Science fiction has long history, and it comes in many shades, from cyberpunk, through space hard SF, to even niche branches like retrofuturism. Since it is an infinitely inspiring genre, there’s also no shortage of science fiction-themed video games, digging both into the high-tech trapping and the deeper themes of the genre, in various proportions.
Below we’ve collected ten games which do science fiction justice. They look the part, have something cool to say about a possible future, or perhaps have awe-inspiringly detailed SF setting. Let’s take a look at the many futures of humanity in this list of the best sci-fi video games of all time.
|Stellaris||2016-05-09||Strategy||Paradox Development Studio||89%||Read more|
|Half Life 2||2004-11-16||Action & Shooter||Valve||Read more|
|Xcom 2 Collection||2016-02-04||Strategy||Feral Interactive (Linux)||90%||Read more|
|Xcom 2||2016-02-04||Action & Shooter||Feral Interactive (Linux)||96%||Read more|
|Outer Wilds||2020-06-18||Action||Mobius Digital||41%||Read more|
|Dead Space (Origin)||2008-10-20||Adventure||EA Redwood Shores||59%||Read more|
|Dead Space||2008-10-20||Adventure||EA Redwood Shores||Read more|
|Alien Isolation||2014-10-06||Action & Shooter||Creative Assembly||82%||Read more|
|Alien Isolation Collection||2014-10-06||Horror||Creative Assembly||69%||Read more|
|Death Stranding Standard Edition||2020-07-14||Sci-fi||Kojima Productions||31%||Read more|
|Homeworld Remastered Collection||2015-02-25||Adventure||Gearbox Software||96%||Read more|
|Homeworld Deserts Of Kharak||2016-01-20||Strategy||Blackbird Interactive||95%||Read more|
|Mass Effect Trilogy||2012-11-06||Adventure||BioWare||Read more|
|Deus Ex Human Revolution Directors Cut||2013-10-25||Action & Shooter||Eidos Montreal||80%||Read more|
|Deus Ex Goty||2000-06-22||RPG||Ion Storm||71%||Read more|
|Developer:||Paradox Development Studio|
Starting the list with a bang, Stellaris is easily one of the most complex sci-fi games out there. It’s a grand strategy playing on a gorgeous, 3D map of a galaxy filled with all the amazing vistas that space has to offer. Your primary goal is to advance your civilization beyond their native star system through clever diplomacy, technological supremacy, or just a good ol’ military conquest.
Before you begin your galactic exploits, Stellaris gives you a very robust system which allows you to create your starting civilization, from the general appearance down to the nitty gritty, like political doctrines and ideals. The game has evolved significantly since release, and currently stands as a wonderfully complex and, somehow accessible, grand strategy/4X mix.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
An absolute classic, one of the most beloved games in history, a sequel to a legend, and one of the best science fiction first-person shooters you could ever hope for. It should be absolutely no surprise that Half-Life 2 made this list. Starring the “strong silent type” Gordon Freeman, once again asked to face the interdimensional Combine invaders and do the G-Man’s mysterious bidding.
What awaits you is a tightly polished FPS taking place in a city dominated by dimensional aliens and featuring both normal weapons and creative tools, such as the famous Gravity Gun. Half-Life 2 is almost twenty years old, but it still holds up wonderfully, and truly, if you’re looking for SF shooters, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check it out.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
|Developer:||Feral Interactive (Linux)|
XCOM 2 takes place twenty years after the events of the original game. The aliens have won, and control virtually the entire world, ruling by propaganda and the ADVENT military/police. Only the few scattered resistance groups, including the remnants of the original XCOM, still fight for humanity. That’s the cyberpunk reality presented to you in XCOM 2, before you even start to play in earnest.
XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactics game with an additional strategic layer about managing your mobile base of operations and flying around the globe to address crises and exploit opportunities. You are given four classes by default, with more unlocked in the story and through DLCs, including the game-changing War of the Chosen expansion. Aliens, robots, energy weapons, psionics. Everything is here!
One of the highest rated games on Steam, Outer Wilds is a fascinating game about being caught in a time loop in an unstable star system. You have 22 minutes before the loop restarts, but you do retain the knowledge of what you discovered on the previous run. Your task is to figure out why the time loop is happening, why is the nearby star going supernova, and what aliens have to do with it.
