Apocalyptic tales may be as old as time, but post-apocalyptic flicks have never been rifer on the silver screen as much as in the gaming medium. The apocalypse theme plays out on our deepest existential fears.
But while end-of-the-world narratives explore the pitfall of humanity, such stories often deal with redemption. And the immersive nature of video games makes it all the more cathartic to face the end of days.
Thus, gamers keep asking for more, and developers deliver. In the past few years, several global hits have put their spin on the genre. So, let’s dive right into the best video games to embark on a post-apocalyptic journey.
The Last of Us
Zombie stories are nothing new in video games. Atari’s Entombed paved the way in 1982 before iconic franchises like Capcom’s Resident Evil gained even more traction worldwide. But in 2013, The Last of Us revived the genre with a story-driven approach that left an enduring mark on generations of gamers. Twenty years after a parasitic fungus decimated civilisation, survivors find a silver lining in a teenage girl appearing immune to the plague. Joel, a cynical smuggler, finds himself escorting Ellie across a wasted United States in hopes of developing a cure.
While shooting infected humans turned cannibalistic creatures might be fun, the meat of the story lies in its characters. Never shying away from the bleakness and brutality of crisis-stricken human beings, Naughty Dog’s action-adventure game tells a very human story, serviced by well-developed protagonists with a deep emotional connection to the player. Impeccable graphics also add much to the game’s harrowing atmosphere. And while the sequel proved polarising, fans can hope the upcoming TV series will tick all the right boxes.
The Long Dark
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Vancouver-based Hinterland Studio released The Long Dark in 2014. This indie title takes a more contemplative approach to the post-apocalyptic genre. Players take on the role of a crash-landed pilot left stranded in the Canadian wilderness by a geomagnetic storm.
No zombies are in sight, thus, only you need to survive the biting cold and the ruthlessness of Mother Nature in snowy landscapes long devoid of any human presence. Players must manage the few resources they may find while dealing with the life-threatening lurking of wild wolves and bears. Designed to be a single-player experience, The Long Dark offers three game modes, including an open-world setting for gamers to enjoy the hauntingly beautiful environments of its dozens of regions.
Fallout: New Vegas
When Bethesda announced a spin-off of the Fallout franchise in 2010, fans responded with widespread scepticism. Little did they know this controversial entry would set the golden standard for post-apocalyptic RPGs. Despite early technical issues, Obsidian Entertainment’s take on the series significantly improved gameplay mechanics. But New Vegas shines the brightest with its expansive open world set against the scorched backdrop of the Mojave Desert. Not even a nuclear fallout could dampen Sin City’s appeal, though.
And in between gun fights against feuding factions, players have plenty of memorable casinos to visit along The Strip. Since then, casino minigames have grown into a staple of many hit franchises. Virtual gambling venues are particularly appealing for gamers living in countries with no brick-and-mortar casinos, like Thailand. Still, players may visit online platforms to enjoy classics like online poker. Top websites offer fan-favourites like Texas Hold’Em, alongside local variants like pai gow poker. Live dealer sessions even emulate the thrills of a land-based casino. And lofty bonuses are right there for the taking, from deposit bonuses to cashback deals.
The Metro franchise is widely considered one of the best takes on the post-apocalyptic genre. The series comprises three mainline games based on the eponymous novels by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. All Metro stories, therefore, share a common setting in a post-apocalyptic Russia-turned wasteland after a nuclear war. Developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games, the franchise has also spawned interconnected novels for fans to delve deeper into the story.
As the conclusion of the trilogy, Metro Exodus may not be the best entry point for newcomers into the Metro lore. But Exodus remains a highlight as it steered the franchise into an innovative direction by introducing open areas. Standing out among fellow shooter games, Metro Exodus was one of the best games of 2019 by far.