Observer is one of those uniquely cyberpunk ideas, letting you play as a detective that can hack into people’s brain implants and see their memories and thoughts.
It’s not often that you see cyberpunk games combined with psychological horror, but the team behind Layers of Fear does it well in Observer.
The entire game is played from a first-person perspective, and it revolves around investigation and interrogation mechanics, as per the detective theme.
2084 Krakow, Poland is a fascinating place to experience in Observer, and if you love cyberpunk themes and aesthetics, boy you’ll find a lot to love here.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Mankind Divided
Deus Ex is still the quintessential cyberpunk game, a throne that Cyberpunk 2077 may challenge upon its release. While you could certainly go back and play the original game which is a classic, you’ll have an easier time jumping into Human Revolution and its sequel, Mankind Divided.
Needing no prior knowledge of the series, Human Revolution tells the story of Adam Jensen, the head security officer for Sarif Industries, the world’s leading producer of augmentation.
Like its predecessors, Human Revolution provides a fantastic amount of freedom in its gameplay, and how you approach each and every situation, whether it’s through stealth, hacking, or straight up shooting.
There’s an abundantly interesting world and set of characters to explore, and Human Revolution comes packed with heavy cyberpunk themes; transhumanism, secret society conspiracies, a world ruled by corporations, and more.
Va11- Hall-A is one of the most unique experience you can find in the cyberpunk genre, and its description is just like it sounds, mixing “bartending action” with a visual novel.
You play as a bartender at the dive bar VA11-HALL-A, and the bulk of the action has you mixing drinks for customers while they tell you their problems of living in a cyberpunk dystopia.
The most interesting part, however, is that the story can change depending on which drinks you serve patrons, and how you respond to them.
An engrossing narrative and quirky cast of characters help keep things surging along.
Ironically, despite its name, Remember Me hasn’t been remembered as more than a flawed cult classic, but it’s a fascinating cyberpunk title.
Developed by Dontnod, the creators of Life is Strange, Remember Me takes place in 2084 Neo-Paris. A company called Sensen has created a technology that allows users to upload their memories to the net, and even remove memories they don’t want.
Story is the most interesting part of Remember Me, and it’s a unique take on the dystopic cyberpunk future, told through the lens of a strong protagonist named Nilin.
In terms of gameplay, Remember Me is a pretty typical platformer and melee brawler with Arkham-esque combat.
The Red Strings Club
Adventure games are the perfect fit for exploring cyberpunk worlds, and you can’t get much more engrossing of a world than in Red Strings Club. In the game’s world a corporation called Supercontinent Ltd. is at the forefront of giving humans enhancements through implants.
You follow three characters, an enhanced freelance hacker named Brandeis, the implantless owner of the Red Strings Club named Donovan, and an android formerly owned by Supercontinent named Akara-184.
These three’s paths cross when they try to stop Supercontinent from releasing Social Psyche Welfare, a program designed to eliminate negative emotions like sadness and anger from all implanted humans.
Interestingly, Red Strings Club actually has unique gameplay for each character. As Donovan you mix drinks for customers, trying to probe them for information in the process. Akara creates implants via a pottery wheel-like device to insert into subjects, and Brandeis uses stealth to sneak into Supercontinent headquarters.
Some seriously dark themes and a gorgeous pixel art style help make this one of the more unique cyberpunk games out there.
Shadowrun Returns & Dragonfall
Shadowrun is one of the forerunners of both strategy and cyberpunk games, and 2014’s Shadowrun Returns brought the franchise back in a big way.
A deep character customization system lets you create your own cyberpunk hero to drop into the world of Shadowrun. The long-running series combined cyberpunk with elements of fantasy, with a cyberpunk world inhabited by races like humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls, and more.
The futuristic fantasy setting makes Shadowrun Returns much different from the bulk of cyberpunk content out there, and the isometric turn-based strategy harkens back to the best days of Shadowrun and XCOM.
The Surge 2
There have been a number of Souls-likes over the years, but the Surge and The Surge 2 are some of the best we’ve seen. Both games take place in a world where humanity has exhausted natural resources, leading to a strained society and diseases that drive humanity to the brink of extinction.
Augmentations and enhancements are a huge part of both the story and gameplay. The Surge 2 has a unique dismemberment system that lets you collect weapons or enhancements from body parts that you cut off of enemies.
Challenge is, of course, central to the experience, and The Surge 2 lives up to the Souls-like name, giving you a ton of options for equipment, weapons, and playstyle.
The Surge 2 drastically improves upon the setting of the first game, with a full-fledged city to explore. So if you’re looking for an ultra-challenging cyberpunk experience, the Surge games are for you.
Katana Zero’s precise, methodical gameplay is an absolute joy to experience. Each level has you navigating a 2D side-scrolling environment, with nothing but your katana to use. There’s no health and each blow is a one-hit kill, but you have plenty of tools at your disposal, like the ability to block bullets with your sword, slow down time, and dodge projectiles.
The game takes place in a dystopic future, set in New Mecca. The story chronicles the experiences of Subject Zero, an assassin enhanced with a drug called Chronos, letting him predict the future and slow time.
The narrative is full of conspiracies, and it’s insanely stylish in its presentation.
Far Cry: Blood Dragon
Far Cry: Blood Dragon feels like a fever dream you had one night after playing too much Far Cry 3. The neon-splashed shooter is basically a parody of 1980s films and video games, putting you in the shoes of a military cyborg named Rex “Power” Colt.
Blood Dragon takes place in a dystopic version of 2007, where you have to stop a rogue colonel named Sloan from reverting the planet back to a prehistoric state.
Everything about Blood Dragon is tongue-in-cheek, from the ridiculous weapons and shooting, to the cheesy one-lines and gruff cyborg soldiers.
It’s a fairly linear experience, but a neo-futuristic one that you definitely won’t regret playing.
Transistor comes from the talented team at Supergiant Games, makers of Bastion and Pyre. Just like their other titles, Transistor combines gorgeous art with phenomenal storytelling to make for a highly emotional experience.
An isometric action-RPG, Transistor takes place in the futuristic city of Cloudbank, where you play as a famous singer named Red. A failed assassination attempt on her by a mysterious group named Camerata, leads Red to discover a sword called the Transistor. Buried in the chest of a man, the Transistor has taken his consciousness as well as Red’s voice.
A fantastic soundtrack by Darren Korb is essential to every aspect of the game, and its story unravels in subtle ways that you don’t usually see.