments is just perfect – plus it’s not a hugely long game, so you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by it.
More about this story
Every game in this list has been tested and played through by our team to make sure that it merits inclusion.
We’ve played through their campaigns, sunk hours into their multiplayer offerings, and carefully compared them to direct competitors to make sure that they represent the most satisfying and rewarding options out there on their platform.
With any roundup, though, it’s not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user. That’s why we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team – as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above – in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid with these guides are needless details – we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each game is like to play.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.