7 Best PS Vita Action Games that should make your fingers busy

The greatest technical aspect of the PlayStation Vita is its OLED screen. Therefore, every action game you can think of will look gorgeous on that screen. Here are seven of the best action games on the portable platform.

Best ps vita action games

7. Muramasa Rebirth

Muramasa Rebirth, originally released as Muramasa: The Demon Blade on the Wii by Vanillaware in 2009, is often hailed as a lost gem of the console due to it being stuck on dead platforms: the PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo Wii. Its revival, Muramasa Rebirth, launched for the PS Vita in 2013, brings the beloved game to a new platform with notable enhancements.

The Vita version offers a significantly improved English translation, introducing clearer story elements and previously obscure details. Additionally, the game introduces a jump button and customizable controls, and smoother graphics further refine the experience.

Muramasa Rebirth retains the breathtaking 2D side-scrolling graphics of the original which is like a painting but with enhanced clarity on the PS Vita. The game's visual appeal extends to beautifully illustrated food items, atmospheric backgrounds, and meticulously drawn character sprites. The combat animations and Secret Arts are fluid and visually impressive. The aesthetics hard carries the entire game.

The addictive gameplay involves navigating through a calendar-based progression, balancing daily activities with dungeon exploration. Combat requires strategic use of Persona management and exploiting enemy weaknesses, while the fusion system for creating powerful Personas adds depth.

The story is divided between Princess Momohime and the ninja Kisuke, offering depth and intrigue, especially as their narratives unfold and intertwine. While Kisuke's story initially feels cliché, it gains depth as it progresses. Multiple endings and optional challenges like the Caves of Evil enhance replayability, making Muramasa Rebirth a must-play even for the dozens who exhausted the original Wii title. With its beautiful presentation, engaging gameplay, and strong replay value, it remains a standout title on the PS Vita because there is no other platform to play this game.

6. Gravity Rush

Gravity Rush was supposed to be the killer app for the PS Vita and it is one of the very few AAA titles on the handheld. The game is notable for its beautifully cel-shaded visuals, memorable jazz-infused soundtrack, and unique gameplay mechanics centered around gravity manipulation. The protagonist, Kat, is a strong female lead yet suffers the same cliche of being struck with amnesia, captivates players with her charming personality. The game's open-world exploration, combined with Kat's abilities, creates a fun and engaging experience that sets Gravity Rush apart from other titles on the Vita.

The story begins with Kat waking up in the city of Hekseville with no memory of her past and soon discovering her ability to control gravity, thanks to a mysterious cat named Dusty. As she navigates the city, she uses her newfound powers to combat gravity storms and creatures known as the Nevi while uncovering her identity and the mysteries surrounding the floating city. The narrative is, truthfully, flawed, yet Kat's character development is its strongest suit. Well, this is an action game, who needs a story anyway?

Gameplay in Gravity Rush is divided into story missions and optional challenge missions, providing a mix of structured goals and competitive tasks that enhance replayability. The gravity-based mechanics allow for innovative combat and traversal, making the exploration of Hekseville both enjoyable and quick. The combat can become repetitive, and it was one of the most detested by action game fans. Yet, its dreamlike navigation and sublime world-building is yet to be emulated or even approximated, until its sequel on the PlayStation 4.

5. Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition

Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends: Complete Edition is an expanded version of Dynasty Warriors 8, brimming with new content that significantly enhances the original experience. The game introduces a host of new features including Lu Bu’s storyline, five new characters, additional weapons, and an increased level cap for characters. New gameplay elements such as the Ultimate difficulty level and weapon fusion add further depth and challenge, making the gameplay more engaging. The addition of two EX moves for each character enriches the combat mechanics, allowing for more dynamic and powerful attacks.

The story in Xtreme Legends Complete Edition remains largely the same as the original, but with added stages and the new Lu Bu narrative. This should offer a fresh perspective on the events of the game. The inclusion of hypothetical routes provides alternate endings, dependent on player actions in specific stages. These alternate routes can dramatically change the storyline, requiring players to complete certain conditions. The game itself is robust in terms of content in a single playthrough and the replayability ascends such content in new heights. 

Graphically, the game shines on the Vita with detailed character models and fluid animations, although it suffers from occasional lag during intensive gameplay moments. At that point in time, no hardware could possibly run a Dynasty Warriors game without hitching when chaos ensues. So whatever lag you'd experience in this game, it is a normal occurrence.

