Golden sand vistas, an ink blot world, and a superpowered girl flying through a Parisian-like town, defying gravity. This used to be PlayStation. It used to be a home of unique worlds, characters, and gameplay experiences. Now, Sony has lost its vibrancy.

Journey PlayStation 4
Journey / ThatGameCompany & Sony Interactive Entertainment

Almost every first party game has the same feel to it. A third person action adventure? Check. Guns? Check. A deeply engrossing linear story? Check. It’s starting to feel predictable. And while all of those things are wonderful, in and of itself, something has been tugging at my feelings towards Sony’s PS4 lineup for some time now, and I’ve finally figured out what it is. They’ve lost their personality.

As Sony is now shifting to AAA development, we have seen smaller, more experimental games left behind.

“There was a time and a place, in the early stages of the life of PS4, to make statements,” said the now President of Sony Interactive Entertainment Jim Ryan in 2017 to GamesIndustry while being asked about the lack of an indie presence during their prior conferences. “It was more about making a statement that we are serious about the indies, and that we are doing this and that with the indies,” He later said, “It was just good to talk about in 2013/2014. It is less relevant now.” TechRadar also reported in 2019 that indie games will be less of a priority for Sony for the next generation with a focus on AAA development.

Gravity Rush, an action game with a great sense of atmosphere and visual artistic splendor has been left to the wayside as its second game failed to hit sales expectations. Journey, a stunningly beautiful video game experience, which reflects the wonders of life is no longer an exclusive; its spiritual successor, Sky, has just released on iOS systems. Other than Concrete Genie, we haven’t seen new games like these join the first party lineup, and it’s a huge shame.

Gravity Rush PlayStation
Gravity Rush / Japan Studio & Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PS3 generation was wonderfully experimental. Folklore is an interesting action-RPG set in Doolin, Ireland, with a fascinating world to explore. Puppeteer is an incredibly unique platformer with a marionette aesthetic and scissor gameplay mechanics. Modnation Racers flexes the creative muscles as players make their own tracks, characters, and karts. I miss this era of gaming when Sony took chances rather than make a generic zombie title. InFAMOUS is a superhero title, which has the player decide the path of good and evil in fascinating ways. Heavy Rain has many multiple endings, and the stakes are always high as your character can die at any moment. I could go on. I miss new IP from Sony like these: new IP that stretched game design and world exploration. The PS3, with its wide and impressive library, laid the foundation for PS4’s 100 Million success.

However, there have been some games over the past few years that once again showed why PlayStation is one of the most creative forces in the industry. Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn has you exploring a post-post apocalyptic world with the idea of early civilizations using th, technology of the past. That’s brilliant. Dreams is the ultimate sandbox for players to create levels, but I think fumbles on its walking animations and possibilities for combat design. Death Stranding also sounds incredibly experimental with an insane world only Metal Gear Solid series creator Hideo Kojima could create.

Horizon Zero Dawn PlayStation
Horizon Zero Dawn / Guerrilla Games & Sony Interactive Entertainment

Despite these aforementioned games, it feels like Sony’s lineup is mostly filled with third person action adventures in the vein of Naughty Dog’s prior work or open world titles with progression systems. Their games have also been few and far between this gen, in comparison to their previous consoles. I hope with the PS5 (or whatever it will be named), we see Sony dive more into the strange and vibrant than the derivative and AAA, but if recent comments from Sony are true, this will likely not be the case.

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