Steampunk has been a long talked about, but only as of the past 10 years or so recognized sci-fi genre. It has taken video games by storm and while recent releases aren’t the first time it has been found in games, it has gained in popularity in the past 5 years or so. The recent announcement of The Order 1886, a PS4 exclusive, has brought back some love to Steampunk. Let’s take a look at a few games that have been set in this fictional time period:
The Chaos Engine (1993)
A top-down run-and-gun game for the Commodore Amiga, and later a whole slew of other systems, it embraced steampunk before embracing steampunk was even cool. There were 6 different characters and players choose two mercenaries to play with. With four worlds and four levels in each world, it was a lot of fun to play. What made it even better was the industrial soundtrack that went along with it. A lot of people don’t remember this game, but for those who do, it was often a first introduction to the idea of steampunk.
Final Fantasy IX (2000)
The 9th Final Fantasy and last to debut on the original Playstation, the plot centers on a war between two nations, right smack in fictional steampunk time. Final Fantasy games in later years had a lot of remnants of steampunk ideas, but 9 was one of the ones that really took it on as a whole basis for its design.
Thief Series (2004 -2014)
Thief is a little different in that instead of being set in an alternate Victorian time, it is instead set in a Medieval era with strange machines and futuristic weapons. Thief has really captivated players for some time and a new one is in the works for the next generation. So far, the designs we have seen are beautiful and while not totally as steampunk as in the past, we can hope that the series will still have those quirky machines and the overall feel of a time period that didn’t quite happen.
BioShock is an interesting take on what steampunk is. It’s not quite the steampunk we know, but it’s an idea of what the world could be like, in the 50s, if we lived it, you know, underwater. And had crazy guns. It’s sort of a sideways take on steampunk, but the idea of a different sort of history is much the same. The newer game in the franchise, Bioshock: Infinite, also has a steampunk feel, with interesting technology set in the 1920s in a city in the sky (terrifying robot enemies included).
A gorgeous point-and-click adventure, Machiarium follows a little robot named Josef, who the player controls to solve a variety of puzzles. In doing so, he’s trying to stop a city from blowing up. Kind of a crazy adventure for a little robot. The game still holds up beautifully and is highly recommended (and is on multiple platforms).
Dishonored is a visually dark and gritty game, primarily considered a stealth action game much in the way of a thief, though with not quite as in-depth of a stealth system. It’s true to steampunk ideals of being set around the late 1800s, and early 1900s, and including the kind of technology you would never have found back then. With intricate bombs, guns, and even magic, it’s definitely a world, unlike true history.
Torchlight 2 (2012)
The first Torchlight definitely had touches of steampunk in it, but Torchlight 2 pits you up against The Alchemist as your enemy. I mean, it doesn’t get more steampunk than that. The visual style, the design of the armor and weapons, and the color scheme all ring true of the genre. Plus, for a dungeon crawler, it really holds its own against the like of the Diablo series.
Back to that original Playstation 4 exclusive we mentioned earlier, The Order: 1886 is set in an alternate universe where the industrial revolution came around in order to win a war against some unspeakable and definitely not human enemies. Who they are we have yet to find out, but we know the game will take place in London and is a third-person action title. There is no set release date yet other than that it’ll be due in 2014, but it’ll be interesting to see their direction with the genre.