Stuff's Best Games Ever: The 25 best PlayStation games of all time

All the essentials from nearly a quarter century of play

It's been 23 years since the original PlayStation launched in Japan, and the near quarter-century since has been packed with incredible gaming experiences.

Sony might have seemed an unlikely video game juggernaut back when, but the original PlayStation's 32-bit bump revolutionised gaming, and then the PlayStation 2 took things much, much further. The PS3 had its early missteps but ultimately proved itself essential, and then the PlayStation 4 has been an absolute smash from the start: the must-have console of right now.

Along the way, PlayStation has brought us some of the most brilliant experiences in all of gaming, whether they've been Sony-made titles or third-party exclusives, and that's true of both big AAA titles and tremendous indie gems.

It wasn't easy to try and whittle down our huge starting list to just 25 picks, but we've done it anyway. So here are our 25 favourite PlayStation exclusives from across the years, including games that debuted first on a Sony console before spreading to others.

25. Silent Hill (PS1, 1999)

Resident Evil may have been first, but to many Silent Hill was the ultimate survival horror game. You found yourself lost in an eerie, fog-shrouded town as you searched for your daughter but instead discovered all manner of unmentionably horrific... things.

While Res Evil wasn't exactly a gun-crazy killathon, Silent Hill took the survival bit to another level - for large parts of the game you were reliant on just your legs and your wits, plus a trusty iron bar. And if you did find a gun, you weren't very good at shooting it. The atmosphere was unremittingly tense, with the ghostly soundtrack and murky visuals combining to leave you constantly on the edge of your seat. Creepy. As. Hell.

24. SSX (PS2, 2000)

You didn't have to be a snowboarding fan to love the original SSX. Combining the addictive trickery of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater with the exhilarating speed of Wipeout, it was the surprise hit of the PS2's launch titles.

The brilliantly designed courses seemed to go on forever, while razor-sharp controls and hidden tracks kept you coming back for one more stalefish.

23. Front Mission 3 (PS1, 2000)

It won’t be known to many, but to a certain type of gamer Front Mission 3 was perfect. That’s because it combined Japanese RPG storytelling and drama with turn­-based combat involving mechs. You could customise your giant walking tanks with machine guns, rockets and brutal fists, and when you attacked an enemy the camera switched from the distant isometric layout to cinematic action shots. Well, it was cinematic by PS1 standards, anyway.

22. God Of War (PS2, 2005)

Who knew that a gruff, ash-white-and-red guy would become such an engaging lead? Sony did, apparently, and Kratos has driven the God Of War series into the pantheon of all-time great action games. It started with the fantastic PlayStation 2 debut, which delivered epic showdowns against mythological bosses and incredible combo-driven combat, all while pushing the aging hardware to new heights.

21. BLOODBORNE (PS4, 2015)

Dark Souls is typically the game of choice for insanely tough action, and rightfully so, but we actually prefer the PS4-exclusive sister game, Bloodborne. Similarly, it's intensely difficult and refuses to hold your hand – in fact, it'll bat your hand away and chide you for even assuming you'd be assisted.

It's dark and massively atmospheric, as you battle through gothic scenery to take down huge bosses and other grim foes. Given its tone, Bloodborne won't be for everyone, but there's deep satisfaction to be found – if you're willing to work for it.