Editor's note: Sony has announced that it will not close the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita digital stores in summer 2021 as the company had previously planned. They will still close the PSP store, though. You can read more here. The original list follows.
Sony has announced the sunsetting of the digital stores for PS3, PS Vita, and PSP. This, unfortunately, means a great many games are going to become unavailable for purchase.
The PlayStation 3 was part of a boom in indie development, when the freeware and shareware model from PC finally came to home consoles in the form of the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Arcade. The result was wave after wave of creativity from some of the best studios and developers of the modern era.
From July 2, 2021, the PS3 and PSP games on this list won't be available to buy anymore, and starting August 17, neither will the Vita games.
Though it seems some major companies don't care much for preservation, you will (thankfully) be able to always download anything you already own, doing your part to keep games history alive and playable.
However, the number of indie games on these platforms is massive, so there may be some you've missed out on. Just in case, we've put together a list of 13 games you really should consider picking up now, lest you miss out on them forever.
There aren't many good kaiju games, but Eat Them! is one of the greats. This cel-shaded destruct-a-thon from FluffyLogic is a neat little package of big monster action, featuring single-player and multiplayer.
The action is simple, and the charm of breaking stuff and defeating other beasts does tend to wear off after an hour or two. But those quick sessions are so satisfying that this is one capable of sitting happily on the hard-drive for years to come.
When you aren't crunching through all the buildings and objects in your way, the charming comic book-like menus and layout frame everything like a late-nineties comics event that never happened.
Remember that time Goichi 'Suda51' Suda and famed Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka worked together on a bullet hell shooter? No? Well, now's your chance to catch up. Co-developed by Digital Reality, this arrived in 2012, the same year as Lollipop Chainsaw, and was very much under the radar as a result.
On top of being a finely-tuned piece of arcade action, the flow of the 2.5D art, especially in the transitions from stage-to-stage, is at times distractingly good. The backgrounds are rich in detail, closely resembling the concept art they're based on. An enhanced version was released for PlayStation 4, but if you want the original, or if you're like it on the go, you know what you have to do.
Three years before we had The Last Guardian, Papo and Yo gave us all the feelings about a boy and his monster. Running from his abusive father, Quico finds himself transported to a strange, fantasy favela where he befriends a gorilla-like companion. Together, the pair solve puzzles, moving around the rooms and blocks of the favela at will to progress.
Lead designer Vincent Caballero developed the game as a way of dealing with the abuse he endured throughout his upbringing from his alcoholic father. The metaphor isn't subtle, but it's well-handled, delivering a heartbreakingly candid ending.
Some of the finest game developers in the industry came through the PlayStation 3 and Xbox Live Arcade, including Tyler Glaiel, a recurring collaborator of Edmund McMillen's.
Glaiel co-developed Closure, a simple black-and-white puzzler about finding and getting the most out of the light in any given stage, with Jon Schubbe. It's a simple, intuitive game and is part of the foundation of the indie scene we understand today. This is history, and you'd do well to keep the lights on for it.
Given the success of It Takes Two, it's safe to say co-op adventures have a lot of life in them. Ibb and Obb is a physics-bending co-operative jaunt from Sparpweed Games whose use of warm, garish colors, soft corners, and blobby titular characters make it a solid throwback.
Every surface is a dividing line, and you'll have to take turns to figure out what the best way forward is. Everything's 3D-modelled but held in 2D space, like an internet animation from 1999 come to life, and the rectangular hills give a nod to Super Mario Bros. 3, but as if someone's truly mangled it for their own devices. Delightfully weird.
For a minute, the industry was obsessed by two things: hardcore platforming, and procedural generation. Spelunky, Super Meat Boy, Terraria, Minecraft, The Binding of Isaac, many of the hits of the late-noughties, and early-tens used one or the other, or both.
Cloudberry Kingdom by Pwnee Studios is part of the latter. You and up to three others can bounce through its loud, freeform stages, engaging in friendly competition about who can die in the most ridiculous way. Rayman Legends and New Super Mario Bros have since become the rulers of this kind of chaotic play, making Cloudberry Kingdom like a strange deconstruction of their wily charms, like either has been left in the sun too long. Good fun.
