Ah, the 1950s. The decade of coming out of the WWII depression and into the Baby Boom prosperity. The decades of contrasts between the growing social unrests caused by rampant McCarthyism and the post-war euphoria.

That’s why the 1950s are a perfect setting for video games. While most of them don’t tackle the socio-political aspects of the decade, its cultural impact makes these games stand out from the crowd. In this article, we will look at some of the best games that take place in the 50s. 

Mafia II

Release: 2020-05-19
Genre: Action
Developer: 2K Czech

Taking place nearly a decade after the events of the original Mafia, the sequel returns to the Empire Bay during the 1950s. Not much has changed in the town after the war – the crime families still hold the city in a tight grip, and the only way to survive is to choose your allegiances carefully. Such choices await Vito Scaletta, a former bank robber, reluctant soldier, and now a member of the Falcone family. Climbing up the ranks of the syndicate, Vito will learn what gears move the country in a post-WWII recovery.

Mafia II wins a spot on our list thanks to its overwhelming 1950s vibe. The citizens of Empire Bay dress accurately to the period, the streets are full of Cadillacs, and the radio stations are blasting the most popular bands and genres. The story of a young man thrown between the gears of the criminal underworld is also symbolic of the decade, which gave people as many opportunities as they took away. 

Key features
  • A gripping story of loyalty and revenge set during the 1940s/50s
  • Overhauled controls include normal and violent actions and a cover system
  • The period-accurate vibe of the city
  • Car radio full of the most popular music of the day

Blacksad: Under the Skin

Release: 2019-11-05
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Pendulo Studios, YS Interactive

Based on the comic book series by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad: Under the Skin is a noir adventure game. The player controls John Blacksad, a detective investigating a murder of a boxing club owner and the disappearance of the club’s prized fighter.

Blacksad: Under the Skin

The gameplay of Blacksad: UMS is similar to that of other contemporary adventure games and features player choices that influence the outcome of various plots and quick-time events which require the player to act fast. The gameplay is augmented by the game’s setting – the 1950s New York, with its rampant criminal activity, is a perfect place for such a game to take place.

Key features
  • A murder mystery story set in 1950s New York City
  • Gameplay mechanics inspired by currently the best adventure games
  • Guest appearances of the characters from the comic book series

Destroy All Humans! (2020)

Release: 2020-07-28
Genre: Action & Shooter
Developer: Black Forest Games

After the 1948 Roswell incident, the country was taken over by the fascination with extraterrestrial life. Everyone talked about the aliens that have allegedly crash-landed in New Mexico, from politicians struggling to debunk any conspiracy theories to fanatics who did everything to keep them alive. The motif of alien invasion has become a popular trope in media and remains so to this day. The next item on our list capitalizes on the 1950s nostalgic representation of the alien attack. 

Destroy All Humans! (2020)

The 2020s Destroy All Humans! is a remake of the 2005 action-adventure game developed by Black Forest Games. The alien Crypto returns to the screens to once again take over the world using an arsenal of alien technologies. No cow is safe from being abducted for experiments. No rectum is safe from probing. The game features improved graphics and a new mechanic called Focus mode, which allows the player to lock onto enemies. 

Key features
  • Exploration of six unique locations
  • Alien technology used to often comical effects
  • Improved graphics and revamped gameplay mechanics

Jazzpunk

Release: 2014-02-07
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Necrophone Games

Jazzpunk takes the player to the fictional land of Japanada, a land created after the Empire of Japan conquered most of North America. The game, set in the 1950s, features various retro-futuristic elements and absurd humor and gags. As Polyblank, an employee of an espionage agency, the player will have to complete various nonsensical missions.

Jazzpunk

The game is very clear with its humoristic intentions, so if things like copying the protagonist’s butt to fool security cameras are just the thing you would like to do in a game, then this title is just for you. The game is presented from the first-person perspective and features several interactive NPCs, each displaying varying levels of idiocy.

Key features
  • Ridiculous humor and nonsensical gags
  • Minigames inspired by various 1950s media
  • Gameplay mechanics drawing from various classic games, like Frogger and Duck Hunt

Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse

Release: 2005-11-15
Genre: Action
Developer: Aspyr

Edward “Stubbs” Stubblefield is a down-on-his-luck traveling salesman whose only silver lining is his girlfriend, Maggie. However, Stubbs and Maggie’s happiness is short-lived as Otis, Maggie’s father, kills Edward. 26 years later, Stubbs reanimates as a zombie and embarks on a quest to reunite with Maggie, avenge his untimely demise, and eat brains. 

Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse

Another “weird” game inspired by what people in the 1950s thought the future would look like (anybody remembers the Jetsons?). In Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse, the player controls the titular zombie, progressing through levels by killing enemies and turning them into the undead as well. Stubbs can use various improvised weapons, including his limbs, as well as drive vehicles. The zombies the player creates will follow Stubbs and can be used to turn the enemies and bring them into the herd. 

Key features
  • Retro-futuristic 1950s setting
  • Unique zombie gameplay mechanics
  • Various humorous elements inspired by 1950s media