It's good to pay attention to the little things in life. There's a mammoth list of upcoming PS4 games on the horizon, and you can practically feel the ground shaking from upcoming heavy hitters like The Witcher 3 and Arkham Knight. Those are probably going to dominate your game-time over the next few months, but they and their big-budget brethren aren't the only things worthy of your attention. Sony has just released a new list of PlayStation-exclusive downloadable games slated for release this year, and don't be fooled by their size. These are powerhouse experiences.
To show you what I mean, I've picked out five PlayStation exclusives to keep your eye on in the next few months. From atmospheric journeys through the apocalypse, to visions of life as an interstellar outlaw, these games are far from simple palate-cleansers, and are well worth putting on your Need to Play list. One of them might just become your new 'most anticipated game of 2015'.
The one where you discover how the world ended
Release date: Summer 2015
What would you do if you were the last person on Earth? Or worse, what if you were the planet's lone survivor and had no memory of what happened to the rest of humanity? That's the mystery at the heart of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, where you're the only person left alive in a 1980s British village. All you have to guide you to the truth of the townspeople's disappearance are the memories of those who once lived there, broadcast as talking swirls of light. And you may not always be ready for what they have to say.
Though your actions are limited as you explore Rapture's open-world narrative (expect to push a lot of doors), that leaves room for you to focus on the lovely-yet-eerie atmosphere. As idyllic as the town and surrounding countryside are, they never entirely distract from the quarantine notices you find everywhere or the vague, talking shapes that appear in place of people. Discovering each of these memories pushes you closer to solving this apocalyptic enigma, and lets you witness some of the townspeople's most important moments. Sometimes even their last ones.
The one where you defeat monsters with finger-swipes
They say that the pen is mightier than the sword, but in this case, a finger might be your best weapon. In the Vita-exclusive RPG-puzzle game Severed, you play as a young girl named Sasha who lost her family - and right arm - under mysterious circumstances, and must travel through a colorful world full of vicious monsters trying to find out what happened. Along the way, you'll be harvesting pieces of those dastardly beasts to make yourself stronger, all with the flick of a finger.
You fight using your digit as a sword, attacking enemies when they're vulnerable by slashing across them on the Vita's touch screen. Think Infinity Blade meets Super Punch Out. Some monsters are trickier than others, because you have to puzzle out how to reach their weak points to do any damage. Build up your hit count enough and you can enter a slow-motion mode where you sever the beasts' limbs and claim their remains as armor or weaponry. But wearing a monster's skin can have consequences, and these otherworldly armaments threaten to corrupt Sasha's noble goals.
The one where you can avoid all damage if you try hard enough
Release date: Q3 2015
Take the top-down dungeon-crawling aspects of The Binding of Isaac, mix in Dark Souls' dodge mechanic, add some anthropomorphic bullets, and you've got something close to Enter the Gungeon. A bullet-hell dungeon crawler, Gungeon challenges you to defeat waves of enemies while projectiles come at you from all sides, with very few health points sitting between you and restarting the dungeon. But despite the hurricane of gunfire you'll experience on your way down, you can dodge every single bullet if you've got the skill.
Playing Gungeon involves clearing a wave of enemies in each room you enter, as the screen fills to the edges with deadly gunfire. There's a tight dodge mechanic to help you weave your way through torrents of whizzing death, and the brief invincibility granted by rolling allows you to somersault right through enemy fire. Get good enough at that technique, and you can blast your way through the Gungeon without taking any damage. That's the mark of a true master.
The one where you're a space cowboy
Release date: 2015
Rebel Galaxy doesn't let you follow in the tradition of Spike Spiegel or Malcolm Reynolds as a Jeet Kune Do master or sharp-shooting expert, but you get to race across the galaxy as a do-what-you-please space cowpoke. Set in a procedurally generated universe with a myriad of solar systems to visit, Rebel Galaxy gives you a sweet ship full of laser and contraband and then lets you loose in space to do whatever the heck you please. Whether that means doing right by the galactic community or siding with space pirates to become a proper outlaw is up to you.
Easily the biggest draw for Rebel Galaxy is in boldly going and finding out what's hidden out there on the final frontier. But as opposed to a game like Mass Effect, where all the real action happens on the planet's surface, Rebel Galaxy lets you explore space as you travel from point A to point Zed. That means running into stranded cargo ships you can help (or rob), taking out (or befriending) bands of pirates, and maybe getting back to the story and find out about what happened to your missing space-cowboy aunt.
The one where you use teamwork to wipe out aliens
Release date: TBA
Alienation is the newest title from the folks behind Resogun, Dead Nation, and Super Stardust Delta, so it boasts a fine pedigree. And that's most of what we know about it so far, given that title is currently in its pre-alpha stage of development and it's uncertain what it will look like on release. Still, the main concept is solid: a top-down, team-based shooter where you clear massive waves of alien menaces while doing everything you can to keep your squad from being annihilated.
Banding together with a team of up to three others players via online multiplayer, each teammate is assigned a job class (healer, tank, etc.) and use their unique abilities to help take down the relentless swarms. It can get overwhelming at first, but with no friendly fire to contend with (a la Helldivers), all you have to worry about is firing fast and fierce. You can expect more details to crop up as development continues, but until then, just focus on the exploding aliens. That's the good stuff.
A few tasty morsels
Those are five PlayStation exclusives we'll be keeping our eyes on in 2015, and we encourage you to do the same. Have any already caught your attention? Want to know more before you commit? Got another PS exclusive that the whole world needs to know about right now? Sound off in the comments below.