We recently wrote about the greatest cyberpunk games available right now. Yet, another genre that is enjoying a mild resurgence of late is that of steampunk.
Steampunk differs from cyberpunk in the sense that it does not involve futuristic technology and advanced cybernetics in a dystopian world. Instead, steampunk focusses on steam-powered machinery and is often influenced by the 19th-century British Victorian era or the old American “Wild West”.
The genre often incorporates elements of horror, fantasy, and historical fiction. With a scope so wide, it’s no surprise that some great video games have been borne out of the genre. So here is a list of the 5 best steampunk games for the PC.
5. Rise of Legends
Rise of Legends is a real-time strategy game that was released in 2006 as a spinoff to the hugely popular Rise of Nations. This steampunk game was developed by Big Huge Games and published by Microsoft Studios.
Rise of Legends takes places in the world of Aio – a planet which is home to the wreckage of an alien ship. When the alien ship crashed, it split into 4 different pieces, each landing on a different part of the planet. The game beings in the city of Miana, where there is an investigation into a foreign object found in a mine shaft. When the investigators are attacked by the Doge of Venucci, the brother of the ruler of Miana, Giacomo, vows to get his revenge.
The gameplay in Rise of Legends much like its predecessor and players must build and expand cities through gathering resources and various assimilations. In this steampunk strategy game, however, players can also take advantage of the new city districts, dominance, and hero features, which add an extra layer of fluidity to the game.
There are three main races in the Rise of Legends. The Vinci is a civilization modelled on steampunk culture and their prowess lies within their steam engine, gunpowder, and clockwork expertise. Other playable races include the technologically advanced Cuoti, and the magic-wielding Alin.
Not only is Rise of Legends one of the best steampunk games for the PC right now, it is also a thoroughly enjoyable real-time strategy game in its own right, and one that you should certainly try if you are a fan of the genre.
Syberia is a graphic adventure steampunk game that was developed by Microids and developed by The Adventure company for release in 2002. Its art nouveau and heavy clockpunk and steampunk influence drew universal praise from game critics worldwide. Syberia is part of a trilogy, with the most recent game being released in 2017.
The game is a mouse driven, third person adventure game in which the player must find solutions to puzzles and follow game prompts in order to advance the story of the game. Syberia drew comparisons with the Broken Sword series due to its similarities in gameplay style.
This steampunk game follows the story of Kate Walker, an American Lawyer who is assigned to oversee the corporate takeover of a spring-automation toy factory in the fictional French village of Valadiléne. Her assignment leads her to East to Syberia (based on the real location of Wrangel Island), as she attempts to locate a clockwork locomotive that has the potential to aid her mission.
The game’s best attribute by far is its visual design, for which it won numerous awards. The artwork is heavily influenced on the steampunk genre and, if you are looking for new video games to try, this is definitely one of the best steampunk games for the PC available right now.
3. Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII is often found at the top of ‘best of’ lists when it comes to all kinds of categories in video gaming. Yet, its heavy influence in steampunk culture often goes undetected. This 1997 game is the first of the Final Fantasy series to utilise 3D graphics and, at the time, its visuals were unparalleled and truly breath-taking.
It is often debated whether Final Fantasy VII can be bracketed as a steampunk game, as everything in the game is powered by Mako and not steam powered. Though, it depends on how strict you want to be with the term. Stylistically, Final Fantasy VII certainly shares some of the design themes of the genre, and if Barret’s awesome arm-gun doesn’t classify as steampunk, then I don’t know what does.
The game follows Cloud Strife in his quest to bring down the megacorporation, Shinra. Cloud is joined in his quest by Tifa and Barret, other members of his eco-terrorist group Avalanche. After being separated from his group members, Cloud encounters Aeris, who he agrees to protect as she is coveted by agents of Shinra. The plot that unfolds is something that is best experienced by purely playing the game.
From the heavily steampunk inspired post-industrial city of Migdar, to the quaint mountain village of Nibelheim, Final Fantasy VII has some of the best visuals of its generation and is a game that has stood the test of time due to its masterful storytelling and immersive world. This is, without doubt, one of the greatest steampunk games for the PC, and you must try it if you haven’t.
Dishonored is a stealth action-adventure game that is heavily influenced by steampunk design. The game was developed by Arkane studios and published by Bethesda Softworks for a 2012 release. It received much critical acclaim upon its release, with critics praising its stealth combat and stylistic vision.
The game takes place in the steampunk-inspired industrial city of Dunwall. protagonist in the game is Corvo Attano, who is an ex bodyguard of the Empress of Dunwall, Jessamine Kaldwin. The plotline follows Corvo after he framed for the murder of the Empress and, consequently, becomes an expert silent assassin.
This steampunk game is a first-person action game in which the player must traverse self-contained areas and complete various objectives through a series of assassinations and explorations. Corvo is able to defeat his enemies using a wide range of abilities and powers, such as enchantments, charms, and supernatural perks.
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the game is its steampunk design. The visual effects team specifically travelled to London and Edinburgh to get inspiration for their chaotically intense city design. The steam and dieselpunk aesthetic that they settled on is visually superb and make Dishonored easily one of the 5 best steampunk games for the PC to play right now.
1. BioShock Infinite
BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter game that is the third instalment of the BioShock. Released in 2013, the game was developed by Irrational Games and Published by 2K Games. BioShock Infinite received universal critical acclaim for its story, setting, and visuals.
Of all the games int his list, BioShock Infinite is the most overtly steampunk. The game takes place in the fictional airborne city of Columbia. Set in 1912, players take on the role of Booker DeWitt (voiced by video game veteran Troy Baker). DeWitt is a disgraced former member of a national detective agency, whose increasing debts lead him to take on an assignment in Columbia to rescue a young woman with unique abilities.
Like its predecessors, BioShock Infinite features first-person shooter action and aspects of role-playing. Players can utilise various weapons and ammunition types as they make their way through the airborne steampunk metropolis. Through the use of Gears, Infusions, and Vigors, players can augment their character in various ways to improve their chances of surviving and progressing.
Not only is BioShock Infinite one of the 5 best steampunk games for the PC, it is also one of the greatest first-person shooter games available to play. Its unique visuals and storytelling make it stand out from the crowd and, if you haven’t yet, you should definitely give this game a try.
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Although there are some great steampunk games in this list, it is clear that the world of steampunk video games is surprisingly undersaturated. What games would you like to see in the future?
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