It's Tetris but it's trash, and if you're anything like us, that'll be enough to perk your interest. For the rest of you, this anarchic version of Alexey Pajitnov's puzzler from Japan Studio is a reminder of just how easy, and endless, sorting out the rubbish really is.
When you're winning, it's good encouragement to keep up with your chores because they only take substantial time if you put them off. When you lose, there's a little sense of understanding that these tasks are forever, and it's OK to be overwhelmed sometimes because we are messy creatures. Tetris clones are a dime-a-dozen but don't let this one get lost in the pile.
Once upon a time, it seemed like Sony believed in the Vita. Frobisher Says! is a product of that. It's a strange, WarioWare-like collection of minigames that deftly demonstrates the touchscreen capabilities of the handheld. The animation looks like something thrown together in Flash, then fixed up in Photoshop, and one of the games is just about finding cats in the living room.
Where many of the Vita exclusives rely on AR cards, making them much harder to pick up nowadays, this just needs you and a console. Up to eight players can take part – when we can all hang out again, there's no better way to remember Sony's forgotten child.
Another piece of twee magic from Japan Studio, Rain has a lot of Ghibli-esque charm to it. A young boy and girl must escape evil forces in a mid-twentieth century European city, eventually finding themselves in a heartwarming tale of companionship.
Ori and the Blind Forest, Inside, and many other fantastical platform adventures since have dulled this a little, but the watercolor imagery that bookends it, and the Eurocentric locales, do tug on the heartstrings still. Give it a look on a quiet afternoon.
A physics-based platform-puzzler, Might and Delight's Pid won't deliver anything you haven't seen a dozen times already, especially in a post-Celeste world. This still holds weight, however, because you can feel the excitement of its era when you play it.
Arriving in 2012, Pid is part of the tail end of that first wave of Xbox Live Arcade indie classics. It's not genre-defining by any means, but the strange, alien characters and landscapes, and ridged use of corridors and forward momentum still hold that air of mystique that came with exploring the PS3 and Xbox Live stores back then. Retro Family's grooving soundtrack doesn't hurt either.
A novel spin on the survival genre: you control the character using a top-down satellite feed, rounding up people that are still alive in cities under attack from a monstrous threat, and bringing them to safety. Moving away from the likes of Earth Defence Force or Resident Evil, The Last Guy evokes Snake on the Nokia 3210, growing a tail that you've to constantly maneuver around, moving around the map's buildings and pathways.
Playing it now, you can see shades of what it was trying in 2019's Days Gone. Japan Studio made something different here that's well worth preserving for yourself.
The best and worst pitch for Proteus is from its Wikipedia page: “The game was involved in numerous discussions of video games as art, with some debating whether it could be considered a video game at all.”
Upon landing on an island, full of bright green pixel-art trees and greenery, you wander, and then you wander some more, enjoying the sights and sounds, and then you wander some more.
Very little happens in Proteus, but that's the point. In a time when we've barely left our houses for a year, Proteus stands to make you remember why going outside is such a privilege. Games can be many things, and sometimes, what they aren't making us do helps us understand what we can do. Proteus is a video game, and it's a great one.
As everyone learned about the PlayStation 3, PSP, and PS Vita's digital stores closing, this was one of the games atop many lists of recommendations. Made, once again by Japan Studio, you control a cat, exploring a derelict Tokyo that's become overgrown, meeting other animals. It's science fiction that's quiet, all about the years between anything of note going on.
Given the circumstances, it stands as a metaphor for digital spaces long after we've upgraded and moved on. Someday, much of what we love will be unkempt and covered in vines, and our attempts to salvage it will be like this cat, navigating the wilds of a different community that's formed in the aftermath.
Keeping these games gives them another life, one that's just as valid as what came before. What games are you downloading ahead of the closure of these digital stores? Let us know in the comments below.