The 9 Best PlayStation 4 Kids' Games of 2021

Shop for the best PS4 kids' LEGO, old-school, music, creative games and more

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The Rundown
Best Game For Families:
Ubisoft Rayman Legends at Amazon
"It’s a Pixar movie on a PS4."
"Gives your child the opportunity to be a LEGO God by exploring a galaxy of worlds made of LEGOs."
Best Game For Creative Kids:
Microsoft Minecraft at Amazon
"One of the greatest survival/crafting games ever made."
"Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions adheres to truly old-school arcade game styles."
"The cartoony art style and silly tone are perfect for kids."
"A staple of hangouts with friends, sleepovers, and family game night, and the 2021 entry brings 40 new songs for everyone to enjoy."
"Donut County originated as a game jam idea from Twitter, and expanded into a full-fledged indie game."
"All three of Spyro’s original PlayStation adventures have been remade in beautiful HD for this collection."
"Prep and cook orders in a variety of increasingly absurd environments."

Even though the PlayStation 5 has arrived with all of its fancy new features, the PlayStation 4 still has a lot to offer, including some great kid-friendly games. Titles like Call of Duty and Dead by Daylight are popular with teens and adults, but aren't exactly games that you'd want younger kids to play. Fortunately, game dev studios are still creating great games for kids like the Just Dance series, remasters of retro favorites like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, and indie juggernaut hits like Minecraft.

It can be difficult to know what is age appropriate for your kids, but the ESRB, PEGI, and Australian Games Rating systems have created a simple and easy to understand system to tell you at-a-glance what is right for your kids. YouTube, Google, and Twitch have tons of resources for parents wanting to research the latest titles kids may be asking for; you can read reviews, plot synopsis write ups, and even watch gameplay videos to learn what is right for your kids.

With both online and local multiplayer, your kids can play with friends on the couch or over the internet, and parental controls though the PS4 console give you peace of mind about keeping your kids from accessing unsuitable games and content. We've rounded up our top picks for the best PlayStation 4 kids' games to help you decide which is the perfect title to add to your little ones' library of titles. 

Best Game For Families: Ubisoft Rayman Legends

Rayman_Legends
What We Like
  • Offline 4 player co-op

  • Tons of levels

  • Great art design

What We Don't Like
  • Dull story

  • Internet connection required for some features

Originally released way back in 2013, Rayman Legends is a game set in a vibrant, colorful world spanning over 80 levels. With cooperative play for up to 4 players, everyone can join in frantic boss fights and oil painting-inspired levels in a race to save the day. Co-op play can be online or offline, so your kids can play with friends on the couch or over the internet. Online play includes leaderboards so everyone can take on challenges to see who is the best player in the home, or in the world. The Rayman Rocks mode features covers of familiar songs that challenge players to stay on beat while hitting checkpoints and beating baddies. The game also takes advantage of the PS4's DualShock 4 controller touchpad for more ways to solve puzzles and take out enemies. You can check out our review to learn more about Rayman Legends.

"Rayman Legends isn’t focused on plot; it’s more interested in providing outstanding gameplay." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best LEGO Game: Square Enix LEGO Dimensions Worlds

Lego Dimensions
What We Like
  • Fun story

  • Lots of building options

  • Unique worlds

What We Don't Like
  • Frustrating controls

  • Repetitive play

  •  A few bugs

LEGO video games have always been a favorite with kids and adults alike, and Dimensions is no exception. The game offers both single and two-player modes to control LEGO mini-figures from popular franchises like Batman, Lord of the Rings, and even Doctor Who across 14 levels. Players earn gold bricks to unlock abilities, vehicles, and other items, giving this game tons of replay value.

The Battle Arena mode has up to 4 players competing in different game modes like capture the flag for even more ways to play together. The starter pack includes the main story as well as the Toy Pad, which is made from real LEGO bricks and can be custom built to represent your favorite characters. There is also a ton of DLC content ranging from extra characters and vehicles to all-new stories and levels, letting you and your kids play for days looking for new ways to blast through levels. Check out our review if you want to read more about LEGO Dimensions.

"The game has a great sense of humor. A charismatic narrator tells you where to go, what each of your tools does, and even cracks the occasional joke." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best Game For Creative Kids: Microsoft Minecraft

Microsoft Minecraft
What We Like
  • Sandbox gameplay

  • Easy to pick up and play

  • Tons of depth and replay value

What We Don't Like
  • No story

  • No PS4 store support for DLC

Minecraft has been around in some form since 2009, and has become an absolute juggernaut in the world of video games. It's essentially a free-build sandbox game that challenges kids and adults alike to unleash their imagination to build homes, items, and explore. In Creative Mode, players get access to infinite numbers of every resource in order to build anything their imaginations can come up with. Survival Mode introduces enemies like spiders, skeletons, and zombies as well as health and hunger bars that players must maintain in order to explore, fight, and build.

