The era of 2D is long gone, but almost every ’90s kid still cherishes the vintage graphics style of games that ruled the industry a few decades ago. However, Sony didn’t originally design PlayStation consoles to be 2D. Even the PlayStation from 1994 had good 3D capabilities, and saw the launch of some great 3D titles like Crash Bandicoot and Metal Gear Solid. However, with time, PlayStation consoles grew a lot more powerful, and the best 2D games became hard to find. Luckily, indie developers and remasters of some old games keep the “gaming in two dimensions” niche still alive. Additionally, great 2D titles from the past and new entries alike are available on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
1. Darkest Dungeon (2016)
Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based RPG experience. However, the game has a lot more to it. The key to success is not armor or equipment, but the emotional state of your fellow heroes. Even minute stuff like staying in the dark for too long can affect the mental state of your fellow adventurers. The worst of all is that a hero, once dead, permanently stays that way, i.e., cannot be revived.
However, players can relieve the stress of their adventurers at towns, where the heroes can drink or get into brisk fights. Otherwise, their mental state will decline, and they will go mad. Red Hook Studios developed and published the game in 2016. Darkest Dungeon is not your ordinary RPG, and it is one of the top old-school 2D games to try on your PlayStation.
2. Among Us (2021)
Among Us has been out on PC and mobile devices for quite some time. It is a 2D exploration-based strategy time management game. Players spawn in a spaceship and have to identify an undisclosed imposter among them. The imposter is a saboteur and can even kill crew members. Although this game was launched on PC in 2018 by developers Innersloth, the game only became popular in 2020 after a few Twitch streamers decided to pick it up. It focuses on online cooperation and is a strong test of trust. The game will be launched on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on December 14, 2021.
3. Limbo (2015)
Limbo is an eerie title that follows a young, unnamed boy searching for his sister. The game starts with the boy lost in a dark and creepy forest, and starts to traverse dark and dangerous landscapes in his pursuit of the aforementioned goal. These landscapes range from cliffs to rooftops of high-rise buildings. The game was critically acclaimed for its rather unique graphic style and sound design.
Although the game’s original release happened in 2010 on the Xbox 360 and PS3 by the developers, Playdead, it only made its way to the PlayStation 4 in 2015. A free demo version of the game is also available, which players can use to decide whether to purchase the full version for $9.99.
4. Terraria (2011)
Terraria one of the unique 2D sandbox adventure PlayStation games. Players spawn in with very little health and Magic Points (MP). They must then make their way up in the procedurally generated 2D world by defeating bosses, building structures, and collecting items. The 16-bit graphics style of the game is a soft reminder of the old SNES days, and the game borrows a few gameplay aspects from the Metroid and Minecraft series.
Players can enjoy this title in both single-player and multiplayer modes. The game was originally launched for Windows in 2011, but made its way to the PlayStation 4 only in November 2014. Much like the previous entry in this list, this game has a demo version that players can try before buying the full version for $19.99. The game requires a PS Plus subscription for online play.
5. Sonic Mania: Encore Pack (2017)
Sonic Mania is a soft reboot of the ’90s series. The game pushes the Sonic experience to its limit, as it is playable at up to 60 fps at HD resolutions. It is a side-scroller much like the original Sonic the Hedgehog series that launched on the Sega Genesis console. The game still retains the retro-style graphics and gamers can play as multiple characters. These include the extremely swift Sonic, the winged Tails, or the tough and strong Knuckles.
All of this is backed by a simple but fleshed-out plot, making Sonic Mania even more enjoyable. The game was launched for the PlayStation 4 in August 2017 and is also playable on the PlayStation 5 via backward compatibility. However, the PS5 version isn’t optimal and many features that are available on the PS4 version of the game are missing. It costs $19.99 on the PlayStation 4 but can be found on sale for $9.99.
6. Graveyard Keeper (2019)
Graveyard Keeper is an almost inaccurate medieval graveyard-keeping simulation game. It borrows ideas from Stardew Valley and Story of Seasons (Harvest Moon) but a complex and touching story of magic and love backs the game up. Players take the role of a character who has a car accident but wakes up in a magical and medieval world. He eventually learns that a portal can unlock his way back to the present-day world.
However, the portal can be only opened via some special magical items that are in the possession of several prominent village members. The character wants to go back to the present-day world to meet with his lover, but the portal ends up bringing his lover into his side. The game also focuses on graveyard keeping, obviously.
The players have to gather information from several NPCs, and their final goal is to open the portal. A DLC, called Breaking Dead, was announced in 2018. This DLC completes the story and answers various frequently asked questions. The base game costs $19.99 while the Breaking Dead DLC costs $4.99. You can also find the Stranger Sins DLC and a Collector’s Edition on the PlayStation Store for $9.99 and $39.99, respectively.
