"Sale," "digital discount," and "reduced prices" are all some of the most satisfying yet evil words to see displayed on the PlayStation Store. Surely there’s some underlying reason this game is 82 percent off? Or maybe Sony is just feeling really, really kind today. Either way, I always find myself unnecessarily buying things I wouldn’t even consider at full price, and I’m not the first to admit that I’ll spontaneously buy a vast array of cheap digital games just because, well, they’re cheap.
So, here’s a list of mistakes I’ve made, followed by some absolute gems grabbed for great prices:
Okay, so let’s begin with a prime example of a failure. Zombi was only out on PS4 for a matter of months before Sony started literally giving it away for free to PlayStation Plus users, so what does that tell you? The concept of a zombie survival game based in modern-day London is an idea with immense potential. The game itself, though, is sadly a missed opportunity. I would have loved a Left4Dead-style game in central London! I mean, who wouldn’t want to chop a few heads off in Buckingham Palace?
The real reason for Zombi being such a dull experience is that it’s infested — in all the wrong ways. It’s a bug-ridden mess and, in my experience, barely playable. I bought this game wanting to fight off the undead, not to be in constant battle with the endless bugs and glitches. Okay, I’ll admit, I purchased this game knowing it wasn’t going to make it to any top 10 list anytime ever — but, oh man, it’s bad. If you die in a place the game doesn’t want you to die in, you’ve gotta go back and redo everything you just did. The combat goes from impossibly hard to “I could do this with my eyes closed." The whole game is poorly textured and just feels depressing to play. It’s bleak, boring, and barren. It also looks like an early PS2 game...which would be fine if not for the fact that it's 2016.
2. Coffin Dodgers
As I grew up in the '90s and thrived off of couch co-op — especially kart racers — I find this game offensive. The reason this game offends me on a deep and emotional level is because I physically do not understand how you can release a bad kart racer. Making Coffin Dodgers should have been as simple as copying Wikipedia for your homework (I mean, how hard can it be to rip off Mario Kart?).
The plot is simple — you play as an elderly, frail old biddy and are racing the Grim Reaper via your wheelchair in order to stay alive. The concept of this game seemed hilarious, and the trailers showed a quirky, fun kart racer — what a lie that was. You physically cannot progress with this game unless you upgrade your kart, and this can only be done by gaining a certain amount of points per race. There are three tracks in each segment (e.g. the farm, the town, etc.), and they are all totally the same other than the occasional obstacle chucked in the way.
With a kart racer, I also wasn’t expecting a story, but they chucked it in there, and it just didn’t make any sense. Coffin Dodgers doesn’t give you the “I really feel like playing Mario Kart tonight” kinda feeling — in fact, it gives you the total opposite vibe. The loading screens and cutscenes are long and frustrating, and the music is literally a few songs on a loop that gradually drive you into a slow and sadistic state of madness. This game was painful to play through and shocked the Double Dash fanatic in me. Dodge it, regardless of how cheap it is.
If atmospheric walking simulators where literally nothing happens are your kinda thing, then you’ll have a roller-coaster ride of a time with Kholat. Again, a fantastic story has been digressed into nothing and wasted on a poorly executed game. With an eerie backstory based on true events, Kholat attempts to tell the tale of the Dyatlov Pass incident — in which nine Russian students went missing in the mountains back in the '50s. Personally, I had high hopes for this, as the trailers looked fast paced and genuinely frightening...but, alas, another one bites the dust.
If you played and enjoyed Slender, you’ll likely have a great time with Kholat, too. Sadly, I did not enjoy Slender, and this game is essentially a carbon copy of it, just in a different setting. You explore the forests and mountains whilst searching for notes and avoiding dark figures, but that’s pretty much all you do. The game isn’t necessarily terrible — it didn’t break or cut out at all — it’s just disappointing. Visually, it’s pleasing and can feel isolated and frightening at times, but, for the most part, it’s just a lot of walking around waiting for something to happen — but nothing ever does.
4. Goat Simulator
Okay, I get it, Goat Simulator is meant to be glitchy and broken, and I saw it and thought it looked kinda funny, but the joke is over in a matter of minutes. Whilst it was pretty amusing doing a few backflips as a goat, after you’ve done that, there just wasn’t anything to do. Every mission and objective was the same thing repeated, and the areas available to explore had nothing to them. Even changing your goat form into other animals with different abilities didn’t do anything worthwhile, it just felt like a way to bulk the game out.
So, I’m not a really boring, serious person; I know video games are there to have fun with. But when your whole game is just one repeated joke, it just isn’t funny. You know when a friend keeps telling the same joke over and over and takes it too far? Yeah, it’s like that. If Goat Simulator were free to play and didn’t cost actual hard-earned money, I think I would have had my 20-minute fill on it and been pretty pleased, but, at its price, it’s just not good enough. Still got the platinum for it though.
5. Superfrog HD
I don’t know what I was expecting, really. I guess I thought it looked like a cool classic platformer at a super cheap price, but there was nothing super about this frog game. The game genuinely looks like it was made for one of those tablets for toddlers to play on (I think they’re called Leapfrogs, ironically, but that’s beside the point). Essentially, you play as a dumb-looking frog through dumb-looking levels and everything feels dumb. It all looks as if it were made in MS Paint, with WordArt logos as titles, too.