Hardcore Mode is the most difficult gameplay mode, locking players into the hardest difficulty setting and has permadeath (once your player dies, the game ends and you have to start over with a new world). Players can take on their maps either alone or with friends, mining for rare resources and trading items to explore difficult areas like caves and snowy forests. There are tons of YouTube channels and Wiki articles to check out for cool building ideas, info on game mods, and just to see what Minecraft is all about.

"My six-year-old son has become obsessed not only with playing Minecraft and experimenting within, but also reading about the ecosystem in books and gaining ideas for his next session." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Arcade Style Game: Activision Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

What We Like
  • Over 100 levels

  • Co-op and competitive multiplayer

  •  12 modes

What We Don't Like
  • Online only multiplayer

  • Steep learning curve for later levels

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions was originally released back in 2014, and received an update that was free for existing players and is included with all new purchases. The update added 40 new levels, bringing the total number of levels to over 100. The third installment of the Geometry Wars franchise has 12 battle modes, 15 grids, and 6 unique companion drones to deliver a fast and frantic gameplay experience.

Online multiplayer allows for competitive or cooperative play as well as access to leaderboards to see where your scores rank among your friends and players around the world. The game's simple, but colorful graphics harken back to the early days of arcade gaming and classic titles like Asteroids, but breathes new life into tried-and-true formulas.

Best Action Game: Insomniac Games Ratchet & Clank

Rachet and Clank
What We Like
  • Kid-friendly combat

  • Updated graphics and controls

  • Charming story and characters

What We Don't Like
  • Dull cutscenes

  • May be difficult for younger children

Ratchet & Clank is one of PlayStation's cornerstone franchises, stretching across several console generations. The PS4 entry is an updated reimagining of the very first game, bringing the story and characters to a whole new generation of young gamers. With refined controls, a better story, and tighter gameplay, this version of Ratchet & Clank retains all of its original charm while being better suited to modern gaming expectations.

This game features plenty of Saturday morning cartoon levels of silly violence that kids will love and parents will appreciate. Each of the game's weapons is designed to take out enemies in ways that are perfect for young players to handle. Our reviewer sat down to play this game with his 6 year old, and they both had a lot of fun. The only drawback is that the single-player story mode can be challenging for younger kids, meaning older siblings or parents may have to be on standby to help out.

"Most of Ratchet & Clank takes the form of an action-platform game, with a mix of wrench-swinging and gun-blasting combat, plus a fair bit of exploration and leaping around hazards and obstacles." Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Music Game: Ubisoft Just Dance 2021

What We Like
  • Smartphone app controller

  • Up to 6 players

  • Multiple play modes

What We Don't Like
  • None

Just Dance has become a staple of hangouts with friends, sleepovers, and family game night, and the 2021 entry brings 40 new songs for everyone to enjoy. It also includes a free, one-month subscription to Just Dance Unlimited, giving you access to the franchise's backlog of over 600 songs. There are 8 new, kid-friendly songs for little ones to dance along to, including "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story.

Parents will love the fact that you don't have to buy any special controllers or cameras to play along; the Just Dance Controller app turns your smartphone into a motion-tracking controller, and if you have the PS4 Move controllers, they'll work with the game as well. Up to 6 players can work together to achieve high scores that appear on worldwide leaderboards, and you can create custom playlists to challenge yourself and your friends to the ultimate dance-off. A Quick Play mode automatically shuffles the songs and chooses one for you, which is perfect if you only want to play for a short time, or don't want to scroll through the song list. Sweat Mode turns the game into a fun cardio workout routine, and the World Dance Floor mode lets you challenge other players online to dance battles.

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Best Port: Annapurna Interactive Donut county

Donut County
What We Like
  • Fun art

  • Simple gameplay

  • Fun story

What We Don't Like
  • May be too simple for older kids

What started out as a game jam idea on Twitter eventually expanded into a full-fledged game. If you're familiar with games like Katamari Damacy, the premise of Donut County is similar. Donut County lets players control a hole in the ground that swallows objects and grows larger to pick up even bigger things in order to unlock new areas. The object of the game is that a Raccoon King has been using the hole to collect all of the trash in the world for himself; once players learn this, they use the hole to wreak havoc on the Raccoon King's home.

The simple, colorful art style perfectly matches the silly and whimsical gameplay, and it has even won the Excellence in Design award from SXSW and was the winner of Best Debut Indie Game from the 2018 Game Awards. The simple gameplay is perfect for short play sessions, meaning even very young players can enjoy it without getting frustrated.

Best Remake: Activision Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
What We Like
  • Three games included

  • Updated graphics and music

  • Good for younger kids

What We Don't Like
  • Frustrating camera controls

  • Repetitive gameplay

Spyro the Dragon is one of Sony's most recognizable characters, originating with the first PlayStation console. This remaster of his adventures is lovingly rendered in HD graphics to bring Spyro's colorful world to life for a new generation. Players navigate overworlds, choosing which order to tackle levels to collect gems, eggs, and other objects to unlock new areas, characters, and abilities. Spyro runs, jumps, glides, and fire-blasts his way through mobs of funky-looking enemies in ways that never seem to get old.