7. Cotton Reboot! (2021)
Cotton Reboot is a reboot of one of Japan’s oldest home computer games. Just for a bit of backstory, the X68000 (shortened to the X68k) is a Japanese home computer manufactured by Sharp Corporation from 1987 through 1993. The Cotton series was originally launched as a shoot-’em-up game on the X68k in 1991. Seven games were released in this series from 1991 and 2003.
After 18 long years, the series is getting rebooted with reworked music tracks and an HD remake of the gameplay. The game still comes with the original experience from 1991 that players can enjoy at any time. Even the original music tracks have been included to emulate a 27-year-old gaming experience. However, the reboot was developed by Rocket Engine Co., Ltd., and the original game developer, Success, wasn’t involved. Finally, it is a single-player game and is available for $39.99 on the PlayStation Store.
8. Sheepo (2020)
Sheepo is a Metroidvania platformer. The game focuses on exploration, and players need to search for unhatched eggs of unknown species. These are heavily guarded by the species’ queen (or a boss). With every egg Sheepo collects, he gets the ability to transform into that species on contact. This allows for exploring deeper reaches of a particular planet. Sheepo also gets the special abilities of every creature it collects.
This includes the ability to fly, dig, and even teleport. However, the game does not have standard combat mechanics. It was released in October 2021 for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 by developers Top Hat Studios and sold for $10.99. There are a few compatibility issues with the PS5 version of the game, though. Thus, players with a PS4 disc of the game cannot play it on their digital version of the PS5.
9. The Binding of Isaac: Repentance (2021)
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is a huge DLC for The Binding of Isaac. Developers Nicalis sells it separately, and considering this add-on arrived 5 years after the last update, Repentance has a lot to offer. It continues Isaac’s story and ends his saga. The series is a roguelike single-player or multiplayer twin-stick shooter. All the DLCs (Rebirth, Afterbirth, Afterbirth +, and Repentance) are based on a strong underlying story, which makes the games feel more alive.
It is based on a Biblical story of the same name. Isaac’s mother hears a voice from God which states that sin corrupted Isaac. She is then asked to sacrifice Isaac to prove her devotion to God. Luckily, Isaac escapes through a trap door, which leads him to the “unknown depths below”. Repentance follows the story with several endings that can be described as Isaac’s hallucinations. The game is available as a $19.99 add-on for players who already own the previous entries in the series. The entire DLC pack we mentioned above is sold for $59.99.
10. Prison Architect (2016)
Prison Architect is one of the rare PlayStation 2D lock-’em-up games that focuses on prison building. The game enables players to create cells, facilities, hire new staff, and introduce reforms. At the same time, players have to deal with contraband smuggling, large-scale riots, and informants. In contrast, players can create a prison that cares for human rights and focuses on rehabilitation.
They can even create one that imposes internal harshness among inmates and staff and is devoid of wellbeing and freedom. Perhaps most interestingly, gamers can share their prisons with the game’s online community and try out prisons designed by others. The game was developed by Paradox Interactive, which is behind development of sprawling simulators like Cities: Skylines. It was released in June 2016 for PlayStation 4 and also available on the PlayStation 5.
11. Backbone (2021)
Backbone is a 2D adventure game developed by Eggnut and published by Raw Fury on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 in October 2021. It is a single-player video game set in a dystopian world based in Vancouver, Canada. The in-game environment is filled with anthropomorphic creatures, and the player controls a detective raccoon. The game sports a rather unique form of pixel art that mixes pixel-styled graphics with pouring rain, volumetric fog, dynamic lighting, and neon lights. In doing so, it brings the otherwise boring 2D environment to life. The game focuses heavily on a strong narrative that follows the style of old-school CRPGs (computer RPGs). The game is available for $24.99 for the PS4 and PS5 versions.
12. Disney Classic Games Collection (2021)
Disney Classic Games Collection is not one single game. Instead, it’s a collection of several ports of 16-bit games published by Sony back in the SNES and Game Boy days. These include ports of Aladdin games, The Lion King, and The Jungle Book. Disney had published Aladdin and The Lion King collection back in 2019. However, The Jungle Book joined these two games in November 2021. Nintendo’s iteration of Aladdin was also added to the collection.
The new collection comes with a Watch Mode that you can use to skip to any part of the current level. The game also comes with a rewind mode that you can use to retry any missed or badly timed jump or action. Finally, the Disney Classic Games Collection ships with a 16-bit music player to allow players to enjoy retro music. The collection is available at $29.99 on the PlayStation Store. Original owners of the series can buy the newly added content as an add-on for $9.99.
13. Fallout Shelter (2018)
Fallout Shelter is a spin-off of the original Fallout series. The game was published by Bethesda Softworks in June 2018. The game presents players with a 2,000 feet (0.61 kilometers) deep excavation they must turn into the state-of-the-art humanity preservation vault. Players can assign jobs to their dwellers, provide them with outfits, weapons, and even training to improve their abilities.
