Whatoplay presents 15 of the best PlayStation 4 titles from the first half of 2021. All arranged by playscores. To check out our full list, visit our page on all the best PS4 games of 2021.
15. Narita Boy
We open our list with this indie action-adventure from Studio Koba. If you’ve seen the trailers, you can tell how much effort the devs poured into this project. Enjoy a gorgeous digital cityscape and take down enemies in a violent barrage of pixels. Narita Boy’s strengths are in its arcade-y aesthetics. It oozes with a style straight from the 80s, but with gameplay that feels modern. It really looks good and we can’t help but stare at the visuals of this one-of-a-kind science fiction trip with a playscore of 8.34.
14. R-Type Final 2
Similar to Narita Boy, R-Type Final 2 feels like a love letter to the glory days of 80s gaming. It’s a sequel to the 2004 horizontal-shooter from Granzella and it’s the first real R-Type title in a decade. For starters, if you’ve ever played Resogun you’ll find R-Type’s gameplay familiar. The number of particle effects on screen and all its vibrant colors just shows that the series has evolved with a more modern touch. A playscore of 8.42.
13. HITMAN 3
IO Interactive’s final entry to their assassination series ends with a bang. It’s the best-looking HITMAN game to grace the consoles and it offers enough content for players to satisfy a laundry list of objectives. The game is at its best on the next-gen consoles. On the PlayStation 4, not so much, but it’s still a beautiful game from start to finish. There is no correct way to fulfill your mission, and the amount of trial and error can give your hours and hours of fun. A playscore of 8.44.
After it seemingly disappeared from the market a decade ago, Ubisoft’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley’s graphic novels has finally returned to modern audiences. Borrowing art styles from the days of old, this beat-em-up thrives in its colorful flurry of pixels and energetic chiptune soundtrack from Anamanaguchi. While it’s fun when you’re playing solo, the game is best enjoyed on co-op. Bring a friend along and help Scott defeat all of Ramona’s evil exes! A playscore of 8.48.
Adol the Red bids adieu to his blue-haired counterpart in Lacrimosa of Dana and moves on to a new journey. This time he’s bringing his heroic deeds to the west. Cursed with the role of exorcising demons, Adol's journey in Monstrum Nox is improved by the addition of five new characters, each bringing their own skills into the fight against magical threats. It’s been quite some time since fans have been begging for localization, so here we are now and it didn’t disappoint with its playscore of 8.49.
The underwater horrors aren’t over yet and Unknown Worlds’ latest Subnautica entry takes us to subzero depths. Below Zero takes all the best things of the original and improves it with more mysteries to uncover and a treacherous environment to survive. The abyss is still terrifying as hell with more creature varieties and a story that can hook us from start to finish. It receives a playscore of 8.49.
One look at this game and you can tell that it’s a product of Square Enix. Take control of eight playable characters, each with their own story to tell. While this is a Remastered version, it has shown its age with its dated turn-based combat system. Despite this setback, it’s still made for people who are looking for a classic JRPG for their PlayStation 4, and if it ain’t broke… well. It receives a playscore of 8.51.
Taking place years after the events of the first game, Ryza returns as she embarks on another alchemical adventure full of wonders and mystery. As a JRPG, it’s more than just pretty anime characters, but we just can’t help but fawn over Ryza’s adorable personality. The series’ staple, synthesis, is still around. Crafting and synthesizing have been streamlined, but new players will find it slightly intimidating. But if you’re in it to make Ryza happy, then the learning process is going to be a breeze. A playscore of 8.56.
The latest of CAPCOM’s survival horror series. Pretty sure everyone knows about it already, considering its massive internet following. It’s amazing how the PlayStation 4 can run CAPCOM’s proprietary RE Engine. While it is powerful on the PlayStation 5, the PS4 version still runs like a charm with stable frames and little to no crashes at all. This means Ethan Winters’ journey is made better with its great optimization. A playscore of 8.71.
Tarsier Studios’ sequel to their horrifying yet adorable puzzle-platformer. This sequel no longer follows the yellow-raincoat girl we’ve grown accustomed to. Instead, we’re stepping into the shoes of Mono, a secondary character turned protagonist. Help him navigate this surreal and nightmarish world and escape from the many monsters that plague it. As a sequel, it did give us a new perspective on its universe, but there isn’t anything new that innovates the series’ to new heights. A playscore of 8.71.
Yoko Taro revisits his first NieR project and transforms it into a full next-gen experience. Replicant is more than just a Remaster. It’s a fresh re-telling of the events before NieR Automata’s story. Despite its ‘prequel’ nametag, its combat is made better by following Automata’s stylish hack and slash action. The story, while impressive, might leave more questions than answers, especially when you’re new to the series. A playscore of 8.78.
The Phantom Thieves’ metaphysical escapades aren’t finished yet. ATLUS and Koei Tecmo combine their talents to take Joker and his band of heart-stealers to the streets once more. It’s far from the usual Persona game we’re familiar with. It makes use of Koei Tecmo’s Musou-style gameplay that remains unchanged through the years. Oddly enough, Persona 5’s theme matches perfectly with the fast-paced hack and slash formula. Its story, on the other hand, is not as impressive as the original. It receives a playscore of 8.80.
Arc System Works’ latest GG game since forever. Strive aims to be the series’ best with impressive visuals, tight gameplay, and finally, rollback netcode. Any Guilty Gear veteran will find a slew of familiar faces alongside new ones in their planned DLC. For newcomers, it’s still mechanically demanding. While it’s fun when you want to play it casually, the sweaty players you might encounter in ranked will rip you apart with their endless barrage of Dolphins. It receives a playscore of 8.86.
2. It Takes Two
This co-op puzzle-adventure from the minds behind A Way Out is considered one of this year’s best. This EA Original has a chance to compete with other great titles for Game of the Year. Help Cody and Amy solve their marriage problems by navigating around multiple environments with unique gameplay gimmicks to play with your partner, or a friend. It’s a wild ride from start to finish and you’d wish there were more of them once the credits roll. A playscore of 8.98.
Taking the top spot on this list isn’t exactly a new game. BioWare’s award-winning science fiction trilogy gets the Remaster it deserves and this Legendary Edition is packed with everything great about the series. Expect quality-of-life improvements, enhanced audio and visuals, and more in this lengthy entry. Follow Commander Shepard’s story in all three Mass Effect titles, including DLCs. Create your own space opera adventure by making tough decisions against the invading Reaper threat. A playscore of 9.12.