The cartoony art style and simplified controls are perfect for younger players, and even older kids and teens will appreciate the larger levels and more open worlds of the second and third games. Our reviewer thinks the remastered games are a great way to introduce your kids to games that you loved growing up or gaming in general.

"All three games are lovingly revamped with beautiful new graphics while keeping the original framework of each adventure intact." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Party Game: Team 17 Overcooked! 2 (PS4)

Overcooked 2
What We Like
  • Free DLC

  • Online multiplayer

  • New levels and items

What We Don't Like
  • Can be overwhelming for younger kids or series newcomers

This sequel to the wildly popular Overcooked! Once again has teams of up to 4 players prep and cook food to order in levels that become increasingly bizarre and absurd. You'll have to work together in order to prep ingredients, serve orders, and even wash dishes in order to keep your customers happy. The environments of each level sometimes work against you, making everyone have to think of new and clever ways to work around teleporters, moving walkways, and barriers.

The fast-paced gameplay can be a bit overwhelming for little ones or newcomers to the series, but it's still approachable enough to provide a ton of wacky fun. The new ingredient tossing mechanic means that players can help each other to serve more dishes more quickly, or make the other team waste precious time chasing after the onions you threw across the level. With both free and paid DLC, Overcooked! 2 has plenty of content to keep gameplay fresh and fun for everyone.

Final Verdict

Gaming isn't just for grown-ups and teens, though Rayman Legends will appeal to them as much as it does to little kids. Each of the over 80 levels features gorgeous art and fluid controls that make for a super fun game for up to 4 people. Just Dance 2021 continues to prove why the series is so popular with 40 new hit songs, a free 1-month subscription to Just Dance Unlimited, and co-op gameplay for up to 6 people.

About Our Trusted Experts

Andrew Hayward has been covering video games since 2006. He's previously written for publications like TechRadar and Polygon to covering gaming and esports, is a gamer himself, and reviewed many of these games with his six-year-old son.

Kelsey Simon has been a gamer her entire life and written for Lifewire since 2019, covering a wide variety of games across numerous platforms.

Taylor Clemons is an expert on gaming hardware and other consumer technology and has covered them for various websites for more than three years.

FAQ

How do I know if this game is appropriate for my kids?

If you're in the US, you can check the ESRB rating of any game and its description to see if it contains anything that might be unsavory. ESRB ratings range from E for Everyone (the most kid friendly rating) to Adult Only (a very rare rating, but self-explanatory). If you're in Europe, PEGI ratings range from 3 to 18, based on the age of the intended audience. Australian parents should take note that video game ratings are the same as film ratings, so use your best judgement when buying games for your children. A game's rating can be found on the front and back covers of the game for easy identification. As always, you can search for a description of the game online and read reviews to make sure your kids aren't asking for something inappropriate. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.


Can I set up parental controls?

Absolutely! Every home console and computer allows parents to set up a special PIN code and media restrictions to keep kids from downloading inappropriate content. You may want to periodically change the PIN code in case your little ones try to figure it out in order to bypass your settings. And make sure if you write down the PIN, keep it somewhere your kids won't find it. 


What are microtransactions?

Microtransactions are things that you can buy with real money in a game. These can range from expanded stories and new missions to new character costumes and items. While many microtransaction items seem inexpensive, the cost can add up over time; this is especially true for games like Fortnite where new character costumes and dances pop up almost every week, and so do stories of kids who rack up thousands of dollars of credit card debt to get the coolest items and costumes. Make sure you keep an eye on your credit card statements and discuss with your kids the importance of asking permission before buying ANYTHING online, no matter how cheap it seems.

What to Look for in a PS4 Kids' Game

Gameplay - When looking at child-friendly games, you want to get one where the gameplay isn't too complex, but at the same time it's not too simplified that you'll lose your child's interest. There's also different sorts of games, from adventure-driven platformers like Spyro Reignited, to open world sandbox games like Minecraft. Adventure games might have a bit more plot to them, while the sandbox lets your child be their creative self and explore the world.

Graphics - There are lots of different art styles in games, but when it comes to kid-focused ones you tend to find a mix between retro and cartoony graphics. The retro graphics in games like Sonic Mania might appeal to parents as well, bringing about a hint of nostalgia, while the cartoon 3D graphics you see on games like Rachet & Clank help keep violence from seeming too real. It's rare to find a child-friendly game with ultra-realistic graphics.

Kid-Friendliness - How child-friendly a game on can depend on many things, from complexity of plots and concepts, to the level of violence. Most kid-friendly games keep violence at the cartoon level with minimal shows of blood and no gore. These games might have some naughty jokes, but they tend to be amusing puns or potty humor, rather than outright profanity.

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