Contactless transactions have become the unlikely refuge of those looking to stay sane amid a growing pandemic. Online shops keep households supplied, streaming services promise easy entertainment, and console gaming provides a convenient escape from the perils of the Brave New World ahead. The industry is experiencing a spending surge like nothing it’s seen before. To this end, Sony has launched its “Play at Home” initiative, an ongoing campaign that allows certain games to be downloaded for free at the PlayStation store, effectively bringing social distancing to the criminally isolated and rewarding players for their tireless support and unending patience during these uncertain times. And nine more games have just joined the set. The current batch of free Playstation games are: ABZÛ, Enter the Gungeon, Rez Infinite, Subnautica, The Witness, Paper Beast, Thumper, Moss, and Astro Bot Rescue Mission. All are currently free to own for a limited time.
While these free Playstation games aren’t mainstream titles, they are wildly popular to niche audiences as far as indies go. ABZÛ and Subnautica puts players into the overgrown flippers of an adventurous scuba diver, using solar cells to breathe new life into the world’s oceans, navigating underwater environments and exploring alien planets, respectively. Rez Infinite and Thumper are beat- and music-driven, the first being a modern-day remake of a classic rail shooter and the second being a rhythm game built into a standard action-adventure. Enter the Gungeon (“Gungeon” as in “gun dungeon”) is a retro bullet hell, and tells the story of four adventurers in search of a time machine meant to erase their sordid pasts.
The Witness and Moss are complex puzzle games, pitting players against the great unknown with only riddles to guide them. Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a Mario-esque world with a textbook platformer’s quest: survey numerous levels and rescue the Captain’s missing crew. Paper Beast, on the other hand, is a clever twist on the open world genre, switching out natural wildlife for artificial intelligence, forcing players to interact with algorithms and programmer codes to traverse the game.
Paper Beast, Thumper, Moss, and Astro Bot Rescue Mission all enjoy PlayStation VR support and require a functioning headset to play. All nine free Playstation games are available on the PSN store from now till April 22nd at exactly 11:59PM PT. A free copy of Horizon: Zero Dawn will also be made available starting April 19th.
The “Play at Home” initiative began all the way back in March, as part of the company’s earnest and hardened efforts to help the gaming community survive and combat the threats posed by COVID-19. The store previously offered only mainstream favorites as free Playstation games, beginning with Ratchet & Clank (available until March 31st only) and eventually Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey. These games can be purchased for free without the need for a paid PlayStation Plus membership; once downloaded, they’re yours for good. Sony intends to supplement the initiative with more games come June.
In a Brave/r New World where face-to-face interactions have been rendered obsolete, finding solace in manufactured utopias are suddenly more crucial than ever. Some might even say it’s the only healthy auxiliary beyond this created abyss.