As a whole, the game is boring, repetitive, and tiring to play through. The only good quality of this game is that it’s functional — though, it may as well not be. It’s very much a "my-first-platformer," and you hardly have to do anything in order to progress. I always find platforming is at its best when it’s challenging, fun to control, and has more than meets the eye. There are no secret areas or surprise elements; you could essentially run in a straight line and still do pretty well. How anyone justified making an HD version of this game is beyond me, and, frankly, I would rather have seen the frog as a French delicacy.
So, after all that doom and gloom — here are a few fantastic games you can get at a similar price to those above.
1. Hotline Miami
Wow. Just, wow. This game makes me feel like a proud parent whose son has just come home with straight A’s on all of his exams. Instantly, the visuals of this game drag you right in; it gives off an '80s neon vibe, and, oh, does it do it well. It sounds just as great as it looks, too; the soundtrack feels classic, and it motivates you to keep going, to get better, and to progress further.
The game is quick, gory, brutal, exhilarating, and adrenaline fueled — it’s basically playable sugar. You may play as a man. Or a chicken... or a dog.... or a horse — depending on which mask you choose to wear. Each mask gives you a new disguise and ability to use in order to eliminate your enemies. Based in various buildings around Miami (surprise, surprise), this game was one hell of a ride from start to finish. The story is rich, suspense-filled, and complements the gameplay unbelievably well.
This game also gave me a real feeling of satisfaction when I was able to complete a challenging room — it's the kind of game you really push yourself in order to progress in, and, oh, does it feel good when you do. Hotline Miami is a real test of player ability and is definitely one of those just-one-more-level kinda games. Also, I loved it enough to Kickstart a vinyl release of the soundtrack (those sweet '80s vibes really are that good).
Based upon memories of GoldenEye-era shooters, Screencheat takes one of the most frustrating parts of multiplayer games and structures itself around it. Essentially, in order to be victorious in this game, you will need to forget everything you’ve been taught thus far and cheat.
Your character model isn’t visible while you’re alive, you’ll only see your body after it has been brutally taken out, and this is what gives the game its unique stand-out effect. The game uses color schemes and shapes to its advantage in order to allow the players to find each other. Basically, you will need to work out where everyone else is on the map solely based on how the area looks. Also, as you can't see each other, aiming and trying to shoot is crazy fun.
There is an array of ridiculous weapons, from riding an invisible horse into your enemies to firing at them with a boomerang to jabbing them with a candlestick. Modes in this game are also varied and equally ludicrous. You can choose from capture the fun (flag, basically), murder mystery, one shot, and many others. If you’re looking for a shooter with a unique twist, definitely give this a go.
3. Rocket League
If you’re searching for a game to lose hours of your life to, search no further, as this is it. Rocket League can consume hours of your day without you even noticing it fly by, and it has an indescribable charm to it. If you’ve not heard of this game yet, where have you been? Essentially, you play as a remote-control car in a large arena that has two goals and a football (soccer ball, for you North American folks) on steroids. That’s it, and, while it doesn’t sound like much, this combination provides hours of endless fun.
As the game is heavily focused on multiplayer, it offers radical amounts of enjoyment, because playing it with your friends can be an absolute shamble — in the best kind of way. It also offers a variety of modes, each one being a quirky spin on an already popular sport — with the wittily named "Soccar" being the prominent one. From its stunning textures and visuals to the quirky customizations on your little car, Rocket League breathes fresh life and brings child-like enjoyment back into couch co-op and multiplayer games in general.
4. Sound Shapes
For those of you who are equally as passionate about music as you are about games, you’ll be guaranteed a whole lot of satisfaction from this experience. Sound Shapes is admirable for branching itself out and using basic platforming mechanics to its advantage in order to create a beautiful audio-orientated environment.
By allowing players to create their own levels, this game has endless possibilities, as you can literally produce your own music through a video game (that kinda blows my mind a little). Not only is it delightfully colorful, the levels are genuinely challenging and equally rewarding, as you glide across the elegantly designed platforms. The player activates the music as they progress, and new sounds appear while traveling through each level and picking up collectibles scattered throughout. Each step you make takes you further through a musical journey, and, just like all fantastic games, just as you thought it had come to an end, completing the campaign allows access to new game modes and challenges. What a lovely, lovely game.
Who would have thought playing as an unidentifiable structure of yarn would be a brilliant gaming experience? Well, it really is. Taking on the persona of Yarny, a lost hand-made toy crafted from yarn, you make your way through fields, swamps, construction sites, beaches, and many other recognizable settings in order to make your way back home. It honestly is a touching story; each environment felt warm, and as if it had been made with love (aww).
Rich in autumnal colors and vivid textures, Unravel also boasts a beautiful soundtrack and wonderful gameplay mechanics. Playing as Yarny, a small and vulnerable little dude, everyday objects become a task to get by, and you will often need to find inventive ways to use them to your advantage in order to progress. As the name suggests, you do literally unravel whilst playing and need to collect more yarn as you travel along to keep yourself together. You also use your body as a rope, whip, and form of transport — which feels like every aspect of this game was considered fully and that the most really has been made from it. Unlike traditional EA fashion, this game is amazingly great value for money, and you not only get everything you’d expect from a platformer, you also go away with a pleasant feeling having played such an extraordinary journey.
In essence, there’s some really awesome deals on the PlayStation Store — and some total messes to avoid entirely. I'm sure we'll all come across many more masterpieces and disaster-pieces as time goes on, and, personally, I look forward to both.