A world in utter dismay after a devastating event destroyed every speck of civilization is a frequently used theme both in movies and in video games. All that destruction gives birth to desolate sceneries, emerging hordes of enemies, and the global response of fight or flight from the survivors’ point of view. All of these are promising elements for an adrenaline filled gameplay, a haunting story, and a dark yet memorable experience. And because we know many of you are very invested in post-apocalyptic gaming stories, we decided to make a list with 10 of the direst ones, where civilization totally collapsed and is definitely beyond repair.
Based on the eponymous film franchise, Mad Max is set in the vast wastelands of a world fallen into oblivion, where defenseless people are hunted down by violent bands. Players control Max Rockatansky as he wanders through desserts, canyons and caves in search of Scabrous Scrotus, a gang leader that robbed him of his possessions. Mad Max puts an emphasis on vehicular combat, where you can use weapon and armor upgrades to transform your car into the ultimate killing machine named the Magnum Opus. On foot fights include professional wrestling attacks and boxing moves. The game includes a very special element named “soft boundaries”, also known as the Big Nothing, which translates into a virtually endless space that players can explore.
The Last of Us
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Set in an alternative reality where a second nuclear disaster occurs at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, this first-person shooter survival horror offers a non-linear plotline and included gameplay elements such as trading and two-way communication with the non-playable characters. The player assumes the role of an illegal artifact scavenger, called a “Stalker” that is exploring the area affected by radiation named “The Zone”. Andrei Tarkovsky’s eponymous film is listed as a major inspiration for the terms used in the game as well as for various storyline background elements. The irradiation is featured as an important gameplay element and it can be avoided by wearing certain artifacts that neutralize it. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl offers a very bleak, post-apocalyptic specific atmosphere that evokes in a very natural way how a nuclear affected zone can change the inhabitant civilization.
Post-apocalyptic themed games don’t necessarily have to be included in the survival genre to offer an entertaining gameplay and a delightful story. Lisa is an original side-scrolling RPG set in a world where a mysterious event named the White Flash decimated society. Only one living woman remained after the mayhem and Brad secretly adopts her under the name Buddy. After she is kidnapped, the player, taking the role of the game’s hero, has to fight his way through a perilous world and find Buddy. Scenes from the pre-apocalyptic world are intertwined with the gameplay, Brad’s upbringing alongside his younger sister Lisa and their relationship with their abusive father being the core of theses flash backs.
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A science fiction open world role-playing video game, Wasteland was published by EA in 1988 and initially it was made for the Apple II home computer. Set in 2087, after a global nuclear war destroyed the entire world back in 1998, this game tells the story of a group of rangers whose quest is to investigate a series of disturbances that take place in remaining enclaves of human civilization. An artificial intelligence is creating armies of killer machines and cybernetically modified humans with the purpose of exterminating the last remainders of humanity. The in-game characters have different stats, such as strength, intelligence or speed that allow them to use different weapons and skills, similar to mechanics from table top games or certain other RPGs. In addition to this, the Fallout game series is deemed as being Wasteland’s spiritual successor.
Rage is a first person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic near future after the asteroid 99942 Apophis hit the Earth. Some of its storyline elements are inspired by movies such as Mad Max 2 and games such as Borderlands, while the driving and racing controls draw inspiration from titles like MotorStorm and Burnout. The players are able to use their vehicles to explore the world and travel between missions and, at the same time, take part in combat from a first person perspective. Weaponries such as upgradeable firearms and also crossbows and boomerang-like weapons named “wingsticks” are available. Rage has two multiplayer modes: “Road Rage” and “Wasteland Legends”, which make it a good game to be enjoyed with friends.
The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series
Taking place in the same fictional world as the comic books, The Walking Dead is an episodic graphic adventure that tells the story of how Lee Everett and Clementine have to travel across a zombie infested Georgia in order to reach safer encampments in the North. The game has three episodes and all of them are played with the point-and-click logic used in other Telltale episodic game series. All the player’s choices are registered and certain ones named “determinants” will influence later scenes and shape the gameplay and storyline accordingly. The Walking Dead’s episodes have been praised for the atmosphere they evoke, the well-rounded characters as well as the organic gameplay that makes the player feel uniquely immersed into the story.
Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light is a single player first-person shooter that incorporates elements from the stealth and survival horror genres. A sequel to Metro 2033, this title presents the story of Artyom, a ranger who lives in Moscow’s underground metro system after a nuclear war destroyed civilization. His task is to find the Dark Ones, a group of mysterious entities that threaten the survivors living in the metro tunnels and to do so he must fight both humans and hostile mutants using a variety of firearms. Paranormal phenomena such as shadowy figures, hallucinations and odd noises are just some of the elements that complete the already dark atmosphere of the gameplay. In addition to these, for the most parts, the player has to use a lighter and rechargeable flashlight to be able to navigate the pitch black corridors of the underground metro tunnels.
Left 4 Dead 2
A cooperative first-person shooter, Left 4 Dead 2 is set during the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic and it focuses on a group of four survivors that fight against hordes of zombies, known as the Infected. There are five campaigns the players must finish and from time to time they can find safe houses that act as checkpoints, the main goal being to successfully escape from the extremely aggressive masses of Infected. The gameplay is procedurally altered meaning the player’s performance is monitored and the scenario is then adjusted in accordance with it, resulting in a highly dynamic experience. A Realism mode where the video-gamey aspects can be eliminated is available: survivors being unable to see each other’s silhouettes and dead teammates being revived only with defibrillators but not respawning anymore later in the level.
Probably the most beloved and anticipated action role-playing game that has a post-apocalyptic theme, Fallout 4 is set in an open-world that covers the city of Boston and the nearby Massachusetts region known as “The Commonwealth”. The story takes place in 2287, 210 years after the Great War that caused the shattering nuclear devastation across the United States. The player takes the role of a character known as the “Sole Survivor” as he or she is waking from a cryogenic state in Vault 111, an underground fallout bunker, after witnessing the murder of their spouse and the kidnapping of their child. Now, the main goal is to venture out, explore the derelict world and find the missing kid. Fallout 4 offers a varied array of gameplay content with an immersive scenery, a great degree of freedom given to the player and a challenging narrative.
featured image: Fallout 4 Running Dead Mod