The 8 Best Steampunk Games You Should Be Playing

The steampunk genre has been tackled in all sorts of media, from film to literature to art. As such, it’s only natural that the genre would find its way into video games.

But how do you sort the best from the rest? With so many games out there, it can be hard to know which games are worth checking out. 

This list has got you covered, as we’ve taken a look at 8 of the best steampunk-themed games that you should start playing ASAP. Not only that, but we’ve included a buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice for you.

Ready? Then let’s get started!

OUR TOP PICK



Overview

While steampunk and horror might not seem like the best fit at first glance, Bloodborne more than proves that wrong. From the same developers as the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne is brutally hard while also containing beautiful setpieces and plenty of steampunk influences.

Set in a Gothic and Victorian-inspired city, Bloodborne also takes inspiration from sources like Lovecraft and Stoker and combines them into a spooky yet majestic steampunk city. With tons of atmosphere, worldbuilding, and challenges behind every corner, Bloodborne has earned all the critical acclaim it has received since its release.

What We Like

  • The gloomy atmosphere of the Victorian-Gothic setting melds perfectly with steampunk’s darker influences
  • While punishing, the game’s difficulty makes beating each enemy strategic and rewarding
  • The Dark Souls-style gameplay is smooth and responsive, with the best controls that the series has to offer

What Could Be Better

  • Bloodborne’s cruel difficulty can push some players away. This isn’t really a ‘sit back and relax’ kind of game
  • On top of its dark themes, the game also has a dark setting. Some of the areas can be difficult to see in properly, which might leave you struggling to make out small details

EDITORS CHOICE


Overview

BioShock is one of the most celebrated games of all time, and for good reason. The whole game is oozing with atmosphere. The sunken world of Rapture captures the steampunk aesthetic perfectly, with everything from the weapons to the health pickups echoing the genre’s retrofuturistic style.

The game follows protagonist Jack as he explores Rapture, an underwater city that has been ruined in a civil war fueled by and fought with incredible mutagenic serums called Plasmids, which grant people superhuman powers.

Armed with a variety of weapons and Plasmids, you must find a way to escape Rapture and defeat the villainous corporate giants who have led to its destruction.

What We Like

  • The game’s setting of Rapture perfectly captures the aesthetic of steampunk with its areas and equipment
  • The customizable weapons all have useful features and upgrades that feel straight out of Nikola Tesla’s workshop
  • Switching between weapons and Plasmids makes combat exciting and satisfying

What Could Be Better

  • The original game has aged a bit in terms of its controls and visuals. Luckily, the Remastered edition irons out any issues
  • Over time, the gameplay can start to feel a bit repetitive, especially if you’re going down the completionist route

BEST VALUE



Overview

While Final Fantasy VII is the franchise’s take on cyberpunk, FFVI is where steampunk reigns supreme. 

Final Fantasy VI steps away from the medieval aesthetic present in previous iterations in the series, and into a much more steampunk-inspired world. The settings range from large cities influenced by the Second Industrial Revolution, to the airship that you pilot.

Final Fantasy VI, much like its successor, still stands tall as one of the greatest JRPGs ever made, and laid the foundations for many of the genre’s standout aspects. And with charming retro visuals and an incredible soundtrack, what’s not to love?

What We Like

  • The steampunk aesthetic is a departure from the series’ usual style, but the environments and setpieces are a welcome change that suit the game perfectly
  • With a massive cast of 14 playable characters, the options for customization are endless 
  • Everything from the characters to the setting to the ambiance is full of the game’s personality

What Could Be Better

  • While one of the best JRPGs of all time, FFVI still contains some of the genre’s pitfalls (long side quests, random enemy encounters etc)
  • The visual style can seem either charmingly retro, or poorly dated

RUNNER UP



Overview

City management games just got harder. Frostpunk is set in an alternate world in the 19th-century, where volcanic winters have turned most of the world into a frozen wasteland.

You are the leader of a small group of survivors who are trying to establish a new city and survive the freezing temperatures.

Due to the limited technology at the time, the settlement’s main heat and power source is the Generator: a massive steam-powered engine that needs coal to stay lit.

Over the course of the game, you need to manage your resources to maintain your city, manage its citizens, and try to survive regular blizzards that drop the temperature dramatically for a short time.

Tough, stressful, and all too fun.

What We Like

  • The freezing alternate 19th-century setting throws you right into a steampunk world
  • Managing the resources, production, and citizens of your city becomes increasingly more frantic and thrilling as time goes on, with each decision affecting your chances of survival
  • With several different endings, it’s worth doing multiple playthroughs

What Could Be Better

  • Frostpunk is tough to complete, and without proper planning you might not be able to beat the game even if you reach it
  • If you aren’t into city-management games (regardless of difficulty), Frostpunk might not be the game for you

RUNNER UP



Overview

Based on the ‘Thief’ franchise, Dishonored fully embraces its steampunk influences. You play as Corvo Attano, a disgraced bodyguard-turned-assassin who is out for revenge on the people who framed him for his ward’s murder.