Players also can customize the look of any dweller from the barbershop. The game also allows you to send dwellers outside the vault to explore the wasteland. They can find new armor, weapons, or gain experience. What makes the game more interesting is that the vault can face attacks, both from outside and within. The game is available for free on the PS4 and the PS5. A free add-on is available, too, as long as you have a PlayStation Plus subscription.
14. Bladed Fury (2018)
Bladed Fury is a 2D indie role-playing platformer adventure game with a focus on fighting. The game is based in Ancient China and thus sports traditional Chinese art and sound design. It strongly focuses on a narrative and has a strong underlying story based on the empires of that time period. The game also has a sound combat system and a combo system. The long story of the game ensures that players come across a lot of fights, and will have several enemies, bosses, and gods to destroy. The game is available for $19.99 for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
15. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 (2020)
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 one of several 2D action platformer games for PlayStation. The game brings back 8-bit aesthetics from the past and mixes them with modern-day gaming aspects. The game puts players in control of a swordsman called Zangetsu. He hates demon kind and seeks to destroy them alongside the alchemists who summoned them.
In his journey towards the demonic stronghold, Zangetsu meets several other characters. They will join his cause and can fight enemies and bosses in the form of a playable roster. The game also comes with a 2-player co-op game mode, where players can blend the strengths of two different characters and play as a demon-hunting duo. The game is available on both PS4 and PS5 for $14.99.
16. Speed Brawl (2018)
Speed Brawl is a 2D platformer beat-’em-up game that focuses on combat racing. It was developed and published by Double Stallion Games in September 2018. Although Double Stallion explains the game as a combat racer, the game’s racing sections aren’t as distinct as the beat-’em-up ones. The combat is well-tailored, and although it isn’t extraordinarily hard, it tests gamers’ luck and patience.
The game has been beautifully designed, and the strong focus on designing a retro-style game makes Speed Brawl a modern classic. The game also supports local and online co-op gameplay throughout the campaign. This makes this title even more enjoyable. However, players require a PS Plus subscription to play the game with friends. Speed Brawl sells for $19.99 for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
17. Rain World (2017)
Rain World is a 2D platformer survival game developed by Videocult and published by Adult Swim Games in March 2017. Players control an elongated cat, named “Slugcat” by one of the game’s graphic designers’ YouTube viewers. The Slugcat is placed in a vast world with over 1600 rooms. Players must catch their prey and evade enemies. Some enemies can kill Slugcar in just a single hit, while several others can climb objects because of their internal variation.
Rain World was criticized for its repetitive, boring, and difficult gameplay. However, updates that came afterward fixed most issues. One of the updates also added online and local co-op gaming into the title. Players need a PlayStation Plus subscription to enjoy the game over the Internet. Rain World can be played on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 at $19.99.
18. Undertale (2017)
Undertale is a 2D top-down role-playing single-player video game developed and released by Toby Fox. Apart from some character designs and animations, Toby Fox designed and developed the entire game himself. Undertale focuses on a child who has fallen into the underground. The underground is separated from the outside world by a magical barrier except at one point.
Players are tasked with completing several objectives as the child ventures towards Earth’s surface. The game presents players with a complete set of underground towns and caves to explore. Players also can find monsters in these caves, whom they can either defeat, befriend, or run away from. Undertale’s ending is determined by the way players interact with the monsters.
This is part of the reason the title received critical acclaim for its style and gameplay, received several awards, and has been nominated for several accolades. The game was launched in August 2017 for PlayStation, and both the PS4 and PS5 versions cost $14.99. The game is also often available for $10.04 due to a special ongoing discount on the PlayStation Store. Undertale is also free with a PlayStation Now subscription.
19. Carrion (2021)
Carrion is falls into the category of single-player 2D horror games for PlayStation. Players control an amorphic, tentacled, and unknown scientific formation that tends to leave the laboratory that contains and restrains it. While the red giant creature progresses through the lab, it confronts staff, scientists, and security, and unsurprisingly, kills them all. Also, scattered around the lab is genetic code for the creature that enables him to become stronger, and most importantly, grow larger.
Some material analyzers give the creature flashbacks of its past. The beast finally gathers all the pieces of genetic code, finally giving it the ability to change into a human form. The creature disguises itself as the scientist that it initially attacked and escapes the lab. The game was released for PS4 in October 2021 and is can be played on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 for $19.99.
20. Hollow Knight (2018)
Hollow Knight is a 2D single-player Metroidvania action-adventure title developed and published by Team Cherry in September 2018. Players take the role of an unnamed insect-like knight who explores the fictional kingdom of Hallownest. The game strongly focuses on narration and has a story with multiple endings. Although it received critical acclaim, the game is inherently difficult. Luckily, this title has beautiful graphics and its modernized side-scroller art style makes it stand out. It can be purchased on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 for $14.99.