4. Unit 13

Unit 13 was just way ahead of its time. If such a game was released today, it would have performed better than it had. This third-person shooter offers a gaming experience focused on achieving the perfect run through its structured missions. Gameplay revolves around swift execution and high scores, emphasizing memorization of predictable enemy behaviors rather than complex AI challenges. This predictability facilitates repeated attempts at flawless performances, crucial for attaining top leaderboard positions and star ratings. The game's co-op mode smooths out the difficulty spikes by introducing a heal system.

The third-person perspective and tactical mechanics like iron sights and camera shifts add the necessary depth. Unit 13 excels in its mission design, dividing gameplay into easily manageable segments ideal for portable gaming. Each mission offers varied challenges, from stealth operations to timed missions, fostering non-linear progression.

Unit 13 looks good with sharp textures and effective environmental effects. Coupled with solid sound design, including tense music and immersive voice-overs, the game creates a surprisingly rich atmosphere for a portable title.

3.  Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for action-platformer enthusiasts, blending punishing "perma-death" mechanics with a unique castle upgrade system. This system allows successive characters to benefit from enhancements accrued over multiple runs. The randomized castle layout ensures each playthrough feels fresh, complementing the game's addictive loop of exploration, combat, and upgrade system.

Rogue Legacy is hyper-focused on its gameplay, given that it is rogue-like. Players navigate through progressively challenging castle areas, aiming to defeat four main bosses to unlock the final confrontation. The tight controls and diverse character classes, each with unique abilities like dashing or double-jumping. 

This action game maintains a simplistic yet effective 2D aesthetic. Complemented by a retro-inspired soundtrack featuring catchy chip-tune melodies, Rogue Legacy creates an immersive atmosphere conducive to extended play sessions on the go.

Rogue Legacy was a GOTY-winning action game upon its release. Its tightly designed gameplay loop and innovative blend of rogue-like elements with persistent upgrades were liked by everyone aged 30 and up. It's addictive nature and sense of accomplishment make it a standout title for action gamers seeking a challenging yet rewarding experience.

2. Uncharted: Golden Abyss

While it lacks the graphical fidelity of its console counterparts for very obvious reasons, the visuals of Uncharted: Golden Abyss is pretty impressive for a handheld, with detailed landscapes that surpass previous generation consoles like the PS2 and Wii, and even approaching the quality of the PS3 and Xbox 360.

The gameplay adaptation to the Vita's controls was then a concern upon the reveal of this game, given the handheld's fewer shoulder buttons and touchscreens. Surprisingly, the controls translate well, with intuitive use of the touchscreen for actions like grenade throwing and interactive cutscenes. Adjusting to the Vita's smaller joysticks and the rear touchscreen took some time especially those who play religiously on the big box consoles, but overall, the controls are responsive and enhance the gameplay without feeling gimmicky, aside from the mandatory use of Vita’s tech like looking for a light source using its camera. It was cute, but ultimately, there are better ways.

Characterization and voice acting remain strong suits of the Uncharted series, with familiar protagonists Nate and Sully retaining their charm, complemented by new characters like Marisa Chase, who grows from a dubious ally to a well-crafted sidekick. The story, while not groundbreaking, is engaging, supported by excellent voice performances that maintain the series' high standards.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss proves that a console-like experience may be had on a handheld. The Nintendo Switch later houses incredible triple A games later on. It was a miracle having this game run on the Vita. It is not just a technical marvel but also a polished and most especially fun gaming experience. This is one of the few games that use the esoteric features of the handheld, it may not be as excellent as Tearaway’s but all in all, it is an action game that is truly so male.

1. Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight captured the everything everyone liked from classic gaming that defined the childhoods of people of a certain age. Yacht Club Games masterfully blends old-school difficulty with nostalgic 8-bit visuals and a compelling adventure. The game's cross-buy and cross-save features are of incredible value and somehow a betrayal of its retro feel for being so modern. Kidding aside, allowing seamless progression across PS3, PS4, and Vita further strengthens this game’s grip on the number 1 spot. 

The inclusion of Kratos as an optional boss fight is a standout addition, requiring players to uncover a well-hidden secret reminiscent of classic gaming secrets shared through word-of-mouth. This encounter effectively melds Shovel Knight's gameplay with Kratos' signature combat style. Defeating Kratos unlocks the Armor of Chaos, altering gameplay slightly with new abilities and a visual nod to God of War.

Technical performance on PlayStation platforms is solid, with smooth gameplay across both consoles and handhelds. Shovel Knight's captivating retro atmosphere, delightful soundtrack, and engaging gameplay make it a standout title in the action-platformer genre. Whether revisiting it or experiencing it for the first time, Shovel Knight on PlayStation Vita reaffirms its status as a modern classic that pays homage to gaming's golden age. In fact, this game had insane longevity as it continued being updated ten years after its release.