PlayStation Studios Spotlight: Sucker Punch

By Kes Eylers-Stephenson,
Sucker Punch operates out of Seattle and has developed some of the most beloved PlayStation exclusive games. This is the one-stop shop for all things Sucker Punch: history, projects, recent news, and a rating.


If you want to see where Sucker Punch ranks amongst the other Sony first-party developers and find out more information about the other teams, check out our PlayStation Studio's Hub Page.

Sucker Punch overview

sucker punch carousel image

Even before Seattle-based Sucker Punch was bought by Sony in 2011, the studio had been almost inseparable from the PlayStation line-up. Sly Cooper and Theivius Racoonus was released in 2002 and kickstarted the PS2 generation of mascot platformers, this time with an emphasis on stealth. Sly Cooper is a thief trying to recover some stolen pages detailing all the hidden techniques of thievery. All these years later, the cel-shaded art direction is a real standout. The reception was certainly solid, but there were two other big games playing in the same platforming arena on PlayStation: Ratchet & Clank from Insomniac Games and Jac & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy from Naughty Dog. It still sold well amongst these big games, but over an extended period.

When 2004's Sly 2: Band of Thieves came out, life was a little easier for sneaky little IP. You see, the game was received very well indeed, with its combo of better graphics, story, and game design. When Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves his PS2 in 2005, the series' look and feel were filed down to perfection by Sucker Punch. The charmingly sleazy charisma of Sly and the gang was plastered across the screen, even in the 3D levels that required the use of glasses. This marked an end to the PS2 generation for Sucker Punch and an end to their time with Sly Cooper. The remastered versions were forged into The Sly Collection, which was developed by Sanzaru Games and released in 2011. This was a great testbed for their work on the fourth and final game in the series, 2013's Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. The team would also release the spin-off Bentley's Hackpack, based upon your Turtle team member and tech powerhouse. Thieves in Time didn't quite hit the highs of previous games in the series and signalled an end for Sly Cooper's adventures.

sly cooper artwork

For us at TrueTrophies, 2009's inFamous was a founding father of the good years of the PS3 and the making of the modern Sucker Punch USP for its games: open-world, morality-driven, with silky smooth controls. The courier-turned-superhero Cole McGrath gets blasted into being an electric-charged conduit after an accident in downtown Empire City. What follows was a wonderful comic book adventure that felt fresh and modern, well suited to the PS3 era. Blasting with your powers was truly and deeply satisfying, the morality system was perhaps a little basic, but certainly strong enough to make you want to play the game twice over to see what happened the other way around.

2011's Infamous 2 moved the action from New York-alike Empire City to the New Orleans-alike New Marais. The plot was bigger and so was the electrical power set. In many ways, this sequel was the perfect Infamous game. It came out just before open-world game formulas were growing tired and superhero films were about to saturate every entertainment market. Infamous II got the Festival of Blood expansion, which started a trend amongst the Sony first-party of releasing one major expansion for its exclusives. It was a solid non-canon Vampire adventure, all-in-all.

Gamescom First Light - 11

2014's Infamous: Second Son was the first big PS4 event game post-launch. It brought the series, Sucker Punch, and PlayStation exclusives into the new generation really, really well. The visuals were outstanding, as was the open-world of Seattle and the solid — if not innovative — story. The array of weird superpowers felt so right. Second Son was offering PS3 game design operating at maximum capacity, the best way to begin breaking the barriers of old tech. It is no surprise that Sucker Punch was constantly in touch with Sony for this game, making sure it was going to hit the PS4 soaring.

The big expansion was First Light, a neat package focused on the neon-powered conduit Fetch — a character present in Second Son. This was probably the best of the main game bundled into a perfect sliver of extra content. When 2020's Ghost of Tsushima entered the scene with six years of dev time under its kimono, the samurai action-adventure brought the open-world game back to nature while presenting an unusual story. With this, Sucker Punch made the case that it was at the top of its game and ready to push even harder in the future.

Sucker Punch's previous project: Ghost of Tsushima (2020)

Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima is a delectable open-world meal. When it isn’t busy looking like one of the best games of all time, it is telling a great story or wowing you with combat. The environmental storytelling is a bit of a game-changer. We here in the TT hut are a bit split on the length of the base game — too long or just right? — and how many times it falls back on tired "go here, tick box" tropes. Our community review is very positive, as is the Metacritic of 82 for critics and 9.2 for users.

Over time, the game got a free co-op expansion called Legends and the Director’s Cut added more single-player content, a Japanese voice-over, haptic feedback, and more. In his review of the Director's Cut of the game, Kes said that "just because this new and improved version of Sucker Punch's 2020 superb PlayStation exclusive doesn't change up the old formula for its new content, that doesn't mean it doesn't keep the fantastic samurai action coming."

Sucker Punch's current project: Ghost of Tsushima 2 [rumoured]

E3 trailer screens

The educated guess says the samurai action game gets a sequel considering its ending and the fact it is the fastest-selling original IP out of PlayStation Studios. While some of us at TT want a return to Infamous with all that Sucker Punch has learned over the years, the world is currently plagued with superhero overload. Ghost of Tsushima 2, then, seems like a logical guess unless a return to Sly Cooper or a new IP is on the cards.

SuckerPunch in 2021

Infamous 2 Marketing Image

The rumours about the Director's Cut were swirling for a few weeks before its final confirmation. The furore over the upgrade path and cost of a PS5 upgrade was fairly justified. Other than that, Ghost of Tsushima fans helped rebuild the shine arches on the real-world Japanese island, getting the devs an honorary ambassadorial role from the Tsushima officials. Also, there is a film coming directed by John Wick alumni.

Where does Sucker Punch rank?

Sucker Punch is an interesting studio to award a trophy because it has made solid games over and over again without a single true ‘miss’. It is an undeniable fact that not a single one of their games could be considered to be less than a 7/10. How one interprets the open-world goodness that this team offers — alongside solid stories and a fascination with karma — is the prime factor in giving the team a grade. For us at TT, we are going to harshly award a silver trophy. We feel bad, but in some way, also a little like this speaks to the sheer quality of the PlayStation Studios portfolio. If we could give Sucker Punch something in between Silver and Gold, we would. We feel like the team needs to replicate the quality of Ghost of Tsushima and deliver a little more than a ‘refined’ classic open-world. Here is what it came down to: is Sucker Punch at the level of Santa Monica or Guerilla, the closest fair comparisons? We don’t think so. Santa Monica made a GOAT game that was an innovation built on innovation. While Ghost of Tsushima hit the highs of GOTY nominee at the Game Awards in 2020, we don't think it innovated so much as refined. Meanwhile, Guerrilla made a great open-world game that is arguably of the same quality as Ghost of Tsushima, but the Dutch team also helped with the Decima engine. So, a question remains: can Sucker Punch's next game reach the gold standard of those studios and progress to a Platinum? We don’t doubt it for a second.

Silver
Silver

Made a great game, has plenty of potential, or serves a vital purpose



If you want to see where Sucker Punch ranks amongst the other Sony first-party developers and find out more information about the other teams, check out our PlayStation Studio's Hub Page.
Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Written by Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Associate Editor Kes is our resident expert in PlayStation news. He writes about upcoming exclusives like The Last of Us and God of War, PS Plus and PS Studios news, and his favourite games — The Witcher 3, Assassin’s Creed, and The Outer Wilds — before an evening swim.