Journeying through the fictional city of Dunwall, Corvo must uncover the reason for his betrayal, as well as the cause of the city’s infestation of plague-bearing rats. 

You can use an array of gadgets and weapons on your belt to take down targets with as many or as few casualties as you want.

Not only that, but you’re also equipped with supernatural abilities that let you teleport, manipulate time, or even summon an army of rats to do your bidding. What more could you ask for?

What We Like

  • Choose from a variety of weapons, abilities, and gadgets to make your way through the dystopian steampunk setting
  • The game adapts based on the choices you make, with a morality system leading to (often non-linear) consequences
  • With multiple ways to complete each mission, you can play with your own pace and style

What Could Be Better

  • Dishonored heavily features stealth mechanics, which isn’t for everybody
  • The morality system can affect the end of the game without you realizing, so aiming for different endings can be difficult

RUNNER UP



Overview

The third installment of Nintendo’s iconic puzzle game series, The Unwound Future introduces some heavy steampunk themes and locations.

Professor Layton and Luke are back investigating another mystery, but this time they’re traveling back and forth between Victorian London and its near future.

The game is full of quirks and charm, and the puzzles themselves are a great mix of fun, challenging, and unique. And with a brilliant soundtrack and a great art style, The Unwound Future stands tall as one of the series’ strongest offerings.

What We Like

  • The game’s puzzles are a perfect balance of challenging and fun
  • Its soundtrack and environment make exploring and revisiting each section a joy
  • The story’s many twists and turns keep the action going  

What Could Be Better

  • Only released on the Nintendo DS, this game may be hard to find a way to play
  • While the game includes several minigames and extras, the puzzles make up most of the playtime

RUNNER UP



Overview

Final Fantasy isn’t the only JRPG that dipped its toes into the steampunk aesthetic. This GameCube port of the original Skies of Arcadia game brings some welcome improvements and all of its atmosphere. 

You play as Vyse and his friends, air pirates aboard an airship who are fighting against the oppressive Valuan Empire.

From soaring through the clouds to fighting enemies onboard your airship, Skies of Arcadia Legends is the perfect combination of steampunk visuals and classic JRPG gameplay.

What We Like

  • Skies of Arcadia’s world is both vast and incredibly detailed, with character and charm wherever you look
  • This GameCube port’s improved graphics and a wide array of new features are a welcome addition to an already great game
  • Sailing your airship through the clouds lets you travel the world in style

What Could Be Better

  • As an older game, Skies of Arcadia Legends is hard to track down and can be quite expensive. It’s also limited by platform, only available on the Nintendo GameCube
  • While the GameCube port slightly improves upon the original game’s graphics, they still look pretty dated

RUNNER UP



Overview

This Metroidvania-style platformer follows Rusty, a steam-powered mining robot who has just happened upon a mining town in danger.

Throughout the game, you need to mine deeper and deeper underground to uncover treasure, find improved equipment, and defeat the ancient evil lurking below the town.

Short and sweet, SteamWorld Dig is a delightfully simple game that manages to stay fresh even on repeated playthroughs. With randomly generated maps and limited money for upgrades, revisiting this game allows you to have a completely new experience each time.

What We Like

  • The art style is incredibly appealing, from the dynamic environments to the steam-powered robots
  • Each world is randomized, making for endless replayability
  • The merging genres of steampunk and western are the perfect accompaniment to the game’s themes and gameplay

What Could Be Better

  • The gameplay can get repetitive over time, with not much changing throughout the playtime
  • Speaking of which, the game is only a few hours long per playthrough and ends far too soon

Buyer’s Guide

Before you pick which game to play, here are a few things to look out for when making your choice.

Some games on this list, particularly the older ones, are limited in terms of what platforms they can be played on. For example, Skies of Arcadia Legends is only available on the GameCube, which is tricky to find in itself.

While some games can be played on an emulator, you’re better off checking which platform you can play on beforehand.

There are also many different genres to choose from, and not everything will suit everyone. If you like first-person shooters, BioShock and Dishonored are great choices.

Meanwhile, if you want a challenge you can go for Frostpunk’s frantic city management or Bloodborne’s unforgiving combat system.

If you prefer a more relaxing game, SteamWorld Dig’s simple platforming or Professor Layton and the Unwound Future’s puzzles might be more up your alley.

Top-8-steampunk-game

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it: the 8 best steampunk games you should be playing right now. We hope you’ve enjoyed taking a look at some of these games, and that you might want to try some of them out.

Whatever type of game you like, you’re sure to find the perfect steampunk-inspired game for you.

Enjoy!

Cynthia Williams
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