by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
So, today on “Things I learned”, Aliens are supposed to end the world on 4/18/18, which is today. That’s easily the most ridiculous things I’ve had to type out in a while. But that’s a real thing that people believe. It’s evidently, a popular conspiracy theory. The way I understand it, there were alien lifeforms on the Malaysian Flight 370, and people have been receiving cryptic messages on their phone about how something on the flight was not human, et cetera. It’s a ridiculous theory with little to no cohesion. While I hope I’m right, and the world as we know it isn’t ending today due to Alien Invasion, it did give me pause to consider another list, with thanks to my friend Josh (who brought to my attention that it’s Apocalypse Day. Thanks a lot if you’re right, Josh…) Post-Apocalyptic themes are very popular in the RPG genre because I suppose it’s fun to think about how things would work out if the world ended. Whether it’s due to nuclear technology, supernatural nonsense, there are lots of causes for the end of our world.
This is not the first time there has been a doomsday prophet claiming the world was going to end: Remember the year 2000? Or even a few years back? So I decided to really sit down and think about what my favorite end-of-the-world games were. Though I do have a notable mention or two. Let’s start the honorable mentions with Dying Light. Dying Light’s an open-world zombie apocalypse set around a quarantined city (Harran). Visually appealing, and newer than some of the other zombie games I could pick, it didn’t hook me like some of the classics did, despite some (most) of those games being a bit more linear. But it’s about what I enjoyed/played the most, what I personally enjoyed. Bioshock could also very well go on this list. I absolutely love the story created by Bioshock’s franchise, as well as the visuals of Infinite. But I simply did not enjoy actually playing them. Wasn’t really interesting to me. But damn if I don’t love the premise and story. Dead Island is definitely a series that could have dominated this list, but the franchise really kind of fell apart and while I liked playing it at first, it kind of got boring a few hours in. Well, let’s get to the end!
5: Left 4 Dead (1 and 2): I do enjoy a good zombie game. These were basically linear rail shooters, but there’s just something about them that were just a joy. From the character interactions, playing this with your friends, swearing at those friends for leaving you behind, and the crazy mods of it (Minas Tirath anyone?), Left 4 Dead is in my opinion, the definitive zombie survival game. Is it easy as hell now? Of course, once you’ve played a few times, you know what to expect. That style of game still persists to this day in a few other genres, like the Vermintide games. Vermintide reminds me deeply of Left 4 Dead, with Skaven instead of Zombies, but they’re basically the same thing. Fun weapons, frustrating elite zombie types, and a true feeling of hopelessness, it was everything I wanted in a zombie game.
4: X-COM: X-COM has both Aliens and the end of the world, so this really epitomizes the list. The X-COM franchise is about a team that counters and fights Alien threats as they come to invade the planet Earth. It’s also an incredibly long-lasting series, beginning back in 1994 with UFO: Enemy Unknown. I love turn-based strategy/RPGs, I love the idea of a mysterious alien threat, and the difficulty is also certainly enjoyable. It’s challenging, to the point of being frustrating, until you get the hang of things. The latest game, X-COM 2 features the world under invasion and despite our high technology and well-trained teams of badasses, it all feels overwhelming and hopeless. In this latest game, it takes place 20 years after the last one, and the alien threat has already won and defeated humanity. X-COM went from being a force that countered and repelled alien threats to simply being a rebel faction, desperately fighting to get their world back. It’s well worth a play.
3: Nier (and Nier: Automata): Oh man, this is on the list of “games I need more time with”. I briefly played both Nier games, and though I did not finish either, they made a huge impact on me. Nier takes the story of Chouriki Sentai Ohranger, with an alien force of machines that invaded Earth. The remnants of both forces do battle in the Nier story, and playing from the viewpoint of 2B/9S in Automata is fascinating and depressing in equal measures. Multiple endings, a pretty dark, hopeless story, incredible combat, Nier: Automata has it all and then some. Yoko Taro is some kind of madman/genius, and I absolutely love what he’s crafted. The narrative is incredible, and despite this world being desolate, the beauty of it is still breathtaking. Nier: Automata is truly something special.
2: Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (featuring Dante from Devil May Cry!): My first experience in the Persona/SMT franchises was with the PS2 hit, SMT: Nocturne. This game makes me so angry because it’s so damn hard for a first-time player. The world has ended, and demons are everywhere. The coolest part of this game to me is recruiting these demons to your cause. From adorable and sexy demons/imps/succubi, all the way to Abbadon, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Dante from Devil May Cry. Yes, Dante was in this game. I don’t know if that’s been made clear (and despite not being into the DMC series, I did like this crossover).The main character becomes a half-demon, and you go on a trek through frustrating mazes, making bargains with demons, fusing them together, and going on one hell of a trek. This is why I wish my Playstation 3 was still a backward compatible one, so I could stream this insanity.
1: Fallout (All of them): Of course Fallout tops the list! And why? Each one of these games has been a slightly different take on the end of the world, but a nuclear disaster seems to be the way the world will more than likely actually end. Fallout feels like it’s the most grounded in reality, despite ghouls, robots, and fancy laser weapons/portable nukes. While I love the first two Fallout games, I did not play them in their heyday. I got started in Fallout 3, and honestly (I don’t care if you disagree, purist nerds) I liked this action-RPG style more. I felt more involved, more immersed in the story. And plus, it was prettier. It was still ugly and monochromatic (or so it felt), I enjoyed the VATS system, I liked being able to explore ruins of our great nation in a 3D way instead of the top-down 2/2.5D. I enjoyed New Vegas, and I loved 4, but Fallout 3 was where I got my start, and while the games I don’t think are all in the exact same timeline, there are plenty of things to tie it all together. I love the Fallout franchise, and writing this makes me want to reinstall 4. Maybe I will.
What about you? What are your favorite post-apocalyptic RPGs/ARPGs? Let me know below!