PS4 thumb.jpgThe PlayStation 4 has been commonly reviewed this week as a killer piece of hardware without a killer software lineup, yet. Fortunately, I have a list of indies that can help satiate early adopters' twitchy desires to use a DualShock 4 with a stellar lineup of games, albeit with different hardware.

The PS4 has officially released in North America for $399.99, and it comes with a free month of the PlayStation Plus subscription, meaning you can play two of the highest rated games for free (Resogun and Contrast), which happen to also be independent digital entries. The AAA retail offerings, however, are a mixture of 'not so hot' along with a feeling of 'I can get this on my older console'. Over a year ago, the PlayStation Vita's software lineup achieved similar rankings, with indies outclassing their AAA counterparts.

While I wait to receive a PS4, I experimented with playing present and future PS4 titles (and more) on my PC with a DualShock 4 controller, and I found a mixture of surprise and disappointment.

Games that were compatible played almost effortlessly with the DualShock 4, and a few others were easy to map. Mercenary Kings took no setup, but sadly the day-one PS4 indie Contrast (also coming to Steam today) didn't work with the DualShock 4, nor could I bind it in-game.

That's ok, though. You've come to play games with your new controller that you can't get on Sony's new machine now!

Why would you want to play with the DualShock 4? For me, it obliterates the Xbox 360's D-pad, each direction so distinct and so easy on the thumb. The grips feel longer and sleeker than previous PS controllers and the Xbox's, giving me more to hold onto.

The placement of the new start button called "option" is a bit disorientating. The speaker, share button, light, mic port, clickable touch pad, and SixAxis control all sound like great features, but developers presently can't make use of them on the PC. Therefore, I won't fixate on them for now. I hope developers can soon begin to experiment with these features, as they are the most innovative features of the controller, as seen here:

I will say the right-side buttons seem to take more force to press, which I'm not too sure I like yet. I am sure that I am not a fan of the almost sharp, circular edges that surround the the D-pad and buttons, though. I suppose my fingers won't interact with those beyond initially settling the controller in my hand.

Once you install and boot these games, you too can nestle your PS4 DualShock 4 in hand, connected by an off-brand Micro USB if you didn't get one with a new console, and enjoy the following on Windows:

No binding/setup needed:

Skullgirls (free this weekend on Steam! sort of like PS+ but for a much shorter time)

Tetrobot and Co.

Mercenary Kings (Early Access, but why wait for the PS4 version? The devs discuss that after the lists.)

Electronic Super Joy


Volgarr The Viking


140 (not at all a SoundShapes replacement, so be sure to get that, too!)

Retro/Grade (but why play it without a Guitar Hero guitar?!)

Retro City Rampage (even has "press option" instead of "start" on the title screen)

binding required, but works smoothly

Dustforce (no need to wait for the Capcom port!)

Jamestown (this deserves a Capcom port!)

[EDIT: Brook Miles of Klei says the latest update of Don't Starve brings default support to the controller. I couldn't personally confirm working, but Twitter-verse reported Hotline Miami and Awesomenauts worked, too.]

no or broken support:

Binding of Isaac
Super Splatters
Gun Monkeys
Ittle Dew (binding the analog proved too troublesome for me, charcter kept moving. buttons worked well)
Risk of Rain (detects some buttons, but can't map it manually)
Escape Goat
The Bridge

My lists aren't exhaustive, but they are a good slice of commercial indie games past and present that one would think would be natural fits for the PS4 controller.

Indies have a few options when it comes to implementing controllers for Windows. According to Games Radar using DirectInput allows for DualShock 4 compatibility, but at a loss. "DirectInput has some pretty damning limitations: no rumble or vibration effects, less accurate detection of how you're using the triggers, and no way to detect headsets plugged in via the controller. Ouch."

I spoke with Retro City Rampage developer Brian Provinciano about such claims. "While the older DirectInput has limitations, using that instead of XInput was never a question for me as I wanted to support any and every controller out there -- even before the PS4 controller existed. It's very disappointing that Microsoft's current API is designed to work only with their own controllers."

As for the triggers, Brian explains, "Less accurate triggers means that instead of each trigger having its own value, they both share one. Instead of each having a value 0.0-1.0, for example, the use a single value -1.0 to +1.0, so you can't exactly press both at once."

Mercenary Kings dev Jean-Francois Major says his team is using SDL 2. "To get it to map correctly, we added a configuration for it in our game since it didn't appear to be included in SDL at the time. We haven't really noticed any trigger limitation as we don't use them extensively."

Jean-Francois says that real bummer is not being able to support the touch pad, light bar, and speaker, all of which serve a purpose in the PS4 version of Mercenary Kings. "Down the road, I could see someone creating a proper driver for it. But until it's wrapped up in a library, I don't see anyone using them. Same thing with the Xbone's force feedback triggers. No one will want to sacrifice supporting most controllers to have those extra features."

[I purchased a DualShock 4 for $60 and, upon reading its packaging, a third-party micro USB cord for $15 to conduct the above tests. Impressions of the games on PlayStation 4 will commence soon-ish!]