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The Evolution Of Steampunk In Video Games

Darkwatch
High Moon Studios
2005
PlayStation 2, Xbox

Although not a widely known shooter, Darkwatch garnered a cult following with its unique story and unusual setting. A Wild West environment filled to the brim with revolver-wielding vampires and colossal steam trains set the tone for an engaging tale. Betrayal, temptation, and the battle between magic and technology are all themes that pervade this title, cementing its steampunk credentials. While some missions play out like a gunfight at the OK Corral, others task players with hijacking industrial steam trains.

Darkwatch’s gameplay isn’t particularly innovative. Aside from the previously mentioned melee attacks and several novel character abilities, the shooting is fairly generic. The game is, however, best remembered for its unique style – which has steampunk written all over it.

BioShock
2K Boston
2007
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Based on cosmetics alone, BioShock exhibits some qualities of a steampunk game. It doesn’t take place in the 19th century, but the influences are hard to ignore. 

BioShock is known for its captivating setting in the underwater city of Rapture. The drowned metropolis is covered with art deco influences in the furniture and architecture, a product of upper-class taste. A constant supply of backstory is provided by notes and audio recordings strewn throughout the believable world, elevating the environment as a character in itself. The game is set sometime later in the 20th century, but level and character designs often suggest an earlier time period. Between every Vita chamber and Big Daddy, Rapture stands as one of the most memorable steampunk settings in video games.

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