Good ps4 games for a new gamer
March 11, 2020 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions for my new to videogames, scifi/dystopian fiction loving mom.

My mom expressed interest in getting into games. She has never played a video game. She is a voracious sci fi fan, with a deep interest in dystopian/apocalyptic stories, a love the campy side. Big Star Trek fan, Doctor Who, but also into poetry, visionary art, social justice, and in general super into new experiences in art, music etc.

She would live the new Fallout games, but has never played a video game. Even Dear Esther or What Remains of Edith Finch have an expectation that the player is competent with a modern controller os WASD. Any good recs for ps4 that would be a high quality experience for her? I've never played Telltale games, are the controls accessible? Kentucky Route Zero?
posted by kittensofthenight to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am a mom-ish sort of age, and I learned to use a controller playing Limbo and Ori and the Blind Forest. Side-scrollers don't require quite as much combo-button-pushing as some of the more advanced games might. Maybe that could help?

The level design for Ori was particularly good at easing me into more and more difficult maneuvers.

Both games seem like a good fit for your mom's tastes - Limbo on the dystopian end, Ori more on the art/poetry/music end. Neither are sci-fi, but both have a very other-worldly feel to them that she might enjoy.
posted by invincible summer at 6:58 PM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh Limbo is a great idea. Ori can be difficult but is also very forgiving and gorgeous. I just don't know how to judge gameplay barriers having played games for 30 years.

I guess "mom" is not a specific age, it's more of a post-retirement let me explore this new medium thing, especially now that all of her volunteer activities are cancelled.
posted by kittensofthenight at 7:04 PM on March 11, 2020

Flower and Journey
posted by Wobbuffet at 7:11 PM on March 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Inside: it’s very dystopian horror-movie creepy, but no difficult controller usage.
posted by LizardBreath at 7:14 PM on March 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

Inside is a fantastic game, but it’s also pretty obtuse. There’s no tutorial, and you’re expected to have a working knowledge of video game verbs... for instance, in the very beginning, there’s an insurmountable fence. Nearby is a crate. There’s absolutely no hint that you’re supposed to walk up to the crate, hit X to take hold of it, and push it over to the fence. Experienced gamers will figure this out in one second; a novice will need some prompting. And don’t even get me started on the bathysphere boost...

ANYWAY, are there any versions of Katamari Damacy available for the PS4?
posted by ejs at 7:25 PM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

deep interest in dystopian/apocalyptic stories

Horizon Zero Dawn. She'll still have to get used to a standard controller, but there is a "story mode" which dramatically decreases difficulty in playing the game.

It's one of the most engrossing storylines I've ever played. I hope it's turned into a TV Series I think it's so good.
posted by Karaage at 7:47 PM on March 11, 2020 [8 favorites]

I haven't played KR0 on a controller but there are no reflex/time-based button presses, which means she would be able to take all the time she needs to figure out the controller. I think this would be a great way to introduce her, actually. It's pretty much just movement, interact button, advance text. Good solid intro. Telltale games would probably make a good next step from that because it's a lot of the same thing, but it has quick-time events which would introduce her to stuff that requires a little more reflex. A walking simulator would be good to go to from there, because that'll introduce manipulating the camera. I think those would be good for easing her in.

Alternatively, you could try a game with more complex controls but without actual penalty for messing it up, like Subnautica or Minecraft on creative mode. That would just let her play around until she gets the hang of it.
posted by brook horse at 7:55 PM on March 11, 2020

I second Horizon: Zero Dawn. It really showcases what open world games are capable of in terms of design, story, and worldbuilding, and it's in the sci-fi/post-apocalyptic genre. Story mode is an "easy" entrance into this kind of game.

As a plus: If she gets hooked and wants to up the difficulty, its combat is actually good.

She will have difficulty controlling movement and the camera at the same time at first. But it is for sure possible to learn to play on this type of game. It's just a matter of whether you are enjoying the process of figuring it and stick with it, I think.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:02 PM on March 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

One recommendation might be Persona 5. The plot is about a group of teenagers in Tokyo who discover they have the ability to enter into the minds of evil adults. By pulling off an elaborate heist to "steal" an object representing their corrupt desires, they can force them to atone for their crimes. The actual gameplay is half RPG battles in magical dungeons, and half just going through day-to-day life with friends as a student in Tokyo. It has a very striking aesthetic and visual design, and is heavily influenced by a sort of Japanese appropriation of Gnostic philosophy.

As an RPG, it generally lets you use the controller as slowly as you need to, although there are sequences where you have to run/hide from enemies. Crucially you don't have to do right-thumbstick-camera, this seems to be what throws off people new to video games in my experience.

On the other hand from a gameplay perspective RPGs can get really complicated, and maybe the elaborate system of elemental types and dozens of moves would be equally overwhelming to someone new to video games. Has an Easy Mode. The game is very good and I think it's a good bet if you think very "crunchy" RPG mechanics, and anime tropes, would be tolerable.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:26 PM on March 11, 2020

It's not out for a bit but I bet she'd be into the massively revamped Final Fantasy VII remake.

Definitely Journey, though you might want to help her through a playthrough because I found the control scheme obtuse.

