The Best Post-Apocalyptic Worlds

With the release of Fallout 4 imminent, I thought what better time to assess the very best post apocalyptic worlds seen in video games. Here’s to the end of the world…

5. I Am Alive

'This post-apocalyptic scene cleverly recreates the horror of travelling on the London Underground.'
‘This post-apocalyptic scene cleverly recreates the horror of travelling on the London Underground.’

Set after a never fully explained series of natural disasters referred to as The Event, I Am Alive takes place in a world where there isn’t any inclination of any kind of humanity. Instead most people you encounter merely wan’t to beat and kill you for your possessions and some want to do a lot worse. The horror of humanity is emphasised as there’s not a single zombie or mutant in site; the only monsters you encounter are fellow humans, who have reached new levels of depravity.

The most telling moment for me was when traversing the thick, poisonous fog that covers most areas outside and I heard a scream for help. When I approached the noise, I saw a woman on a bench for then only to be jumped on by two thugs who had clearly used the woman as bait.

To say that I Am Alive is bleak would be an understatement. Humanity has become depraved, there is no hint of any type of surviving civilisation and the ruins of the city are covered in dust and horror. In one moment you’re tasked with finding a survivor’s inhaler, that’s how desperate things have got in this most uninviting of post-apocalyptic worlds.




4. Final Fantasy VI

'The Final Fantasy series has never been short on optimism.'
‘The Final Fantasy series has never been short on optimism.’

Name one narrative driven game in which you’re not tasked with saving the world. You might be able to name a few but they are far outweighed by those that task you with bringing justice and peace to the world, none more so than role playing games.

So imagine the shock when in Final Fantasy VI instead of your plucky band of heroes saving the world they actually failed. Instead the Joker-like Kefka actually succeeded in his quest and brought the world to ruin. Ancient beasts were unleashed, continents were shattered and heroes were scattered. Never has a game been so brave in depicting failure.

Despite this your gang of adventurers still manage to group together and overthrow the villainous Kefka and restore order. This game still deserves a mention on this list for having the sheer cajones to depict a world in which the heroes fail and have to suffer before finally saving the world, well what’s left of it anyway.

3. Metro Series

'My balaclava can't hide my dodgy accent.'
‘My balaclava can’t hide my dodgy accent.’

What’s more horrific than being trapped within Russia’s Metro system? Being trapped within the Russia’s Metro system with Nazis. Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light depicts a post-apocalyptic world formed by nuclear war, with the majority of Russian folk heading to the perfect nuclear bunker, the country’s long and winding Metro system.

It’s not long before whole communities form, including those of a Communist and Fascist persuasion and with limited space to share, it’s not long before these factions are warring. However, this isn’t the only threat as mutated beasts stroll the surface and other beings are soon infiltrating and influencing the Metro network.

This post-apocalyptic world is one thick with atmosphere, with it’s own history and political dynamics. There may be some dodgy accents, but the world the Metro games create is one that is believable and thrilling to explore.




2. The Last of Us

'Is this a good time to tell you that I can't swim.'
‘Is this a good time to tell you that I can’t swim.’

Most post-apocalyptic worlds are full of misery and despair and The Last of Us is no different. Any remains of humanity are slowly chipping away, and there’s those terrifying zombie-like creatures roaming the streets. Things do not look good.

However, what makes The Last of Us’ post-apocalyptic world stand out is the beauty that is still found in the world. Really the only thing about The Last of Us that is post-apocalyptic is that it shows the descent of man whilst nature is still flourishing. Greenery covers the now empty buildings and wild animals still roam the wilderness. Even the zombie-like creatures are controlled by a type of infectious fungus.

There’s definitely a melancholic beauty about The Last of Us and much of this is to do with environmental storytelling which contrasts the human tragedy with the natural beauty of the landscapes, making this one of the most intriguing post-apocalyptic worlds seen in any medium.

1. Fallout Series

'Maybe we should kiss just to break the awkward silence.'
‘Maybe we should kiss just to break the awkward silence.’

Was there any doubt as to what would be top of the list? Of course not. After all, there’s no post-apocalyptic world that is so rich in it’s variety in video games or for any other medium for that matter. You name it, it’s probably appeared in Fallout. From the creepy range of Vault experiments, super-mutants and the best hits of the fifties, there’s so much to see and do in Fallout, there’s still somebody unearthing some hidden secret as you read these words.

That’s part of the joy of Fallout’s post-apocalyptic world, there’s something for everyone. There’s the dark, bleak nature of some truly moving and harrowing stories, counter-balanced with outrageous often preposterous stories and characters, the likes of which you never see in any other video game. With a retro, science fiction style, there’s no world that is as aching cool as it is bleak and hilarious.

Now over a series a games, there’s an entire lore to delve into, creating a rich and varied world that is difficult to forget.

So what are your favourite post-apocalyptic worlds in video games? Any that didn’t make the list? Let me know in the comments below.

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