Platformers are a gaming favourite, allowing us to live out some of our wildest fantasies - such as performing feats of mild athleticism without crying or dry-heaving.
We love platformers here at Media Molecule; we’ve made plenty of them ourselves, what with the LittleBigPlanet series and Tearaway. So we put a load of cool platform game-making tools in our latest PlayStation game, Dreams. And wouldn’t you know it? Dreams players used those tools to make some brilliant platforming games of their own. Neat!
But where should you start? Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best platformers to play in Dreams right now, from nostalgia-inducing 3D adventures to 2D challenges that demand pixel-perfect skills.
Estimated playtime: 4 hours
Easily one of the best Dreams games you’ll ever play, 3D platformer Trip’s Voyage is a bouncy, brilliantly designed adventure that takes you from tropical treasure islands to enemy-infested glaciers - and beyond. Fans of the 3D Mario games will be instantly familiar with Trip’s joyful, finely-tuned moveset; meanwhile, there’s more than a hint of Rareware personality in the many characters you’ll meet and help on your travels. Creative platforming challenges, minigames, puzzles and tonnes of collectibles mean each sandbox level is stuffed with secrets that’ll take you hours to uncover. Miraculously, it’s largely the work of just one young developer - while Trip’s Voyage’s game dev journey is now complete, we get the feeling this is just the start of Eupholace’s own.
Estimated playtime: 30+ mins
Hands up if you love pain. If twitch-based games such as Super Meat Boy and Hotline Miami are your bag, you’ll be right at home in Slice’s razor-sharp levels. Making it through this 2D platformer requires precise inputs and careful resource management; your titular dash-strike functions as both an attack and a movement ability. The puzzle is in working out how to best use each of your three charges - reset by touching surfaces or reaping enemy souls - and master momentum to cut the optimal path through each course. Slice might delight in shredding your nerves with its punishing challenges and pulse-pounding synth soundtrack, but unpicking its masocore mysteries is a real pleasure.
Estimated playtime: 45+ mins
This subtle puzzle platformer won Best Student Game at the 2021 Freeplay Independent Games Festival, and little wonder: it’s as beautiful as it is strange, often putting us in mind of indie classics such as FEZ and Hyper Light Drifter. Submerged in the sparkling waters of this disintegrating world, platforms, plinths, laserbeams, hidden collectibles and breathtaking vistas quietly demand your concentration. A bow that teleports you to the spot your arrows lands means puzzling out paths requires some magical thinking. So, too, does the enigmatic story: the mossy bodies of giant robots lie still in front of glitching portals, as you piece together a melancholic tale that is - like everything in The Snowgardens - elegantly expressed without words.
Estimated playtime: 20 mins
How about a platformer where you create the platforms? That’s DRAW! - you’re handed pieces of paper with obstacles scrawled onto them and an all-powerful pencil, and must sketch surfaces upon which your stickman hero can jump to the exit. Smart level design leaves enough room for some creative freeform puzzle solutions - but it’s the charming presentation of this 2D adventure that’ll really stick with you, from the sound effects as you scribble and rub out solutions on each smudgy page, to the ultra-satisfying snap as you switch between ‘draw’ and ‘play’ mode. Well, that and the memorable pun of a punchline, a dark twist that might be the only thing in DRAW! that you’ll find impossible to erase.
Estimated playtime: 1+ hour
For some, platformers are all about scale and spectacle, the feeling of being an almost insignificant David versus a Goliath of a world. ASCENT REMASTERED captures that Team Ico-esque atmosphere beautifully, building castles in the air, rickety spires and staircases that lead our hero up, up and away through the clouds. But developer payoffwizard puts their own supernatural spin on exploration and puzzle-solving, allowing you to discover and learn skills along your journey. You’re able to drive back darkness with your glowing sword (which can be purified in crystal-clear ponds) - but the standout mechanic has to be the magical seal you can place anywhere to teleport to a spot, adding a whole new dimension to timed switch-flipping puzzles that reveal new paths.
Estimated playtime: Replayable
Looking for a platformer that’s different every day? Look no further than Recursion, a tricky, score-chasing jellyfish bounce across a skyline of procedurally-generated coral. Distance is the key here, not time: you can go as slow as you like, picking up double-jump and even platform-creation powerups, as you chart a route that takes you as far from as possible from your starting point. The twist? Every 24 hours, Recursion generates a new map to master - you get five lives total per day to make your bid for scoreboard glory (although if you lose them all, you can still play for a personal ‘Farthest Ever’ score). A challenging blend of careful route optimisation and death-defying leaps, this is a joyful daily swim with a sting in its tail.
Estimated playtime: 45 mins
They say curiosity kills the cat, but in the case of this irresistibly cute 3D platformer, curiosity… enriches the dinosaur? Not quite as catchy, is it. Still, Bo will have you singing to his tune all the way as you hop, skip and jump across a compact, open-world playground filled with sidequests, puzzles and delicious blueberries. Sweet surprises and referential nods are sure to charm fans of early Nintendo fare such as The Legend of Zelda; there are places you’re only able to enter at certain times of day, but complete enough sidequests, and you might find a musical method of altering time itself. But the real achievement of Bo’s Island is in just how fun it feels to simply play around in this space, where whizzing down slides, watching TV and swimming in rivers for the sheer joy of it often leads to unexpected discoveries.
If you’re still itching for more jumping, why not check out our Platformers playlists in-game? Select Dreams By Genre on the front page of DreamSurfing, then head into Platformers for a load more hand-curated picks.
Alternatively, here are all of our Platformers playlists in one simple collection, if you'd like to add it to your Play Later queue.
Hop to it! Sorry, couldn't resist.
The Dreams User Guide is a work-in-progress. Keep an eye out for updates as we add more learning resources and articles over time.