I went into the PS5 games event hoping to see a superhero swinging around New York City or to finally get a glimpse at the next-gen console, but when the curtain closed, all I could think of was a cat lost in a sad robot world and an adorable strawberry hopping around a forest.
Where the Xbox Series X games reveal felt a competition for which studio could make the best post-apocalyptic shooter, the PS5 showcase was a genre-varied assortment of imaginative adventures set in fascinating worlds. While that's true of nearly every game we saw yesterday, it was the handful of indie games Sony revealed that resonated with me the most.
- The PS5 has arrived — here is how it looks
- PS5 games event: PS5 reveal, Horizon Zero Dawn 2 and Demon's Souls trailers
- The Last of Us Part II review (spoiler-free)
That's not to say I was let down by the AAA titles on display during the Future of Gaming live stream. There was Spider-man: Miles Morales (an expansion, not a sequel), Horizon: Forbidden West (a sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn), Demon's Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Gran Turismo 7, to name a few standouts.
None of these reveals disappointed, but frankly, I'm getting tired of playing the same IPs every year. What Sony showed at its gaming event gave me hope for a new batch of franchises that will, along with the games we know and love, help define the next era of gaming.
Best indies at PS5 games event
Stray: There was no shortage of creativity on display at the PS5 games event. I can't count how many times I watched a trailer with my mouth open in fascination and confusion. The indie adventure game Stray is a great example. The trailer opens with stunning imagery of a Blade Runner-esque cybercity occupied by depressed robots.
Melancholy music adds to the dreary atmosphere as we get a feel for this sad world, which has seemingly decayed after all the humans died ("RIP Humans" is spray-painted on a wall). All the while, a cat with some sort of vest/backpack on walks throughout each shot.
At first, I thought the non-robot cat was part of the environment, a comforting element in a world of despair. I was wrong -- the cat is the protagonist of this game! You don't play as one of the meticulously designed robots, but as a feline lost in a futuristic world trying to find its way home. I'm still waiting to see actual gameplay of Stray, but the creativity and humor of playing as a house cat in a beautiful cyberworld has me interested.
Bugsnax: This was my first genuine "What the [insert expletive] moment" during the PS5 event, and I'm still not entirely sure what to make of Bugsnax. The trailer opens with a strawberry with googly eyes repeatedly saying "strawbry, straw-b-b-b." The adorable fruit has a sad fate when it runs into a talking walrus (?) who eats it and starts growing strawberries from its limbs. It's all very Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, in a silly, cute sort of way.
I promise I'm not making this up. Based on the description of Bugsnax in the Epic Game Store, your objective is to find the mystery of "Snaktooth Island" and capture the "legendary half-bug half-snack creatures." If you're still questioning why I'm so interested in this game, it was made by the geniuses behind Octodad: Dadliest Catch, the hilarious indie adventure in which you try and fail to control an Octopus disguising itself as a human. Considering Untitled Goose Game is one of my favorite games of the current-gen, this is the type of content I'm looking for.
Little Devil Inside: Originally a Kickstarter campaign, Little Devil Inside is an action-adventure that is loaded with style and doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. You play as a boy wandering a magical world filled with unique creatures. The unique polygon-heavy art style caught my attention and reminds me of Art's Dream in Dreams.
The trailer showed the character struggle to survive in various landscapes, from deserts to forests and barren tundra. All the while, an old man is shown sitting in a tub, using the toilet and walking through a pleasant town. It's not clear how these two opposing worlds connect, but I'm excited to find out.
The developers, Neostream, describe Little Devil Inside as an "RPG game where you are thrown into a surreal but somewhat familiar setting with humans, creatures and monsters to interact with, learn and hunt - journey, survive and discover the world that exists beyond."
Kena: Bridge of Spirits: This definitely has Ori and the Will of the Wisps vibes with fantastical elements similar to Kubo and the Two Strings. You play as Kena, a skilled archer living in a land plagued by spirits. Your goal is to free the Rot, adorable little spirit animals, by ridding the evil that has overtaken the world.
The setting shown in the trailer was a lush forest nestled within a mountain landscape. The graphics looked phenomenal and the gameplay seems frenetic, combining elements of hack-and-slash with magic powers.
These four games alone are enough to get me excited about the PS5. Add them to a list of solid AAA exclusives and the next-gen PlayStation is in a great place as we creep closer to its holiday release.
It's now Xbox's turn to show what creative projects its studios have been working on. The first games reveal for the Series X was widely considered a disappointment. As an owner of the Xbox One (and not the PS4), I'm hoping Xbox delivers at its July event in the same way Sony did during its PS5 reveal. Sure, I'm excited about Halo Infinite, but if Xbox doesn't reveal unique new IPs, it might be time for me to swap sides.