Stray & 9 other games with the most stylish cyberpunk cities

Released July 19, 2022, Wander is a cyberpunk action-adventure title made remarkable with a major twist; rather than adopting the role of an ala downtrodden human protagonist Cyberpunk 2077, Wander sees players stepping into the role of an ordinary cat.

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Already one of the most beloved Steam games of the year, Wander seems destined to clean up during awards season, and that’s largely due to its excellent art direction. Mixing striking neon lights with the dark darkness of its underground city, Wander joins a few select titles that really made the most of their cyberpunk settings.

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11 Under a steel sky

Union City


A screenshot of the point-and-click adventure game Beneath A Steel Sky.

A far cry from the action platformers that dominated consoles in the mid-90s, Under a steel sky was a thoughtful point-and-click adventure title developed by Revolution Software and released in 1994. Borrowing from other genre hits like LucasArts manic mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island, Under a steel sky ranks among the most intelligently written PC titles of all time.

That said, while set in a cyberpunk world ruled by a tyrannical AI, Union City has a very different look compared to other urban dystopias. Rather than adding a smear of neon to the oppressive iron smear, Under a steel sky‘s city prefers to show its true colors, with grays and browns dominating a distant future hellscape of solemn beauty.


ten Ghostrunner

Dharma Tower


Illustration of the Ghostrunner video game.

Ghostrunner takes place in the Dharma Tower, a colossal piece of architecture that serves as humanity’s home after some kind of apocalypse. Its creators, however, turned out to be power-hungry megalomaniacs who sought to subjugate the people of the tower. As a result, it’s up to the newly awakened protagonist – the last of a superhuman group known as the Ghostrunners – to ascend the tower and overthrow its rulers.

The plot, however, takes precedence over the snappy, lightning-fast gameplay and wonderful art direction. Dharma Tower is a brutalist masterpiece covered in graffiti, and Ghostrunner certainly makes the most of its unique premise and setting.


9 VA-11 Hall-A

glitch town


Indie video game art VA-11 Hall-A.

Story-driven indie games with a pixel art aesthetic have been killed off in the age of modern gaming, but 2016 VA-11 Hall-A: cyberpunk bartender action managed to stand out from his deluge of contemporaries. Players assume the role of a bartender named Jill living in the lovely Glitch City cliche in the year 207X, and while the main conceit revolves around interacting with customers, this can only be done by shuffling drinks, as there are no live chat options.

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Although rarely seen, Glitch City is very much part of the game. It’s serious and desperate, and most of its citizens are in the grip of a totalitarian government. The game’s black, pink, and purple look adds some flair to the city’s seedy underbelly.


8 Observer

Krakow


Developed by Bloober Team horror walking simulation freaks, Observer is a dark cyberpunk horror experience set in Krakow, Poland in the year 2084. After a plague known as the Nanophase causes a sort of digital apocalypse, the megacorporation Chiron takes control and establishes a new government . To help maintain control, they employ detectives known as Observers who are able to hack the minds of citizens.

Observer tells a dark and chilling story that is reflected in its Bladerunner-inspired environment. Krakow’s slums are brutal, and hyper-advanced technology seems to have only compounded the oppression suffered by its inhabitants.


seven Ion Fury

Neo DC


A screenshot from the Ion Fury video game.

Ken Silverman’s Build Engine was instrumental in developing the burgeoning first-person shooter genre in the mid-’90s, and it’s been used to power classic titles such as Blood, shadow warriorand Duke Nukem 3D. Duke Nukem is especially important because 2019 Ion Fury is essentially a spiritual successor to that franchise.

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Duke Nukem 3DThe first levels of took place in the future city of Neo Los Angeles, and, fittingly, Ion Fury takes place in Neo DC Brutish concrete slabs and gritty neon are rendered with authentic late 90s charm and culminates in a beautiful panache of retrofuturism.


6 Surge 2

City of Jericho


A promotional image for The Surge 2 video game.

Developer Deck13 was among the first to join the Souls trend, launching lords of the dead in 2014 and the much more unique The surge three years later. The Surge introduced a distinctive cyberpunk aesthetic, and this was further explored in the semi-open world sequel.

Set in the fictional city of Jericho, the future depicted in Surge 2 is less about glitzy town planning and more about RoboCop– body modification. Yet, from the sunken Seaside Court to the Elysian Gideon’s Rock, Jericho City exhibited all the major hallmarks of a cyberpunk cityscape.


5 Cloudpunk

Nevalis


A screenshot from the Cloudpunk video game.

Cloudpunk tells the story of Rania, a delivery driver who works for the eponymous organization. Although she initially plans to lay low, she is eventually drawn into an adventure involving class inequality and corrupt artificial intelligence.

The game first turned heads when it debuted in 2020 due to its direct Blad Runner radiation; no game could more faithfully replicate the feeling of driving a Spinner through faraway Los Angeles. Aside from the sometimes awkward on-foot sections, Cloudpunk is a near-perfect video game representation of a cyberpunk world.




4 mirror edge

The City of Glass


A Mirror's Edge Catalyst wallpaper.

As was the case with Under a steel skythe unnamed town seen in EA and DICE mirror edge offers a very unique take on the cyberpunk aesthetic. Sterling and barren, the game’s whitewashed rooftops and barren streets make for an almost eerie parkour getaway.

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The same town took on a slightly more traditional cyberpunk look in the 2016 pseudo-prequel Mirror’s Edge Catalyst with large display panels and state-of-the-art color palettes for a Mondrian look. Although it is an atypical visual approach, the cyberpunk dystopia seen in the mirror edge games was amazingly beautiful.


3 Cyberpunk 2077

night city


A screenshot of Night City from the Cyberpunk 2077 video game.

One of the most anticipated games of 2020 and one of the most notoriously buggy titles of the eighth generation of consoles, CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077 is, despite its many controversies, one of the greatest cyberpunk games of all time. Set in the almost incredibly dense Night City, Cyberpunk 2077The environments are both fantastical and surprisingly tangible.

From dirty city streets to electric skyscrapers, Cyberpunk 2077The neon-lit world of is endlessly varied and provides a great setting for a game that requires dozens of hours to beat.


2 Wander

Walled city 99


Famous for its unique approach, 2022’s Wander sees players exploring a sealed cyberpunk city as a cat and working to help its robot population escape to the surface. Adorable and delightfully atmospheric, Wander is a combination of several disparate elements that blend together surprisingly well.

While the ability to play as a cat is the main draw, Walled City 99 comes across as remarkably comfortable despite its dystopian overtones. Filled with all sorts of amazing nooks and crannies and made memorable with fantastic views, it’s a cyberpunk city almost unparalleled in modern media.


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