With Darksiders II out on shelves this week, we thought we’d look back at some off the beaten path games set after the end of the world (or close to it). And by “off the beaten path” we mean we’re intentionally skipping such greats like Fallout 3 or Half-Life 2 for a few games that you might have forgotten or that slipped off your radar entirely.
5. Phantom Crash
This mech combat game for the Xbox mixed in deep customization with frantic fighting in the ruins of Tokyo. The premise was pretty simple: after everything was devastated by what we’re going to assume was nuclear conflict, in the year 2031, you could do some Rumbling: a new sport that involved using your mechs to wreck other mechs.
This one was from Genki ten years ago for Microsoft’s first console, and it’s given the dearth of love for mech games on consoles, it would be great if someone could pick it up again and make a followup (perhaps current rights holder Konami?).
4. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
Okay, maybe this isn’t some buried gem, but you do start the game before the apocalypse and wake up after following your character Naoki Kashima’s trip to the hospital. When Naoki opens his eyes, he’s in the Vortex World, and he’s tasked with using the strange new powers granted to him by Lucifer to rebuild things.
The twist: you can either put it back together the way you found it before you died, or perhaps nudge things into something different along the way in Atlus’ third RPG in the SMT series.
3. Chrono Trigger
The apocalyptic setting was only part of Chrono Trigger, but still an integral part of the game’s overall plot. In the year 1999, a great creature named Lavos has wiped out most of the world’s population and the only survivors are the robots and a handful of humans trying to eke out a continued existence.
Chrono Trigger was an all-star production for Square, featuring art by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama and designed in part by Hironobu Sakaguchi. Unfortunately, it’s likely that the actual end of the world will come before Square Enix delivers another title in the series.
2. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
This Dreamcast-era title was a continuation of the medieval vampire action adventure game Legacy of Kain, trading in that game’s top down view and protagonist for Raziel. Our hero is a fallen vampire-turned-wraith, killed by a jealous vampire lord Kain for his evolution. The story kicks in 1500 years after Raziel’s death as he avenges himself on the surviving, grotesque vampires who have corrupted the entire world of Nosgoth.
Crystal Dynamics’ Soul Reaver series saw Raziel hopping between the living-ish world and the dead worlds to set things right, and later bouncing back and forth in time to undo the vampire taint.
1. Fighting Mania Fist of the North Star (Arcade)
And a personal favorite: this Konami arcade game mixed story from the anime with timed punch pads for you to wail on as Kenshiro, one of the survivors of the nuclear holocaust and a martial arts master proficient at exploding heads and bodies with a flurry of punches and kicks.
I’m not sure how many of these arcade units are still kicking around, but this 2000 released first-person puncher deserves some kind of re-release or remake now that we have all of these nifty motion tracking systems and peripherals.
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