Much of the game revolves around exploration and logic puzzles. The environment of the system is often shifting, which might block or reveal different areas in each loop. Outer Wilds is a great mix of a science fiction story with captivating gameplay which rewards logical thinking and the ability to use previously gained knowledge to uncover more of the lingering mystery of that weird star system.
|Developer:||EA Redwood Shores|
Dead Space (soon to receive a remake) is one of the finest SF horrors in video games. The year is 2508, engineer Isaac Clarke travels to a mining ship USG Ishimura, following a message from his girlfriends, the craft’s medical officer. Unfortunately, Ishimura is malfunctioning, and mostly deserted, unless we count undead, warped, grotesque monstrosities which seemingly killed everyone else.
Dead Space takes the setting inspired by Alien, adds monsters inspired by The Thing, and uses them to create a terrifying, tense story and gameplay. You don’t even get proper weapons, mostly just repurposed tools, the best of which is the plasma cutter, which can dismember the necromorphs. It’s an excellent horror, has a great, immersive SF setting, and a suitably weird, unsettling storyline.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Two horrors back-to-back, Alien: Isolation is a spin-off from the renowned series of movies, following Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda. She is looking for her mother, at the time lost in space, and the search brings her to a space station, which has fallen silent, because it turns out that there’s a xenomorph on board, making short work of the crew. A bad time to look for one’s mother.
Alien: Isolation is a special treat to fans of the original movie: developer Creative Assembly took great pains to recreate the appearance of environments and technology, down to neat details. You’ll spend a lot of time hiding from the surprisingly smart Alien roaming the levels. You do have access to weapons, but they do a better job against regular enemies than against the xenomorph.
Created by Hideo Kojima, Death Stranding is a weird, but fascinating game about reforging connections in a post-cataclysmic, barren version of the United States. You’re playing as Sam Porter Bridges, a courier specializing in transporting good on long distances across the US troubled both by bandits and by extradimensional creatures related to the afterlife.
While DS does touch upon the metaphysics, there’s also plenty of neat science fiction stuff everywhere, especially in the tools and gadgets used by Bridges to make deliveries. Between universal fabricator, a semi-transforming bike, and sensors detecting the extradimensional creatures, Death Stranding is on point as far as science fiction trappings go.
Homeworld is an all-time classic science fiction real-time strategy. Planet Kharak was destroyed, but its people managed to escape in a hastily built fleet. Now they have to move across the galaxy, seeking their ancestors’ homeworld. Unlike many RTSs, Homeworld preserves the state of your fleet between mission, so a rough battle might make the next mission significantly more challenging.
Although the original HW launched back in 1999, it has since received a remaster in 2015, and, unsurprisingly, it still can look gorgeous. Homeworld is one of the rare RTSs that offer fully 3D space combat (instead of just putting all ships on the same plane) which opens the way for interesting tactics. The series lives on and has its second sequel slated for release in late 2022.
Mass Effect (series)
This list couldn’t hope to be complete without the Mass Effect series. The famous trilogy takes place in a galaxy filled with alien civilizations, highly advanced technology, and more respect for physics than you’d expect. The series follows Commander Shepard, the first human special agent of a galactic government, who comes across a threat that the Council refuses to acknowledge until it’s too late.
One of the biggest draws of the series is that your choices as Shepard have far-reaching consequences, and many play out later in the trilogy. In 2020 the games received a Legendary Edition, bringing all the games together, improving the slightly dated graphics, and smoothing over the appearance and choice import process. It’s certainly the definitive way to enjoy this amazing series.
Deus Ex (series)
Deus Ex presents a rough, cyberpunk future world filled with cybernetic augmentations, world-spanning conspiracies, and experiments bridging the gap between nature and technology. Whether you’re playing as JC Denton, one of the first nano-augmented people, or Adam Jensen, whose life was saved thanks to extensive cybernetic replacements, you’re in for a tense SF plotline.
Even the less-popular Invisible War has many interesting concepts and is a solid SF game in its own right. What all DE games have in common is an immersive environment creating opportunities you can exploit by using your tech-fueled superpowers. There are always several ways to complete any task, often only limited by your imagination and tools at your disposal.
The future is bright from all the lasers
This concludes our list featuring some of the best futuristic games you should absolutely check out if you like the genre. There are strategies, RPGs, shooters, even horrors, so everybody should be able to find the vision of the future that feels the coolest to experience in a video game form.