What would you do if you were living the same day over and over again? There’s a good chance you’d end up losing your mind, Groundhog Day style. After all, there are only so many whack shenanigans you can undertake before it starts to get to you. Bill Murray movies aside, time loops are also prime material for video games.
You could argue that many games have time loops, that choosing to continue after a Game Over constitutes just such a loop. But we’re talking about games where the game acknowledges that loop and it’s a significant mechanic, games like The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. And there are more out there than you might think.
That’s why, today, we’ve rounded up the best time loop games you can play on the PS5, either PS5 native or PS4. And if you’re wondering why Twelve Minutes isn’t on this list? Aside from any gameplay flaws, that ending felt like a real slap in the face. So, without further ado…
- Available on PS5, PC
At least Groundhog Day let Bill Murray fill his face with cakes, unlike the first in our list of time loop games. Returnal strands you, as astronaut Selene, on an alien planet. It’s filled with hostile entities and each death sees you waking up, ready to face the same horrors, again and again and again. We called it a “genre-defying delight that raises the bar on so many levels.” It’s no cakewalk, by any means, but you’ll inch your way forward, making just enough progress each time. Plus, the mystery of Selene’s semi-immortality will keep you hooked.
2. The Sexy Brutale
- Available on PS4, PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Luna
The Sexy Brutale tasks you with saving the lives of a whole casino full of murder victims, all taking place within a twelve hour loop. As stylish as this mystery puzzler is, there’s plenty of substance to it. It’s also a real brain scratcher – you’ll save the life of one guest, only for a gunshot to remind you that the other guest, the one you saved in a previous loop, has met a sticky end. “Complex, challenging, but never boring,” as we put it, The Sexy Brutale will have you hooked.
- Available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Hang on a second.. this isn’t Dishonored! This was Arkane’s first major title after concluding the Dishonored sort-of trilogy and it’s a different beast entirely. There’s stealth, yes, but you can go full shoot-em-up if you so desire. Die and protagonist Colt wakes up no worse for wear. The invasion mode isn’t as active as it once was but storming into someone else’s game as antagonist Julianna is so much fun. And the island itself has a wonderfully weird We Happy Few 60s-style vibe.
4. Outer Wilds
- Available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC
Outer Wilds’s 20 minute time loop is pretty short. We certainly felt like it got in the way of exploring this game’s wacky solar system. But the more we replayed the game, the more we came to appreciate this mechanic. The frantic push to get where you want to go before the loop ends ensures things never get boring. It can also lead to you making mistakes such as, oh, completely ignoring the giant ship-eating angler fish. We called it “..such an enthralling excursion that you’d be mad to miss out.”
5. The Forgotten City
- Available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Nintendo Switch (cloud version)
The Forgotten City began life as a Skyrim mod but you wouldn’t know to look at it. Trapped in an underground Roman city, you have to solve a murder. Why? Because any crime committed in the city creates a catastrophe where your only option is to start the whole day again. There are tales upon tales upon tales and you’re never entirely sure who to trust. Throw in a couple of ‘bad’ endings and you’ve got a tense, time-looping treat.