I actually love the lego videogames, and they come in many different franchise flavors that might appeal to your mom. They're super fun and low stakes with a surprising amount of detail and humor. Might be a great way to introduce concepts like collecting items, open world vs level maps, character powers, using the controller, etc.
posted by Mizu at 9:37 PM on March 11, 2020

If she likes sci fi and the good Doctor I recommend Oxenfree. No 3D, no agility or quick reactions required, just moving happy people around the screen and helping them have great conversations hey what does this radio do oh god no
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 9:49 PM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I second Journey as a good choice. I think it's generally easier to get used to moving in a 3D game space with a 3rd person camera, and Journey does a good job of prompting players on what they need to do without dialog or endless tutorials. If she does well with Journey that's when I'd try to up the ante with games like Abzu or HZD.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:02 PM on March 11, 2020

She is a voracious sci fi fan, with a deep interest in dystopian/apocalyptic stories

By those metrics Horizon: Zero Dawn is definitely worthwhile. Magnificent graphics (some of the best I've ever seen, and I play a lot of games), a very well-told mysterious post-apocalypse backstory (What happened to the world? Where did Aloy come from? What's with all the robot animals?), gorgeous environments, etc. I haven't tried Story mode so I can't speak to how approachable it is.

in the very beginning, there’s an insurmountable fence. Nearby is a crate. There’s absolutely no hint that you’re supposed to walk up to the crate, hit X to take hold of it, and push it over to the fence.

I'm a veteran and I had trouble with that part. It's probably more accessible (and briefer) than Limbo though, which is pretty long and unforgiving and platformy as it goes on. Inside is on sale for $8 right now so might be worth a try anyways. And man does it go places.

ANYWAY, are there any versions of Katamari Damacy available for the PS4?

Sadly, no. There was a recent re-release of the original game for PC and Switch but it didn't make it to PS4.

Wattam from the original creator of Katamari recently came out for PS4 though, and it's similarly delightfully bizarre.

Looking at the related suggestions on the PS4 store, Donut County is pretty cute and minimally taxing too.

Tacoma is supposed to be an excellent little sci-fi jawn but I haven't tried it myself.

Return of the Obra Dinn wins my personal prize for "game I wish I could erase from my mind so I could play it again". It's magnificent, although the retro visual style (and the grimness of the endeavor -- it's basically a 50-in-1 murder mystery) isn't for everybody.
posted by neckro23 at 11:50 PM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

hzd is excellent and the sequel is probably coming out fairly soon i think? timed to the release of the ps5.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:32 AM on March 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I got into gaming in my mid-forties, I am not at all good with the controller, but the game that absolutely pulled me into playing was portal2. If ps3 is a possibility at all, that's the one. it's as scifi/dystopian as you get. Also Journey, it's amazing
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:22 AM on March 12, 2020

Last of Us!! If you haven't played it, it is a dystopian zombie game but extremely character driven. The focus of the game is really the two main characters and how their relationship evolves. It is a pretty violent game so she'd have to be okay with that (you have to kill people, and there is gore) and it is dark. There would be a learning curve with controls but the combat system is simple, more so than Fallout and similar games. The story/world is also linear, which in my experience is less overwhelming for new gamers than open world games. Takes maybe 20ish hours to play through? One of my good friends started gaming with Last of Us and it worked out well. It is also forgiving of character death, since you never have to go back very far. The story is beautiful, and I have never played another game that evoked as many feels as Last of Us.

If you want something more puzzle-oriented, I would highly recommend Inside. Takes about 3 hours to play through, likely more for a beginner, and would probably be an excellent intro to how the controller works.
posted by DTMFA at 5:43 AM on March 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Matches for the subject matter and not being excessively difficult: Limbo, Inside, Portal and Portal II. Possibly also The Witness, which is not exactly dystopian but puts you in an abandoned world where you can try and discover the backstory. Puzzles are hard but controls are not. I consider all these games to be masterpieces.
posted by snarfois at 5:48 AM on March 12, 2020

I just got my girlfriend and her roommate into games for the first time in their lives and while it's definitely a learning curve, I think people learn to game faster than you think. They've beaten all of Dishonored 2, The Witcher 3, A Plague Tale, Overcooked, What Remains of Edith Finch and Stardew Valley so they've sampled a pretty wide gamut some of which required fairly intense play. So I'm saying that don't choose like a masocore game for her first thing but most games have difficulty sliders and are more forgiving than we think.

Anyway, Horizon: Zero Dawn is definitely great! Portal 2 is definitely dystopian and hilarious and a good primer on a lot of gaming concepts.

I'd just boot up What Remains of Edith Finch or maybe A Plague Tale too! Obra Dinn I haven't played but does look fantastic.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:32 AM on March 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

With your mom being post-retirement: if her hand-eye coordination is still good and she doesn't have (much) joint pain in her hands, another way to do here might be to give her a not-so-twitchy game to get used to a controller with.

I basically missed the console generations between Atari 2600 and Gamecube, and didn't really use a modern-ish controller until Borderlands on the PS3 when I was 40. For a while, shit sucked, yo. It was super frustrating to use the controller instead of wasd+mouse, but the core game was good enough to keep at it. And one day... the controller just kind of melted away and I was just playing the damn game without thinking about the controller. Nowadays I use a controller even to play on my laptop that is literally on my lap, because it does a better job of mentally disappearing and letting me just be in that world.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:42 AM on March 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you think she would have trouble with Edith Finch then she would 100% have problems with Inside or any of the of the Portal games. The might not be super twitchy but they have a bunch of parts that require very tight timing and can actually be quite difficult.

I think that Fallout 4 on its easiest difficulty might actually be a good introduction to FPS type games. I don't remember it having much or really any platforming and it has the VATS system which let's you play the game a bit more like an RPG than a shooter. The biggest challenge would probably be learning how all the game's various systems work.

Obduction is a great sci-fi adventure game from the makers of the Myst series. IIRC it has options for alternate control schemes that might make it easier to pick up for a beginner.

Also, i'm not very far into it but Kentucky route zero hasn't had any timed or actiony bits yet and everything I've read about it suggests that there aren't any coming.
posted by Television Name at 9:14 AM on March 12, 2020

Death Stranding on very easy mode
posted by zippy at 7:03 PM on March 12, 2020

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